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Feature book: Beached

23 July 2014

BeachedBeached by Ros Baxter

I was very much looking forward to this story after reading Fish Out of Water, the first book in this series, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed this one after meeting all of the characters in the first book. It was great catching up with them and seeing how the problems with the two worlds can be overcome.

Mermaid Princess Lecanora arrives on land at a hamburger place and totally loses her cool when she realises they are selling fish burgers. She also does not understand the fuss about wearing clothes. Her best friend and half-sister Rania arrives to save the day, and with fries in hand they leave. Lecanora very much enjoys her first taste of French fries, but there is a lot that needs to be done. She is on a special mission, sent to land by her mother (the Queen), who is just about at the end of her life after the evil magician Manos set this curse in place many years ago. The time has come that he has returned to take over both worlds, and he has a task he is determined to accomplish and it involves Lecanora. While driving home to Dirtwater, Rania and their mother Lunia’s home, they are set upon by Manos’s soldiers, but Lecanora saves Rania and they end up safe.

Mercenary soldier Doug is still in the hospital after being badly hurt by the strange sound weapon created by Manos while trying to help Rania. He is gravely ill but Lecanora has bought a magical potion from the dolphins hoping that this will help in his recovery. Doug makes a full recovery after being given the potion and he leaves the hospital. The attraction the first time he spots Lecanora is very strong and he jumps right in to help with the mission. But there is a lot that he needs to be told, secrets that need to unearthed, so Doug can help Rania, Lecanora and Lunia with the mission to thwart the evil magician Manos. They also need to break Rania’s father out of jail so as he can also be part of the plan. This does not go smoothly as Manos’s soldiers are everywhere on the Land trying to get both Rania and Lecanora.

This is an action-packed story that is very sensual. With the pacifist princess and the gun-toting mercenary Doug getting closer, he is determined to protect Lecanora and them all. When you discover that the Lady running for President of the Land has secrets and that she is needed to help overcome Manos as well, the story gets very interesting. The fight gets tough and with people travelling from land to the underwater world of Aegira, which takes a lot of energy. This is a story that will have you smiling as the two worlds join forces to save everyone and the sensual love story between Lecanora and Doug hots up in dangerous situations and there are lots of secrets revealed. I recommend this one but I advise that you read Fish out Of Water first; it will have you really looking forward to falling into this one.

Reviewed by Helen S

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Feature book: Rocking Horse Hill

23 July 2014

Rocking Horse HillRocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein

Emily Wallace-Jones has lived in Levenham, a small country town in rural South Australia, all of her life. She is from the landed gentry and the family ties go back a long way to the now disused quarry on the hill known as Rocking Horse Hill. This has always been such a special place for Emily as she has a real bond with this area. Emily lives on the family farm known as Rocking Horse Hill, although owned by her brother Digby, he has told Emily she can stay there for as long as she wants while the rest of the family, her mother, Granny B and Digby live in town at Digby’s other home Camrick. Emily is single, has a shop in town and does calligraphy work. Emily has always been an avid horse rider and her love for animals shows in the pets she has at the farm. Emily has been racked by shame for many years after she does something to her first love as a teenager. And although she has had boyfriends since, none can compare to her first love and she has made it a habit of not being snobbish and is very forgiving.

Joshua Sinclair grew up in Levenham as well. He comes from a good, working class and loving family. His father is a cabinet maker and Josh wants to follow in his footsteps. This is even after an accident when he was young, he still wants to follow his plans when he falls for Emily. As a teenager, he is hooked even though she is out of his class, they have a great relationship; true friends and lovers. But when Emily does something that is unforgivable, he moves away from his family and the town he has always wanted to stay in. He becomes a great cabinet maker, falls in love and marries. But when his marriage ends in divorce and his mother becomes very ill, he moves back home as a grown man, ready to start a new life.

When Emily and Josh run into each other, the spark is still there. But Emily needs so badly to apologise to Josh, to try and explain why she did what she did, and maybe he will learn to trust her. With the electricity still there, they get closer but they both have so much to overcome and with so much going on in their lives with family, things can be very rocky.

