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Author spotlight: Megan Lowe

23 January 2020

For ARR2020 in March we will be featuring more than 90 romance authors across five cities. If you live in (or near) Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, come along and meet local authors, as well as our international guests—Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan.

Today we are spotlighting Megan Lowe. She will be attending ARR2020 in Melbourne.

How old were you when you first started writing romance?

I first started writing romance about five years ago, I think. That was when I first started reading it as well.

Who was the first romance author to catch your interest?

EL James. I saw the Fifty Shades books in Big W and thought it was going to be a huge thing. I didn’t realise they had already been picked up to be made into movies at that point. From there, with the help of Amazon recommendations, I was introduced to the world of indie romance and have never looked back!

Have you written genres other than romance (or are you thinking about it)?

I have dabbled, badly, in fantasy, with romance mixed in of course. I would love to write something like Sarah J Maas does, but I don’t think my world building would ever be as thorough as hers is.

Choose one of your books to turn into a movie—who would you cast in the lead roles?

It would be my newest, Royal Blue. I’d cast Zac Effron as Harley and Blake Lively as Cerulean.

What is the hardest part of creating a story?

Not hating it as you’re writing it. Ideas come easily. But not hating it? I get to that point in every book I write and every time I feel like scrapping it. I’m lucky that by that stage I’ve got edits booked, or committed to it with a publisher so I don’t go there, but it happens every book.

What is your favourite place to write?

My study. It’s down the other end of the house from everyone and I can turn my music up and do whatever I want or need to get the story out.

Have any of your characters been inspired by real-life people?

Knley from No Place to Hide was inspired by Lzzy Hale, the lead singer of Halestorm. Lzzy is such a strong, fierce woman. She’s a true force to be reckoned with, and the first time I saw her on stage I knew A) I wanted to create a character that was just like her, and B) I wanted to be her when I grew up.

What was the last romance you read and loved (and why did you love it)?

Hush, Hush by Lucia Franco. I just loved the affection her characters had for each other. It was palpable, something I felt like I could reach out and touch. It’s my book of 2019.

Tell us about your latest release in 100 words or less

It’s a mature YA, enemies to lovers story. It’s set in Savannah, Georgia, a beautiful town where my girl Cerulean and her sisters rule the school. That’s threatened when a hot new quarterback comes to town, but my girl gives as good as she gets! There’s football, there’s drama, and a few surprises thrown in along the way! It’s called Royal Blue and is the first book in my Sovereigns of Savannah series.

What else will you be working on in 2020?

I bought a cover a while ago that I absolutely loved and that story has kind of overtaken me. I was planning on writing it in 2021, but it’s pushed it’s way in. I’m also hoping to work on a MM bully YA duet. I love writing MM and I can’t wait to get back to it. I’ve never written a bully romance, or a duet, but I’m excited to fully let my evil side go and see where it takes me! I’ll also be releasing Regal Purple, book two of my Sovereigns of Savannah series in February!

If you haven’t booked your ticket for ARR2020 yet, you can buy one HERE.

 

Release day: Prue

23 January 2020

Today is the official release of Prue by AnneMarie Brear (Marsh Saga, book 2)(ebook and paperback, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

When her feisty grandmama informs Prue of her intentions to take her travelling, she is excited and ready to explore outside of England.

Restless, unsure of what she needs and wants, Prue arrives in India intent on adventure. However, Prue soon learns that some escapades come with a price. India is exotic and tantalising, yet also rife with unrest, and closer to home, family secrets unravel destroying lives.

Leaving India and heartbreak behind her, a wiser Prue travels to Italy. Experiencing that life is short, Prue is determined to make the most of her holiday and have some fun, only she wasn’t prepared to meet a man who would make her question herself.

Surviving the war was easier than enduring the quiet peace at home. In need of distraction, Brandon Forster and his friend, Vince, spend their time climbing mountains in Europe. The last thing Brandon expected was to meet an attractive English rose with the same edgy spirit as himself.

When Prue reveals her past mistakes to Brandon, he must decide if she is the woman for him, but a tragic accident makes them both confront deeper feelings.

