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Release day: One Scandalous Christmas Eve

16 September 2020

Today is the official release of One Scandalous Christmas Eve by Susan Stephens (The Acostas!, book 8) (ebook and paperback, Harlequin Presents). Here’s the blurb:

All the billionaire wants for Christmas…

Is her, in his bed!

Smoldering Dante Acosta has got to be physiotherapist Jess’s sexiest client yet. Even injured, the playboy polo champion exudes a raw power that makes Jess giddy…until she discovers he’s bought her parents’ farm out from under her!

Jess’s indignation only adds fuel to the fire raging between them as they try—and fail—to resist each other. Dante is prepared to fight for their chemistry this Christmas—is he prepared to fight for Jess’s heart?

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

The Acostas are back! It’s such a thrill when readers ask for more books in a particular series. My Argentinian polo-playing Acosta brothers—Kruz, Ruiz, Diego and Nacho—proved so popular, my editor asked if I would write some more stories featuring wild, polo-playing men. The idea for this book sprang to life in a tapas bar in London, called Lobos or Wolves, when a friend, who is also an editor, and who now writes for the same line as me, asked why there were no more Argentinian bad-boy Acosta books out there for her to read. What about Spanish cousins? I suggested, and hey presto! the Spanish branch of this billionaire polo-playing clan was born. Even the toughest players can get injured, so my first book features Dante Acosta, a gorgeous hunk of educated muscle, who just can’t accept that he needs help from Jess, the physiotherapist sent to treat him—or do I mean, tame him? Either way, sparks will fly in One Scandalous Christmas Eve, as this proud, impatient hero faces the fact that the cure he’s been hunting for might just be delivered by a female superwoman half his size.

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

Release day: Christmas Reunion in Paris

16 September 2020

Today is the official release of Christmas Reunion in Paris by Liz Fielding (Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel, book 1) (ebook and paperback, Harlequin Romance). Here’s the blurb:

A Parisian reunion

With the one that got away!

Celebrity chef James Harrington never expected to find himself face-to-face with Chloe, his first love, again… Especially with her working as a chambermaid at his luxury hotel! Their chemistry’s as strong as ever, but it’s clear she’s hiding a secret. This Christmas, can James convince Chloe that their love is worth taking a chance on—again?

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

Writing Christmas Reunion in Paris, the first book in the Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel miniseries with Kandy Shepherd and Susan Meier was such fun. We all had different locations—the books stand alone—London, Singapore and Paris. And I had Paris in the weeks running up to Christmas. As Paris is just a train ride away, through the Eurotunnel, it seemed rude not to go and experience the season for myself. On the last weekend in November, and with my daughter for company—because she deserved a treat—here we are, blown to bits and a bit chilly doing the tourist thing at the Trocadero before diving into the nearest cafe for something warming. When I got home and back to the book, Chloe and Jake followed our example!

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

Feature book: Once Upon a Cowboy Christmas

16 September 2020

Once Upon a Cowboy Christmas by Soraya Lane

Subgenre: western holiday romance
Release date: 29 Oct 2019
Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks
Format: ebook and print
Length: 297 pages
RRP: $9.61 (ebook); $14.99 (print)

Not everyone gets a second chance with the love of their life. Cody and Lexi were in love until Cody left.

Cody Ford has returned to River Ranch. It is just for Christmas. At the request of his brother to see his dying father. Cody is not prepared for the swell of emotion that hits him when he initially arrives home. He likes the look of his father’s new nurse but quickly discovers he is already acquainted with the woman. She was his high school girlfriend. The girl he left behind when he left, when he took off to New York. Cody has been very successful in his business life and can afford the nicer things in life. He also has a big business deal near River Ranch. This business deal will be a wedge between Cody and Lexi.

Alexandra, or Lexi, has become Walter Ford’s nurse. She needs the money and the house that the family provides. She has her own bills that need to be paid including her mother who is the local nursing home as she suffers from Alzheimer’s. Lexi also has a six-year-old son, Harry, who she also needs to provide for, as his deadbeat dad does not. Lexi is upset when she discovers that Cody bought the nursing home for redevelopment. A wedge that will come between them albeit temporarily.

