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Release day: Rocking Horse Hill

23 April 2014

Today is the official release of Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein (print and ebook, Penguin Australia). Here’s the blurb:

Rocking Horse HillEver since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

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

I do so adore a lovers reunited story. All that baggage! And in the case of Josh and Emily, the hero and heroine of Rocking Horse Hill, there is plenty. Not only do they have their past to work through, there’s also a whole lot of other drama going on that threatens to mess everything up. Josh’s mum is seriously ill, Emily’s brother has just announced he’s engaged to a girl who not everyone is warming to, Em’s best friends both have troubles and her naughty donkeys are causing havoc. Then there’s Rocking Horse Hill… I adore writing about locations that I have vivid memories of. Growing up in an district scattered with ancient volcanos it was only a matter of time before I included one in a story and this one certainly earns its place!

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

All ARRA members who comment on this post will go in the draw to win a signed paperback copy (Australia only). The giveaway closes on 13 May 2014.


Feature book: A Warlord’s Lady

23 April 2014

A Warlord's LadyA Warlord’s Lady by Nicola E Sheridan

Sabra Westwood feels she is more or less ordinary (although she’s a Chameleon), until she is captured by a magician warlord. Chameleons have chromatophores, which allow them to control their skin, hair, etc to change and blend with the colouration of their backdrop. Sabra doesn’t have any family, she was brought up in foster care, and while travelling on a three-month long service vacation met Maggie, with whom she is out drinking when abducted.

Cain Dath is a magical warlord operating in Laos. His home base is hidden deep in the jungle and protected by magical shields. He is fighting to protect the rights of magical and non-human beings. Cain is fit, handsome, oozes sex appeal and can’t seem to resist Sabra. He has an adversarial history with Sabra’s travelling companion Maggie (who gets freakier as the book progresses).

Sabra and Cain have a somewhat complicated relationship, given that he abducts her, even though their attraction appears simple on the surface. He seems to enjoy her plumpish, shorter statured body. She enjoys fabulous sex with Cain, but seems drugged by him in these physical encounters. Their lack of conversation makes Sabra worry that the relationship is purely physical and causes her to doubt herself. This and a bevy of scantily clad women offering themselves to Cain lead to even more self-doubt and a boat load of anger and resistance to Cain’s charms for Sabra. The evil Sergeant Hollis (ostensibly guarding her against Cain on her return to Australia), insults and threatens Sabra. He also lurks and schemes, generally causing problems for both Sabra and Cain and in the wider world trying to instigate war between ordinary humans and not-so-average beings.

I loved the Australian feel of the book; to quote, ‘The accusation hung like a fart in the air between them’. Seriously who else but an Aussie would write that? I would have liked the antagonist, Sergeant Hollis, to have more depth. He felt a little one dimensional, just another egomaniacal evil, but on the other hand the book was about Sabra and Cain. As an aside, this story freaked me a little in a sci-fi-foretelling-the-future kind of way. While reading the book, I came across a news bite saying research by Australian scientists regarding light reflection on mother-of-pearl surfaces was being used by US forces as a basis for light bending camouflage. I’m trying not to give spoilers, but it is interesting.

Reviewed by Gina

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

Feature book: A Terrible Love

23 April 2014

A Terrible LoveA Terrible Love by Marata Eros

Jess Mackey has been on the run for two years. She doesn’t date, tries to avoid making close friends and certainly doesn’t pursue her passion for ballet. Any involvement could bring attention to her. Discovery of her real identity would lead her vicious step-brother to her, and death to anyone she cares for. But staying isolated is not that easy and when friends she’s tried to discourage set her up for a ballet audition, suddenly all the attachments she’s tried so hard to avoid come crashing in on her and this time it’s too hard to stay disconnected. Not only does she gain friends and a chance to focus her life on ballet, but now she’s caught the attention of two very sexy men. Both are hot, but that’s all they have in common. Mitch is caring and safe, a quality that draws her. It’s a long time since she felt that. But Cas is addictive and she can’t seem to stop herself having a taste. Once experienced, there is no going back to her ordinary life. Cas is a drug in her system and however much she tells herself she must give him up, that they are no good for each other, she is lost. And with young women dying on campus, Jess is suspicious. Can it be that her step-brother has found her? Anonymity is no longer possible and Jess’s life seems to be a speeding train heading inevitably towards wreckage.

