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Weekly poll: 3 August 2015

3 August 2015

Last week we went Cosmo-esque with the poll. We asked what sort of shoes you would wear while reading rural romance and the results were interesting. It seems bare foot and bed socks were popular (I was hoping we had some takers for the stilettos) 😀

This week we are back to a more generic topic. Most romance readers seem to have more than one book waiting in the wings. What does your TBR (to be read) pile look like?

Guest blogger: Lena Hart

2 August 2015

Lena HartThe rise of dark contemporary romance

Okay, maybe I’m being a little presumptuous with that title, but I can’t be the only one who’s noticed the rising popularity of dark romances and anti-heroes, particularly in a contemporary settings. In the past, dark romances were typically stories that featured gothic or supernatural elements, as in vampires, werewolves, ghosts—you get it. ‘Darkness’, however, has also found a home in contemporary romances where themes of captivity, emotional abuse, psychological manipulation, and/or dubious consent are explored. Now all of this may sound like anything except a romance, but when it’s done right, a dark contemporary romance can leave a reader … breathless.

As a reader, I never imagined enjoying a little darkness with my romance. But I do. (Though admittedly, in small doses.) My first—oh-my-word—dark romance was Ice Storm by Anne Stuart and I have to say by the end of it, all I could think was: whoa. I had never read a romance where I literally got half-way through the story and was wondering, okay, so when is the HERO going to show up? Turned out, the ‘hero’ was actually (what I later learned) an anti-hero—a central character in a story that lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Or more aptly—someone who has been shoved into the dark side and has decided to stay there.

And as an author, characters like that fascinate me. Maybe because they break convention and keep me guessing as to how far will they go. Or maybe their stories allow me to explore a world that I would normally run far, far away from. Or … maybe I’m secretly a little dark and twisted myself … *insert evil laughter*

Truthfully, the main reason I find myself attracted to dark romance is because of its ability to have me experience ten different emotions in one sitting. By the end, I almost always feel, if not blissfully content, a sort of muted relief because this couple was deserving of their happily-ever-after—or happy-for-now.

A good romance will do that to you. A great one will inspire you.

And that’s what happened to me. In my upcoming release, The Devil’s Bedpost, my hero will be tested—and tested some more—until he is forced to choose between remaining the honourable man that he is or converting into the person he’d always been afraid of becoming. In this spin-off novel, which I like to consider romantic suspense with dark elements, I will get a chance to delve into the dark side of my hero and hopefully see him through to the other side. It may not be a true dark contemporary romance (I don’t know if I’m ready to write one yet!), but I’m excited to see how far my hero is willing to go when he has nothing left to lose.

*evil laughter fades in the backdrop*

Lena Hart is a Florida native currently living in the Harlem edge of New York City. Though she enjoys reading a variety of romance genres, she mainly writes sensual to steamy romances with a flare of suspense and mystery. When Lena is not busy writing, she’s reading, researching, or conferring with her muse. To learn more about Lena and her work, visit her website or sign up for her mailing list for updates on her upcoming romantic suspense, The Devil’s Bedpost. You can also find her spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time on Twitter.

The Devils BedpostThe Devil’s Bedpost

What would you do if you had nothing left to lose?

Life for David Carrone couldn’t be any better. Business is growing and he’s about to marry his sweetheart, Athena Lewis—Vegas’ new mover and shaker. Unfortunately, their happiness is short-lived when a scandal of lies and an unspeakable tragedy slices a wide rift between them.

Yet, where there are secrets, danger is never far behind …

With his life spiralling out of control—and their enemies lurking near—David is forced to make some unlikely alliances to protect all that he holds dear. But when the one woman he’s ever loved is taken from him, David is prepared to do whatever he must to get her back—even if it means treading the murky ends of the law to face the devil himself.

Join the reveal on 30 August.

You can find Lena’s books here: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Publisher pitch: Totally Bound, Aug 2015

1 August 2015

Totally Bound logo

Happy August to all our friends down under!

This month we are settling into the swing of things now that Totally Bound is the home of all your MF and MFM erotic romance! We have a beautiful new website, with lots of exciting new features, so come on over and see what we have for you!

Our Totally Five Star imprint is continuing to whisk you away to exotic and exciting destinations around the world! The newest addition is Kait Gamble’s, Breaking Rossi’s Rules. This contemporary romance read gives you an intriguing and delightful look into the lives of the rich and famous, as Anika and Luca travel to glamorous Monaco. A beautiful story of two people coming together, pick up your copy today!