This story is about reconnecting with the past. Past memories and people from the past. Lexi and Cody were an item, but that fell apart when Cody left, and Lexi was left behind to try and pick up the pieces of her life. As you do when the best has gotten away, she marries the second best, or last in this case, but has managed to produce the best, her son. While she is willing to have Cody for the moment, she also needs to protect herself and her feelings, especially when she knows that Cody will run again.

Cody is the character who has the most growth within the story. He runs from his past and then runs to his future with Lexi. He thinks he is a strong man, but then realises that he is weak, and it is Lexi’s love that heals him. It is a sweet story, with some of hot sex, and a young boy who just knows what he wants.

I liked there was no real angst within the larger family. Yes, there were some disagreements but not any of the major rifts that can happen in some stories. It is nice to read this type of story.

reviewed by Heather

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

ARRA newsletter #134

15 September 2020

Purple news

The September 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:

  • reminder—don’t forget to enter the Treasure Hunt from the Romantic Rendezvous (Locked Down) event
  • reminder—authors, don’t forget to fill in the EOI for the 2021 signing event
  • save the date—Awards Dinner in 2021 will be on 20 March
  • reminder—don’t forget to fill in the annual survey
  • details of winners of the Ruby and Koru awards
  • more titles for Sarina Bowen’s True North World (more than 40 now!)
  • Charlotte’s Web Watch column looks at what was happening in August
  • win a $10 gift card if you can Find the Heart!

Plus our regular columns—romance roundup, publisher news, self-publishing highlights, reviews, freebies 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 us at arra.editor@gmail.com.

Happy reading everyone!

Guest blogger: Susanne Bellamy

13 September 2020

Matching the moment

Entertainment choices are made to suit how we’re feeling or what we’re doing, or to lose ourselves in the magic created by an artist, musician or writer. In the same way I choose music to match my activity, I choose a book to suit my mood, which can mean I sometimes have two or three different books ‘on the go’. I’ve just finished Love Letters from Montmartre by Nicolas Barreau, a beautiful story of a widower whose wife made him promise to write her thirty-three letters after she died and deliver them to her grave, promising him in turn that his life will have changed for the better by the time he’s written the last letter. I wept many times over the course of this book. Thank goodness I wasn’t reading it in public! This was a standalone book, satisfying and complete. The point the characters had reached was one where I felt content to leave them.

But then there are series in which secondary characters, who may appear in several earlier stories, deserve to tell their story and get their happy-ever-after.

Graham Peyton, otherwise known as ‘Old Man Muggeridge’, rates little more than a mention, a cautionary figure in A Promise of Home, the first book in the Home to Lark Creek series. His role in Lark Creek and the lives of other characters grows slowly through books 2 and 3, until finally his story is told in Home from the Hill. Lives interweave and link, and more of the town and its people are revealed with each book. Graham and Janice are the oldest pair of main characters I’ve written. Their story is what is known as a seasoned romance in a growing sub-genre in which the hero and heroine are over forty. Often with ‘seasoned’ characters, there is an element of second chance at love at play. Life has thrown plenty of problems and loss in their paths, which in turn shapes and strengthens their character. I’m a bit of a sucker for a wounded hero, and a wounded ex-soldier in particular.

Perhaps that explains my fascination with the Bureau, and the men and women who work undercover and behind the scenes to protect us. Currently, I’m writing Singapore Trap, a romantic suspense set in Singapore, and the sequel to High Stakes (set in Nepal). Readers have been asking for this sequel; this time, the villain from book one has resurfaced in Singapore. John Chan is like the ancient Hydra; chop off one head and it grows another. Paul Rimmer teams up with top local agent, Lin Tan, to end the people smuggling and drug cartel. Danger, simmering attraction and an exotic location. It’s available to preorder now.

And if you don’t like waiting for an author to complete a series, my Hearts of the Outback is now available in a boxset of the complete series.

