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Guest blogger: Lisa Walker

22 July 2018

The romance of Antarctica

I know that writers are usually told to write what they know, but as I started writing my fifth novel I realised that I’ve pretty much run out of things that I know. From now on, I decided, I’m going to go crazy and just make things up! My new novel, Melt, is a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy about a production assistant who is forced to impersonate a TV science superstar in Antarctica.

And no, I’ve never been to Antarctica. It’s exerted a mysterious attraction, but has remained elusive. Sometimes though, I think that the places we don’t see are more powerful than the ones we do. They maintain an almost mythical status, like Narnia or Hobbiton. Antarctica is a mystical place for me, a snowy dreamscape.

I so loved being in my protagonist, Summer’s head as she sees Antarctica for the first time …

The plane drops lower and that vast whiteness becomes more defined. There are mountains—huge mountains. I hadn’t expected that. For some reason I’d thought it would be flat. The sea edge is rimmed with turquoise cliffs of ice. They are brilliant, luminous. I hadn’t dreamed they’d be that colour. My mouth is hanging open again. I shut it. We drop lower and I see black dots on the white. ‘Penguins,’ I squeal.

Rory jabs me hard this time.

‘Ow. Penguins,’ I repeat in a more subdued manner. ‘As you’d expect.’

In writing Melt, it helped that I’ve spent a lot of time in snowy places. I could visualise the hardships and the beauty of that environment. I’ve done many different jobs in my life—bar tender, reef guide, ranger—but the one that always gets people’s attention is the igloo building instructor. Yes, it’s true. And what’s more, I did this in Australia. I led snow survival courses in which we built—and slept in—igloos and snow caves.

Igloo building is quite a job. A snow cave can be whipped up in a couple of hours, but an igloo takes more commitment and preferably a team of willing builders. Sleeping in one is warmer than you would expect, and rather lovely. At night, a candle will light up the whole igloo and during the day a beautiful blue glow comes through the snow. In Melt I set Summer the job of building an igloo all by herself, which she finds extremely challenging.

This is going to be fun! I can already picture the jolly time we will have inside the igloo on Christmas Day. There will be presents and candles and maybe some hot mulled wine. And when Adrian sees me on TV, he will be so impressed at what I’ve achieved he will realise I am the girl for him. I can’t wait. Now, I just need to remember what to do …

One and a half hours later, I sink to the snow, panting, and survey my creation—a ring of crumbling snow blocks about two metres in diameter. You couldn’t call it a shelter, although if you lay in the middle it might cut the wind.

Summer also gets to spend a sultry night in a snow cave with a strangely attractive bearded Norwegian scientist, Lucas. The romantic possibilities of this situation are thwarted by their multiple layers of puffy clothing. Having met my husband in just this situation, I can vouch for the difficulty. While Summer has never been a fan of hairy men, Lucas’s beard starts to grow on her. Pulling the wool over his eyes isn’t easy, however. Especially when everything she knows about Antarctica she’s learnt from a website called Polar Fun for Kids.

Melt features a killer seal, a politician who thinks he’s Scott of the Antarctic, and hordes of cute penguins. I had a lot of fun writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it too.

You can find Lisa here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Instagram

Melt

Antarctica is getting hotter …

Summer Wright, hippie turned TV production assistant, organises her life down to the minute. And when her project-management-guru boyfriend, Adrian, proposes marriage—right on schedule—she will reach the peak of The Cone of Certainty.

At least, that’s the plan—until adventure-show queen Cougar Gale intervenes. Suddenly Summer is impersonating Cougar in Antarctica: learning glaciology and climate science on the fly, building a secret igloo, improvising scripts based on Dynasty, and above all trying not to be revealed as an impostor.

‘Melt’ is published by Lacuna and is widely available, including at Amazon.

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Release day: Where the River Bends

20 July 2018

Today is the official release of Where the River Bends by Elsa Winckler (ebook, Tule Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

Kalinda Evans works for the Anglo-Boer war foundation in Canada. She’s sent to South Africa to make sure everyone who lost their lives in the war will be remembered. On her drive to the guest farm in Kimberley, South Africa, Kalinda picks up a female hitchhiker and is startled when just moments later, the woman vanishes. Kalinda would be convinced she was dreaming…except there’s still a white lace handkerchief on the passenger seat.

Extreme sports enthusiast and computer game designer Zack Carter is always after the next big challenge. He’s far too busy for romance and adheres to a three-date rule, until he meets his parents’ latest guest. When she relays the story of her mysterious experience, Zack’s family shares the local ghost story. Kalinda and Zack work together to solve the puzzle of the ghost and how it all ties in with the war and the work Kalinda is doing.

As their attraction grows, Zack realizes he no longer feels the need to prove anything to himself. He only needs to prove to Kalinda that he’s more than a good time.