Can they find in each other the missing element they need to make them whole or will previous anguish taint their future?

AnneMarie dropped by today to tell us a little about this book:

Set in the 1920s, this four-book series is about three sisters—Millie, Prue and Cece—and Prue’s friend, Alice. WW1 is over and the sisters are ready to spread their wings and embrace a new world. Millie, sensible and ready to be a wife and mother, but nothing goes to plan. Prue, wild and eager to explore the world as her grandmother did, but will it fulfil her as she hopes? Cece, falls in love with a man who loves her sister. Will she get her happy ever after? Widowed Alice is a modern woman in a man’s world and is determined to make her business as good as any man’s. These strong independent women will face challenges and heartache, and alone they might tumble and fall. However, together, they are a force to be reckoned with! I’m excited to write these books as I’ve never written in the era of the 1920s before, but I am enjoying it, and I hope my readers enjoy them, too.

You can find out more about this book at AnneMarie’s website or buy it from Amazon.

Feature book: Mr Right Now

22 January 2020

Mr Right Now by Karly Lane

Series: Callahans of Stringybark Creek #2
Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 6 May 2019
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: ebook and print
Length: 239 pages
RRP: $14.25 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

I’m not giving any secrets away when I tell you that Griff did not get the girl in The Wrong Callahan, Book One of this series. He wanted to, for sure, but his golden boy brother Linc won Cash in the end. Griff’s now devastated and, let’s face it, desperately lonely.

Interestingly, Griff’s high school sweetheart (and old neighbour) Olivia Dawson came back for Griff’s sister Hadley’s wedding. She and Hadley were best friends growing up and remain so now.

Olivia broke up with Griff when he left Stringybark Creek after high school to study agriculture, and he’s always thought she wasn’t interested in him anymore. Especially now, when she’s a big shot corporate lawyer in the big city.

Being on the farm just isn’t something that interests her anymore, he thinks, let alone being with a farmer. And yet at Hadley’s wedding Olivia seemed wistful to Griff, and vulnerable, and definitely more friendly than she had been in the recent past.

Suddenly, Olivia’s family’s shot into crisis. Her father is critically injured in a horrifying accident, and Olivia—or Liv, as she’s called—comes home to the farm to help her twin brother Ollie with the harvest.

As it turns out, the country is in Liv’s blood and in her heart. She can do the work, and it’s strangely refreshing to step back into the familiar things she used to do on the farm before she left Stringybark Creek to do lawyering.

Liv and Griff are neighbours again. Both single. Both still attracted to each other, despite the differences and difficulties of their past split.

Griff doesn’t want to get his heart burned again, especially after his recent romantic rejection. He doesn’t want to even consider getting back together with Liv. But she seems different somehow, softer, more open. With her family in crisis, of course Griff steps in to help when he can. That is what neighbours do in the country. Liv and Griff are thrown together far more than they ever expected.

Their hearts, well, their hearts begin to melt…

This is a warm, second-chance-at-love romance, in a wonderful rural setting. There is drama and tears and tension, but there is also love and laughter. A lovely book.

Reviewed by Malvina

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

Feature book: The Wrong Callahan

22 January 2020

The Wrong Callahan by Karly Lane

Series: Callahans of Stringback Creek #1
Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 28 Nov 2018
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: ebook and print
Length: 336 pages
RRP: $10.79 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

Linc Callahan hasn’t been home to Stringybark Creek for over two years. He’s the family golden boy, the son who can do no wrong. Restless and ready for adventure, he chose the army instead of the family farm for a career, and his parents couldn’t be prouder of their hero son and what he has done for his country.

Because Stringybark Creek is a small country town, everyone knows everyone else’s business, so the news about Linc’s heroism has also made him a local hero. Not the sort of acclaim he really wants to wear. It’s also the sort of acclaim Linc’s brother Griff—who has stayed faithfully at home working on the farm to little or no acclaim—is a bit fed up with hearing, truth be told. He’s worked damn hard too, but no one’s calling him a hero.