A compelling series or a great standalone story—I love reading both and losing myself in a ‘world’. I also love returning to a world and to characters I’ve ‘met’ before. They feel like old friends, familiar and yet with much more to reveal.

I’d love to know your thoughts: series or standalone? Favourite recent series? How do you choose your next book?

You can find Susanne here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

 

Feature book: House of Earth and Blood

9 September 2020

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

Series: Crescent City #1
Subgenre: fantasy romance
Release date: 3 Mar 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Length: 648 pages
RRP: $14.42 (ebook); $29.99 (print)

What a fabulous first book in this new series by Sarah J Maas, the author of A Court of Thorn and Roses and Throne of Glass series (both of which I have re-read already!).

The premise didn’t exactly grab me, but I am a staunch fan, so I bought it and dived on in. I am glad I did.

Bryce Quinlan and Danika Fendyr are best friends and known as vapid party girls enjoying life. They certainly do enough to earn the titles. One has great strength and magic … and one has none or so little as to be negligible, but they are as close as sisters.

The story is about strong women. Women who hide their light under a bushel, but most of all it is a story of love and faith—of all kinds—that lasts and triumphs.

We follow Danika and Bryce for a while and then there’s a tragedy of epic, life-changing proportions that takes the story where it needed to go but, geez, I was already crying pretty early on. Sarah J Maas wrings the tears out of you.

Bryce works in a really cool place but is unfulfilled. She has a most interesting family and heritage and ends up being babysat by an angel with a reputation no-one would want after a series of murders. She and he are to investigate the murders and are on a tight timeline. Fun—and some harrowing—times ensue. There is a great deal of the backstory offered up here and I think it is all necessary.

Bryce and Hunt, our very gorgeous angel, get into all sorts of scrapes together and rub each other up the wrong way while pushing away the attraction. It is through this relationship and several other strong ones that we come to know the real Bryce … but even I did not see the twist at the end coming. She comes into her own in the most spectacular way.

A strong cast of secondary characters you are cheering for, some nasties you want to get their comeuppance and some really sad moments make this a read that keeps you turning the pages (or clicking next if you’re on eBook duty) but I sat up until 4am to finish this book because I just couldn’t put it down.

reviewed by Sharon

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

ARRA members who leave a comment by 30 September 2020 will go into the draw to win a copy of this book.

Publisher pitch: Pride Publishing, Sep 2020

8 September 2020

As we rush into September, we’ve got cowboys-a-plenty, a haunted house, and enough suspense to get your heart racing. Find your next romance in these thrilling pages!

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

You can find more of our titles at www.pride-publishing.com. Take a peek at our upcoming releases on the Coming Soon page and sign up to our newsletter—we’d love to see you there!

Here’s what we have releasing over the next few weeks …

8 September

The Beauty Beneath by Aver Rigsly. Adam is the youngest of the Creed family mafia, and he couldn’t be more different from innocent Justin. Can they overcome the differences between them, or are the Creed family secrets too much to bear?

15 September

Hard Evidence by LM Somerton, Cheryl Dragon and Elizabeth Hollows (anthology). A three-book romantic suspense anthology, including a novella from award-winning author LM Somerton. Detectives and criminals, bars and BDSM clubs, this anthology will have your pulse pounding.

22 September

Naming the Cowboy by JP Bowie (Hot in the Saddle #4). Former foster brothers are reunited years later at the Seven Plus Ranch. Can Stuart forgive Cole for his perceived abandonment all those years ago? Can they overcome their difficult paths to find a brighter future together?

29 September

Darkwater House by Samuel King. New romance blooms between Toby and his neighbour, Sean, but they’re stirring up more than passion. An angry spirit stalks the corridors, and there’s something creepy about the landlord. Can their relationship survive the haunting?

6 October

The Long Ride by Cheryl Dragon (How to Catch a Cowboy #1). The first in a sexy new cowboys series sees rodeo star Lucas suffer a nasty fall in the ring. Physical therapist Jack is on hand to get Lucas back to his best, but there’s something suspicious about the accident and Lucas is determined to get to the bottom of it, with Jack by his side.

