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Feature book: Captivated by the Enigmatic Tycoon

13 December 2017

Captivated by the Enigmatic Tycoon by Bella Bucannon

Secrets can be destructive if you let them.

Cassie Clarkson and Jack Randell each have a secret. They are keeping these secrets for different reasons. Cassie because she is somewhat ashamed of her background and Jack because he doesn’t want to find himself in the same situation as last time.

Cassie is a declutterer. She takes on people’s houses to declutter and finds a way to have them relinquish the items. Many of the items are special to them but Cassie is the one person who can make them part with their cherished items. Her latest contract is for a recent widow who has had an accident and wants to try and downsize. Cassie finds that Mel has a very nice nephew. Cassie is determined to keep her background in the background as it doesn’t affect her work.

Jack Randell is a tradie. He is also an entrepreneur who is about to make a big deal. His personal experience has meant that he wants to keep his wealth as much under the radar as he can. Tara, his previous partner, would not date anyone of a lower status and he still has gotten over their last fight when she left and was found dead. He believes that if he says he does maintenance, even though it is really renovation, he thinks he is safe.

Jack understands from the first that he is attracted to Cassie and that she has somehow slipped under his radar. He spends the time pursuing her and finally catches her. Cassie then thinks that she can never be good enough for his family, so breaks it off with him. Jack is in the middle of a business deal and longs to hold Casse and let her know that they will be together.

This is an enjoyable story. I like the shy and gentle Cassie. She does have an inner spine of steel and it shows from time to time when she needs to deal with her feelings. She also has a weakness for Jack and under normal circumstances with her feelings swaying greatly from ‘I will’ to ‘we can’t be together’ makes her very much like us.

The characters, both the main and secondary, are very real, do real things and could be anyone we look at in the street and I think that is probably the reason I really liked the story.

Reviewed by Heather

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

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Feature book: A Ring for the Greek’s Baby

13 December 2017

A Ring for the Greek’s Baby by Melanie Milburne

This one night stand leads to a pregnancy test, or many, just to be sure.

Emily Seymour is pregnant. Her one night stand is the father. But should she contact him again and let him know? There was some chemistry between them but he didn’t leave his number and she doesn’t want to beg her friend for his number. She has just come out of a seven year relationship and her now ex-partner left her for another man. Emily was completely blindsided.

At the wedding of her friend Allegra (we meet Emily in Wedding Night with her Enemy), she spends the night with Loukas Kyprianos. He then comes back to see her again and for another date. He then finds she is pregnant and says she has to marry him. Loukas has his own set of issues and is determined to keep his mother and sister at a distance as he believes he is responsible for his sister’s accident, and has done all he can to ensure her comfort over the years. He doesn’t really want to marry due to his parents’ circumstances and their nasty divorce but as soon as the news gets out about the billionaire, they are engaged, and he sweeps her off to Corfu.

While Emily starts to make her way into the hearts and minds of Loukas’s staff through her thoughtful actions, Loukas is often surprised that she is making these inroads and those actions are also slowly making their way into his heart. He discovers he likes what he sees and treats her like the jewel she is to him.

It is always nice to see what happens to other characters that we meet in other stories. In this case Emily and Loukas were the bridesmaid and best man for Allegra and Draco and there were snippets of them so we started to get to know them.

It was good to see these characters get together and to feel their connection. An enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Release day: The Formidable King

12 December 2017

Today is the official release of The Formidable King by Alyssa J Montgomery (Royal Affairs, book 3) (ebook, Escape Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

A chance meeting, a misunderstanding, and a second chance for a royal love affair…

Once, King Gabriel was bewitched by a violet-eyed beauty at a masquerade ball, but she left the function without a trace…not even a slipper. Now, Cinderella has a name. Fate has thrown India Hamilton right in Gabriel’s path, and he’s determined to expose her as the gold-digger he knows her to be.

But Gabriel’s attempt at revenge soon loses its appeal as he spends more time with India. Her generous actions and smart control of his sister’s foundation suggest a strong, kind woman, undeserving of his scorn and anger. It soon becomes clear that this is not a Cinderella story at all: India is a beauty and Gabriel has been acting like a beast.

