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Release day: The Payback

26 May 2022

Today is the official release of The Payback by Julie Weaver (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

The Payback by Julie WeaverThree years ago, the Mafia murdered my first love and shattered my chance of happiness. I won’t stop searching for the gunman until justice is served, even if every step toward the killer is a step into the gaping jaws of Philly’s notorious underworld.

If only the new guy in my building, AKA Mr. Tall, Dark, and Annoyingly Alpha, would leave me and my secrets alone. My body might want him, but my head knows better. I’ve lost too much to risk giving my heart away again, especially to someone as deliciously tempting as Brandon Lewis.

When the Mob catches on to my revenge plans and delivers a deadly ultimatum, my persistent neighbor discovers we share a common enemy. Brandon might be an incredibly skilled hacker, but why isn’t he scared of taking on the most dangerous men in the city? And how does a computer geek get the body of a warrior, bullet scars and all?

Teaming up with the fierce, overprotective man next door becomes a proposition too appealing to resist. Except the more I get to know Brandon, the more I realize he’s the last person I could let pay for my foolish mistakes. If it happened again, neither of us would survive.

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

The Payback is a romantic suspense thriller with edge-of-your-seat action offset with laugh-out-loud moments. It’s book two of the Team Zulu series and can be read as a standalone, however for the best reading experience, you may wish to read book 1, The Hit, first.

You can find out more about this book (and earlier books in the series) at Julie’s website or buy it from here.

Feature book: Dead Horse Gap

25 May 2022

Dead Horse Gap by Lee Christine

Series: Alpine #3
Subgenre: romantic suspense
Release date: 1 Feb 2022
Publisher: ‎Allen & Unwin
Format: ebook and print
Length: 288 pages
RRP: $21.81 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

Talk about a heart-in-mouth beginning! The prologue features a horrifying plane crash in NSW’s Snowy Mountains, at an airport closed for the night, so no lights to guide the plane in. I was hooked.

Foul play is immediately suspected. Someone knew that plane was coming in and seems to have rolled a bulky tractor onto the runway. Unlit, it would only be seen seconds before the plane slammed into it, with no chance to avoid it. Who knew the plane was coming in? Why did they do it? And why was the plane landing there in secret?

Sydney Homicide’s Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder and Detective Constable Mitchell Flowers are called in to investigate. This is the third book in this series set in the Snowy Mountains, after Charlotte Pass and Crackenback. I was at a slight disadvantage at first, not having read the first two books. But I soon warmed to both Pierce and Mitch, and also Detective Constable Nerida Sterling. She’s working undercover to probe into a drug ring operating in the area, and continuing investigations into the previous death of a police informant.

Of the three police, I found Nerida’s situation to be the most perilous. Working undercover must be isolating and sometimes terrifying. So close to the criminals they suspect, yet always trying to get closer for information, and so laying themselves open to danger and the risk of exposure as police.

As Pierce and Mitch probe the crash, some people cooperate, others not so much. Patchy information is offered up, often with a wary or evasive attitude. Pierce and Mitch very quickly uncover a feud between two local, prominent families that goes back several generations. On the surface all is well, but the feud still resonates uneasily through both families. Although they seem civil on the surface, history—and an ongoing future situation—plays its part in keeping the feud alive for some. It’s all about land ownership, of course, and access to that land. And money.

Starting with the fiery plane crash, tangled up with drugs and land and money, the book gallops on almost without drawing breath. Loads of twists and turns. Danger is everywhere, offering a complex and thrilling story that makes for compelling reading. Who knew the Snowy Mountains was such a hot-bed of crime and drama? What a great story!

Reviewed by Malvina

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

Guest blogger: Trish Morey

22 May 2022

A Mother for Ella

One of the best things about being an author is that you meet so many fabulous people who are also writers, many of whom go on to become great friends. Talk about blessed. But that’s not where the good stuff ends, because if you’re really lucky, you might even get the opportunity to write alongside some of them as part of a series.

I was that lucky. 🙂

When I was asked to contribute a story to Tule Publishing’s Outback Babies series, four books set in the fictional town of Wirralong, I was beyond chuffed. Barbara Hannay, Fiona McArthur and Kelly Hunter are three authors I love, respect and admire, and we had so much fun brainstorming and coming up with our individual story lines.

Barbara Hannay kicks off the series with His Best Friend’s Baby—out now!

