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A Romantic High Tea in Perth: wrap-up

21 September 2017

On Saturday afternoon 9 September a small but enthusiastic group of Western Australian romance readers and writers (Rachael Johns, Christina Phillips and Athena Daniels) got together for the ARRA Romantic High Tea in Perth.

Held at the Point Bar and Grill in East Perth, we had the perfect location against the Swan River, the perfect weather and even more importantly the perfect company! The food was delicious (especially the dessert) and the sparkling wine went down very nicely. We had lots of fun talking about our favourite romance books and how a couple of us had introduced romance (of the saucy variety) to our book clubs.

We all agreed that there are many people who read romance but don’t realise they do so and so having an afternoon with fellow readers who are loud and proud in their love of romance was very special. I think we all went away with a new author suggestion to try and Linda and Rachael even found Linda’s first romance book she ever read (Nina Grant Paediatric Nurse by Patti Stone) at age ten, on Abe Books. She’s going to order a copy right away. It made us think about our gateway romance book!

As usual we could have talked books and writing for much longer, but we all went home with smiles on our faces having had our fix!

[This article originally appeared in the September 2017 ARRA member newsletter.]


Feature book: Blood Kissed

20 September 2017

Blood Kissed by Keri Arthur

A new urban fantasy series by Keri Arthur? Sign me up! This one is set in an alternative reality rural Victoria, and features Lizzie Grace, a witch who is possibly not quite what she seems, and her familiar Belle (also a witch).

The story is set in the town of Castle Rock, which is on a werewolf reservation. Lizzie and Belle moved to the town a few months ago and opened a cafe with a psychic side business. A distraught mother hires Lizzie to find her missing daughter. When Lizzie discovers that the teenager is with a vampire she heads off into the bush to find her. This lead to an encounter with the head ranger, a werewolf, who does not like witches, at all. Not only does Lizzie need to deal with the vampire, but now she has a grumpy werewolf to deal with as well.

This new series has an interesting new cast of characters, and the story has an interesting mystery to be solved. There is a gradual filling in of Lizzie’s back story, but there are lots of tantalising questions that are yet to be answered. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Note: if you were wondering—this book is not a romance. But there is a hint of romantic interest, which hopefully will develop in later books!

reviewed by Debbie

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

Release day: Willow Tree Bend

18 September 2017

Today is the official release of Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie (ebook, Harlequin MIRA Australia). Here’s the blurb:

An interrupted phone call and a mysterious disappearance brings a family’s secret past crashing into the present…

It’s 1969 and small-town girl Faith Taylor longs for the excitement of the city. Leaving her family home in Willow Tree Bend, Faith lands a job at The Angel — Melbourne’s most infamous nightclub. While Faith relishes her new-found freedom, she can’t help but notice that there are some things about the club that don’t add up. So when a policeman shows her a shocking photograph, and reveals that a former waitress was murdered, Faith realises she must help to bring down the shadowy owner behind the club’s activities.

More than thirty years later, what happened at The Angel remains a closely held secret, never spoken about. When Faith disappears, her sister Hope — now a famous movie star — is left with an intriguing, though frustrating, piece of the puzzle. But with a tell-all documentary film crew constantly by her side, how can she find where Faith is — and what she’s hiding — while making sure her own secrets stay hidden?

Faith’s daughter, Sam, is also concerned by her mother’s uncharacteristic behaviour. When she overhears a clue to Faith’s past, she’s determined to unearth the truth. What is the connection between The Angel and Willow Tree Bend? What does Faith’s disappearance mean? And what will happen when the final secret is revealed?

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

Willow Tree Bend has two timelines, and tells the story of three generations of women and the secrets that hold them together. The past timeline is set in Melbourne in 1969. I loved researching the 60s, and the music and nightclub scene. There was a dark side to it all, as Faith in my book finds out when she meets Ray, a singer on the way up. The present day story is set in a small country Victorian town, where Sam, Faith’s daughter, is trying to make a success of her gardening business while ignoring her interesting new neighbour. He just happens to be an ex-rock star whose poster used to be on her wall when she was a teenager. As you might have guessed, there is a music theme running through this book!

