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Publisher pitch: Totally Bound, Jul 2020

2 July 2020

We might not be able to pack our bags and jet off for a week by the pool this summer, so this month let your book be your holiday. Sicily with Stefania Hartley, Tuscany with Elizabeth Coldwell—we’re ready for an Italian romance! Combine the beach with more exclusive activities with P Stormcrow, or ease into the familiarity of a friends-to-lovers romance with Ellen Mint.

Don’t forget, plenty of our favourite series are now available in box sets—with a new one released each week!

Find out more on our website.

Here’s what’s coming up in July …

7 July

Sun, Stars and Limoncello by Stefania Hartley. The beauty of Sicily draws teachers Sonia and Mark, each sworn to never love again, into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions when they are forced to co-chaperone a student trip rife with emotions and captivating activities and locations.

14 July

The Knots that Hold by P Stormcrow (The Rules of Summer). Journalist Sarah goes undercover at an exclusive beachside BDSM convention, hoping to snag her first feature story at work. She gets more than she bargained for when she meets world-renowned Dom Elijah. But can a relationship grow out of secrets and deceit?

21 July

Tamed in Tuscany by Elizabeth Coldwell (The Rules of Summer). Passed over for a promotion at work, Isabel is instead sent to a retreat to work on creative ideas and collaboration. The last person she expects to run into is her former Dom, who left eight years earlier with no good reason. Is this the second chance they need?

28 July

Rash and Rationality by Ellen Mint (Happily Ever Austen #2). A modern day, gender-swapped Sense and Sensibility. Marty is a true romantic, desperately searching for love. His best friend Brandy is right there, but can either recognise the love in front of them?

Release day: Best Friend to Doctor Right

1 July 2020

Today is the official release of Best Friend to Doctor Right by Ann McIntosh (ebook and paperback, Harlequin). Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes the deepest desire …

… is the one you’ve hidden the longest.

Realising her world is dramatically falling apart, surgeon Mina’s childhood friend Kiah offers her a fresh start on the beautiful Caribbean island he calls home. She’s beyond grateful for his help in regaining the spirit and purpose she feared she’d lost. But when a long-denied attraction spills into their friendship, they must decide whether to risk everything on the breathtaking passion that’s quickly unraveling between them!

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

The inspiration for Best Friend to Doctor Right were a couple of family members who had both undergone severe injuries, and yet never gave up on life, or their goals. Their tenacity never fails to move me. One is gone now (my Uncle Billy, Dr William Aird) and the other, my niece, continues to live her life on her own terms, not allowing anything to hold her back!

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

 

Feature book: One Night with her Millionaire Boss

1 July 2020

One Night with her Millionaire Boss by Kandy Shepherd

Subgenre: Contemporary romance
Release date: 23 Mar 2020
Publisher: Mills & Boon Forever Romance
Format: ebook and print
Length: 240 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $20.99 Duo (print)

I was completely thrilled to realise this book features Ned Hudson, the brother of Wil Hudson from Second Chance With the Single Dad. Ooh, yes please, more of these fabulous men!

Ned’s always been the one expected to take over the huge property Five and a Half Mile Creek; the multi-million dollar ‘farm’ 400km from Melbourne that’s been in his family for 150 years. And he does exactly that, at his father’s request. Ned’s a man of his land, a ‘farmer’, aware of his massive family responsibilities and the huge staff reliant on him—and he shoulders it all without hesitation. He is a good boss and a good man, steady and kind. Gosh, I love him already.

But he’s lonely. He’s been in many wedding parties as a groomsman, but never the groom … The fact he’s alone (and heirless) weighs heavily on him, especially when he’s alone at night in the big homestead. Sure, he’s got staff, but that’s never going to fill the gaps in his soul. He wants to be a husband and a father. He wants to love and be loved and see Five and a Half Mile Creek eventually pass onto the next generation.

So, he writes down his ‘wish list’ for a wife. Includes things such as she must be tall (because he’s tall), she must be dark, enjoy country life, must have management expertise (perhaps a lawyer or accountant might be the ticket), must love animals, be a good cook, conservative, have country values … and the list goes on.