Then it’s my turn with A Mother for Ella—release date 26 May.

Fiona McArthur’s The Baby Whisperer lobs in on 9 June.

And then Kelly Hunter wraps up the series with Lola and the Single Dad—out 16 June.

Gorgeous titles, eh? And the cover gods (bless their little cotton socks) delivered up some equally gorgeous covers. (Can you tell how much I love being in this line-up?)

A Mother for Ella is a sweet book of second chances, one of my favourite tropes. (It’s also about baby Ella and netball and Aussie rules football and custard tarts for that matter, but it’s mostly about second chances.) Amber and Sinclair are just ordinary everyday people trying to do the best they can given the circumstances in which they find themselves. Neither of them is looking for love, that’s the last thing on their radar, so I loved making their needs collide so they had no choice but to notice each other and discover there could be more.

Here’s the blurb:

They both desperately need a second chance…

After enduring a family tragedy and scandal, all Amber McGuinness wants is to bury her past. She settles in faraway Wirralong and opens an accounting practice, hoping for a fresh start. As she settles into town and is embraced by the warm community, Amber gets her first client. His taxes are a mess, but his smile, dimples, and adorable baby more than make up for it.

Between work, parenting, and fighting for custody of his fifteen-month-old daughter, Todd Sinclair—Sinclair to his friends—is barely keeping his head and farm above water. His new accountant puts his finances in order, but she messes with his heart. After his disastrous marriage, he’s sworn off romance, but Amber gives him renewed hope.

As Amber and Sinclair spend more time together, they wonder if the mythical magic of Wirralong is real—until a reporter starts digging into Amber’s past, revealing secrets that threaten her newfound happiness. Can Sinclair convince her to stay and fight for their life and new family together?

Visit Tule Publishing for pre-order and buy links.

Thanks for listening, and big thanks to ARRA for hosting me!

You can find Trish here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Release day: The Highland Earl’s Revenge

21 May 2022

Today is the official release of The Highland Earl’s Revenge by Cathleen Ross (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Cover image of The Highland Earl's Revenge by Cathleen RossLady Arabella Fraser will do anything to protect her clan, even if it pits her against the man she loves and the army of the English king.

Scotland 1744–1746

At sixteen, Lady Arabella Fraser, is forced into marriage with seventy-year-old, Lord William Gordon. Her father, Lord Fraser, insists the union will bring him and the Gordon lord a dukedom from Bonnie Prince Charles, and free the Highlands from the scourge of English rule.

In desperation, she throws herself at the man she loves, young disposed noble, Alexander Gordon, and begs him to marry her, greatly humiliated when he refuses.

Two years later, unhappily married, Arabella swears she’ll never forgive Alexander for leaving her and joining the enemy army to fight under King George instead of marrying her.

The day after the Scottish defeat at Culloden Field, Captain Alexander appears in Gordon castle at the head of the English army to wreak havoc on all traitors to the throne. Alexander cannot forget that Arabella wouldn’t wait for him and married his uncle for the wealth, title and castle, that should have been his.

Except he still loves her and wants to make her his.

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

The Highland Earl’s Revenge is my first book in the Highland Lords and Ladies series. I walked Culloden Field with a battle historian two years ago and stories came up from the ground. So many Scottish families were pitted against each other. I wanted to tell the story of a young dispossessed lord, Captain Alexander Gordon, who in order to make his way in the world joins the English King’s army. The lady he loves, Arabella Fraser, is forced into marriage with his treacherous old Jacobite uncle. Arabella begs Alex to marry her instead and save her from this fate. Penniless, he refuses her desperate proposal and she can’t forgive him, then he arrives at her castle in charge of the invading English army.

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

Feature book: One Night with Her Forgotten Husband

18 May 2022

One Night with Her Forgotten Husband by Annie West

Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 13 Apr 2022
Publisher: ‎Mills & Boon Modern
Format: ebook and print
Length: 223 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $8.99 (print)

I love a good amnesia book! It’s such a fabulous romance trope and it’s been a while between amnesias …

Angelo Ricci is appalled when he discovers a woman’s body, washed up on the sand of his private beach. His property on the isolated Italian island is usually his bolt-hole. Stumbling across bodies, even in bad weather, is not the norm!

To his relief the woman is alive, but his heart sinks like a stone when he realises she’s his ex-wife, Alexa. The last person he—or his staff—want or expect to see. It’s been five years since they parted, and their relationship wasn’t pretty at the end.

