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Feature book: Cover Story

4 March 2015

Cover StoryCover Story by Rachel Bailey

Read all about it. There has been a gnomicide.

Tobi Fletcher wants to be taken seriously as a journalist. She is trying to get the political story of the year but things seem to keep happening to kill the story. She is sent to a street where there has been a murder. Okay, probably not a conventional murder but a gnome murder. Tobi meets the people in the street as she tries to work out who is kidnapping and killing the community gnomes.

Tobi has much to live up to in her family. Her family is very well known and that impacts on her view of things as she wants to be successful under her own steam. She has allergies and a boyfriend she finally breaks up with. While investigating the gnomicide, one of the teenage boys hits on her, which she finds somewhat troublesome. During the course of writing her series of articles about the gnomicide, she solves many of the issues and problems of the people in that street, and also makes a name for herself. The flow-on effect is that she gets her political story. It means a tough decision for Tobi.

Simon Hanson lives in the street. He called the newspaper on his daughter’s behalf as he wants to show her that this gnomicide is something that should be taken seriously. He is attracted to Tobi and is more than happy to assist as long as he can spend time with Tobi. Simon is a very patient man and takes a slowly, slowly approach with Tobi (which can be frustratingly slow for the reader).

In the story we meet many of Tobi’s family, including her mother who dates her editor (and the editor falls apart when he is dumped). Then there is her sister who is divorced and looking for something more in life. We hear about her grandfather, although we don’t meet him. The family is certainly an eccentric mix and add to the story’s humorous side.

This is funny story. There are many gnome jokes and the reader may come up with one or two of their own to add to the story.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Feature book: A Diamond in Her Stocking

4 March 2015

A Diamond in Her StockingA Diamond in Her Stocking by Kandy Shepherd

Lizzie Dumont has returned to the beautiful coastal town of Dolphin Bay where she spent most of her holidays with her family as a child and teenager. Much has happened in her life since the days that she spent helping the owner of the guesthouse, Maura Morgan, in the kitchen and learning to love cooking. She became a chef and spent time in Paris and Lyon at some of the best restaurants. After her marriage break up and being a single mum, life has been a bit rough and she has come to take over the Bay Bites Café, which is owned by her sister, Sandy. She is hoping that life will get better for her and her daughter Amy. One of the first people she runs into is Jesse Morgan, her sister’s brother-in-law, and someone that she is drawn to after a night together at Sandy’s wedding. There is no way Lizzie is going to become one of Jesse’s girls.

Jesse Morgan is drop-dead gorgeous but after being dumped by the woman he loved and wanted to marry he is very wary of being hurt again. The town people are taking wagers on whether he will ever marry and of course the talk caused from the song Jesse’s Girl. He is careful to choose women who do not want long term, but he is also such a caring guy. He will never purposely hurt anyone. Jesse is back in his home town of Dolphin Bay after an injury has kept him from returning to his job as an engineer, helping rebuild towns in poorer countries that have been devastated by floods and catastrophes. He has offered to help his brother Ben and sister-in-law Sandy with the opening of the new café, although he is wary of being with Lizzie again after the way she dumped him at Ben and Sandy’s wedding.

Lizzie is shocked to see Jesse at the café when she arrives to start getting things organised for the opening. There is such a spark of electricity between them, but both have a lot to overcome and they agree to be friends, and friends only, while they work at getting the café up and running. This gets harder for both of them as the days go on as Jesse drives Lizzie around the local area so she can meet the local growers and buy produce. The more they talk and get to know each other, the closer they become. Jesse is such a caring and understanding guy and, as both of them realise that what happened at the wedding was a big misunderstanding, they decide to give their relationship a go and what a sensual romance this one is.

I loved this story and being back in Dolphin Bay with the friends we have met in the past two books in this series. Ms Shepherd writes such great stories that will pull you in with a wonderful setting. I really want to be in Dolphin Bay with the Morgans and the wonderful people of the town. The ending is so good. This is one book that I wanted to get to the end, but didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend this one, as well as this series.