In waltzes Freya Delaney, a Melbourne photographer hired by Ned’s mother (an interior designer) to do a photography shoot of the house. She’s very cosmopolitan, slight, blonde, and terrified of his dog.

Ha. I see what you did there, Kandy Shepherd. Freya is the polar opposite to Ned’s ‘wish list’ wife.

The second Ned meets Freya he is fascinated by her, inexplicably deeply attracted despite his mind screaming she’s not suitable in any way, shape or form as a romantic interest. She’ll photograph the house, then leave. But his heart, his lonely, dormant heart, says otherwise, so Ned suddenly dreams up a second shoot for Freya to do—and Freya agrees to return. Game on!

What Ned doesn’t know is that Freya knew his brother Wil during a terrible time in their youth. Something horrible happened to Freya that accidentally created an even worse time for Wil, and she was hoping to keep it secret, sure she’d be sent away from Five and a Half Mile Creek if it came out. Now Ned’s invited her back, she needs to tell him the truth. It’s such a dire secret it might well spell the end.

The tenderness of this story, and the skittish Freya’s gradual realisation of shy Ned’s big heart, brought tears to my eyes. Then there was the city-girl/country-man scenario—how could they possibly make this work? All very special in Kandy’s hands. Another winner, Kandy!

Reviewed by Malvina

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

ARRA members who leave a comment on the blog by 15 July 2020 will go into the draw to win a copy.

Publisher pitch: Escape Publishing, Jul 2020

30 June 2020

Escape logo_200x150

This winter, why not stay in with new romances from two of our bestselling Escape authors? Whether you’re into thrilling romantic suspense or compelling historical tales, these authors won’t disappoint.

As always, we’d love to know what you think. Check in with us in all the usual places! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on our website.

Happy reading!

The Escape Team

Here’s what we have coming up in July …

Releasing 4 July

The House on Boundary Street by Tea Cooper (Australian historical romance). Something a little different for Tea Cooper fans, this is a tale of double-dealing and adventure, set against the dark underbelly of 1920s Sydney. Dolly and Cynthia are both drawn to Boundary Street, but is the house that once offered a safe haven nothing more than a dangerous façade?

Releasing 12 July

A Light in the Dark by Elisabeth Rose (rural romantic suspense). Returning to Taylor’s Bend, Elisabeth Rose has delivered another gripping rural mystery. Was the death of Mia’s father and stepmother really a murder-suicide? Why is she having terrifying recurring dreams of murder? And will an investigative journalist’s search for the truth help, or just bring more trouble?

Release day: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

30 June 2020

Today is the official release of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Cynthia Terelst (ebook and paperback, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Will one of the treasures they find be each other’s heart?

It’s been five years since Tara walked out of Shepherd’s life without a word. Since then he’s spiralled through drugs, alcohol and empty relationships, with Tara on his mind the whole time. Now he wants to win her back, and what better way to do it than by creating a fake scavenger hunt? He knows she won’t be able to resist.

Tara’s lost enough loved ones and she didn’t want to see Shepherd added to that count. So, when she saw him high at graduation, she did the only thing she could – she walked away. When she’s teamed up with him for a million dollar scavenger hunt, the feelings reignite. For a second chance at love to work, she needs to be brave enough to open up to him, to tell him everything she withheld the first time around.

Shepherd didn’t realise how much winning would mean to Tara. He now needs to come up with $3 million for her foundation before the hunt is over. If he can’t he will need to tell her it’s all fake, and he doesn’t know if he can risk that.

Will secrets destroy them a second time around?

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

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie is a second-chance romance that revolves around a scavenger hunt in Sydney; a completely fabricated scavenger hunt. When Shepherd created the scavenger hunt his only thought was about being able to spend time with Tara. His plan was for her to fall in love with him again. He didn’t realise that she would have plans for the winnings. And they are not just any plans, they are plans very close to her heart. Now, he has to come up with three million dollars while trying to build a relationship with her, as well as work with her to successfully navigate the clues. I found this a very enjoyable, although difficult book to write. The hardest part was coming up with clues for the scavenger hunt. Just like in real life, the clues needed to provide enough detail for the characters to get to the answer, but still be vague enough so they couldn’t guess straight away.