This is such a heart-warming, moving and emotional story about family and love and how deep a first love can be even after a lot of years. It is how the wonderful rich characters help to pull these two together again. It is the pull that Emily gets from the hill that helps to bring this wonderful story together. You will love Em’s pets on the farm and the descriptive scenery will make you feel that you are there. And with a bit of danger brought into the mix, this is one you won’t want to put down.

Reviewed by Helen S

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. ARRA members who leave a comment by 6 August 2014 will go into the draw to win a copy.

Feature book: Trouble Brewing

23 July 2014

Trouble BrewingTrouble Brewing by Jane Tara

Calypso is an herbalist witch. She can see what people need and mixes them drinks, both alcoholic and non, and swirls in a little magic to help them feel better about themselves. A free spirit who travels as the whim takes her, she has friends all over the world. Calypso is red haired, green eyed and comes from a long lines of witches leading back to William Shakespeare’s great aunt, Sylvie. Calypso’s sister, Nell, is her opposite and her friend Megan is an aspiring stand-up comic.

Taran is an artist and comes from a wealthy family of witches. He has an ‘impossibly handsome face’ and is a dark haired otherwise identical twin to his blonde brother, Finn. A ladies man with commitment issues, he has a habit of stealing and/or sleeping with Finn’s girlfriends (not sure what that says about the girlfriends). Taran lives in America and his best friend is Simon whom he stays with while in London.

It’s a difficult road to happiness for Calypso and Taran. Although she is drawn to Taran, Calypso still pines for Scott, who is no longer with her. She likes Taran, but is afraid to love again. Taran finds Calypso intriguing, and a trip to London to show his paintings brings him to her again, but she continually disappears on him. Calypso’s family and friends keep helping Taran catch up with Calypso and encouraging her to move on from Scott. In this story, the course of true love certainly does not run smoothly.

This is a more serious-toned book than the first Shakespeare Sisters book Forecast (which was quirky fun), and runs two major-ish story threads apart from Taran and Calypso: Simon and Megan, and Nell and her job. Both Calypso and Taran are enjoyable characters. Calypso is a traveller, a free spirit, a good friend and a kind person. Taran is dogged in his pursuit of Calypso and proves to be a white knight, if a somewhat tarnished one. The drama between Taran and his twin Finn felt unfinished; perhaps another book or short story with Finn is planned. The idea of a witch who mixes drinks to make people’s lives better is a little different in a good way. The story sucks you in and is an enjoyable read, but keep the tissues handy, there’s a heart-breaking scene.

Reviewed by Gina

A review copy of this book was provide by the author.

ARRC2015: author pre-registration

22 July 2014

ARRC2015 banner_600w

proudly brought to you by Booktopia and eXtasy Books

On 6–8 March 2015 Canberra will be hosting the fourth Australian Romance Readers Convention, and on behalf of the organising committee it gives us great pleasure to extend an invitation to romance authors to pre-register for this exciting event.

ARRC2015 will bring together romance readers, authors and publishers and provide an opportunity to talk about all things related to romance fiction.

The convention is an international event and will feature award-winning authors Helene Young, Sylvia Day, Victoria Dahl and Kelley Armstrong as keynote speakers. Panel members will include numerous best-selling Australian romance authors.

Today we are opening pre-registration for authors.

This year registration will again be via an online process. (If you run into any problems, please let us know.) We have capped author registration at 100, so don’t leave it too late!

Pre-registration for authors is $245 (or $225 for ARRA members) and is open until 16 August. Registration includes entry to all sessions over the weekend, plus morning and afternoon tea and lunch on both days. Tickets to the social functions are sold separately.

All authors who pre-register can indicate whether they wish to be considered for a panel spot and also the book-signing event. Spots for these are limited, but we will fit in as many authors as we can.

For a copy of the registration brochure, please email us at

We hope that you will join us in Canberra in March 2015 to celebrate romance fiction!

(Readers–stay tuned! Registration will open on 1 September.)

Cora and Debbie
Convention Coordinators, ARRC2015


Marie Force to visit Australia

21 July 2014

Marie ForceMarie Force will also be visiting Australia for the RWA conference in August (and our book-signing event!), and has kindly agreed to answer some questions for us …

What kind of books did you love when you were a child?

