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Guest blogger: Jennie Jones

18 March 2018

I’m thrilled to introduce my ninth published story to ARRA readers. A Place with Heart is a stand-alone read and book #2 in my Rangelands series. It’s out tomorrow.

There’s a mystery and possible crime in outback town Mt Maria that Detective Senior Sergeant Jack Maxwell never expected. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, the woman he wonders if he’s in love with has an unforeseen event to deal with herself—her secret teenage daughter’s homecoming. That’s not going to plan any more than Jack’s investigation is.

Jack, vulnerable 13-year-old Frances, and Jaxine are misfits through no fault of their own making, but they each have heart. Will the small outback town of Mt Maria, 400 kilometres from the nearest city, offer them its own heart? I hope you think so.

You can find Jennie here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

A Place with Heart

Jaxine Brown has made a good life for herself in the Western Australian outback town, Mt Maria. But the homecoming of her secret teenage daughter, Frances, changes everything. At only seventeen, Jax was coerced to give up the baby to Frances’s father and his wife. Finally, she has a chance to make it right, and hasn’t got time to think about recently returned Detective Senior Sergeant Jack Maxwell, who inexplicably disappeared in the middle of their only date last year.

But Jack’s back in town to investigate suspicion of drug trafficking and the man he’s watching works at the closest mine to town. He expects to have this case wrapped up in four weeks, and feels he can take his time, not only with the case but also with Jaxine Brown, the woman he hasn’t been able to get out of his mind.

When graffiti and vandalism escalate in an issue involving stolen animals, Jax and Frances are unwittingly drawn into a mystery that suggests a connection to the same mine Jack has under surveillance. Can Jack get to the bottom of the furtive goings-on, and do whatever it takes to protect the would-be family that’s wound its way into his heart?

5 Stars “What a top pick for reading!” – Talking Books, Goodreads
5 stars “…a book I’ll read again at some point. Highly recommended.” – Dianne, Goodreads

A Place with Heart is available from all good booksellers and eRetailers in paperback and ebook.


Weekly musing: rock romance

15 March 2018

This week we are going to discuss one of my favourite genres that has popped up in romance in the past couple of years: rock romance.

Rock romance has exploded into the romance genre of late. I am only too thrilled, as I am LOVING this new subgenre. So what exactly is rock romance I hear you ask? Well it is where the romance book is set in the musical world of rock stars: singers, bands, managers, etc. They range in sensuality from mild to explosive.

Common elements found in these stories are that the hero is usually the rock star and the heroine is predominately an unknown thrown into the limelight.

Common tropes and some favorite of mine are: mistaken identity; second chance at love; redemption; reformed player; secret baby; fake engagement. What are your favourite rock romance tropes?

My favourite rock romance authors are: Kylie Scott, Nalini Singh and Kristen Callihan. Who are your favourite rock romance authors and must reads/recommendations?

My top 10 must-read rock romances:

  • Lick by Kylie Scott (Stage Dive)
  • Idol by Kristen Callahan (VIP)
  • Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning (Sinners of Tour)
  • Dirty by Kylie Scott (Dive Bar)
  • What Goes On Tour by Clarie Boston (The Texan Quartet)
  • Blind Attraction by Eden Summers (Reckless Beat)
  • Rock Kiss by Nalini Singh (Rock Kiss)
  • Strings by Kendall Grey (Hard Rock Harlots)
  • Midnight Blue by LJ Shen
  • Drumline by Stacy Krestwuck

My favourite covers:

Happy reading!

#SecretProject #Discussions #LoveReading

2017 ARR Awards: finalists announced

15 March 2018

Voting has opened today for the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Awards. Below are the finalists in each of the nine categories, as well as finalists in our three special Members’ Choice categories. ARRA members can now vote for their favourite in each category. (The voting link is available to members in the March newsletter.) Voting will close on 22 March.