Release day: Fling with the Flying Doctor

6 September 2020

Today is the official release of Fling with the Flying Doctor by Kathleen Ryder (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

A cynical doctor. A nurse with a secret. How far would you go for the person you loved?

Jurgen Cristo loves his role as a doctor working with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Based in the isolated outback town of Alice Springs, his job is demanding, every call is another fight to save the life of a stranger. Betrayed by his ex-fiancée, he is cynical of relationships, vowing to never risk his heart again.

Meghan Richards is a compassionate and talented nurse working on the children’s ward. Trapped by her past mistakes, she harbours a secret which has condemned her to a lifetime of singledom.

Jurgen and Meghan begin a casual romance, ultimately leading them to question everything they thought they wanted. When Jurgen’s old flame appears, and Meghan’s devastating secret is revealed, he makes the ultimate declaration to win back the woman he loves.

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

Book 1 in my Outback Doctors series, Fling with the Flying Doctor, is set in the harsh Australian desert, featuring strong main characters that are relateable and recognisable to modern day women. It is a story of romance, recovery, and revelation.

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

Guest blogger: Jeanie Green

6 September 2020

Throughout my life clairvoyants have told me I was supposed to be a writer. This was my purpose. I didn’t agree, even though reading and writing stories were a passion from a very early age. I had a more active life in mind.

In 1988, when we immigrated from Scotland to a small town near Geelong, we chose to live on a lifestyle acreage. I became a keen dressage rider, taught at the local Pony Club, found a stunning Warmblood stallion, and started a horse stud.

In May 2016 a car accident changed my life. I could no longer work my horses. My daughter took over my horse life—and I started to write. Characters appeared and storylines developed.

I completed Faber’s First Draft, Second Draft, and Children’s, Middle School and Young Adult Writing courses. At the end of the year I was offered a mentorship with award-winning author Toni Jordan. I spent the next six months focusing on my manuscript—The House Sitter. At the end of the mentorship Toni did a deep edit of my work, and I realised I had a lot more to learn.

Online, I found the USA-based Margie Lawson’s Writing Academy.

Margie was a psychologist who analysed the work of New York Times best-sellers. She was visiting Australia to conduct a series of five-day immersions. I was lucky, Margie came to our house. In those intense five days, I found out how to look down an imaginary lens and write the scene in front of me. How to ground the reader. Be concise. Create cadence. Make every scene relatable, convincing, and filled with emotion. Thanks to Margie and her awesome team of authors/teachers—I was taught how to keep the reader engaged.

Twenty-six courses later, I travelled to Sydney to attend my second Margie Lawson immersion. She picked scenes from the manuscript and added the letters NYT—New York Times worthy. It had taken a total of three-and-a-half years; finally, I had a manuscript that was worthy to be printed.

I submitted to publishers—I found my way to two editors’ desks, but no further.

Toni Jordan told me, in Australia, it was easier to become a brain surgeon than it was to become a published author. There is a lot of luck and timing involved, and there are a lot of excellent writers competing to be published.

I returned to my clairvoyant, who said, ‘Go home, keep writing and you will receive a phone call.’

That night a friend sent me a link to a USA-based publisher who did self-help, coaching, and entrepreneurial books. Tongue-in-cheek, I submitted my manuscript and was surprised when a week later, I received a phone call from an AAE Editor who lived in Kentucky. She loved my story.

In December 2019 The House Sitter was published with the USA-based publishers—Authors Academy Elite.

The House Sitter is the first in The Braes series. I am currently writing the second, The Vet’s Wife.

Merging my lost horse life with my new writing life, I based the fictional story of Julie Larkham, her life, her loves, her losses and her overwhelming family, on our property, and my horses, dogs and Highland cows became part of the backdrop. This has given me the photographic opportunity to link my story with my old life and share on social media.

My mare Anastasia is on the front cover of The House Sitter.