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

Release day: New Witch on the Block

30 June 2020

Today is the official release of New Witch on the Block by Louisa West (Midlife in Mosswood, book 1) (ebook and paperback, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling do-gooders want to run her out of town. Her daughter is being bullied at school. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down and holds a dangerous secret over Rosie’s head. When her custody of her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

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

Rosie’s story has been rattling around in my brain for well over a year now, and the time was finally right to bring her world to the page. I was captivated by a question: what if a single mother finds out that she’s a witch? From there, the story developed rapidly. Who was this woman? How did she come to be a single mother? Where does she live and what are her circumstances? How does she come to discover she’s a witch? Like most things that happen in my brain, it all snowballed rather quickly. Rosie wasn’t just a single mother—she was a single mother who had escaped an abusive relationship. She runs away with her daughter and takes up residence in a small town—but how is she to make a living? Maybe a tall, sexy Irishman tries to tell her that she’s a witch and she laughs him off. Maybe he’s magical royalty. Maybe she is, too… The result of copious cups of coffee, endless pieces of toast and a love for writing about a woman who continues to prevail in the face of adversity is my debut novel, New Witch on the Block. I was determined to write with humour, poignancy, and my own particular brand of quirkiness, which I hope comes across in the book! If you enjoy reading about women who want to save themselves, love small-town drama, and like your heroes bold with a heap of charm, then you’re going to love New Witch on the Block.

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

ARRA members are eligible to win one of three exclusive release week prize packs each consisting of a signed paperback copy, and bookmark. Ask a question about the book or series in the comments below to be in the running! The giveaway will close on 7 July.

Release day: The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress

30 June 2020

Today is the official release of The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress by Anna Campbell (The Lairds Most Likely, book 7) (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

A week to be wicked…

Widowed Selina Martin faces another marriage founded on duty, not love. When notorious libertine Lord Bruard invites her to his isolated hunting lodge, he promises discretion – and seven days of hedonistic pleasure before she weds her boorish fiancé. All her life, Selina has done the right thing, but this no-strings-attached chance to discover the handsome rake’s sensual secrets is irresistible. She’ll surrender to her wicked fantasies, seize some brief happiness, then knuckle down to a loveless union. What could possibly go wrong?

In a lifetime of seduction, Brock Drummond, the dashing Earl of Bruard, has never wanted a woman the way he wants demure widow Selina Martin. When Selina agrees to become his temporary lover, he soon falls captive to an enchantment unlike any other. He sets out to slake his white hot desire until only ashes remain, but as each day of forbidden delight passes, the idea of saying goodbye to his ardent mistress becomes more and more unbearable.

When scandal explodes around them and threatens to destroy Selina, Brock is the only person she can turn to. After so short a time, can she trust a man whose name is a byword for depravity?

Will this sizzling liaison prove a mere affair to remember? Or will their week of passion spark a lifetime of happiness for the widow and her dissolute Scottish earl?

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

I blame this book totally on the corona virus crisis! I’m taking part in a Christmas anthology later this year and I decided that I’d get a bit ahead of schedule by writing a heart-warming seasonal story all full of mistletoe kisses and tinsel and the joy of life. I like writing those stories. I do at least one every year. But back in March when I started on this particular story, the world was going mad around me. People were dying in their thousands in Europe and the US, the news was nothing but bad tidings, and we’d all been locked down as quarantine risks. So somehow my Christmas book morphed into a dark, deeply emotional and extremely steamy romance about two people who should have nothing in common but end up being perfect for one another. Not only that, but a snowstorm traps them in a luxurious hunting lodge together. Hmm, perhaps I was seeing my own house through rose-coloured glasses at the time! About halfway through, I realised that this story was many things but in no way was it a Christmas story. By that stage I’d fallen in love with the characters, so I decided to finish it and release it as The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress with no tinsel whatsoever. Like all my stories, while this one is part of the Lairds Most Likely series, you can read it as a standalone. Now all I need to do is write something Christmassy!