Here are the finalists:

Favourite Paranormal Romance – proudly sponsored by Hachette Australia

  • Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh
  • Becoming Dragon by Eve Langlais
  • Lady of Silver by Shona Husk
  • Power Game by Christine Feehan
  • Shadow’s Seduction by Kresley Cole
  • Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
  • Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Favourite Sci Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance

  • Blood Kissed by Keri Arthur
  • Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones
  • Feversong by Karen Marie Moning
  • Raider by Justine Davis
  • Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
  • The Black Tide by Keri Arthur
  • The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones
  • White Hot by Ilona Andrews
  • Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
  • Year One by Nora Roberts

Favourite Short or Category Romance – proudly sponsored by Harlequin Australia

  • Casey by Kelly Hunter
  • His Majesty’s Temporary Bride by Annie West
  • Hot Mess by Amy Andrews
  • Playing the Player by Amy Andrews
  • Playing With Forever by Amy Andrews
  • Sarah and the Secret Sheikh by Michelle Douglas
  • Ten Days with the Highlander by Hayson Manning
  • The Temporary Mrs Marchetti by Melanie Milburne

Favourite Historical Romance – proudly sponsored by Hachette Australia

  • Catching Captain Nash by Anna Campbell
  • Charming Sir Charles by Anna Campbell
  • Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie
  • Secret Shores by Ella Carey
  • The Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell
  • The Currency Lass by Tea Cooper
  • The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
  • Warrior King by Jennifer Brassel
  • Wives of War by Soraya M Lane

Favourite Contemporary Romance – proudly sponsored by Allen & Unwin

  • Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy by Cathryn Hein
  • Leaving Ocean Road by Esther Campion
  • Nineteen Letters by Jodi Perry
  • Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns
  • The Country Girl by Cathryn Hein
  • The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns
  • The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green
  • The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark
  • The Thing About Love by Julie James
  • Twist by Kylie Scott

Favourite Erotic Romance – proudly sponsored by Booktopia

  • Egomaniac by Vi Keeland
  • Mack Daddy by Penelope Ward
  • Sapphire by JA Low
  • Team Player by Cate Ellink

Favourite Romantic Suspense

  • Echoes in Death by JD Robb
  • Heart Breaker by Shannon Curtis
  • Murder Most Unusual by Michelle Somers
  • Promise of Hunters Ridge by Sarah Barrie
  • Secrets in Death by JD Robb
  • Situation Critical by Amanda Knight
  • Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
  • Tell Me No Secrets by Lynda Stacey
  • Winnawarra by Elizabeth M Darcy

Favourite Continuing Romance Series – proudly sponsored by Harlequin Australia

  • American Extreme Bull Riders Tour by Sarah Mayberry, Barbara Dunlop, Kelly Hunter, Megan Crane, Amy Andrews, Sinclair Jayne, Jeannie Watt and Katherine Garbera
  • Dashing Widows by Anna Campbell
  • Hidden Legacy by Ilona Andrews
  • Hot Aussie Knights by Amy Andrews, Sinclair Jayne, Victoria Purman and Trish Morey
  • In Death by JD Robb
  • Love Abroad by Hayson Manning
  • Marriage of Convenience by Anne Gracie
  • Psy-Changeling Trinity by Nalini Singh
  • Sydney Smoke Rugby by Amy Andrews
  • The Princess Seductions by Annie West

Favourite Australian Romance Author 2016 – proudly sponsored by Booktopia

  • Anna Campbell
  • Anne Gracie
  • Annie West
  • Cathryn Hein
  • Jodi Perry
  • Kylie Scott
  • Michelle Douglas
  • Rachael Johns
  • Shannon Curtis