How Alexa was marooned on the beach is a complete mystery. There’s no boat out to sea, and nothing to indicate where she might have been—or where he can contact anyone regarding her.

The weather is shocking, and no-one can access the island to expedite her back to the mainland. Angelo really has no choice. He reluctantly takes Alexa back to his villa.

Alexa keeps insisting he call her ‘Ally’, but she appears to have lost her memory and apart from her name remembers nothing. She’s different from the Alexa he learnt not to trust.

She’s still stunningly beautiful, yes, but he has bad memories of her grasping, shallow personality, only seeking fame and fortune and milking him for what he can give her. Adjectives such as liar, opportunist, self-obsessed and conniving keep popping up—with good reason, we discover, as Angelo gradually discloses their past history. Alexa is not a nice woman.

As she recovers, however, Ally seems different from the Alexa of the past. She’s thankful and humble. Easy to get along with and nice to the staff, to everyone’s surprise. What’s changed?

To Ally, Angelo is a complete stranger and her past is shrouded in a white fog of mystery. It’s an utter surprise to learn she’s his ex-wife. She sounds like she was a shallow, vain woman and this sits badly with her, especially the hurt she gave Angelo. She’s stunned to realise she’s beginning to care for him, and how much she’s enjoying time on Angelo’s island as she heals from her injuries.

They’re both surprised when the initial attraction that must have led to their marriage re-surfaces, white-hot and increasing. But, and it’s a huge ‘but’, should they act on it after all this time? Will things end badly, as they did before? What about the puzzle of Ally washing ashore?

The amnesia and the mystery of the past is fabulous in this book, and I was pretty sure things were going to be super-complicated when Ally got her memory back. (Yes, they were.) Thanks Annie West for another stunning romance, a page-turner with super high stakes!

Reviewed by Malvina

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

Guest blogger: Julie Weaver

15 May 2022

As a child, I remember wondering why my mum was so engrossed in her paperback novels. And why did she have no fewer than four half-read books stashed in random locations around the house? You know the ones I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure a windswept Fabio featured on several covers.

As an adult, I get it. I also really wish Mum had kept those books so I could’ve read them.

No matter what subgenre of romance you read, our favourite books transport us to another time and place. For a moment, we can escape the everyday rat race and fall into a world where we know everything will end up okay, even if we gasp, cry, and throw the book against the wall along the way.

When my sons were just babies and the night-time feeding routine meant my sleep patterns were chaotic, I began imagining stories to help me doze off. Each night, the plot developed further, and the characters became so loud I had to do something about it. That was when book 1 in the Team Zulu series, The Hit, became more than just a figment of my overactive imagination.

After attending a creative writing course, and armed with far more bravado than I had a right to, I wrote the first draft. Oh, how clueless I was. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m terrified to take another look at that early revision. Little did I know at the time how much I had to learn about writing romance.

Skip ahead a few years and, after polishing my manuscript by spending countless hours rewriting, fixing plot holes, and having my work critiqued by peers and professionals, The Hit went on to win the 2021 Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Award. Yep. Still pinching myself. But what an incredible way to be recognised for my hard work.

Just before COVID shut our international borders, I was fortunate to visit the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina, where The Hit is set. My lodging was a small log cabin, just like the one the main characters find themselves secluded in. I hope my readers can connect to the location through my experiences and the way I’ve incorporated the mountain sights, sounds, and smells into my writing.

Until recently, I still worked as a mechanical engineer, but I’m very pleased to say I’m now a full-time author. Talk about a career change! My engineering skills have come in useful for writing. My technical brain loves research and learning new things. And six years of Muay Thai training (similar to kickboxing, but more fun because you get to use elbows and knees as weapons) has made choreographing a fight scene much simpler.

If you’ve guessed I write romantic suspense, you’re right. Each book in the Team Zulu series features an ex-elite military hero and the brave heroine who challenges him. The Payback, book 2 in the series, releases 26 May on Amazon (Kindle Unlimited).

For more information about my books, including a free novella to download, visit my website.

You can find Julie here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon

The Payback

Sage

Three years ago, the Mafia murdered my first love and shattered my chance of happiness. I won’t stop searching for the gunman until justice is served, even if every step toward the killer is a step into the gaping jaws of Philly’s notorious underworld.