Poor Linc. We get hints that maybe—just maybe—something disastrous happened in Afghanistan. Just enough for us to wonder how terrible it actually was, and if the family knows. Hmm.

Linc’s out of the army now and working with his ex-army mates in a new business. They trouble shoot around the world and help clients get in and out of tricky situations. Thankfully that seems to be going well.

So Linc’s come back home for his sister Hadley’s wedding. And right next door, doing a relief stint in a friend’s luxurious and fabulously popular beauty spa, is Cash Sullivan. At first, I thought Cash was a guy, but the amusing story about how she got her name is eventually told.

It’s lust at first sight. I’m not kidding. There is a definite spark between Cash and Linc that ricochets through them both when they clap eyes on each other, and this hums along very nicely.

The trouble is that poor, lonely Griff is also keen on Cash. He’s begun courting her, in his shy, diffident way. And in waltzes golden boy Linc and—well, suffice it to say that Griff now doesn’t have a hope of winning Cash.

The Callahan family is complicated. Karly Lane is setting up the series in this book, and all four children have difficult issues, including bride-to-be Hadley. But it’s the romantic rivalry between Linc and Griff that begins to boil over first.

Cash can see the brotherly conflict playing out, and it doesn’t sit well with her. She has her own demons from the past, and this is the last thing she want or needs to cope with. She’s also only in Stringybark Creek temporarily. When her friend comes back to resume her work at the spa, Cash will move on. So, she doesn’t quite know what to do with the escalating situation. All she knows is the romance between herself and Linc seems like something very special—but for how long? And can it survive the tension between the brothers?

This is not your ‘normal’ (if there is such a thing) rural romance. It touches on deep issues such as PTSD, and family expectations and sibling rivalry. Although the Callahans are a powerhouse local family and I loved them, they are far from perfect—and so they are fascinating.

Reading this book is refreshingly different and grips you to the last page.

Reviewed by Malvina

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

Author spotlight: Kaye Dobbie/Sara Bennett

21 January 2020

For ARR2020 in March we will be featuring more than 90 romance authors across five cities. If you live in (or near) Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, come along and meet local authors, as well as our international guests—Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan.

Today we are spotlighting Kaye Dobbie/Sara Bennett. She will be attending ARR2020 in Melbourne.

How old were you when you first started writing romance?

In my teens I wrote some truly awful books, but it was all practice and, looking back, I know all that awfulness was very useful. Eventually it translated into something publishable. The first book I actually tried to get published was a Mills & Boon historical and it was knocked back for being ‘dark, depressing with bad smells’. The next one was accepted when I was twenty.

Who was the first romance author to catch your interest?

Probably Daphne du Maurier. Not all of her books, but certainly Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek. Georgette Heyer was a great favourite too (and still is).

Have you written genres other than romance (or are you thinking about it)?

As well as writing historical romance as Sara Bennett, and paranormal/time-travel romance as Sara Mackenze, I write women’s fiction as Kaye Dobbie, which has some romance in it.

Choose one of your books to turn into a movie—who would you cast in the lead roles?

Mackenzie Crossing, a dual timeline book. In 1939, when the Black Friday bushfires were raging, a photographer called Neville Darling goes missing. In the present day his granddaughter, Skye Stewart, comes looking for him and finds the boy she loved when they were troubled teenagers. I think it has great characters and scenery, a mystery … I mean, what more could you want? Not sure about the lead roles, I’m so out of touch with TV and movies.

What is the hardest part of creating a story?

I’m a pantser. I love starting a new story, and all the possibilities, but I’m a slow writer. I’ve tried to be faster, I’ve read every book on the subject, but I’ve come to accept that I can’t change my process. I need to rewrite lots, draft after draft, to get to know my characters. Once I know them everything is fine, but it’s the getting there that is the hardest part.

What is your favourite place to write?

I have a study where I can close the door. I usually write in there, but I can also take a pen and paper outside to the garden, when I need a change of scene.

Have any of your characters been inspired by real-life people?

I think a lot of my characters are inspired by real-life people. Especially in historical novels, where I have used (in a vague sort of way) stories from my own family tree. In Sweet Wattle Creek I used my mother’s memories of the 20s and 30s.