And the finalists for the Members’ Choice categories are …

Strongest Heroine from a romance published in 2017

  • Beth Harper, Situation Critical by Amanda Knight
  • Chrissy James, Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy by Cathryn Hein
  • Cressy Knight, The Long Paddock by Alissa Callen
  • Derelie Honeywell, The Love Experiment by Ainslie Paton
  • Emmaline Westwood, Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie
  • Eve Dallas, Secrets in Death by JD Robb
  • Feyre, A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
  • Maggie Carr, The Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell
  • Meg McCormick, Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns
  • Mercy Thompson, Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
  • Nevada Baylor, Wildfire and White Hot by Ilona Andrews
  • Sidonie Martel, Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Favourite Couple from a romance published in 2017

  • Bailey Sawyer and Quinn McKinnel, Pregnant by Mr Wrong by Rachael Johns
  • Beth Harper and Nate Calloway, Situation Critical by Amanda Knight
  • Christie Ryan and Martin Blake, The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark
  • Cressy Knight and Denham Rigby, The Long Paddock by Alissa Callen
  • Derelie Honeywell and Jackson Haley, The Love Experiment by Ainslie Paton
  • Emmaline Westwood and Calbourne Rutherford, Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie
  • Eve and Roarke, Secrets in Death by JD Robb
  • Meg McCormick and Lawson Cooper-Jones, Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns
  • Nevada Baylor and Connor Rogan, Wildfire and White Hot by Ilona Andrews
  • Sidonie Martel and Morgan le Fae, Spellbinder by Thea Harrison
  • Silver Mercant and Valentin Nikolaev, Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Favourite New Romance Author (first published in 2017)

  • Amanda Knight
  • Penelope Janu
  • Esther Campion
  • Sarah Williams

Congratulations to all the finalists!

Winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner, which will be held at Cello’s Restaurant in Sydney on Saturday 5 May 2018. If you would like to attend the awards dinner, you can buy your ticket here.


ARRA newsletter #104

15 March 2018

Purple news

The March 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:

  • the finalists for the 2017 awards are announced
  • meet the new Executive Committee
  • there are tickets left for the Sydney High Tea
  • authors—expressions of interest for ARR2019 are open
  • are more changes needed for the awards this year?
  • Charlotte’s Web Watch column features the Coffee Time Romance & More blog
  • win a $10 gift card if you can Find the Heart!

Plus our regular columns—romance roundup, publisher news, self-publishing highlights, weekly musings, 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!

Feature book: The Knight’s Scarred Maiden

14 March 2018

The Knight’s Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke

Subgenre: Historical romance
Release date: 1 Aug 2017
Publisher: Mills & Boon Historical
Format: ebook / paperback
Length: 225 pages
RRP: A$5.99 / A$9.25

Helissent works at the inn. She is given money to bake some cakes. That money becomes a catalyst for her leaving in the dark of night.

Helissent has been scarred by a fire when she was young. Her family were killed in the fire and after she was healed as much as she could be, she was adopted by inn keepers, who also had a son, Rudd. When the couple die, Rudd takes over and is quite rough in his treatment of Helissent. Then he sells her to some men on the condition he has her first for ‘taking his parents’ love’.

Rhian is a renegade who is trying to keep a low profile. He is on a mission to find the truth to the lie he has been living since he was young. He gives Helissent money to bake some cakes and she takes it seriously when all he was intending to do was give her some extra cash. She gave the money to Rudd. Rhian saves her from Rudd and his friends. He agrees to take Helissent with his band of men to York where he is on a mission. He finds that Helissent makes a very good impression on his men and they turn on him for his treatment of her.

As we know, he doesn’t treat her as he should as he is attracted to her, scars and all. Helissent is somewhat frustrated by his treatment but is often on the forward foot and often surprises Rhian.