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

The Formidable King is Book 3 in the Royal Affairs series. It’s Gabriel’s story—definitely a stand-alone read but with characters from Books 1, 2 and 4 making an appearance. When Brooke Moody was editing The Irredeemable Prince (Book 2), she reached page 6 and commented, “I love Gabriel. I really hope he’s going to have his own story.” I was delighted she found the serious King of Santaliana so compelling, as I’d always planned to write his story next. Yet, as so often is the case in my writing, my plans for Gabriel went awry. I thought such a serious hero needed someone a bit scatty and alternate to lighten him up and make him laugh and see the funny side of life. I mentioned Matilda in the last story and gave her a reason to be in Santaliana as I intended to match-make her with the king. I dreamed up scenarios where Matilda would exasperate Gabriel because she viewed life so differently, but romance wasn’t going to blossom between them and she ended up fading from existence. I tried to write Matilda, but India introduced herself and very clearly had other ideas. Each time I sat down at my computer India intruded, insisting to be heard—demanding I know her back story and understand her. I loved India and was so excited by her character, I promised I’d write her a HEA of her own as soon as possible. For weeks I insisted she wasn’t the character I had imagined would win Gabriel’s heart, yet my story stalled because India is such a strong woman, she wouldn’t leave me alone. My promise to write her story wasn’t good enough. She showed me that she could be the heroine Gabriel needed. What’s more … she convinced me that he was the hero she needed! So, she triumphed! IMHO it worked. It was a match truly made in heaven and—once I accepted that my characters were going to write their story and that I was simply a scribe of their tale—I enjoyed every moment. It was exciting to be a part of their story unfolding and having their truths revealed to me. I hope you will become just as enmeshed in Gabriel’s and India’s story as I have been and that you thoroughly enjoy The Formidable King. Happy reading!

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

Release day: Beat of the Jungle

11 December 2017

Today is the official release of Beat of the Jungle by Erin Moira O’Hara (Deadly Forces, book 1) (ebook and print, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Deep in the Amazon, a plane crash brings botanist, Kitarna Ashford and ex-sniper, Jack Callaghan together under chilling circumstances. Although attracted, both guard secrets that could well destroy their tenuous bond.

Kitarna came to Brazil to join her sister’s archaeological dig, and prove her worth to peers. Her dream ends after receiving a harrowing message from their father, a United States Governor. Running from an unknown enemy, the sisters board the first flight out. It’s a decision they soon regret.

Separated from her sister, Kitarna has no choice but to follow a ruggedly handsome Australian, who makes it clear he’s not interested, although his actions tell another story. Using her botanical knowledge, she must trust Jack, as together they lead eleven adults and one endearing child through inhospitable jungle.

Haunted by a mission that went terribly wrong, Jack needed one last job to fund his disappearance into the Caribbean sunset, where he can battle his demons alone. Now he’s stranded in the jungle, and once again, innocent lives depend on him.

Evading deadly predators and poisonous plants is the least of their worries. Mercenaries set on extortion, revenge and murder, are hunting them. Animosity becomes rife among the survivors as truths are exposed, along with treachery and betrayal. Kitarna and Jack must combine their unique skills to survive both the jungle and those who seek to hurt them.

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

Beat of the Jungle is a romantic suspense/adventure, and the first book in the Deadly Forces series. This joint venture by Erin Moira O’Hara and SE Gilchrist is filled with heart-pumping action, ruthless enemies and dangerous animals. Beat of the Jungle by Erin Moira O’Hara is followed by Scent of the Jaguar, written by SE Gilchrist and due for release in January 2018.

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

Guest blogger: Kylie Kaden

10 December 2017

Children are our stories

While staring at that pesky blinking cursor, waiting for my muse to arrive so I could start this blog, I received a lovely email from a reader asking when my third ‘book baby’ is due. I’d heard the term before—seen memes likening finishing a novel to giving birth.

Books and babies; both represent the best parts of my day. I’ve done both three times and I’m not sure I’m on board with the metaphor. Would that, by extension, make publishers the book’s midwife, and publicists the nanny … making sure it behaves?

I can see the parallels—both are all consuming. Both become part of you (to be judged on forevermore) and teach us about ourselves. They take you on an emotional rollercoaster, keep you up at night, and riddle you with self-doubt. But as for finishing a book being like labour? I’ve never endured physical pain from writing (if you have, I think you’re doing it wrong).