What was the last romance you read and loved (and why did you love it)?

I’ve just read Fast Lane by Kristen Ashley. I also read Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I know Kristen was inspired by Taylor, and it was interesting to read them both. I enjoyed the structure of the books—they are told in interviews—and how there was a bit of unreliable narrator in there. I particularly loved Fast Lane. These days I don’t buy a lot of paperbacks but I got this one.

Tell us about your latest release in 100 words or less

My newest Sara Bennett release is Meant to Be, the first book in the Pendleton Manor trilogy. Harry Baillieu is the heir to Pendleton and his father expects him to marry a girl with wealth and influence. But Harry loves Sophie, the daughter of the estate manager. Just when he thinks he can make his wish come true, fate steps in and breaks them apart. Three years later they meet again, at a ball in London, where Harry is getting engaged to another woman. Reviewers have called this an emotional rollercoaster of a book.

What else will you be working on in 2020?

2020 looks like a big year for me. I am currently editing a Kaye Dobbie book, which will be out from Mira/Harper Collins in August 2020, called The Road to Ironbark. This is a dual timeline set in 1874 with bushrangers, a hold-up, and a mysterious disappearance, while in the present day the hold-up is commemorated and the mystery is solved. I’m about to begin my next Kaye Dobbie book, this one set in Tasmania, and will finish writing it in 2020. I also have the next Sara Bennett book in the Pendleton Manor series, which tells the story of black-sheep brother Adam and the girl who tames him. And yes, there is more! I am planning a new book, different from anything I have ever written, and I am so excited about it. I can’t say much, but I get tingles whenever I think about it.

If you haven’t booked your ticket for ARR2020 yet, you can buy one HERE.

 

Author spotlight: Darynda Jones

20 January 2020

For ARR2020 in March we will be featuring more than 90 romance authors across five cities. If you live in (or near) Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, come along and meet local authors, as well as our international guests—Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan.

Today we are spotlighting Darynda Jones. She will be attending ARR2020 in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

How old were you when you first started writing romance?

Five. Yep, I started making up romance stories before I could even write. By the age of six, with knowledge on my side, I was unstoppable.

Who was the first romance author to catch your interest?

Kathleen E Woodiwiss, GRHS. I read a condensed version of A Rose in Winter at the dentist’s office. I’ve never been the same.

Have you written genres other than romance (or are you thinking about it)?

I write in pretty much every genre under the sun, but everything I write has at least a touch of romance. I also have tons of projects under way in all kinds of genres. I think I need a pen name. Or two.

Choose one of your books to turn into a movie—who would you cast in the lead roles?

Wow, well, at this point it would probably be First Grave on the Right. I could totally see Zoey Deutch playing my female protagonist, Charley Davidson. She has incredible comedic timing and is adorable and spunky and sassy as all get out. She’s perfect. As for her love interest, the sinful son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, I’m currently rather hooked on Theo James for the role. Such a hottie.

What is the hardest part of creating a story?

It’s all hard! LOL. Okay, for me it’s that first draft. Like many writers, I love having written. It’s that whole writing part that’s a killer. I love rewriting. Fine-tuning. Layering in cool stuff and fun words.

What is your favourite place to write?

I mostly write in my office in a recliner named Gertie, but I also love writing at a local coffee shop called Sweetwater’s. Great atmosphere!

Have any of your characters been inspired by real-life people?

The more I write, the more I base my secondary characters on real-life people. It makes it easier for me to envision them and harder to forget the small details that I would otherwise have to check repeatedly. I’ve even started naming them after their human counterparts with little twists. Like, in my upcoming mystery/romance, A Bad Day for Sunshine, my protagonist’s sidekick is named Quincy after my brother Quentin. He looks like him and acts like him, so it’s easy for me to picture him in my head. He’s also hilarious IRL just like my character. I may owe him royalties at some point. My main characters not as much.

What was the last romance you read and loved (and why did you love it)?