You can find out more about this book, including the buy links, at Kaye’s website.

Guest blogger: Ella Carey

16 September 2017

The romanticism in old houses

Someone asked me recently what inspired me to play with time in my novels. As my last three novels have been dual narratives, I think that it’s a fair question to ask me why I like to enjoy dalliances with time!

I think, for me, the answer goes way back. When I was a child I was always be fascinated by atmospheric rooms in old houses, I was always transported somewhere else. Rather than seeing what was happening in front of my own eyes … I’d start imagining the past.

Nothing’s changed …

So, for me, setting Secret Shores around an old property inspired by Anlaby in South Australia, with its gorgeous old homestead and a fascinating history to boot, was a no brainer. Here was an old sandstone mansion filled with stories of ghosts wandering the hallways, a bedroom with a painting of two children whose eyes followed you wherever you go, sumptuous restored gardens with exotic species brought back from the Mediterranean by the women who tended the house, a soaring peacock house, winding, secret pathways and old wooden doors set into gracious stone walls that could lead you anywhere your imagination could take you …

There is an old stable block, now vast and gloomy and empty, where once seventy workers used to gather each morning when the bell was rung to signal the start of the day. Now, the stable cat lazes on the old, cracked cement in the courtyard, where it’s all too easy to imagine stable hands leading grand, proud horses around with shining leather saddles and beautifully dressed people preparing to go out for their daily rides at the turn of the twentieth century when the property was enjoying its heyday.

While staying at the once-famous property to do my research, I saw velvet curtains that were laced with fine gold thread, installed in the old mansion for a visit from the Prince of Wales a hundred years ago; a visit that never happened in the end. There was a ballroom upstairs, also built for the occasion of his non-eventuating visit, and the family owned a steamship on which they travelled to the UK with their own particular porcelain. There were conservatories filled with palms and elegant wicker chairs and shady romantic verandahs that overlooked a lawn that looked the perfect spot for a game of croquet.

There is a writing tower overlooking an old tennis court, its net hanging rather forlorn and sad these days, but you can imagine the clip of tennis balls and picture the elegance of women skipping around on the freshly mowed grass while in the nearby shelter, men would languish with drinks and slicked back hair wearing white summer suits in the searing South Australian summer …

Add to that, a wild island off the South Australian coast, where the waves crash against granite boulders, and where another story happened … a young artist who slipped into the sea while leaning down to pick up her pencil, and I had a novel.

I was inspired by the idea of artists fighting against the odds to be able to have their careers, the modernist movement in Australia after the second world war, and I had another fascinating backdrop against which to set a languishing, romantic journey, or two.

Once again, I wanted to write not one but two love stories, and that’s how I ended up playing with time. I journeyed not only to the 1940s, but to the 1980s, and Rome and New York in my latest novel, which is also partly set against the glamour of those two cities on the cusp of another one of the world’s most interesting decades.

Long-lost secrets will be rediscovered as the story goes on. Come with me on a journey that grabbed me by the heart every time I worked on it. I hope it does the same for you when you read.

Ella Carey xxx

You can find Ella Carey here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Secret Shores

In 1946, artist Rebecca Swift’s dreams of love and a life free from convention are crashing like the waves of the Australian coast below her. And it’s into those roiling waters that she disappears.

Forty-one years later, Tess Miller’s dreams are crashing, too. The once-successful New York editor has lost her most prestigious author to the handsome new golden boy of publishing. Meanwhile, she’s stuck with Edward Russell, a washed-up Australian poet writing a novel about some obscure artist named Rebecca Swift. But Tess may have underestimated Russell. His book is not only true—it’s a searing, tragic romance and a tantalizing mystery set in a circle of postwar modernists. When Tess uncovers a long-hidden secret, she’s drawn even deeper into Rebecca’s enigmatic life and death.

As Rebecca’s past intertwines with the present, Tess finds herself falling for the last man she thought she’d ever be drawn to. On the way, she discovers the power of living an authentic life—and that transcendent love never really dies.