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

I originally wrote this story in Afrikaans during a very difficult time for our family. On a day when I couldn’t stop thinking about her, our beautiful daughter arrived on our doorstep with only her handbag and laptop with her—she had the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage. Healing took time, but I’m happy to report she’s now married to a wonderful, caring man. The whole incident left us reeling, though, and writing this story was a way to process the whole traumatic event. More or less at the same time I read an article about the Canadian involvement in the South African Anglo Boer War and I discovered that a number of nurses accompanied the regiment. Imagine leaving home to sail across an ocean far away from your loved ones so that you can help the injured. There was one particular battle that piqued my interest, one that was fought on the banks of the Mud River. And of course I started thinking, what if … I grew up listening to ghost stories and stories about the unexplained, and when I began writing Where the River Bends, a teary ghost, Suzy, one of the original Canadian nurses, somehow found her way into the tale. I hope you enjoy reading Kalinda and Zach’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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

Weekly musing: sci-fi and futuristic romances

19 July 2018

This week let’s discuss sci-fi/futuristic romance.

So what are they? It’s easy to say that they are romances set in the future or alternate worlds/universes but there is so much more to them. They span epic fantasy adventures with aliens, time-travel, planet hopping. They include elements such as love, acceptance, redemption all the while injecting mystery and suspense.

I’ve found that a lot of titles from this genre have branched out into their own well-deserved sub-genres such as paranormal and dystopian romance to name a few. What are your thoughts?

Common elements found in sci-fi/futuristic romance are: cyborgs, bounty hunters, assassins, aliens, spaceships, space-based and galatic worlds. Plus many fancy technological devices that don’t exist as yet.

My favourite tropes in this genre are alien abduction, amnesia, revenge, second-chance love, love at first sight, tortured heroes and opposites attract. What are your favourite tropes for sci-fi/futuristic romance? Which ones do you hate or even love to hate?

My top 10 must-reads in sci-fi-futuristic romance:

  • Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League: Nemesis Rising)
  • Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz (Lost Colony)
  • The Intergalatic Duke’s Inconvenient Engagement by Elsa Jade
  • Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (Katherine ‘Kitty’ Katt)
  • The Royal Scam by Gini Koch (The Martian Alliance)
  • Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasey (Scarabaeus)
  • The Lost Night by Jayne Castle (Rainshadow)
  • Barbarian Prince by Michelle M Pillow (Dragon Lords)
  • A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards (Araneae Nation)
  • Game Over by Taylor Keating (Guardian)

What are your reading recommendations for sci-fi/futuristic romance? Who are your must-read sci-fi/futuristic romance authors?

And here are my favourite covers:

 

Happy reading!

#SecretProject #Discussions #LoveReading

Release day: Heaven-sent Warrior

18 July 2018

Today is the official release of Heaven-sent Warrior by Nancy Lee Badger (Warriors in Bronze, book 1) (ebook and print, Soul Mate Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

Henrí Chevalier’s last memory, before stumbling naked into a museum’s moonlit garden, was Auguste Rodin and his dusty Paris studio in 1886. To escape his broken heart, Henrí volunteered to sleep inside a statue until needed. Expecting to die, he discovers he must learn to use the unexpected powers Heaven has given him. Without them he will fail his mission against otherworldly creatures, such as demons and faeries.

Kenzie Mackintosh, a dedicated art museum’s curator, spies a naked man hiding among bronze statues. A quick glance ignites desire within her, but she is too tied-up in work to act on it. Unaware of her fae heritage, their relationship heats up as he disrupts her job. While Henrí tries to process modern buildings, cars, and a broken elevator, a demon attacks and forces Henrí and Kenzie to enlist the aid of her powerful fae relatives. When the demon possesses the body of her ex-lover and threatens to kill him, then use her to take over the world, Henrí and Kenzie must learn to trust each other, even if Kenzie’s death might be the only answer to the world’s salvation.

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

When I moved to the city suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina from the rural mountains back in snowy New England, my sisters raved about the newly opened wing of the nearby North Carolina Museum of Art. Dozens of bronze statues by French sculptor Auguste Rodin filled a whole section indoors. Plus, there was also an outdoor garden with a reflecting pool. Even before I visited the museum, an idea hit me … what if demons slipped from that pool? What if warriors slept inside statues, and awakened to fight them? My 24th book, Heaven-sent Warrior, is now a reality, and I am working on the second book, titled Heaven-sent Highlander.

You can find out more about this book, including all buy links here.

Feature book: Mornings on Main

18 July 2018

Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas

Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 23 Apr 2018
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Format: print and ebook
Length: 320 pages
RRP: print A$31.99 / ebook A$6.99

Laurel Springs is not on the map for more than just driving through. Although there is history and secrets to be discovered.