If only the new guy in my building, AKA Mr. Tall, Dark, and Annoyingly Alpha, would leave me and my secrets alone. My body might want him, but my head knows better. I’ve lost too much to risk giving my heart away again, especially to someone as deliciously tempting as Brandon Lewis.

When the Mob catches on to my revenge plans and delivers a deadly ultimatum, my persistent new neighbor discovers we share a common enemy. Brandon might be an incredibly skilled hacker, but why isn’t he scared of taking on the most dangerous men in the city? And how does a computer geek get the body of a warrior, bullet scars and all?

Teaming up with the fierce, overprotective man next door becomes a proposition too appealing to resist. Except the more I get to know Brandon, the more I realize he’s the last person I could let pay for my foolish mistakes. If it happened again, neither of us would survive.

ARRA newsletter #154

15 May 2022

Purple news

The April 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:

  • last chance for authors to put in an expression of interest for ARR2022 (Fremantle)
  • membership renewals start tomorrow!
  • details of award winners and a dinner wrap-up
  • Ticketpalooza competition for ARR2023 still open
  • win a $10 gift card—if you can Find the Heart!

Plus our regular columns—romance roundup, web watch, publisher news, self-publishing highlights, reviews, freebies 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 us at arra.editor@gmail.com.

Happy reading everyone!

Feature book: Summer at Kangaroo Ridge

11 May 2022

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 1 Mar 2022
Publisher: ‎Allen & Unwin
Format: ebook and print
Length: 272 pages
RRP: $23.99 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

The Carringtons are a strong, resilient family. They own a pub in the small country town of Kangaroo Ridge, and are developing the buildings on their farmland for weddings and party venues. They’re all busy and involved and slowly attaining financial security, but there’s a tragic story behind their united front.

Eight years ago a horrendous car crash mercilessly robbed the five young Carringtons of their parents. Without hesitation their pregnant Aunt Maddie stepped in to look after them, love them and provide stability. She did a great job, but the family’s threatening to buckle as the children grow into adulthood.

Twins Sebastian and Tamara are the eldest, and now seem to bear most of the burden of keeping the family together. Twins are often close, but Seb and Tam’s relationship is on an uneven keel.

Seb’s almost become like an autocratic parent, stern and unforgiving and harsh, and has taken on management of the family pub as his primary role. Tam acted out in her late teen years by becoming a bit wild and unpredictable, but now works hard in the family business, especially on the wedding planning side of things. Even so, Seb doesn’t seem to believe Tam’s trustworthy, with the family’s best interests at heart. He finds it hard when she disappears every now and then, and suspects she’s seeing someone he won’t approve of on the sly.

Well, yes, Tam is seeing someone. Very early on we discover who that someone is, and it’s quite a surprise. He very definitely won’t get Seb’s tick of approval for lots of complex reasons, which is why Tam’s kept their relationship secret.

There’s a lot of push-pull in this family. The younger siblings, Gray, Lix and Luce, are brought to life vibrantly. All terrific, different personalities. Gray in particular has enough maturity to have more insight into the troubles between Seb and Tam. He’s a lovely strong character, an unexpected anchor and a loving brother to them all.

In the end, Seb and Tam have to come to terms with the crash that killed their parents before Tam can reveal the love of her life. In flash-backs we see the lead up to the crash, the devastating reason behind it, and the blame game Seb and Tam carry on their shoulders afterwards. Unnecessarily so, but hey, as onlookers we can see that while they can’t.

Thank you Nicole Hurley-Smith. It’s a privilege to walk with the Carringtons through this crisis time as they bravely tackle their psychological baggage, especially Tam (and her lover) and Seb. I hope Seb gets his own story next; he deserves happiness!

Reviewed by Malvina

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

Release day: Home Among the Palm Trees

10 May 2022

Today is the official release of Home Among the Palm Trees by Rachel Armstrong (print and ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Cover image of Home among the Palm Trees by Rachel ArmstrongAna Hamilton stood up for herself and sent a man to prison. Now he’s out and she’s on the run. Arriving in the small North Queensland town of Elizadale, Ana finds herself reigniting her lost social life with new friendships, yoga, and dog agility training with her beloved border collie. But with the threat of revenge pursuing her, Ana can’t dare put down roots.
 