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

Release day: Reticent Hearts

29 June 2020

Today is the official release of Reticent Hearts by Jes Logan (Crescent Hill series, book 2) (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

She came with her rules. He came with his heart. And the heart plays by no rules.

In the hills of rural Victoria, Tate Johnson dreams of having a family and kids of his own. But he’s been a spectator to life for so long, he is afraid his dream is unattainable.

For grief-stricken Lana Davis, Crescent Hill is the perfect place to hide as she seeks forgiveness for her past mistakes. As atonement, she forges a solitary life and saturates her days with activity, vowing never to get into another relationship.

But Crescent Hill has its own way of bringing people together.

When Tate meets a dejected Lana one night, he senses a connection and a possible future with her. And Lana discovers that it’s impossible to avoid people in a small town, especially if they are as caring and persistent as Tate Johnson.

Dreams of a possible future together are soon shattered when Lana is forced to re-live the pain of her past and Tate must re-evaluate his idea of happiness and an ideal family.

Will Tate and Lana embrace the prospect of happiness, or will they allow past heartaches to dictate their future?

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

Tate appeared in book 1 of the Crescent Hill series, as a lost soul, unsure where his life was heading. In Reticent Hearts, we get to learn of his insecurities and how they have shaped his choices in life. This is a heart-warming story of finding love at the darkest point in life and it teaches us that everyone is deserving of love and forgiveness, regardless of our past.

You can find out more about this book, including buy links, at Jes’ website.

Guest blogger: Elisabeth Rose

28 June 2020

My name is Lis and I’m a book-a-holic

As is true, I would imagine, for everyone reading this, I’ve always been an avid reader.

I was the child who read into the night and had several visits from one or other parent telling me sternly to turn off the light, before I could drag myself from the story.

I was the child in kindergarten who hated the post-lunch nap time and begged Mum to ask the teacher if I could read instead—which incidentally, started an anti-nap trend in the class.

I was the child who read all the books in the children’s section of the mobile library that came to our once rural suburb of Canberra, and asked to be allowed to borrow from the adult’s section.

I was the high schooler who got Mum to write a note excusing me from the stultifyingly boring weekly Religious Education class and spend the time in the library instead with the Jewish friend who had an exemption on religious grounds. Again, several friends joined us with notes from their parents. Years later both my children asked me to do the same when I told them about it. I read The Count of Monte Christo during that time, putting him back on the shelf at the end of each session and picking him up again the following week. A much better use of my time.

I was the teenager who read Georgette Heyer at a Davis Cup match in Sydney and got into trouble from my uncle, who’d taken me and my cousins along.

I was the high schooler who loved the assigned books in English. The Canterbury Tales, Lord of the Flies, Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy included.

I am the adult who at least thirty-five years ago wandered the aisles in the library trying to remember which authors I enjoyed and which books to choose and, in a flash of brilliance never experienced again, decided to read my way through the library by choosing the first few books in the A section and moving steadily along the shelves with each visit. This was guaranteed to broaden my reading and it didn’t fail. I didn’t cheat. I always took the next book regardless of genre or off-putting cover. I sometimes read more than one book by an author, but I didn’t always read more than one. I didn’t always finish a book, but I did give it a go and I came across some truly wonderful authors I would never have picked up otherwise—Margaret Atwood with Surfacing (The Handmaid’s Tale came out later), Louis De Bernieres with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels—and went on to read many more of their books.

It was interesting to see how many of those authors’ books I read so long ago popped up on TV (e.g. The Handmaids Tale), or became movies (e.g. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) or in reverse, which one’s were already movies and as I read began to realise I knew the story. I also discovered that a lot of author surnames begin with C and it took a long time to get through the Cs to D.

I maintained that system—much to the amusement of my friends, who never tired of asking me what letter I was up to—through several relocations of that branch of the library until a few years ago when they decided to shelve the books by genre. It had become increasingly difficult to keep up with the new additions and with an increase in my non-library reading and ebooks, I’ve largely—dare I say it?—shelved my system. In those 35+ years I managed to get up to midway through the H’s.