Reviewed by Helen S

A review copy of this book was provided by the author. ARRA members who leave a comment by 18 March 2015 will go into the draw to win this book.

Feature book: The ES Siren series, books 1-3

4 March 2015

The ES Siren Series, books 1–3

The overall series was excellent at showcasing sci-fi romance, the technical aspects of the sci-fi related to day-to-day activities and shouldn’t put off anyone who doesn’t like the spaceship type books. There are no ‘beam me up Scottie’ transporter moments here, and the most sci-fi type weapon is an electric whip type of arrangement (an excellently thought out idea for use where you don’t want holes in the hull as you would get with projectile weapons aka guns).

The roughly one hundred page individual tales varied according to which part of the story they were telling. Book One contained a lot of set up, but not demonstrably a first-book-only, the story was complete in and of itself. The great thing was that although different relationships were being explored in each book, the overall feel of the series was maintained in each instalment. There’s an overarching menace in the type of society Earth has spawned with such a considerable divide between the rich and the everyday people and a feel of the Wild West in the colony of Solitaire they are heading towards with its privations and survival on the edge.

Each author brings a slightly different feel to their tales and accordingly the different books will appeal to different people. They all have happily ever afters, the tone is different in each and you should read them all for the rich tapestry they provide for their canon, although if you are not in the mood for menace, space (see what I did there) them out a little between other books. After all it’s about six hundred pages you are committing to.

Yours to UncoverYours to Uncover by Mel Teshco

Chief Rita Songworth has worked her way up through the military and reports to Lieutenant Zane on the spaceship ES Siren. She’s in a dysfunctional relationship with Zane and despondent that she left her family on Earth.

Tristan is a white coverall wearing (worst of the worst) prisoner on board the Siren. He’s in for the murder of his wife and unborn baby, is a world-class painter and strangely compelling to Rita.

Lieutenant Zane is more or less the antichrist in this story (OK that description may be slightly over the top). He’s basically evil, he’s in a position of power, he feels entitled and he manipulates people through his position, using blackmail and by covertly giving them drugs. He runs illegal fights and stirs trouble among the large number of prisoners on the vessel.

Rita and Tristan’s relationship has an interesting dynamic with her being free and him a prisoner. They have brief elicit encounters, it’s not at all sweet and the tension may not appeal to everyone.

It’s the first book in a series written by three authors based on characters travelling on the colony ship ES Siren. Earth is overcrowded and heavily polluted, it’s a dystopian vision of the future with a very wide gap between the haves and have-nots. This sci-fi romance has a horror aspect (think Stephen King’s type of hopelessness), there’s a large emphasis in the story on the Zane character and his deliberate cruelty, which does overshadow the relationship between Rita and Tristan. Not for those who hold fairness and equity as first-level values; a punching bag is recommended as a reading aid for when Zane really makes you want to hit something.

Yours to CommandYours to Command by Shona Husk

Corporal Sienna Jade is a field surgeon pulling first-aid type duties looking after the prisoners because of her history with Lieutenant Zane (calling him the devil incarnate would be insulting to the Devil). She’s unhappy being on the Earth Ship (ES) Siren although she appreciates the food and relatively clean air of spaceship life. (Given that the food is unappetising gloop you get the picture of life before the military.)

Alex Tariel, former construction foreman is on board ES Siren as a prisoner. He deliberately stole water rations to get a place on the Unity mission to colonise Solitaire. He had a bit of a wild youth but settled down working construction on Earth. While unhappy with the stigma and personal restrictions of being a prisoner, he’s working towards freedom and keeping his head down, passing unnoticed until Zane forces him into the spotlight and into fighting in the Rounds (the prisoner fights) on the spaceship.

Lieutenant Zane is once again manipulating people and generally being an ass. Corporal Jade had the unpleasant experience of being his partner on Earth and now he’s making a point of making her life as miserable as he can. Alex and Sienna have a rough road to romance with Zane attempting to thwart them at every turn.