Liam Maguire has it all, a beautiful house and a thriving business. Passionate about Elizadale’s tourism, he’s about to open a café to highlight fresh produce from his family’s banana farm, Shadow Creek. All that’s missing from his life is the right woman … and the intriguing new teacher may be the one he’s been waiting for. But burned by a city girl before, can Liam risk his heart over another blow-in with flighty feet and shadows in her eyes? 
 
Drawn together through a budding friendship and the playful antics of their border collies, Ana and Liam begin to open their hearts. But as danger lurks in the darkness, can Ana risk staying in Elizadale with him when she may need to run again? Or worse, have her life violently cut short and leave Liam bereft? 

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

This is the first book in the Shadow Creek series about the Maguire family, who farm bananas in tropical north Queensland. The small town of Elizadale seems like the perfect place for Ana to find her safe haven and escape the threat that looms in Sydney. What I love most about this book is the small town vibe, intriguing town secrets, and the playful border collies that Ana and Liam bond over. I had a wonderful time creating this town, writing about these characters, and going banana crazy while immortalising my childhood dog in the character of Louis.

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

Publisher pitch: Pride Publishing, May 2022

9 May 2022

We are pleased to offer some super stories for May, including a number of new series, new authors to Pride Publishing, plus stories from some of your favourites, too. Made of Folded Paper by Kai Wolden and Saving the Wedding by Nicole Dennis open the month along with Winning Over Harmon by Megan Slayer. New series follow later with Blood Omen by Kegan Markert, The Rule of Three by Kristian Parker and Awfully Ambrose by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey. JP Bowie’s Unforgettable and The Devil You Know by SJ Coles round out the releases for this month.

You can find more of our titles at www.pride-publishing.com. Take a peek at our upcoming releases on the Coming Soon page and sign up to our newsletter—we’d love to see you there!

Here’s what we have releasing over the next few weeks …

10 May

Made of Folded Paper by Kai Wolden. Will, a daydreamer and romantic from small-town Iowa, starts his first year at Weston Academy of the Arts and, over time, he becomes increasingly fascinated with his three new friends. As graduation approaches, the four friends’ relationships are tested by jealousy, heartbreak and tragedy. Will love be enough to hold them together in the end?

Saving the Wedding by Nicole Dennis (Southern Charm #7). Gavin Hartfield creates magical memories and events, but an incoming hurricane takes aim at Shore Breeze. The town braces for the impact. Plans falter and change. Will life, love, and a wedding follow these changes?

17 May

Winning Over Harmon by Megan Slayer (Love Me Do #3). Harmon Keyes wasn’t looking for romance when he visited Roy Mars’ gallery show, but the moment he sees Winston Saint, he’s smitten. He has no idea who Winston is, but the attraction is off the charts. He also isn’t sure if he’ll ever see the man again. Michael Winston Saint is determined to win over Harmon at all costs.

24 May

Blood Omen by Kegan Markert (The Blood Crusades #1). Thomas is a lone shapeshifter living in a world where vampires and lycans are known to man, but he feels lost and alone. He meets André, the alpha of the Bramwell pack of lycans, and Gunter, the pack beta, who sees something in Thomas. When a coven of vampires arrives, Gunter must protect the one he’s grown to love.

The Devil You Know by SJ Coles. Hilary Whyte has spent a decade building his career as a defence solicitor, believing that despite his troubled past, even the worst human beings deserve justice. Now he has a promotion on the horizon as well as a fairytale wedding to his film star fiancé. On paper, life couldn’t be better …

31 May

Unforgettable by JP Bowie. Reunited twenty years after their teenage split, Blake and Alex are determined that this second chance will have a happy ending … Can the love Alex and Blake share free Alex from the shadow of the trauma inflicted on him by his homophobic father all those years ago?

7 June

The Rule of Three by Kristian Parker (Village Affairs #1). When Arthur Whittaker, a handsome young primary school teacher, comes to live in the village, he signals a future that neither James nor Ed ever saw for themselves. But the small Yorkshire village of Napthwaite is a place that’s resistant to change, meaning the three men must be strong enough to forge their own path …

Awfully Ambrose by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey (Bad Boyfriends Inc #1). When Liam needs a date to prove to his visiting parents that he’s not destined to die sad and alone, he calls Ambrose. If Ambrose can be a bad boyfriend for money, he can be a tolerable one too, right? Which works out great—right up until Ambrose is too nice, and Liam’s parents invite them up to their winery for the long weekend.

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