I was a big fan of the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew series books. I guess my future as a series writer was determined quite a long time ago!

Do you remember the first romance novel you read?

I think it might’ve been Love Story by Erich Segal. Jenny and Oliver’s tragic story left a big impression on me.

How old were you when you knew that you wanted to be a writer?

Probably round fifteen or so. My Grade 10 English teacher told me I was a better-than-average writer and encouraged me to pursue journalism class in 11th grade. I went on to major in journalism and political science in college. Later I worked as a newspaper reporter and in corporate communications, so I’ve been writing for most of my life.

When did you first sit down and start to write fiction? How long after that before you were published?

I started writing fiction seriously in 2004, right around the time my mother died. Her illness and death served as an impetus to stop saying ‘someday’ and get moving toward realising my dream. Line of Scrimmage, the seventh book I wrote, was the first to be published in September of 2008.

How hard was it to first get published?

It was pretty hard! I wrote seven books before I finally sold one. I think ALL THE TIME about what I would’ve missed if I’d given up when those first six books didn’t sell. I’m very thankful now that I stuck with it long enough to surpass my wildest dreams (and I write fiction, so they are pretty wild!). And by the way, all six of those earlier books are now on sale and selling well.

What authors do you read and/or admire now that you’re an author?

I read all over the romance genre. I’m a big fan of Lisa Kleypas’s historicals and anything by Nora Roberts. I also love to discover new-to-me authors who write sexy contemporaries, new adult and erotica. All of that appeals to me. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs, too. That’s a whole new genre for me, and I’ve been enjoying it.

If you weren’t a writer, what career do you think you would have now?

If I wasn’t writing fiction, I’d still be working as a writer and editor of some sort. It certainly wouldn’t be as much fun as what I’m doing now, though!

Other than books, what is one item you can’t resist buying?

I recently failed to resist the urge to buy a new car. LOL!

Do you have plans for more Fatal stories, past Fatal Scandal (Jan 2015)?

Yes, much more to come for Sam and Nick after Fatal Scandal. I feel like that series is just getting started in many ways. The fans are hooked, and I love writing those characters (Sam is my all-time favourite character to write), so I see it going on for quite some time to come.

Your self-published titles have been very successful—do you prefer self-publishing to traditional publishing?

There are advantages to both. I do love having all the control over my self-published books, but both my publishers (Berkley and Harlequin/Carina Press) are very amenable to my suggestions and input, which makes for cordial and productive relationships. I’m very much a partner in my dealings with them, so I have no complaints.

Has there been any interest in any of your books for movies or television?

Yes, there have been some rumblings, but nothing has come to fruition yet. I’m told the wheels turn very slowly in Hollywood. It’s not something I spend much time thinking about because I know it’s a huge long shot. It would be fun to see my characters on TV, and I know my readers would love it, too.

What’s next for you? Any plans to branch out in another direction?

I’m hard at work on next books for all three of my ongoing series—the McCarthys of Gansett Island, the Fatal series and the Green Mountain series, and I have another series in development that has caught my interest. I’d also REALLY like to write something truly erotic. I have a few irons in that fire that I hope to pursue when I get the time.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you are in Australia?

First, I’m looking forward to getting OFF the plane. LOL! I’m not a big fan of flying (and I’m writing this at 30,000 feet, so you can see I do way TOO much flying these days).

Second, I’m looking forward to meeting my dear friend Sarah Mayberry in person for the first time. Sarah and I have been exchanging hilarious emails for years now, and actually getting to meet her will be awesome.

Third, I’m looking forward to seeing many of my reader friends in Australia as well as my husband’s niece and her family who are currently living there.

And finally, I’m looking forward to sharing the adventure of a lifetime with my husband and kids, who will be 19 and almost 16 when we are there.

Thanks for inviting me to participate in your event. See you in August!

You can find Marie here: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter

If you would like to meet Marie, why not come along to our book-signing event in Sydney on 9 August. You can find all the details HERE.