As with all the books in the series it’s a sci-fi romance, but it doesn’t have the horror angle that the first book did, so it’s a lighter read than the first one. With the baddy (Zane) established in Book One, the Sienna and Alex story takes centre stage and the characters get to flesh out their relationship a little more in this book. Zane does remain a major stumbling block but he takes up less space on the page this time around. There’s graphic sex between Alex and Sienna and it feels more relationship orientated and sweeter than that had by Rita and Tristan (in the first novel).

Yours to DesireYours to Desire by Denise Rossetti

Doctor Lily Kwan is a skilled and multi-qualified research scientist who has a love for woven baskets and tubers (all hail the potato). She’s kick ass without being physically superior, she uses smarts to get the better of dangerous people. She does (thank goodness) have some flaws; think experimenting on herself and underestimating the bad guy. And not wanting to belabour the tuber point but watch out for the judicious use of mashed potato as an offensive weapon.

Sergeant Connor Madison, quartermaster extraordinaire, can find anything and make even a romantic picnic happen on a less-than-romantic spaceship. He’s got a moral backbone a mile wide and he’s physically imposing, in a ‘hello hotness’ way.

An interesting relationship occurs between Lily and Connor given he’s not sure if she’s involved in the manufacture of sexmeth (a horrible drug that combines lowering of inhibitions and an insatiable need to have sex) and she’s experimenting on herself with an antidote for sexmeth. Never fear happily-ever-after does occur.

Again the book is a sci-fi romance with seamless tech. The vats of green goop in the hydroponics, tablet-type computers, daily drudge like the meals being unappetising yet nutritious and the colonists gaining more space as the stores are used up, make it feel like a real place.

Given the setting, this is a more light-hearted romance than in the first and second books, which were darker and more menacing. A quick woo hoo needs to be voiced for Lily outsmarting the obnoxious Zane in this one (very satisfying in a Hollywood kind of way); the heroines in the previous books outsmarted him in less confrontational ways.

Reviewed by Gina

Review copies of these books were provided by the authors.

ARRC2015: Booktopia, platinum sponsor

3 March 2015

BooktopiaIt’s been a big 12 months at Booktopia. In July last year we moved into a new headquarters and distribution centre in Sydney, nearly three times the size of our previous HQ. This move was the result of a key philosophy at Booktopia, a philosophy that has enabled us to grow from a $10 a day idea into a thriving $50m dollar business employing over 100 Australians.

Listen to our readers.

You told us we needed to hold more books in stock. Since July we now have over 500,000 books in our distribution centre, ready to ship. And that number will increase dramatically over the coming months.

You told us you wanted to speak to real people whenever you contacted us. Our in-house customer service team has expanded, a team of Australians passionate about books and customer service, ready to take your calls, messages and emails about anything and everything.

You told us you wanted to hear more about the latest books, news and reviews. Our Booktopia Buzz, edited by one of Australia’s most respected literary journalists Caroline Baum, goes out to nearly 1 million Australians every month, profiling and reviewing the biggest and best books on the horizon, always putting an emphasis on local titles and talents. We also have a dedicated romance newsletter, curated by the queen of romance Kat Mayo, exploring dozens of new romance titles every month with reviews and author interviews along the way.

You told us you wanted to hear more from authors. We now have a YouTube channel, Booktopia TV, where we interview the biggest authors around and find out what makes them tick. The Booktopia Blog, the home of the famous Ten Terrifying Questions, features author interviews, guest blogs and industry news like no other.

You told us you wanted more features on our website, more hands on selections from our team of experts. We now have comprehensive bestseller lists across a range of genres, a dedicated ‘Australian Stories’ collection, series pages, author pages, expert picks, and a range of gift guides for every occasion.

Romance readers have told us something from day one, one of the most important and often overlooked facts of bookselling.

