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Feature book: Her Mother’s Secret

23 August 2017

Her Mother’s Secret by Natasha Lester

It is the end of the Great War and Spanish influenza has wreaked destruction through the nation. Leonora East, more commonly known as Leo, has an important decision to make. She has been happy just making some cosmetics for the local women, and caring for her father. After her father’s death, she decides that New York is the place to go for a better future. The night before the ship departs, she meets people who will have a large impact on her future.

Leo is immediately attracted to Everett Forsyth and they spend the night together. On the ship, Lady Maddie, a very spoiled and obnoxious young woman, subtly announces her pregnancy and Everett receives the message, and asks her to marry him, despite the fact that he is in love with Leo. This attraction and his marriage sets the tone for the future for all interactions between Leo, Everett, Maddie and the Richier family.

As Leo strives to set her future in the cosmetics industry, her connections also assist. Leo discovers she is pregnant and makes the choice to hide it from the world. She has the baby adopted. Leo makes a success with her cosmetics but along the way has her struggles with Maddie, Faye and Benjamin. Her baby also comes back into her life.

This was a good story. It is the story of a woman who has a dream. It is a story of class structures. It is a story of appropriate behaviour within the society of the time. As Leo wants to create her cosmetics for the normal woman, the story provides some interesting insight into the development and the history of cosmetics, and also the attitude to women wearing cosmetics at the time. How different that is to now!

While I enjoyed this story, I would say the story was more women’s fiction as it is about one woman and her dream and how she achieves her dream. There are many struggles for Leo as she takes the steps to achieve her dream and there are always people who want to stop her pursuing her dream. While there is the requisite HEA, the reader may find that the relationship and the connection between Leo and Everett isn’t as intense as they may prefer or are used to in their normal romance reading. This was a little disappointing for me as a romance reader.

reviewed by Heather

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

Release day: Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy

22 August 2017

Today is the official release of Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy by Cathryn Hein (ebook and print, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

No girl forgets her first crush. The least he could do is remember it.

Chrissy James has only been home in small-town Levenham a few weeks when her teenage crush plays hero and saves her from an aggressive drunk. Seven years ago, Nick Burroughs was the school hottie while she was the overweight girl with braces, bad hair, and an unrequited obsession with the sports star every girl in school wanted. Her failed efforts to attract Nick’s attention still burn.

Chrissy sure has his attention now, but she’s older, smarter and focused on settling into her new dream job as wine marketer. No matter how sexy he’s grown, or how keen his interest, Nick will need to do a lot more than see off a drunk if he wants to win her over.

But Chrissy doesn’t count on the determination of a Burroughs boy in love. Nick will do anything to recapture Chrissy’s heart, even if it means acting the romantic fool and embarrassing himself in the process.

Will Nick’s efforts to make amends for the past backfire or will Chrissy’s career thwart everything? Grab this cute small-town romance and find out!

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

If you adore a small-town romance with a sexy hero who’ll stop at nothing to get the girl of his dreams and a heroine who’s too clever to be easily seduced by a cheeky grin, this story is smack in your zone. We first met Nick in my RWA Romantic Book of the Year finalist story Santa and the Saddler and he was so cute and naughty it was as if he was winking at me from the page, daring me to give him his own romance. Which is fine by me. I’m happy to be dared by the likes of Nick any day. If only he knew the suffering I had planned! Nick loves it though, he’s that kind of guy. Anything for his girl. A romance to make you smile and feel lovely.

You can find out more about this book at Cathryn’s website.

Guest blogger: Sarah Williams

20 August 2017

Winter is in its final weeks and I’m sure all of you south of Queensland, who have been shivering through chilly winter days will be eagerly awaiting Spring with its promise of new life and colour. I live in Townsville, North Queensland where our seasons are Dry and Dryer, Hot and Hotter. I wore a jumper and jeans a record four times this year and that was because I visited Toowoomba for two nights.

Even though I hail from Napier, New Zealand, I have spent fourteen years in the north. I have seen the green, lush rainforest in heavy summer rains and the flat barren outback in the midst of a crippling drought.

That is why I set my books right here, in my backyard!

The Brothers of Brigadier Station is the first in a series, although easily read as a standalone too. Meghan starts her journey right here in Townsville before venturing on the long drive west to a station near Julia Creek.

If small towns, community events and horse-riding Aussie cowboys are your thing then this could be your next love story. It’s available everywhere via this link.

The Brothers of Brigadier Station

She came to the outback to marry the love of her life. She just didn’t expect him to be her fiancé’s younger brother.

When Meghan Flanagan, a vet-nurse from Townsville, moves to Brigadier Station in outback Queensland to marry the man of her dreams, she is shocked to discover that perhaps her fiancé isn’t the man she wants waiting for her at the altar. The man she’s destined to marry, just might be his younger brother.

Cautious of women after a disastrous past relationship, Darcy is happy living on his beloved cattle station, spending his spare time riding horses, going to rodeos and campdrafting. He didn’t expect the perfect woman show up on his doorstep. Engaged to his brother.

With the wedding only hours away, Meghan must make the decision of a lifetime. But, her betrayal could tear the family apart. She knows all too well the pain of losing loved ones and being alone.

Now that she has the family she so desperately wants; will she risk losing it all?

Set in the drought stricken plains of Julia Creek, North Queensland and the coastal city of Townsville this is a rural romance that will leave you asking: Will she marry the right man, for the right reasons?

“Sarah Williams has crafted an entertaining Rural Romance set on a sprawling cattle property in North Queensland. It’s an enjoyable read with plenty of drama and relatable characters.” Helene Young.

“Sarah Williams captures the essence of the Outback in this beautiful story. ” Annie Seaton.