I do go to a different library branch sometimes and they still have the multi genre system so all is not lost. Libraries have reopened.

H isn’t a big section and I and J should be smallish …

My latest book, A Light in the Dark, book 3 in the Taylor’s Bend rural romantic suspense series, will be released in July. The Secrets that Lie Within and Where There is Smoke were released last year. I am currently working on book 4.

You can find Elisabeth here: Website | Facebook | BookBub

A Light in the Dark

Can a dream hold the answer to a violent crime … and bring two people together?

Since the deaths of her father and stepmother nine months before, Mia Petros has suffered a terrifying recurring dream which implies that their deaths were not a murder-suicide at the hands of her father–as the police decided–but a double murder.

In Taylor’s Bend to clear and sell her father’s house, Mia, driven to breaking point by the dream and unnerved by the simmering resentment her appearance has aroused, is determined not to leave the bleak midwinter town until she has answers.

Local newspaper editor Arlo McGuiness, an ex-investigative journalist avoiding his own troubled past, is intrigued by the mystery and by Mia, especially when she tells him about her dream. His old, familiar urge to find the truth is awakened. But his probing engenders trouble–nasty comments are followed by malicious acts, and before long Arlo and Mia face escalating violence, their lives in danger.

You can find more information here, including buy links.

Feature book: Collector of Hearts

24 June 2020

Collector of Hearts by Cassandra Samuels

Subgenre: Regency romance
Release date: 1 Jun 2018
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Format: ebook
Length: 318 pages
RRP: $1.99 (ebook)

Identical twins Arabella and Isabelle Fleming have one chance to have a London season, which they embrace as much as possible. Their father is not terribly supportive, and their mother appears too delicate in health and sensibilities to be able to guide them as much as they hoped. So, as they always have, the twins rely on each other.

They’ve heard of the infamous ‘Collector of Hearts’: Robert Mallory, Marquis of Shelton. He’s exactly the sort of man they both want to steer clear of. He collects women’s hearts, uses them, then moves on. Some of those women are married and want an extra-marital dalliance. He obliges. When called out by the furious husbands, he practices his deadly marksmanship with sword and pistol, merely giving them a flesh wound instead of—well, death. (Hmm, interesting … why not go for the kill?!) Then he moves on to his next ‘heart’. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

His heart seems cold, and at first the reader’s inclined to think he is a true villain. But Cassandra Samuels does a slow, onion-peel reveal of Robert’s past. And wow, if ever there was a conflicted history, he has it. No wonder he is the way he is. The Prologue alone is worth the price of the book—I predict it will hook you in immediately. It did me.

When Robert strolls into the latest evening engagement and meets the twins, Arabella in particular is alarmed when he sort of stalks her, fully aware of his predatory reputation. Despite his dastardly wicked appeal, she resists every advance, and in fact gives him a firm, fastidious little lecture about leaving them alone.

I love Arabella. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself and her sister—heaven know her parents weren’t about to protect them—and her sister Isabelle is a softer, sweeter personality. So, go Arabella! In fact, Isabelle is a perfect foil for Quinn, Robert’s best friend. He’s also a softer, gentler, honourable man. You find out in due time why he champions Robert, and then can only salute the way he maintains his faithful friendship.

In a fabulous turn of events, while Arabella and Robert begin a prickly, feisty dance around each other, Quinn and Isabelle begin to fall in love. I didn’t expect two romances for the price of one, so was pretty thrilled.

What I was also delighted with was Cassandra Samuels’s witty, fresh turn of phrase and humour. The cat and mouse game with our hero and intrepid heroine was such fun to read! The dialogue absolutely sparkled, and their reactions to each other were marvellously funny.

Was the Collector of Hearts about to have his own heart collected (at last)? Was that even possible?

All in all, a terrifically enjoyable Regency read. I highly recommend it and can’t wait for Cassandra’s next book.

Reviewed by Malvina

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