Books are far more patient—willing to wait until you are in the mood for them (unlike babies that arrive when they please, and children who hunt you down ‘til you cave to their demands). I have mental closure after finishing a book (a mind-exorcism to make room for new characters), but I’m yet to ‘move on’ from my kids. They’re all still hovering noisily inside my head (and in my kitchen).

Writing a book is a rather self-absorbed luxurious experience with no limits imposed. You’re in total control of every aspect, whereas parents are rarely in full control (or maybe that’s just me?), required to be selfless and compromise their needs for that of their kids.

But thinking of children as our stories—that I get.

As a writer, I’m allowed to influence and create fictitious lives. As a mum, every day writes a page in my children’s own real-life stories. Every day has a clean slate—a new page, yet inextricably linked to the last and, no doubt, impacting on the next. Each scene that plays out for my kids paints a picture of who they are, what their character arc will show, just like my fictitious characters (although the later are more malleable).

Losing Kate, (my first ‘book baby’, if I must) is about a young girl who disappears on a beach during an end-of-school camping trip. It tells of her fate and that of those left behind—namely, her two best friends, Frankie and Jack (who meet thirteen years later and, you guessed it, fall in love). My second novel, Missing You, is a little edgier, and the third, even darker. Just like my sons’ personalities, all three novels are different from each other, even though they spawned from the same beginnings.

With both books and babies, we have no idea what we’re in for. We get clues—genre primes us for certain expectations, a baby’s temperament may hint at what kind of kid we’ll be wrangling. But in both cases, we never know for sure how things will unfurl. That’s half the fun.

Some books, like kids, are just like their jackets: a sentimental romance springing from a flowery cover. But occasionally life throws us a curve ball; an adoring-eyed baby morphs into a challenging toddler, terrorising your belongings and absconding in public. But we expected an easy read. The blurb didn’t mention this! Like books, parenting can feel like reading the same page over and over. Sometimes you just want a moment to rest from the constant dialogue and relentless action.

Like antagonists in fiction, often parents fumble in their role, struggle being the support cast instead of the hero, and try to wedge their own narrative into their kids’ lives (what do you mean you don’t like cricket!?). Parents are sometimes miscast—the ballerina may have a brood of boys who fart at the table, while the football-loving dad raises a chess champ who likes to code. But that’s the way it goes in this complex existence we call the human condition.

My children are the best stories of my life. I can’t plot their stories for them. All I can do is enrich each scene with care, and hope for a happy ending.

You can find Kylie here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Losing Kate

This mesmerising debut is part love story, part mystery, telling the captivating story of two lovers torn apart by tragedy and the secrets they kept of one devastating night.

I’m the most authentic version of myself when I’m around Jack. We’ve known each other since we were kids, and our relationship was always one of mudpies and mocking.

Then everything changed.

Beautiful Kate, my best friend, disappeared on a moonlit beach after Jack dumped her for me. Jack was a suspect and, sure of his innocence, I lied to protect him. I know Jack didn’t kill her. Our betrayal did.

Thirteen years later, I am thirty, childless and single, attempting to renovate my life rescuing a rundown worker’s cottage. All is as it should be in my safe little world – until Jack buys the vacant lot behind my house… and the feelings that we buried all those years ago – the guilt, the love and the pain – resurface.

We can’t keep running away from the past – and to move forward we have to know what really happened to Kate.

You can read a sample chapter of Losing Kate here.

Feature book: The Rancher’s Unexpected Family

6 December 2017

The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Helen Lacey

Ash McCune is a local police officer and foster parent. She well known and respected for her role as a foster parent. She has one son who was injured under his dead beat father’s watch but Jaye has thrived under Ash’s love. Until she discovers that being the sole parent is not enough as Jaye wants to get his advice from Cole. Ash is devastated.

Cole Quartermaine is a well-known racing car driver and from a famous racing family. He was injured and now works in an administrative capacity for the family’s racing team. Cole found out that he has a daughter. His daughter comes to live with him after her mother dies. Cole never knew about his daughter until that moment. And his daughter is being a usual teenager, being difficult. He has come to Ash McCune’s ranch to try and improve the connection between his daughter and himself. He is amazed when Ash finds some details from Maisey.