September marks the release of Secret Shores.

Ella Carey’s novels: Paris Time Capsule | The House by the Lake | From a Paris Balcony


ARRA newsletter #98

15 September 2017

Purple news

The September issue of the ARRA newsletter is out today. Members should have received the download code via email.

Here’s a quick run down on what you can find in the newsletter this month:

  • a wrap-up from the Perth High Tea
  • a special interview with Jayne Ann Krentz ahead of her visit to Australia (tickets are still available)
  • the next #AuthorHour is on 27 September
  • Rhyll and Charlotte’s web watch column this month explores AusRom Today
  • don’t forget to try your hand at the Find the Heart giveaway—a $10 gift card to be won

Plus our regular columns—romance roundup, publisher news, self-publishing highlights, events, reviews, freebies, author interviews and upcoming releases.

If anyone has any publishing news or deals to report, please send information through. And we are always looking for authors to do a Q&A for the newsletter. If you haven’t done one yet, please contact me at

Happy reading everyone!

PS – don’t forget to fill in our annual romance readers survey:

Feature book: Conveniently Wed to the Greek

13 September 2017

Conveniently Wed to the Greek by Kandy Shepherd

This is not someone she expected to see. Not the man who sued her in court over a blog post. But Adele (Dell) Hudson finds that her peace is being disturbed at the sight of Alex Mikhalis.

While Dell is coming out the other end of the struggle after her business and personal life have crashed around her. She was sued, her marriage ended and her ex-husband left her with all the debt and a little surprise. After their battle, Alex went back to Greece to lick his wounds, and the loss of his fiancé, and decided that perhaps Dell may have been correct in what was happening in his Australian flagship restaurant.

Alex senses something in Dell and he offers her the job of helping set up his new resort in Greece. At first she refuses as she hopes that she will be pregnant (the little surprise leftover from her ex-husband). She has cramps and finds her dream has dissolved. She then turns around and asks Alex if the job is still open, and it is. She moves to Greece and works with Alex to develop his exclusive resort.

It is not until the boat’s motion and her continued motion sickness forces her to go to the doctor that she discovers she is actually pregnant. Alex has been fighting his feelings and reaction to Dell, and this new pregnancy means that he should stay away from her. Although it is going to be hard when most people in his family are doing all they can to throw Alex and Dell together. And all the pieces fall into place.

Ms Shepherd’s books are always enjoyable. The characters are well written and rounded. I like that there are not too many silly moments but they are thinking and processing their thoughts and feelings towards the one who will be their other half. The one with the matching soul. Setting this story in romantic Greece, and the loving family, only adds to this familiarity and warmth.

Reviewed by Heather

A review copy of this book was provided by the author. ARRA members who leave a comment on the blog by 27 September 2017 will go into the draw to win a copy of the book.






Guest blogger: Michelle Somers

10 September 2017

Curveballs and creativity

I’m curled up on my couch, rain pelting outside, searching for something to share with you today. All as I type one-handed.

Life tossed me a curveball recently and—long story short—I have little to no use of my right thumb for the next four weeks. Such a small appendage, yet when it’s not available, you suddenly realise how intrinsic it is to day-to-day tasks.

With that—the idea of curveballs—in mind, I’ve found my topic. And of course it has a writerly bent 

How do writers so seamlessly toss in those curveballs? The twists and turns that throw the reader and keep throwing them so they never quite know what’ll happen next.

Ever wondered?

Well, I have a theory.

Yes, imagination is a must, yet so is an open mind. How so? You’re about to find out.

I remember when I first started writing, well before I was anywhere near publication. And well before I found my true passion—romantic suspense.

I was working on a contemporary romance, and as I wrote, something strange began to happen. Here’s how it all started …

First, about my story. When senior advertising exec, Shazz Rice, realises her creative director has gone AWOL a day before a big presentation, she’s forced to engage the skills of Liam Mason, top in his field and her nemesis. Liam’s stipulation? They meet at his place after work so they can pull an all-nighter. Not ideal, but Shazz is in a bind with nowhere else to turn. So, she drives up and sits outside in the car, dredging up the courage to go inside.