Jillian James is a drifter. She has come to town to find her father, Jefferson James, or more specifically her origins. She has always travelled, and her father made sure he left very little evidence or things to find about himself. Jillian travels by her father’s rules including such ideas as never stay in a cheap motel, and never give too much information.

She arrives in town, always suspicious of people’s motives but she is friendly to those she meets. She needs a job and finds luck is with her, and she finds she is photographing and recording the history of quilts that have been kept by Gram (Eugenia), Connor’s grandmother, in her shop, A Stitch in Time. Gram has started her journey into dementia and her family and the town are also looking out for her. The story of the quilts need to be told so their history is not forgotten.

Connor Larady is the town mayor. He is the newspaper man. He is the heart of the town. The people defer to him and ask his opinions. Connor has had a lot of tragedy in his life but being in the town, with familiar things, keeps him grounded. Connor has a teenage daughter, Sunnie, who is growing up and he is often distracted by his daughter’s actions and behaviour. Sunnie pushes her dad’s buttons as she wants his attention. Her first boyfriend is not what Connor wants for his daughter, the second one less so but he is prepared to live with Reese as he has potential, more than the jock who thinks he owns Sunnie.

Connor is immediately attracted to Jillian, but he does find her a bit evasive and he is not sure if the relationship can be for the long term. Connor is prepared to try with Jillian and he slowly breaks down Jillian’s barriers and discovers her truth. Jillian, in one of Gram’s lucid moments, discovers her beginnings. It is this information that allows her to finally be free of her journey.

I always love Ms Thomas’s stories. I know I’m getting a story about a small country town. One that may have fallen on hard times, but the residents always remain optimistic. The townspeople always overcome adversity when things are low but there is always a positive improvement.

The stories also usually contain a story of new love, blossoming love and mature love. We are able to see how the characters start their relationships, and in some cases, there is a thread through several stories. Then we have the story of mature love. It may be an older couple finding love finally or one who has loved the other for a lifetime and finally gets to be with their soulmate.

I am really looking forward to seeing more stories set in Laurel Springs, Texas.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Release day: Fragile Tension

17 July 2018

Today is the official release of Fragile Tension by Irene Colabianchi (ebook and print, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Asher Keaston is a young airline pilot who is disappointed by his childhood and the loss of the most important person in his life.

Eleonor Meier is convinced that she can recuperate a reality of which she has no memory.

An encounter that is not really fortuitous between the two, convinces Asher that the only way to free himself of his past and live a torment-free future, is to destroy the beautiful and passionate woman who has taken over his memories and his desires.

Eleonor hates Asher’s eyes, his intense and intrusive look, his oppressive and arrogant ways, but passion and fate will change their destiny once again, that destiny that had separated them four years before.

Asher is convinced of his plan, but instead will find himself always more involved in what he actually feels for Eleonor, a desire that never died. Eleonor will discover that there is a deep secret in Asher’s eyes that could shock her existence.
What if the destruction of Eleonor will be Asher’s final condemnation?

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

Fragile Tension is the amorous and painful story of two broken souls that have been shattered by events and by time. It is the story of two lovers who have been separated by a tragic accident. Asher Keaston is an awesome airline pilot who, today, has become an arrogant asshole, who feels a strong sense of revenge. Eleonor Meier, instead, is a young and incredibly beautiful girl, a formidable artist. The strong sense of revenge leads Asher to think that destroying Eleonor is the only way to forget what made him suffer and change deeply, in an attempt to free himself from his painful past. His intent is to seduce and conquer Eleonor and afterwards ruin her morally and emotionally. But his intent leads him to understand that he really loves her deeply, discovering that if he loses Eleonor, he will risk his identity, his life and his love for her…

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

Release day: Once Upon a Player

16 July 2018

Today is the official release of Once Upon a Player by Christina Phillips (British Bad Boys #2) (ebook and print, Entangled Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

Falling for the player was never part of the plan…

Violet

When my mum gets sick, I volunteer to fill in for her and clean some hot jock’s penthouse. I’ve heard all the rumors about him, so the plan is get in, clean some toilet bowls, and get out. After my last experience with a “sports hero,” I’m done with that sort of guy.

But Lucas Carter is full of surprises. He wants to help me clean and is nothing like the toad the press has made him out to be. Resistance may be futile for some girls, but not me. Then he asks me to help him with the interior design of his new place. I can’t say, no. It’s going to look great on my resume.

Unfortunately, spending time with Lucas is dangerous. He’s so charming and sweet, but I can’t let myself forget––once a player, always a player.

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

Lucas is the identical twin brother of Harry, the hero in my previous British Bad Boys book, Cinderella and the Geek. Although the brothers are great friends, Lucas is the opposite of Harry—he’s outgoing, charming and a real player. As a professional footballer, he’s never had a problem getting a date—until he meets Violet. I had so much fun with these two as they tried to keep things in the friend-zone … and failed 🙂

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