Devin ‘Cas’ Castile is hotness wrapped in a dangerous package. He tells Jess right from the start that he just wants sex. But he has conditions. As he comes and goes from her life, Jess becomes more entangled and confused. Extremely protective, he always seems to be there to help her when needed, but no way will he commit to anything more than sensational sex.

I found this story utterly compelling and yet I also felt as if I was not getting right into the characters. I think the book suffers from the one-sidedness of the story telling. I’m curious to know if reading the companion book will connect me more with the characters. I wanted to be, and actually felt a little cheated that I couldn’t feel this way. It’s an interesting concept, two separate books giving the two points of view, and the climax of the book would definitely have to have been done differently. So, I guess I’m off to find the companion. Yep, not Book 2, but The Companion. Trends have certainly changed.

Reviewed by Rosalie

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

Feature book: Point of Retreat

23 April 2014

Point of RetreatPoint of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

This was book 2. Why did I put if off for so long? Because it’s the middle book and I mistakenly thought lots of misunderstandings and tedium to get through and get to book 3 and the HEA. I shouldn’t have. I couldn’t put this down. I was riveted.

Will and Lake are very much in love, leading busy lives as they try to spend time together in between school, study and raising their young brothers. Their delightful friends Eddie and Gavin are wonderful additions to the book, as well as new friends Kiersten and Sherry.

This one is told from Will’s point of view and it’s just as intense and wonderful. Will has no doubts about his love for Lake. It’s been impossible to spend much time alone with her, but he is hoping that it will soon be possible. With the help of their friends and new neighbours and the one set of grandparents they have, some time together alone might, finally, be possible. But just when Will finally has the opportunity to have that time with his beloved Lake, his past rears up unexpectedly and his future is not looking as settled and rosy as he had hoped. It’ll take all his devotion, determination, and all the courage and fortitude he has already had to endure to eventually win his love over.

It’s been a tragic year for Layken and now she has to raise her young brother as well as continue her studies. Having Will in her life has helped her to cope and she can’t wait to finally be alone with him. With two young boys, two homes and friends in and out of both houses, they have not been able to manage any protracted private time. Now it’s finally going to happen and it can’t come soon enough for both of them. But Lake’s faith is severely shaken when she finds Will in a compromising position with an old flame and, no matter how much reassurance he offers, she can’t help but wonder if he truly loves her for herself or if it’s partly to do with their similar circumstances. But when another major tragedy strikes, Will’s love is all she really needs.

I love this couple, their brothers and friends. With so much pain and loss in their lives, it’s so comforting to see the steadfast love there, in ones so young, yet mature beyond their years due to their family tragedies. Beautifully written, again peppered with wonderful slam poetry, I am so wrapped in this story. I’m also so grateful for having been introduced to the concept of slam poetry. I have never appreciated poetry as much as I now do as a result of reading these books.

Very highly recommended, but do start with Book 1, Slammed.

Reviewed by Rosalie

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

Release day: Called by Fire

22 April 2014

Today is the official release of Called by Fire by Delwyn Jenkins (ebook, Momentum). Here’s the blurb:

Called by FireKamryn Vale is a Dahnan witch who wants nothing more than to complete her studies in the World Between and return to her normal life. But when a sister-witch is murdered and another kidnapped, Kamryn discovers a dark magic so terrifying it threatens the safety of both her worlds. Driven by the need to help in the investigation, Kamryn must deal with the complications of working with the mysterious Watchtower Knights.

After two hundred years in exile, the Knights have been invited back to protect the Witches at the Collegium. They can’t afford any mistakes, and Alex knows his attraction for the fire witch has trouble written all over it. With one eye on the investigation and the other on Kamryn, Alex must balance his obligation to duty with the needs of his heart.

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

When I started making notes for this story, Alex was going to be a mysterious, tortured kind of hero–but he had other ideas. I wanted to write him dark, but by the time he got onto the page he was much lighter than I intended. He still had a fierce warrior ethic and absolute integrity–but he was a bit of a hound dog (in a way that’s totally endearing, I promise). Kamryn really likes him, even though she knows she shouldn’t, and he’s not like anyone she’s ever met. He pushes her buttons, yet somehow not only gets away with it but he eases under all her walls and defences until she has no idea how to resist him. Plus he’s really sexy, and that’s something Kam finds both good and bad.

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

Guest blogger: HC Brown

20 April 2014

Heather BrownDefinition of romance: A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.