Here’s how the scene unfolds:

She yanked the key from the ignition and uncurled her shaking fingers from around the steering wheel. Breathe. Get this weekend over and move on. Then she could return to solid ground. Safety. With no one to push buttons she wasn’t ready to be pushed again.

Night air tipped with the frosty stroke of spring sliced through her thin tee and hoodie. Hunched against the wind, she headed for the back of the car, not nearly ready enough to see Liam again, but honest enough to admit that any additional delay would be a waste.

A flash of white skittered through her legs. She jumped, eyes darting left, right. Heart trying its darnedest to leap out of her chest.

Then she spotted it. A cat.

Breath whooshed through her lips, her laugh shaky. Forced. A mere cat and she’d reacted as if this was the second act of Psycho. What next? Her shoulders were one gigantic mass of angst, her nerves reduced to quivering by a man who was burrowing under skin she’d considered elephant-hide thick.

The cat raced through Liam’s gates and disappeared into the shadows.

Tossing her head, her nerves, at seeing the man within the tan brick building, she squinted into the dark. Liam Mason didn’t seem like a cat kind of guy. Mind you, what did she know about the man, other than he infuriated the hell out of her, was the best in his field, and she craved him like crazy?

She couldn’t stem the sigh, or the wish things could be different. The sooner they started, the sooner she could leave and never cross paths with him again.

The sooner she’d stop wishing for things that could never be.

She grabbed the leather strap of her small bag, braced, blanked her mind to the next twelve hours and turned.

A cannon ball force rammed her stomach. Her body slammed backwards, sucking the air from her lungs. The world swirled, a cocktail of stale cigarettes and beer smacking her nostrils. The leather strap slipped from her fingers.

She gasped. Swung her arm, hoping for contact, hoping to neutralise the bastard intent on stealing her power. She hit steel—pure reinforced muscular steel—then meaty fingers wrapped around her wrist and yanked. The ground slipped out from under her heels. She lifted her head and stumbled, a familiar dark gaze dragging bile to her throat as his fist smashed her jaw. Wet metal rolled over her tongue. Blood. Hers. Before she could process, to question how and why and haul mind and body back into action, knuckles she’d sworn to never see again delivered a blow that turned what little light filled her world into black.

Surprised? I was.

Did I plan this? Absolutely not. I’d never thought to write anything even remotely ‘suspensey’. After all, romance was hard enough to craft well. How could I possibly write a mixed genre and do each portion justice?

Yet, suspense nudged its way in, regardless. And I hadn’t a clue until the stench of cigarettes filled the air and a blow slammed Shazz backwards against the car.

My characters had a life of their own. And they had plans of their own—never mind what I had planned for them.


The subconscious is a wild and wonderful place. Give it an idea, and it’ll give back ten-fold.

Have you ever searched for a word, or tried to remember something that seems determined to elude you?

I have. More times than I’d like these days (no comments about age, grey hairs and those ageing grey brain cells).

Next time it happens, try this. Ask your subconscious a question. What’s the name of Aunt Beatrice’s uncle’s sister’s first husband? Or what’s that secret cake ingredient Grandma Emily shared but wouldn’t let you write down? Or where did you last leave your keys?

Ask your subconscious, then stop trying to remember. Go about your day, do all the things that are normal—or abnormal, depending on how your life’s panning—and leave your brain free to do the work. You’ll be surprised how many times your subconscious will come through. Suddenly, when you’re shopping or skydiving or flying a kite, the answer will spring forth, seemingly from nowhere.

Such is the untapped power of the subconscious mind.

So, how do writers craft those twists and turns? Throw curveballs that surprise and delight the reader?

They ask their subconscious to do it for them.

Michelle Somers is a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.

Michelle lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her real-life hero and three little heroes in the making. And Emmie, a furry black feline who thinks she’s a dog. Her debut novel, Lethal in Love, won the Romance Writers of Australia’s 2016 Romantic Book of the Year (RuBY). Her second novel, Murder Most Unusual, was released early this year.

Find out all about Michelle, her adventures and her books at