Aliyah Burke finishes up her Astral Guardians series with Moon of Fire! The battle is coming for the world and that which stands between humanity and darkness are the six Astral Guardians. This book charts the story of our final guardian, Dracen, as she struggles to find her artefact and protect the world as we know it.

Keep track of what else we have coming up by visiting our brand new, made-over website:

TB covers_Aug2015You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter where we divulge the entire latest goings on…

Coming up in August …

  • Wrecked by Corinne A Silver
  • A Rancher for Rosie by Molly Ann Wishlade
  • Mad Delights by Beth D Carter
  • Moon of Fire by Aliyah Burke
  • Breaking Rossi’s Rules by Kait Gamble
  • Aerial by Aurelia T Evans
  • Magenta Starling by Natalie Dae
  • Beyond the Poison Chalice by Helena Maeve
  • Steal Your Soul Away by Elizabeth Coldwell
  • Her Dakota Summer by Dahlia deWinter
  • Violent Delights by Helena Maeve
  • Taken In by Wendi Zwaduk
  • Intervention by Aurelia T Evans

Publisher pitch: Escape Publishing, Aug 2015

31 July 2015

Escape logo_200x150We can’t wait until the RWA conference, and the ARRA author signing! Many of our beloved Escape Artists will be there—so we hope to see you too!

As always, we’d love to know what you think. Share it with us in all the usual places (and see you in Melbourne!): FacebookTwitter and on our website.

Happy reading!

Kate and the Escape Team

Escape covers_Aug2015Releasing 8 August

Wild Flower by Eliza Redgold. For centuries, fragrant orchids have made potent love potions, but in a world of technology, can they still wield their power?

I’ve Got You by Louise Forster. She’s at risk of drowning in more ways than one—and he’s the last person she expects to pull her out of the water.

Releasing 22 August

Inconsolable by Ainslie Paton. Sometimes the only way to forgiveness is through love…

Honour Bound by MA Grant. The Lawmen of the Republic: fierce, honourable, soldiers, men. But what happens when all that they’ve been told turns out to be lies?

And in digital and print—available now!

The House at the End of the Street by Jennie Jones. Bestselling Australian author Jennie Jones takes us back to Swallow’s Fall for one more story: Gemma has a burning need to stay and make a home. All Josh has ever wanted is to get out. Now he has the chance, and all he needs to do is tie up a few loose ends …

Publisher pitch: Penguin Random House Australia, Aug 2015

30 July 2015

PRH_AustraliaRomance fans can enjoy the last of the winter warmers from Penguin Random House in August with a smart family drama about marriage and family by bestselling Irish author Sinead Moriarty, and a sizzling historical about a forced marriage.

To keep up to the date with the world of Penguin Random House Books Australia, we invite you to join us online at and or like us on Facebook at Penguin Books Australia and Random House Books AU.

Penguin Covers_Aug2015Here are our August releases …

The Way We Were by Sinead Moriarty

Alice and Ben are a couple like any other – bound together by love, work, children, familiarity and a shared sense of purpose. But when Ben decides to pursue a dream of his own, he brings devastation on his family and, as far as they know, their lives will never be the same again.

The Duke’s Daughter by Sasha Cottman (Destiny Romance)

On a journey that takes them from the wildly beautiful Scottish highlands to elegant Paris, can the impetuous Lady Lucy Radley and her new husband, handsome army captain, Avery Fox, overcome the circumstances of their marriage?

Lethal in Love: Episode 2 by Michelle Somers

Lethal in Love is a steamy romantic suspense about an instinct-driven detective and a sexy, scoop-hungry reporter, both on the hunt for a sadistic killer. Jayda Thomasz is a sassy homicide detective who never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasising over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation.

Lethal in Love: Episode 3 by Michelle Somers

Lethal in Love is a steamy romantic suspense about an instinct-driven detective and a sexy, scoop-hungry reporter, both on the hunt for a sadistic killer. Jayda Thomasz is a sassy homicide detective who never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasising over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation.

Feature book: Italian Surgeon to the Stars

29 July 2015

Italian Surgeon to the StarsItalian Surgeon to the Stars by Melanie Milburne

Jemima Clark, although she prefers to be called Jem, is such a lovely young woman, who has grown up with hippy parents and a beautiful sister, Bertie. We first met Jem in Bertie’s story, A Date with My Valentine Doc, and I always thought Jem should have her own story, and here it is with all of her wit and charm. Jem is now teaching at an exclusive girls school in Bath. She loves her job although getting married and having a family of her own was always her plan. After a fling in Paris five years ago with the gorgeous Dr Alessandro Lucioni, a cardiac surgeon, which did not end very well, her plans have changed and that secret in the wardrobe will stay there. She has enjoyed working at the school that also boards students, and Jem teaches the five- and six-year-olds.

