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Release day: Diamond in the Dust

23 October 2019

Today is the official release of Diamond in the Dust by Mel A Rowe (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Is love worth stealing home for?

Drowning in a dusty landscape of broken dreams, a damaged world champion softballer searches for a lost family connection. So crossing paths with the cheeky but charming caretaker, Alex, isn’t what Verily expects to find on her Aunt’s outback farm.

Alex is torn between selling his soul to join the family business or daring to dream of a bigger future. With Verily holidaying at the farmhouse, she’s a curveball he’d love to catch—but she’s also a risk to his heart and homelife he’d rather avoid.

Finding himself in a jam, Alex herds Verily into a wild scheme that could propel his dreams into fruition. Until a feud between old friends threatens to derail everything.

With her return tickets booked, can Alex convince Verily to stay or will they find themselves on opposite sides of the globe forever?

From dusty cattle stations to flourishing mango orchards, welcome to the Elsie Creek series, set in a place where the summer never ends.

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

A reader recently emailed me after having read Diamond in the Dust, telling me she’d never realised how exotic Australia was. The unusual animals, besides kangaroos and koalas, and the fruits intrigued her. Most of all, she adored the simplest of slang-terms such as the word for chooks! Interpreting the local lingo, used in the Elsie Creek series, has been a fabulous conversation starter between me and the readers. It’s one of the many blessings I’ve received since releasing these stories. Enjoyed as a standalone to this series, Diamond in the Dust is about family, friends, finding love … and jam! So, download the ebook to sit back and discover another layer to this unique outback town of Elsie Creek; it’ll be an adventure I’m sure you’ll love. Oh, and if you don’t understand any of the local lingo, ask me. I’ll be more than happy to explain.

You can find out more about this book at Mel’s website or buy it from books2read.

Feature book: Marry in Secret

23 October 2019

Marry in Secret by Anne Gracie

Series: Marriage of Convenience #3
Subgenre: historical romance
Release date: 30 Jul 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Format: ebook and print
Length: 336 pages
RRP: $9.99 (ebook); $12.99 (print)

I love Anne Gracie’s books and was incredibly fortunate to receive this book from her. Thank you Anne! After enjoying Cal Rutherford’s story, then his sister Lily, we now have the other sister, Lady Rose Rutherford. She is delightful, a wonderful character with courage and compassion and honesty.

For good but entirely private reasons, Rose has decided to marry a duke, whom she openly doesn’t love and who doesn’t love her. But, drumroll, in a wonderful moment at the altar, her long lost naval husband, Thomas Beresford, returns from the dead to stop her committing bigamy. This is a fabulous confrontational scene in the church. So deliciously scandal-worthy! You can picture the thrilled gossips who can’t wait to start telling the rest of the ton all about it. Best thing they’ve seen all season and all that.

Rose’s brother Cal, the patriarch of the family, is particularly incensed by all the kerfuffle, as is the aunt who set up the ducal marriage-of-convenience. They had no idea Rose was married. Things get very heated as Cal shuts down the wedding service and whisks his sister away, gritting his teeth when Rose wants to talk to this nobody, who claims he’s her husband.

Poor Rose! She’s confronted with total shock and horror from her family at the idea she’s already married. But here he is, the husband she thought long dead, and who now looks like a mad ruffian with unkempt hair and beard, wearing reeking salty clothes, obviously fresh off the boat but in extremely bad disrepair. In other words, not looking like a gentleman at all. In fact, at first, she doesn’t even recognise him; she can’t believe it’s her teenage groom. She’d given up all hope of him returning because she thought he was lost at sea. Now she doesn’t know what to think.

She has to contend with instant familial hostility towards Thomas, particularly as she has never told anyone in the family she was married. Here’s a duke ready to marry her, but suddenly she can’t. Sixteen years old and married in secret. Very romantic and daring! Societal gossips are agog with this juicy stuff.

Poor Thomas has returned to England in terrible physical condition. He’s shockingly gaunt, scarred, and doesn’t particularly want to tell anyone where he’s been or what he’s done. In fact, he refuses to do so, and so two glaring issues arise: (1) why he married Rose in the first place, and (2) the ongoing stiff silence he maintains about the last few years. So of course, all you want to know is what happened.

Slowly, slowly, he lets slip about his time away, almost by accident, and of course Rose’s artless and relentless questioning. You learn what it’s cost him mentally and physically. After being so desperate to reclaim Rose as his wife, Thomas suddenly rethinks. He doesn’t deserve her; he’s not good enough; he’s been tainted by his horrible and nightmarish past; he can’t inflict himself on her. Oh Anne Gracie, you reduced me to tears here …

What I loved most of all about this book is Rose’s beautiful acceptance of her husband, and her determination to never let him suffer or slip through her fingers ever again. He really has no chance, readers. And that’s lovely.