Publishers and booksellers should thank romance readers and authors every day for the remarkable contribution they have made to the industry. In a fast paced world of short attention spans and brittle interests, romance readers have maintained their indomitable passion for reading, gobbling up book after book with joy, while romance authors continue to break new ground and offer us more and more memorable stories and characters year after year.

Romance readers have played an immeasurable part in Booktopia’s success over the years, helping us become Australia’s largest locally owned and operated online bookstore, voted by readers as Australia’s Favourite Bookstore in 2013.

So when the opportunity arose that we could be a platinum sponsor of the Australian Romance Readers Convention, we jumped at the chance. It’s our opportunity to say thanks to all romance readers and authors for their support, both now and into the future.

Don’t forget to drop by our booth at ARRC, and chat to a couple of Booktopia’s finest, Andrew Cattanach and John Purcell. And don’t forget to ask John about his secret life as one of Australia’s bestselling erotic authors!

Visit Booktopia at

Release day: Ask Me Nicely

3 March 2015

Today is the official release of Ask Me Nicely by Amy Andrews (ebook, Entangled Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

Ask Me NicelyVeterinarian Sal Kennedy’s lost her mojo and is desperate to get it back. In fact, as the anniversary of the tragedy that destroyed her life looms large, she’ll do anything to erase the painful memories, including overdoing the tequila and making a pass at the most annoyingly inappropriate man on the planet.

Fellow veterinarian Doyle Jackson is her flatmate and her employee and therefore strictly off-limits. Unfortunately, Doyle knows how to bring the goods and make her mojo sit up and beg. Doyle is only too happy to oblige Sal in her hour of need, but then she demands more, and she’s perfectly happy playing dirty to get it. He wants more, too—more than just sex, that is, and it’s something Sal’s not willing to give. But Doyle is in this for the long haul now, and he’s prepared to fight even dirtier to get what he wants. Even if that means they both keep losing all their clothes in the process…

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

Ever since No More Mr Nice Guy came out I’ve had people asking me for Sal’s story and I’m thrilled to finally be revealing it to the world. Sal’s a deeply wounded woman so her character isn’t as light and sassy as it was in Mack’s book. This is her book and she’s got a lot of damage to work through to get to her HEA with Doyle who she comes on to after a bit too much tequila and triggers their rocky road to love. But there’s also puppies and kittens and a scandalously foul-mouthed Galah. And rather inventive use of fairy floss…

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

Publisher pitch: Totally Bound, Mar 2015

2 March 2015

Totally Bound logo

Happy March! We are very busy this month at Totally Bound and here is a sneaky selection of everything we have on offer!

We will be running a Wild Western Promotion from 20 March so head on over to our site to see what great cowboy deals we have for you! There will be discounted titles, promotions and exclusive insights into our top cowboy authors. If you like a rancher, a jackaroo or a cowboy there will be something here for you! Yeehaw!

On that note, we have two big cowboy releases coming out in March! Carol Lynne’s ever-popular Cattle Valley series sees book thirty-two releasing this month, Journey to Lobster Cove. Cattle Valley is filling up, and our boys have to look for somewhere else to live! Could Lobster Cove be the place? Bailey Bradford also has a cowboy release, Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots. If you are missing your MM cowboy reads, keep your eyes open for these two!

The second book in our Totally Five Star imprint is out this month, Turkish Delights by Trina Lane. This new imprint is set in glamorous, exotic locations across the world and this MMM novel comes to you from simmering Istanbul! Three very different men come together in this hot ménage story, grab your copy today and escape to Turkey!

We have a new addition to our bestselling What’s her Secret? imprint, Breathe You In by Lily Harlem. As with all of the books in this imprint, the heroine has a secret that she is desperate to keep covered; that is until she meets the man of her dreams. In this latest addition, Katie has a past relationship which she can’t tell Ruben about. Pick up a copy of this new novel to discover more about this mysterious story!