It has been a while since I have read a medieval, non-Highlander, story and it was so good to read this one. I liked Helissent’s strength against the world. She was determined to do her best in the world and faced people with her disfigurement so that she held the cards. Naturally, Rhian doesn’t really see her scars as he sees the real Helissent.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Release day: The Laird of Blackloch

12 March 2018

Today is the official release of The Laird of Blackloch by Amy Rose Bennett (book 2, Highland Rogue) (ebook, Escape Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

Revenge might be sweet, but love is far sweeter …

Following the Battle of Culloden, Alexander MacIvor returns to his ancestral home, Blackloch Castle, only to find the Earl of Tay, chief of the rival Clan Campbell, has laid waste to everything he holds dear. In the face of such devastation, Alex seems doomed to live the life of a fugitive Jacobite … until a stroke of good luck allows him to escape the Highlands and begin again.

Years later, styling himself as a wealthy Englishman, Alexander reclaims his forfeited estate, becoming the new Laird of Blackloch. But it’s not nearly enough to quench his thirst for vengeance. Hell-bent on destroying Lord Tay, he single-mindedly sets about driving his nemesis to bankruptcy. When he learns the earl intends to marry the very beautiful English heiress, Miss Sarah Lambert, thus escaping penury, he devises a devious plan: kidnap Miss Lambert and ransom her to hasten Tay’s ruin.

When Sarah Lambert learns Lord Tay is not the man she thought he was during a masquerade ball in Edinburgh, she is devastated. Reeling from her discovery, things go from bad to worse when a mysterious yet charming guest by the name of Alexander Black turns out to be a true devil in disguise. Abducted and whisked way into the wild Highlands by Black, Sarah is imprisoned in a remote, island-bound tower. Refusing to be a pawn in Black’s diabolical plan for revenge, she determines that somehow, some way, she will regain her freedom. If only she could unlock Black’s secrets …

Living in such close quarters, Alexander quickly discovers the spirited Sarah is more than a match for him, and even the best laid plans can go awry when passion flares and the spark of love threatens to revive his long-dead heart. When the shadows of the past begin to gather, will Alexander and Sarah find their way forward … or will the threatening darkness destroy them both?

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

I had a lot of fun researching and writing The Laird of Blackloch, the second title in my Highland Rogue series with Escape Publishing. My heroine, Sarah Lambert, is an English heiress and at the beginning of the story, she’s betrothed to the villainous and completely untrustworthy Malcolm Campbell, the Earl of Tay. Following the Battle of Culloden, Tay destroys everything that the hero, Alexander MacIvor holds dear—his family and home, Blackloch Castle—in the name of the Crown. Nearly eleven years after Culloden, Sarah becomes the unwitting pawn in Alex’s kidnapping-revenge scheme to ruin Lord Tay. However, as the story progresses, I think it becomes clear that whilst Miss Sarah Lambert might appear to be an English rose, she’s no shrinking violet. During Sarah’s captivity in the medieval loch-bound tower, Eilean Dubh, she sings a melancholy song that I recall from my primary school choir days, O Waly Waly or The Water is Wide. The song’s history is quite fascinating and convoluted to say the least. It’s actually an old Scottish folk ballad and there are many versions around. However, I chose two verses that seemed to fit the theme of my book and encapsulate Sarah’s situation perfectly. I thought I’d share them here for you to enjoy:

The seas are deep and I cannot wade them,
Neither have I wings to fly,
I wish I had some little boat,
To carry over my love and I.

I set my back against an oak,
I thought it was a trusty tree.
But first it bent, and then it broke,
And so did my false love to me

I wonder if any other ARRA members recall learning O Waly Waly at school too?

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

Guest blogger: Cheryl Holloway

11 March 2018

Romance readers love short stories!

Hi ARRA friends! I’m so excited to be joining you, today.

Reading is one of the most satisfying pleasures of life!

In today’s busy lifestyle, a lot of readers can’t find time to read. Here’s how to get your reading in on a busy day:

  • Unwind at the end of your day by reading a short story—it takes only minutes, rather than hours.
  • Always take a book or an ereader with you to read on your commute or in a waiting room—short stories are quick and easy reads.
  • There is always pleasure in finishing a short story—the feeling of accomplishment.