But the book is not all dire drama. One of the funniest scenes in the book is the—ahem—‘bonding’ scene between Cal and Thomas. They square off in a fight very true to character, with a belligerent and furious Cal, and an equally determined Thomas, who shows more steel and strength than Cal ever expected. All I will say is that respect is both duly gained and given.

Thank you, Ms Gracie, for once again giving us wonderful characters, an absolutely beautiful romance, and for the amazing way you touch on horrendous topics and give us a profound understanding of how things were in Regency times. It was so compelling I couldn’t stop reading. There was tears and laughter, and you touched my heart.

Now I can’t wait for George’s story, Rose’s cousin. There is that unattached duke still hanging around, after all, and an aunt desperately trying to marry him into the family.

Reviewed by Malvina

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

ARR2020: tickets on sale

22 October 2019


Reader tickets for ARR2020 are now on sale!

ARR2020 will be held in five locations:

  • Brisbane, 6 Mar 2020, 6 to 8 pm
  • Sydney, 8 Mar 2020, 1 to 5 pm
  • Melbourne, 14 Mar 2020, 12 to 4 pm
  • Perth, 15 Mar 2020, 1 to 5 pm
  • Adelaide, 17 Mar 2020, 6 to 8 pm

Our special guests at the events will be Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan. There will also be local authors at each signing. You can find the full list of authors attending here.

Tickets available are:

BRISBANE – all tickets are free, but bookings are essential

General admission – $20
VIP tickets – $45

General admission – $20
VIP tickets – $45

General admission – $20
VIP tickets – $45

Signing only – $20
Signing and talk – $30

Here’s the link to book your tickets. Once you have booked, join us in the Facebook Group for attendees.

(Members, be sure to use the discount code to claim your member discount. It is available in the October newsletter.)

If you do get a souvenir booklet, be sure to collect a signature from each attending author—you can then enter the Signature Hunter competition on the day to win a bag full of goodies donated by the authors.

We are also planning special member-only lunches for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Tickets for these will be sold separately. Members, watch the newsletter for further details later in the year.

Guest blogger: Nancy Lee Badger

20 October 2019

Real life rescue training finds its way into a New England sweet romance

When I tired of feeling helpless when coming across a motor vehicle accident or a house fire, I joined our town’s FAST Squad (a first-aid stabilisation team in a small town far from a hospital) as a first responder and then an EMT. Then I joined the volunteer fire department, nudging my dear hubby to join also. I was well trained and well supplied with gear to take on nearly every emergency.

Before moving to the southern United States, I retired as an emergency medical dispatcher for 911 (000 in Australia), so I have heard it all. Using this information and real-life experiences, I filled this book with small-town problems, people who step up to help, and a little romance to keep everything interesting. Vermont is similar to our former home state of New Hampshire. One of our sons lives in Vermont, so travel through the beautiful Green Mountain State allowed me to plot my story.

Here’s an excerpt from Rescuing Christmas:

Closing his door, Bradley picked up his new phone and punched a few buttons. As he waited for his administrative assistant, Mona, to pick up, he figured it was about time to show Sean and this town exactly who they were dealing with.

“Hello? I hope you are on your way home.”

“Mona, no, I am still in Vermont. I kind of like it here, so I need your help.”

Her soft laugh made him smile. “Bradley, I have been waiting for you to realize that I am the person to help you find your place in life, be it Manhattan or Vermont. Who do you want killed?”

“Dear Lord, calm down, Mona. Nothing like that, although I admit a certain individual would not be missed by most of the town. Instead, I want you to use your magical abilities with a computer and find out everything you can about Sean Peabody and his B&B, the Peabody Inn. His mortgage, his personal finances, and anything else that I can use to take him down legally. Make it quick.”

“Why? Has Hell frozen over? I swear you told me nothing would keep you from your rendezvous in Montreal and now I find you taking out your frustrations on a man?”

He paused before answering. “Not just any man. A guy who is out to hurt a woman to whom I have become very attached. It is time for heads to roll.”

Disconnecting mid-laugh, he was confident his assistant would root out every detail surrounding the jerk. She had the entire staff at Wainwright Industries to help her, unless everyone already departed for the holidays. That was a concern, until he realized Mona knew everyone’s home phone number. Any one of his employees would drop everything to help her.

I want to feel such loyalty as they do to her.

Rescuing Christmas: a small town sweet romance
Release date: 15 October 2019
Publisher: Self-published

“Vermont is lovely this time of year, but where is the snow?”

Multi-published and award-winning author, Nancy Lee Badger, presents a sweet romance set in Vermont filled with sights, sounds, great characters, small town comforts, and a fire department fundraiser in danger of cancellation due to a lack of snow. A love of New England, where Nancy raised her family, combined with her years as an EMT, firefighter and 911 dispatcher, helped create the ideas that bring this story to life.