As the story progresses, the reader finds out more details on Ash’s background and how she felt and reacted in her earlier years. The reader does not find out as much about Cole except that he was a driver and he slept with a lot of women, until his accident.

There are many issues and misunderstandings as Cole and Ash become closer as they do not want the children to see them together in even an embrace while the relationship begins to bloom. When they are discovered Maisey takes off in the truck (and she doesn’t have a licence) and injures herself and Jaye. This is obviously the defining moment and Ash and Cole decide to part. But as in all good romances, they are brought back together by another event.

This is a story that I really enjoyed. There was just something about the way in which Ash and Cole fight their attraction to each other while others around can see they should be together.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Favourite reads: Nov 2017

5 December 2017

Books_purpleWelcome to our Favourite Reads for November. Each month some of ARRA’s members will tell you a little bit about one of the books they’ve recently read and loved.

These are not full reviews of the books, just honest opinions on why they enjoyed the book so much. Hopefully one of these will strike a chord with you.

So, we asked our members to tell us about some of their favourite reads for November …

Jasmine Sea by Phillipa Nefri-Clark (contemporary romance)

This is the follow-up story to the fabulous book The Stationmaster’s Cottage and what a story it is! I loved this one, it has a little bit of everything in it suspense, love and romance, friendship and uncovering secrets from the past. I did very much enjoy catching up with friends from the seaside town that I had met in the first book. This one had me turning the pages—I did not want to put it down. My advice when you pick this one up, as I highly recommend you do, is that you make yourself very comfortable and enjoy. [Helen, NSW]

Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor by Anna Bradley (Sutherland Sisters #2) historical romance)

I loved this historical romance featuring a hero to hate, until you love him, and a heroine to admire all the way through. The writing is amusing, engaging and heart-wrenching by turns, and the denouement is very satisfying. Although the reader is privy to the reasons for the hero’s actions, the heroine is given a very layered reveal, which adds to the tension. I enjoyed every aspect of this romance and look forward to reading the next in the series, as the secondary characters in this one were intriguing. [Deb, NSW]

The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter (Original Hearbreakers #2) (contemporary romance)

This is a great series, filled with dark and broody heroes. None darker than Jase, recently released from prison. Along with his two best friends he has moved to the small town of Strawberry Valley, set up a business and bought a house, intending to leave the past behind and start a new life. Brook Lynn has lived in Strawberry Valley all her life and is responsible and hard working. She is a great heroine who was unique and quirky (zombie hunting!). In fact the series is full of unique characters with their own baggage—I am enjoying them immensely. [Debbie, ACT]

The Jingle Bell Bride by Scarlet Wilson (Christmas Brides #2) contemporary romance)

I really enjoyed Christmas in the Boss’s Castle last Christmas, so quickly snapped up Scarlet Wilson’s new Christmas read. Jessica is a wedding planner, which really must create a special sort of hell when you have an awful, demanding Bridezilla. Anyway, poor Jessica is sent by a megastar Bridezilla to a remote part of Alaska—yes, Alaska—to pick up some Jingle Bell flowers for her wedding bouquet. And yes, Jingle Bell flowers really do exist. I googled them: they are a delicate tubular red wildflower, quite lovely, actually. The weather sets in and Jessica is stranded with research botanist Matt, who is none too happy to have his peace disturbed. A sweet romance with a lovely Christmassy flavour, and it kicked off my annual festive reading nicely. [Malvina, NSW]

Seasonal Shenanigans anthology by Caitlyn Lynch et al (contemporary romance)

The ‘heat’ level in this collection varies from sweetly sensual to erotic. I really enjoyed two in particular. Missing You For Christmas (Moxie Rivers), a heart-touching story of a husband who serves in the military and the wife at home alone for yet another Christmas. A wonderful story of friendship, surprises and love. Santa Claus is Coming (Jennie Kew), a cougar romance with a photographer heroine and younger fireman hero! This story was hot, hot, hot! Loved Ms Kew’s well-timed humour and one-liners as well as the fan-yourself sex scenes. I really enjoyed the variety of hero and heroines; most were relatable characters. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys festive-season flavoured, short stories. [Kylie, NSW]