Guest blogger: Juliet Madison

20 July 2014

Juliet MadisonThe appeal of small-town settings

I like to read and write books set both in small towns and in urban environments, but small towns hold a certain allure for me. They have a cosy, magical quality, and I find them intriguing. When I came up with the idea for a small-town series of books, I knew I wanted to base it on the town I had just moved to, on the south coast of NSW. I was getting used to my new home and discovering all the quirks and beauty the town had to offer, and tried my best to translate that to the page. The first book I set here was The January Wish, which led to the decision to create a monthly-themed set of books linked by the same setting, and the Tarrin’s Bay series was born. I wrote February or Forever after that, and am now writing Miracle in March, which is due for release in March 2015.

The thing I like about using the same setting is that there are so many story possibilities with the variety of interesting characters from a small town, and each book is a chance to not only create something new but build on what was created in previous books. The setting becomes a character itself in a way, with its own personality and set of quirks.

What I think is appealing about small-town settings is the close-knit community. If someone new comes to town, people notice. If something changes, people notice. If there’s a scandal, people know about it. There are plenty of secrets but also plenty of gossip. And if there’s a disaster, people rally around to help the community. I also think small towns have a slightly slower pace of life, which often appeals to people who are overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of city life and want to escape to a story that puts a strong emphasis on the natural environment and on the people that make the town a home. There’s a sense of intimacy and belonging within small towns that is enticing, and they seem to allow more personal issues to be exposed without the buffer of relative anonymity in a busy city, making for interesting character-driven stories.

Here’s an excerpt from The January Wish that helps to give a subtle sense of the small town:

TBseriesThe sun warmed her skin as she walked out of Miracle Park, past the historic terrace shops with their homewares, boutique clothing and unique gifts, and up the road towards her house. The afternoon ocean breeze ran like fingers through her hair as Sylvia thought about her wish. Eighteen years had passed since the day that changed her life forever, the memory playing on her mind more and more lately. She lived a satisfying life, but a part of her, deep inside, needed to fill the void that sat there.

What do you like about small town settings? I’d love to hear about your favourite small town books and series, leave a comment if you’d like to share them.

You can read more about the Tarrin’s Bay series here.

You can find Juliet online at: website | blog | Facebook | Twitter

Feature book: Nothing But Love

16 July 2014

Nothing But LoveNothing But Love by Priscilla Brown

Alistair Roxburgh has just been retrenched from his IT job. He’s good at IT but has a passion for woodworking, especially with driftwood. He drives a Mercedes Benz roadster and a beat-up, but well-maintained Kombi. He has just broken up with his girlfriend Toni because she’s insisting he moves to Melbourne with her and he’s happy living in Hobart. He’s about to turn thirty and his parents are currently staying with him while their house is renovated.

Cassandra has just resigned from her job as an interior designer for an architect because he treated her like a secretary and rarely let her use her design talents. Cassandra likes making silver jewellery and has just broken up with her fiancé, Jeremy, a very stuffed shirt, who was always nit-picking and criticising her. Jeremy is a friend of her brother, Gordon. Cassandra’s about to turn thirty and currently lives with her grandmother, Phyl.

Alistair and Cassandra are both feeling low about losing their jobs and somewhat wary, but not closed off, after breaking up from long-term relationships where their partners were trying to change them. They meet by accident in the rain. They are drawn to each other. He refers to her as the ‘rain fairy’ and she refers to his Mercedes as a ‘piece of space junk’. Cassandra doesn’t want to rush into anything and needs a little space but Alistair is charmingly, persistently helpful. They have a rocky journey to happily ever after as they have to put up with interfering exes, job offers that are inconveniently timed but otherwise life savers, several bouts of interrupted passion, a few surprises and the vagaries of car performance and ownership.

Nothing But Love is a sort of sea-change meets turning thirty life crisis story, which is an interesting setting for a romance. Both main characters are likeable, Alistair’s dichotomy of IT smarts and passion for woodworking is a nice combination as is Cassandra’s buttoned up nice girl with a willingness to step off her usual path. Their story is engaging and their exes annoying, which provides counterpoint to the emerging Goldilocks relationship between Alistair and Cassandra, not too sour, not too sweet, just right. An enjoyable story.

Reviewed by Gina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.


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