I have always been a romantic and can find romantic tales in the strangest of places. I live close to the beach but I’ve lived in England and the Australian bush. I often find my muse pulls stories from places I’ve visited, dreams or from a single lyric in a song. How couldn’t a trip to Scotland or Tintagle in Cornwall spark a story—let alone Paris in the spring?

I tend to drop into my historical zone with yummy Highlanders more of late but Avatar zone is hovering waiting to pounce at any moment.

I honestly believe writing in a variety of genres is beneficial and keeps my writing fresh. I write a wide variety of genres under HC Brown from spicy dragon or cat shape shifter romances to contemporary action adventure and science fiction. I prefer to write a series because as a reader I always want to know ‘What happened next?’ and as an author the characters that stay close to my heart usually beg me to write more.

But my HC Brown author persona is a small part of who I am.

I am International All Breeds Cat Judge and Tutor Judge.

I’m a cat lover and bred Oriental Shorthairs and won Cat of the Year seven times. I created the breed Australian Bombay, and my cats were featured on Burke’s Backyard and a few other programs.

Last year I launched a new pen name to embark on my first love—category historical romance. I read four books a month and most of the time they are historical romance. Regency rakes, knights and Highlanders top my list of reading. So I made a decision to step away from my HC Brown persona for a while to write a medieval romance: Her Norman Conquest will be released by Totally Bound in June. Then I had the urge to write a young adult paranormal romance story and How I Dumped My Demon will be published by Evernight Teen in May. Both these stories are under the pen name Elizabeth M Darcy.

As I mentioned, history is a passion and this year I have completed and submitted, Lost in the Highland Mist, a time travel romance set in Scotland 1425, and a Gregorian-era Highlander romance is near completion.

As an author of many published books, I am always willing to give advice on craft. I am involved in the RWA critique partner scheme and would recommend it highly for anyone needing a little guidance. I always set aside time to assist new authors because very few of us walk into this business with the skills necessary to obtain a contract.

You can find me here: Elizabeth M Darcy | HC Brown

For the chance to win an ecopy of Dragonfae and the Soul Catcher, leave a comment below. The giveaway will close on 4 May 2014.

Her Norman ConquestHer Norman Conquest

Left alone after the death of all the male members of her household at the Battle of Hastings, Lady Ann finds herself at the mercy of William the Conqueror. The King intends to marry his knights to Saxon gentry.

Ann becomes a useful if not uncooperative allay by using her ability to speak French to liaise with the terrified Saxon women and their potential husbands. She falls in love with a devastatingly handsome Norman blacksmith only to discover King William has plans for her to marry one of his knights.

Feature book: Slammed

16 April 2014

SlammedSlammed by Colleen Hoover

When Layken’s mother suddenly announces the family is moving from Texas to Michigan, Layken is left confused and angry. It’s only been a few months since her father died and to find they need to move away from the only home she and her brother have known, to such a distant and different location, only adds to her heartbreak. She dreads starting a new school in her senior year. First impressions of her new home are not good, but second impressions, in the form of the sexy guy standing in her driveway, have Layken wondering if maybe it’s not so bad after all. When he speaks and smiles, Layken is won over. Ypsilanti, Michigan is looking very good indeed. And Will looks even better.

Will Cooper is blown away by the gorgeous girl manoeuvring the large van into the driveway with confidence and aplomb. He can’t help but introduce himself and immediately ask her out. There’s an instant connection and for the first time in years, Will is going to allow himself some time to get to know a girl, this amazing girl.

But that promising start for both of them is brought to a sudden halt within a few days when they make a devastating discovery. Instead of looking forward to a bright and wonderful future, both must find ways of ignoring the attraction and getting on with separate lives. But too many other factors are making this impossible and with the help of Will’s passion for slam poetry and a shared love of a particular music band, the pain and agony of tragedy might just be what it takes to bring them together after all.

This is no lightweight love story and it draws you in from the first page. It’s not just the courage of these two people, but the realness of their connection. And did I mention how beautifully written it is? Plus, an obvious talent for slam poetry from the author? A very, very talented writer.

Loved it! I am so inspired by the slam poetry! I wanted to join in and give it a try, to be young again and express the angst in such a creative way. I love how the author has used and blended the phenomenon of this public outlet to enhance the story. I also dearly loved Eddie. What an amazing friend Layken has in her. I’m hooked and, luckily, have more of this series to indulge in. I’m in for the long haul with these two and, hopefully, more slam poetry. :)

Reviewed by Rosalie

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


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