Find all USA and international buy links here.

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island, where she met and married her college sweetheart. They raised a family in Rumney, New Hampshire, where Nancy volunteered as an EMT and firefighter while working full time. When the children had left the nest, and shovelling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 emergency medical dispatcher and moved with her husband to North Carolina, where she writes full time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places.

You can find Nancy here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | BookBub | Goodreads


Feature book: Emma

16 October 2019

Emma by Kelly Hunter

Series: Outback Brides of Wirralong #4
Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 5 Jun 2019
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Length: 149 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $20.89 (print)

As a child, Emmaline (Emma) discovers how much of a disappointment she is to her mother and her father. Her mother hands her over to her father when she is seven, in keeping with their agreement. She sees her mother only once again.

Emma’s father has a series of carers or schools for Emmaline. Then she finds herself in the family law practice. When she no longer wants to marry the overachieving and status-grasping Roger, her father expresses his greater disappointment. Emma leaves and heads to her cousin, several times removed, to find what she wants to do.

In Australia, Emma has friends and her goddaughter. In a previous trip she met Liam McNair. Frustratingly he calls her Duchess. When Emma arrives for a longer visit, Liam is there to collect her from the airport. They do chat a little, but they are both still wary. As it turns out Liam is the owner of a very large station, and it is mustering season. Despite having little experience, Emma volunteers to go on the muster and things between Emma and Liam heat up.

Emma ends up in hospital, and Liam is quite freaked by the incident and decides that Emma is better on her own, even though he loves her. Liam keeps thinking of his mother and her accident on the station, and that she couldn’t be saved. He doesn’t want this for Emma. He thinks it is better to let her go. Emma decides that this will not be the case and sets the mood and the tone for them being together forever.

Another winning story in the Outback Brides series. This is a couple who are very different and have had very different upbringings. Despite her early beginnings, Emma is a surprisingly positive person, and Liam is more closed given his upbringing, but they are able to make those differences work for their relationship. This is a couple who can make it work.

This is a quick but very enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Feature book: The Forgotten Groomsman

16 October 2019

The Forgotten Groomsman by Fiona Marsden

Series: Hearts of Brizvegas #4
Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 8 Aug 2018
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook
Length: 100 pages
RRP: A$4.22

They keep a tradition of the bridesmaid and the groomsman. They spend the night together. And there was instant chemistry. She decides there can be no future for them. He then walks out the door.

Caroline Andersson finds herself in the doctor’s office needing surgery. She discovers that the doctor is her groomsman from the wedding. The one she had spent the night with. They decide that even though they slept together, there will be no conflict (personally I think there would be, but this is romance). She tells him some of her medical background, but he was away during the scandal so could not have known about it.

For Caroline and Reece Li, they connect and reconnect over the years. There are many misunderstandings before Reece and Caroline actually sort out the different levels and pieces of information. They do desire each other, and want to be together, but it is not until they can sit and talk that they understand where each one stands, and their feelings for each other.

This is a quick read. Although, I did have a little bit of trouble getting my head around all the different characters and how they were connected, especially when they are talking about past encounters and who is related to whom. Once Caroline and Reece talk through their misunderstandings, things do become clearer.

Reviewed by Heather

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

Release day: Bound by Truth

15 October 2019

Today is the official release of Bound by Truth by Suzanne Cass (ebook and print, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

A twist you’ll never see coming. The truth will tear them apart.

After a devastating crash changes her life, journalist Sierra Goldstein finds solace by moving to the wild and beautiful Kangaroo Island. But her peaceful sanctuary is shattered when a child goes missing and she becomes involved in the life and death search.

Reed Kapua is also looking for a simpler life when he starts work as the new cop on the island, returning to the force after an on-the-job tragedy caused a break in his career.

Reed recruits Sierra’s help after she reveals she ran a newspaper exposé on two child abductions years ago, believing there might be similarities to this new case. When bones belonging to a second child are uncovered, Sierra becomes a target of the predator as her house is vandalized and her car sabotaged. Then Reed discovers a terrible truth that will tear them both apart.

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

If you’re a fan of small-town stories, mixed with a big dose of thrilling suspense, and full of passionate romance and heart-stopping choices, then Bound by Truth is for you. It’s set on the wild, but beautiful Kangaroo Island, because I’ve always wanted to write a book about this amazing little slice of South Australia. Sierra and Reed are two people looking for a way to get their lives back on track, but when they discover a connection from their past, this knowledge will rip them apart. The best part about writing romantic suspense is throwing my characters into impossible situations and then watching them fight for their happily ever after. Will Sierra and Reed get the ending they deserve? Read Bound by Truth to discover the answer.

You can find out more about this book at Suzanne’s website or buy it from books2read.