The Outback Governess is a standalone novella that comes out in November. As the title suggests my heroine is a teacher who takes up a position on a station near Hughenden. The three children live with their ageing grandparents, their mother is dead and their father is still recovering from her loss. Has our Govie bitten off more than she can chew? Pre-order here.

I wrote this alongside my fellow Romance Writers of North Queensland. Our stories will be released separately and also bundled together and available in all the usual places come November.

Sarah can be found here: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Release day: Finding Home

17 August 2017

Today is the official release of Finding Home by JM Adele (Coming Home series) (paperback and ebook, Book Flare Publishers). Here’s the blurb:

I’ve done some things I’m ashamed of. Been the subject of gossip they didn’t even bother trying to keep from my ears. But I’m here, thousands of miles away trying to atone for my sins. Funny thing is, some sins are so ingrained it’s impossible to scrub them from your DNA.

Chelsea’s hell bent on reigning in her free spirit and becoming the daughter her mama could be proud of. Lord knows she owes her that much. But when a stranger crosses her path, her wild heart flares to life. She figures a little bit of fun never hurt none. She isn’t prepared for the lesson fate serves with a slice of pie, and some sweet tea on the side.

Greyson is done with being neck deep in cow dung. He’s ready to hang up his cowboy hat and replace it with a toque blanche. Following his passion all the way to Boston, he gets the shock of his life when the smokin’ hot blonde from Alabama turns up in his uncle’s restaurant.
But her plans and his future are set for different destinations. And distance isn’t the only thing trying to tear them apart.

The kitchen is about to go volcanic as he fights to chase his dream, and hold on to his dream girl.

Chelsea will have to make a choice between her heart, or her home.
Which one will it be?

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

When Chelsea introduced herself to me while writing Remembering Home I rubbed my hands together with glee. As an author, she’s one of those characters that we relish because she’s so full of life. An outspoken friend with a fierce sense of justice and loyalty, and a tongue like a whip. I adored her instantly. She knows she’s far from perfect, wearing her scars like armour. There was no way she’d tolerate a man who didn’t have what it took to break down her guard. Struggling under the weight of his father’s expectations, Greyson reaches breaking point, jumping in his truck and heading for Boston to follow in his uncle’s footsteps. Two black sheep, flocking together. Grey spots Chelsea and thinks he must be the luckiest guy on the planet. But she’s not interested in serious. He sees right through her tough talk to the fear underneath and decides he’ll wait. As long as it takes to get her to drop the act and see the real woman. He’s more alpha than I realised, and writing some scenes … well, I totally blushed. I hope you guys like it!

You can find out more about this book at JM’s website.

Feature book: The Scandalous Lady Mercy

16 August 2017

The Scandalous Lady Mercy by Maggi Andersen

She will only marry for love like her sisters. He doesn’t want to marry as he has other things to do.

Lady Mercy Baxendale is more than content to wait to marry as she wants to develop her business. She also wants a husband who will be sympathetic to her cause. As she tries to protect Arabella, a friend and Grant’s sister, she finds herself in a position where Grant asks for her hand in marriage to stop society gossip.

Grant Ainsworth, Viscount Northcliffe, is on a mission. He is being sent to find who murdered a local lord and the reason why the new railroad tracks are being destroyed. He is a little torn as he also needs to be with his sister who is making her first season. He is the one to look after her, as his grandfather and father spend more time at the family seat. As he slowly makes headway into his investigation, he finds himself affianced to Mercy, a distraction he can ill afford. He then has to cope with his former mistress attending the same functions. When Grant disappears for a few days, Mercy believes he is with his mistress, and this does upset her. There is such relief when she finds out that he was on the mission and not with a mistress.

Mercy’s family, particularly her father, are relieved that she will be married and to a man she admires. And she does fall in love with Grant’s family who treat her kindly in return. Grant is frustrated that he cannot spend the time to woo Mercy as he wishes, but when Mercy is kidnapped, he makes sure he is the one leading the charge.

This is a satisfying story and ending for the final sister in the Baxendale family. Mercy stumbles into the arms of the one for her. I like that Mercy wants to keep her little business going when she is married so that she can use her intellect and skill. I think I will miss the Baxendale sisters … unless there is another sibling hidden away?

reviewed by Heather

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

Australian Romance Readers Survey 2017

15 August 2017

It is time once again for our annual Australian Romance Readers Survey. We started the survey in 2009 so that we could collect statistics that are about Australian romance readers. This is the ninth year that we have run the survey, with the questions refined slightly each year in light of feedback from survey respondents.

If you would like to be involved, just click on this link and follow the prompts:

The questions are pretty straightforward, but please let us know if you have any questions.

Anyone who reads romance and lives in Australia can answer the survey, so please feel free to pass the link along to anyone you know who reads romance. But please mention it is for Australian romance readers only.

The survey will close on 30 September and we will let you all know the results soon after that.

Thanks in advance.

ARRA newsletter #97

15 August 2017

Purple news

The August 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:

  • tickets are on sale today for our Romantic Rendezvous with Jayne Ann Krentz—grab one before they’re all gone
  • it is time for the annual Australian Romance Readers Survey—be sure to share the link with all your romance-reading (Aussie) friends
  • do you want to take part in our 100th issue celebrations? A shout-out to reader and author members on pg 5
  • award winners for recent RITA, PRISM and RUBY awards (pg 9)
  • the next #AuthorHour is on 30 August
  • Rhyll and Charlotte’s web watch column this month explores Miss Bates Reads Romance
  • don’t forget to try your hand at the Find the Heart giveaway—a $10 gift card to be won

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

PS: Perth readers and authors—don’t forget to buy your ticket for the High Tea next month.



Debbie Phillips
Chair, ARRA Inc