Yes, the short story is alive and very important today. Yes, readers can create a reading routine.

Short stories are extremely precise with their delivery. The author must capture the reader’s attention immediately, and tell a complete tale from the beginning to the end in about a half hour of reading. And might I add, the authors who have taken on the challenge of writing the short story are producing some of the finest short stories for their readers.

Helen Garner is one of the greatest Australian short story writers and novelists of our time. Garner’s works have covered a broad range of themes and subject matter. Her true-crime novels are shocking, while some of her short stories make you laugh and cry.

In the short stories I write, I make sure they have scenes and passages that will grab the reader and hold them in anticipation of the next move. I love surprise endings. I believe that enticing fiction will keep readers turning the page until they reach the final one.

One of my books, in particular, is The Proposal: A Leap of Faith that has a surprise ending. I have gotten numerous emails discussing the ending. I like to surprise my readers by providing a plot twist. I turn the expected inside out or upside down to provide a short story that you will remember long after you finish the last page.

One reviewer said that it was very well written, but she hated the ending. And I have had many reviewers say that yes, it was very well written and the ending was a total surprise, but they loved it and they want a follow-up story. So, in my opinion, a well-written short story can cause controversy and have readers on both sides of the fence.

So, yes, I encourage emotional response from my readers. And they all know that I want feedback from them and I ask them to email me and I will email them back as soon as possible. My readers are extremely important to me and I want that line of communication with them.

In my latest book, A Sisterhood of Women Living Life: A Short Story Collection Book 1, I discuss topics that most authors shy away from. Some of those topics are lost love, full-figured women, rape, interracial relationships and widowhood. (My book is written for women of all ages.) All of my short stories are based on real-life events from my life, and/or friends and family. However, I do my research to add fictional scenes that will keep the reader engaged in the story. In fact in the story ‘Dark Secrets and White Lies’ it took me longer to research the information than it did to write the actual short story.

To stir reader curiosity, I give my readers the unexpected. When a reader picks up one of my short stories, they know that this is a story that is off the beaten path, they will be entertained and the author has helped them escape real life for a little while.

What do romance readers really want?

  • more emotion/feeling
  • strong plots and romance
  • get to know the characters
  • less graphic sex.

Since this is what readers want, this is what I give them. When you read my latest book, you will find all of the above in each story. (Write to me if you don’t.) I create heroines who have values, morals, and most importantly self-respect.

My short story recipe is simple. A romantic relationship is at the heart of a story with a believable plot and a little conflict thrown in. When mixed together, it reveals a story with my special voice filling the pages. A wonderfully entertaining read that will fit in with a cozy chair and a glass of chilled wine or a cup of hot tea. Enjoy reading short stories!

A huge thank you to ARRA for this opportunity to connect with the Australian romance reading community.

Cheryl Holloway is a short story romance author in southern Maryland and has worked in various positions in print media, radio and television for more than thirty years. She and her ex-husband visited Sydney years ago and enjoyed the many sights and great food!

You can find Cheryl here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

A Sisterhood of Women Living Life: A Short Story Collection Book 1

The stories will make you laugh, cry and want to give them a hug…
The Dreaded After Call—a young editor runs away from a love triangle and works to drown out the pain but …Will she have a second chance at love?

Wine A Little or A Little Wine—a beautiful overweight woman can’t find love and all she does is wine…Will a bottle of wine help?

A Widow Moves On—an older widow opens her heart to love again but…What skeletons does he have in his closet?

Rape’s Revenge—her boyfriend rapes her young daughter…rage and revenge prevails…Will she kill him?

Dark Secrets and White Lies—she’s dating two men of different races and is pregnant with interracial twins…she is in a dilemma…Who will be the father?

The book features ten must-read stories here in all, including five really short stories. It introduces an interesting collection of characters, who are just like your best friend and your sister. The characters are each very unique with a compelling story to tell.