TEB covers Mar2015Keep track of what else we have coming up by visiting us:

You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter where we divulge the entire latest goings on…

Hope you all have a lovely St Patrick’s day! :)

Coming up in March …

  • The Fear of Surrender by Morticia Knight
  • Turkish Delights by Trina Lane
  • Grind by Kait Gamble
  • His Soldier by Anna Lee
  • Quinn’s Gambit by Angel Martinez and Bellora Quinn
  • Reunited by Victoria Zagar
  • Breathe You In by Lily Harlem
  • Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots by Bailey Bradford
  • Journey to Lobster Cove by Carol Lynne
  • All I’ll Ever Need by JP Bowie
  • Give Chase by Willa Okati
  • Glass Houses by Helena Maeve
  • Dillon’s Decisions by Sydney Presley
  • Secrets Dispatched by Raven McAllan
  • Remarkable Restraint by Devon Rhodes
  • Blood Ties a Broken Heart by Cassandra Hawke
  • Little Rainbows by Helena Stone
  • Bring Me To Life by Scarlett Parrish
  • Gage’s Gift by Jenna Byrnes
  • True as an Arrow by Sean Michael
  • To Stand Close by Faith Ashlin
  • Heart Shot by Elizabeth Lapthorne
  • Hong Kong Heat by Raven McAllan
  • Blue Blood’s Trifecta by Cheyenne Meadows


ARRC2015: launch of Road to Hope

2 March 2015

Road To HopeNot long now and I’ll be jetting off to Canberra for the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention and I can’t hardly wait. This will be my second ARRA Convention and therefore I know what to expect – loads of fabulous people, lots of interesting panels, fun parties and non-stop book talk with like-minded people. If this isn’t enough excitement, I will be launching my latest book—The Road to Hope—on the Saturday morning to a room full of people who love romance books as much as I do.

I couldn’t pick a better venue to celebrate the release of The Road to Hope, which is linked to my first ever rural romance, Jilted, which won Favourite Contemporary in the 2012 ARR Awards. I hope the people that loved Jilted and voted for Jilted in these esteemed awards will be stoked to share this launch with me.

For those who won’t be at the convention (and I feel your pain), I’d just like to share a little about how The Road to Hope came into being.

When I wrote Jilted, I was recovering from my final Mills & Boon rejection and was on the verge of throwing in the towel in this writing gig. I thought I could do something more worthwhile with my time like take up quilting or, heaven forbid, spend more time with my husband. But alas, fate had other plans and Jilted, the book I wrote purely for my own enjoyment, was the book that finally sold.

I wrote Jilted as a stand-alone novel and never imagined returning to the town of Hope Junction with any other books, but my readers had other plans. I had such an amazing response to Jilted and got emails and messages on Facebook requesting more about Flynn and Ellie (the hero and heroine in that book). To me, Flynn and Ellie had been through enough and I’d given them their happy ever after, but I started thinking about how else I could give readers what they were asking.

And then it came to me. Lauren Simpson, a character in Jilted who I myself had nick-named The Nasty Nurse, needed to be redeemed. This wasn’t an easy task because I’d created quite an unlikable character but my readers were excited when I suggested the possibility of writing her story. And I ran with this excitement.

It was a learning curve—I had only ever written Lauren as a minor character, so I had to go back and work out WHY she did certain things she did. I’d also written her as a vegetarian and only remembered this after I’d written a scene in which Tom, the hero, cooks her bacon and she EATS it. Whoops. Obviously that scene had to be rewritten and I had to work out WHY she was a vegetarian. This was one example of many little challenges that occurred during the writing of The Road to Hope. And then there were the usual big book challenges—what is keeping the hero and heroine apart. Without giving too much away, Tom is a character I feel very deeply for and I hope you will all sympathise with his predicament.

In addition to Tom and Lauren, I can’t wait for you all to meet my fun-loving cast of minor characters, including some very excitable elderly hospital residents, a fat and spoilt ginger cat and of course the characters you came to know and love in Jilted.

I hope to see you at ARRC (where else would you want to be that weekend?) but if for some terrible reason you’re unable to be there, I hope you’ll find yourself a copy of The Road to Hope and enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Rachael Johns


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