Dr Alessandro Lucioni has had a pretty rough childhood, but he has put himself through university and is now a top cardiac surgeon. He is famous for his work with the stars. He is Sicilian but calls England his home these days. He is hardworking, very caring and drop-dead gorgeous, and he has always had women falling at his feet, but, until Paris five years ago, he has never had a serious relationship. A beautiful woman practically drops everything at his feet, and the sparks are instant; thus starts an affair with the beautiful and fun-loving Jem Clark. She makes him smile and laugh, and their relationship is such a passionate and sensual one. One that makes him think he can fall in love, but this ends badly, and they go their separate ways, with Alessandro throwing himself into his work.

Five years later, Alessandro turns up at Jem’s school with his six-year-old niece, Claudia, to enrol her. Jem is stunned. She has managed to steer clear of him for years, although never forgetting him, and the things that go through her mind will have you smiling. That spark is still there, as strong as ever, maybe even stronger. Jem is thinking of all the reasons why she should not feel this way, but it is hard to ignore him and his niece, especially as Claudia is so needy at this moment. What has happened to bring him here after all of these years?

This story is written in the first person, which I have not read a lot of, but I loved this one. Truly, Jem is such a fun and witty person as we learn so much about her childhood with her hippy parents and the things that have happened to her. When she finally lets a deep secret go to Alessandro and he also opens up to Jem, you will be smiling. Both Jem and Alessandro have things from their past they need to let go of, and they do so together. This is a fun, sensual, passionate story that will have you laughing out loud often as Jem’s parents arrive and Alessandro is there to save the day. Claudia is such a great character, who adds a lot to this story. I highly recommend this one. It is a gem that will stay with me for a long time.

Reviewed by Helen S

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

Feature book: From Paradise … to Pregnant

29 July 2015

From Paradise to PregnantFrom Paradise … to Pregnant by Kandy Shepherd

Zoe Summers has had a great life with her parents living around Newtown, not much money, but she had been very happy until tragedy struck. After losing her parents and being injured herself, Zoe moves in with her grandmother, who is not a loving grandmother at all. Zoe has to move schools and that is hard on her. She never feels comfortable at her new school, but she does get close to one of the guys at school, Mitch Bailey. She offers to help him with his English, especially the poetry. Zoe always thinks she is a bit of a geek as she enjoys her school work, but Mitch is one of the popular guys in school and out of her league. They form a friendship while she helps him. Things don’t go so well when their friendship ends badly, and Zoe moves schools, breaking away from her grandmother. They part without talking to each other, but neither can forget their friendship. Zoe studies hard and becomes an accountant with her own company. She is single and happy.

Mitch Bailey, who excels in sports—mainly soccer—comes from a loving family with three older brothers. The brothers have the brains and Mitch has the brawn, but everyone is happy when Mitch has his girlfriend, Lara. He puts everything he has into his sport and becomes one of Australia’s top soccer players. He has been playing for Australia, but is now playing for a team in Spain. He is also single now and is thinking only about soccer. He does not want a girlfriend to distract him. He is happy to wait a few more years before he becomes serious about anyone. But things can change quickly when on a holiday.

Zoe and Mitch end up in Bali at a beautiful resort in Seminyak on holidays. Zoe is pampered and Mitch plans to take it easy before returning to playing soccer. But when there is an earthquake and the guests are gathered in the foyer, they spot each other. Trying to hide, Zoe cannot believe that it is really Mitch. They have not seen each other since they were seventeen and a lot has happened in those years. Mitch has become famous and is always in the media. Zoe is such a private person, but Mitch is determined to catch up with his friend, and he knows he owes her an apology. So they agree to have dinner. Both are scared by the earthquake. This has them opening up, talking and laughing, and the pull gets stronger between them. When there is another small earthquake, they give in to the sensual pull and agree to one night only, but both have their agendas.

This is a beautifully written story with such a lovely setting. Zoe and Mitch are such wonderful people—loving, caring and so real. As that one sensual, passionate night leaves Zoe pregnant and with neither of them planning this, there are a few hurdles to overcome, but overcome them they do in such a delightful way. This is a story that will have you smiling and grabbing tissues but cheering these two beautiful people on. Thank you, Mrs Shepherd, for another fantastic story.

Reviewed by Helen S

A review copy of this book was provided by the author. ARRA members who leave a comment by 12 August 2105 will go into the draw to win a copy of the book.


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