If you would like to have a peek into my life, and the fictional life of Julie Larkham, the main character in The House Sitter, please check out: Instagram | Facebook | Website

If you would like a free ecopy of The House Sitter, just email me.

Or to read a review or listen to Jeanie being interviewed by Barbie Robinson of Living Arts Canberra click here.

The House Sitter

Julie Larkham was living a fairy tale existence on an estate in Scotland—until the accident.

Confused and heartbroken Julie returns to her parent’s farm in Australia and avoids her overwhelming, interfering family by housesitting rural properties, where she focusses on her first love—horses. Julie waits for eight months on her partner Mac contacting her, but Julie knows Mac blames her for the accident. And Julie know Mac does not forgive or forget.

When Julie is asked to house sit an equestrian property close to her family, she hesitates, and then she decides it’s time to move on with her life. Julie accepts, her family descend, and the fireworks begin.

Agreeing to train a difficult horse, Julie meets French Eventer and riding coach Tomas Fournier. A relationship develops, until she receives a text from her niece with a ‘Missing Person’ notice attached – the photo on the notice was Julie. The person offering the reward was Mac …

 

Favourite reads: Aug 2020

5 September 2020

Books_purpleWelcome to our favourite reads for August. Each month some of ARRA’s members will tell you a little bit about one of the books they’ve recently read and loved.

These are not full reviews of the books, just honest opinions on why they enjoyed the book so much. Hopefully one of these will strike a chord with you.

So, we asked our members to tell us about some of their favourite reads for August …

Someone to Romance by Mary Balogh (Westcott #7) (historical romance)

I just read this new Mary Balogh historical romance. It’s about Lady Jessica, who after several years ‘out’ in society, hasn’t yet found anyone she wants to marry. She was hoping for love, but time is passing and she’s decided that this year she’ll choose someone—love or not. Her choice narrows down to two candidates—one who smiles a great deal and one who doesn’t. You can guess where this is going. It’s a lovely romp—and a tender romance. [Anne, Vic]

The Horse Mistress Collection by RA Steffan (fantasy romance)

This series has everything I love about a fantasy romance—flawed yet compelling lead characters, complex world-building, and an intricate, layered plot. Carivel (the Horse Mistress) struggles with her role as a man with a woman’s body. She falls in love with shape-shifting eunuch Senovo and warrior Andoc. Their menage is explicit and intense, and watching them deal with societal expectations, their own personal character growth and the burgeoning relationship is page turning. It’s a series that stays in your mind long after you’ve finished it. [Kylie, NSW]

The Postmistress by Alison Stuart (historical romance)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m really into historical Australian romances at the moment. They’re not quite as glamorous as, say, a Regency with all its prettiness and manners and frocks. But Alison absolutely nailed the 1870s Victorian goldrush era, and I was surprised at how much I loved the history of it all. I also relished the bush setting, with its inevitable trials and tribulations—and there were a lot of those! Makes the H&H more heroic, IMHO, when they have insurmountable odds to overcome. Well done, Alison. I now have an avid desire to revisit those areas again, virus permitting. [Malvina, NSW]

For Real by Alexis Hall (Spires Universe # 3) (contemporary MM romance)

This was my first Alexis Hall read, so I went into it not knowing what to expect, and I found really beautiful writing and a great deal of honestly. Laurie had his heart broken six years ago, and since then he finds the BDSM scene is rather flat. Until he meets young Toby Finch. Just 19, Toby is fearless and vulnerable, everything Laurie can’t remember being for a long time and everything Laurie wants if only he can learn to love again. [Charlotte, ACT]

Revelations of His Runaway Bride by Kali Anthony (contemporary romance)

This wonderful debut story fits the Modern line so well. It is a marriage of convenience story that ticks all of the boxes with tension and emotion as we see two people who didn’t want to marry, but have been pushed into it, find true love and happiness. This was a fabulous trip to Greece and living a roller coaster ride with Thea and Christo to a beautiful HEA. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and can highly recommend it. [Helen, NSW]