Oh! I just read Dangerous by Minerva Spencer and LOVED it! I adore historical romance and this book was part old-school HR with pirates and adventure and part contemporary HR (which is quite the oxymoron) with sweeping ballrooms and beautiful gowns. The protagonist is very different from your usual HR heroine and I loved her from the first page.

Tell us about your latest release in 100 words or less

How about one I have coming up that I’m hoping to have early for ARRA? A Bad Day for Sunshine. Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff–an election her adorably meddlesome parents entered her in–and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of it’s reminding Sunny why she left Del Sol in the first place. Enter sexy almost-old-flame Levi Ravinder and a hunky US Marshall, both elevens on a scale of one to blazing inferno, and the normally savvy sheriff is quickly in over her head. And they said coming home would be drama-free.

What else will you be working on in 2020?

Right now, I actually have at least four releases planned. It’s been a crazy few months and I’m hoping to finish up the second instalment in the Sunshine Vicram series, a new super-secret project out in February, a novella set on the high seas, and a novella I’m very excited to be doing for 1001 Dark Nights called The Graveyard Shift: A Charley Davidson Novella. I’m super excited about everything that’s to come.

If you haven’t booked your ticket for ARR2020 yet, you can buy one HERE.

 

Guest blogger: Alissa Callen

19 January 2020

Inspiration behind The Boundary Fence

People often ask me where I get my story ideas from. Luckily I write rural, as inspiration is literally all around me. I live on a small farm in the beautiful central west of NSW where we run cattle and grow winter oats.

As unlikely as it sounds, it was a trip to my local grocery story that triggered the idea for The Boundary Fence. Usually in the car park there will be the regular dusty utes, sometimes an empty cattle truck and, thanks to the drought, plenty of hay bales. But this visit there was a truck with the name of a bison farm on the side. Curious I googled and discovered a bison farm existed on the other side of town.

Dubbo is also home to the fabulous Western Plains Zoo and the North American thunder beasts have always interested me. Essential on any bison farm are strong and high fences and this led to the concept of a physical boundary fence in my story as well as a metaphorical one between two neighbours.

This final book in my Woodlea series was always going to be about patient Ella. Saul just appeared and thankfully turned out to be the perfect man to bring Ella peace. In return, Ella is the only one who can help Saul deal with his demons.

Unfortunately this book was also always going to be about dust. I write what I know and with this drought dust has become ingrained into our lives. No surprises there will be a dust storm in The Boundary Fence as a sky-high wall of red dust travelling eastwards has become a too-regular sight.

I hope you enjoy Ella and Saul’s story and their happily-ever-after. I will be sad to leave Woodlea, my small town of windmills and yarn bombing, but my new town is called Bundilla and is a high country book town. There will be plenty of rain and snow and very little dust.

I am still wrangling my street artist hero, who comes to town to paint a mural on the water tower, and my peony flower farmer heroine. But once Heath and Clancy get the second chance they each thought was out of reach, their story will be available in January 2021.

Happy reading and wishing everyone a wonderful New Year, full of laughter, joy and books.

You can find Alissa here: Website | Facebook | Pinterest

The Boundary Fence

Healing doesn’t just take time, it takes courage …

The scars country vet Ella Quinlivan hides are not solely on the outside. Men are off limits. She fills her world with her friends, work and the colourful community of small town Woodlea. She also becomes custodian of a sandstone cottage of an elderly friend whose teenage daughter went missing two decades ago.

With a broken marriage behind him, Saul Armstrong is determined to recapture his dreams by bringing American bison to the Australian bush. He intends to stick to his side of the high wire fence that divides his farm from his distracting new neighbour, Ella.

When Saul calls out Ella for a bison emergency she isn’t just thrown out of her comfort zone by dealing with an unfamiliar animal. Slow-smiling and guarded Saul stirs emotions she’d long ago discarded.

As the summer heat parches the landscape and dust obscures the sun, hidden secrets come to light. Not only will Ella and Saul be tested, the connection forged between them will be threatened. Will love be enough to guarantee their freedom or will fear continue to dictate the direction of their lives?

The Boundary Fence is available now from HarperCollins.