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Feature book: Mia

23 June 2021

Mia by Fiona McArthur

Subgenre: medical romance
Release date: 30 Dec 2020
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Length: 264 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $32.34 (print)

As we continue through the Lyrebird Lake series, we meet Mia who has moved to Lyrebird Lake at the request of her friend to join the birth centre. Mia was keen to move as she feels she has made a mess of her personal life. As she says, she is on a break from her engagement. The man she wanted to marry was using her to look after him, cheated on her and gives her money to terminate her pregnancy (note her pregnancy).

At the lake she meets Angus Campbell. Angus is Ned’s son. He has returned after twenty years when Ned is about to marry Louisa (Ned is the local doctor and Louisa has been his housekeeper all those years). Angus returns with his own son. A son he did not know existed. His back story is that the woman he loved, left for Brisbane with him and when she went back home for a visit, she told Angus the baby was stillborn. Angus then went on to become a doctor and has since headed disaster relief across the world.

When Mia meets Angus, she has a feeling. Then the conversations become awkward but she is blunt with her questions which surprises him. He is not convinced about home births until he observes one. As a doctor he is able to see the other side. Angus has feelings but still isn’t sure what those feelings are as he feels that he will let her down. He is also trying to come to terms with his grown up son.

Then Mia falls down a mine shaft and everything changes for Angus. Well almost. He is still wanting to leave, again as he feels that he will let Mia down. Then he makes a realisation, and Mia will be his forever.

There are many things I am enjoying about this series. Firstly, the gentle nature of the characters and the stories. The women are progressive in midwifery but are very caring about their charges and the people around them. Secondly, the couples know almost instantly they find the other attractive and there is the requisite angst between the couples. Thirdly, I get to meet the other characters and have a glimpse into their lives after their story has been told. Fourthly, I am learning some things about midwifery and the care of babies. A bonus on all four counts!

It goes without saying that Angus and Mia are suited to each other. And the lyrebird also knows that this is the case. As I said earlier, the couples are gentle but real.

reviewed by Heather

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

Release day: The Perfect Murder

22 June 2021

Today is the official release of The Perfect Murder by Kat Martin (hardcover, ebook and audio, HQN). Here’s the blurb:

Cover image of The Perfect Murder by Kat MartinThe eldest of the three wealthy Garrett brothers, Reese Garrett is in the middle of a major purchase for his multimillion-dollar oil and gas company, Garrett Resources. The Poseidon offshore drilling platform venture will greatly enhance the company’s value.

But when Reese is on a trip out to see the rig, his helicopter crashes, leaving him hospitalised and two men dead. It’s discovered the chopper was sabotaged, and Reese is determined to find out who’s behind the crash—and whether he was the intended target. Then, when his lover, Kenzie, is accused of her ex-husband’s murder—a man with a vested interest in the Poseidon deal—clues start pointing to a connection that puts Reese, Kenzie and her young son in the sights of a killer.

From the Texas heat to the Louisiana bayous, Reese and his brothers must track down the truth before the body count gets any higher.

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

Reese Garrett’s story was the most difficult of the series to write.  The eldest Garrett brother was a complex character, the CEO of a huge oil and gas corporation, a man with secrets as well as hidden desires. Add to that, his newly hired executive assistant, McKenzie Haines, had become a critical member of his staff, making her a forbidden temptation. Submerging these characters in an effort to purchase an offshore drilling platform that is coveted by several of Reese’s most ruthless competitors led Reese and Kenzie into deadly intrigue. As you can imagine, the research was extremely difficult—what do I know about off-shore drilling?  A lot more now, I can tell you! And there was Kenzie’s son, Griff, to worry about. A target of completely scrupulous individuals willing to do anything for the millions of dollars in profit they could make off the oil rig. I hope you enjoy Reese and Kenzie in The Perfect Murder.

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

Guest blogger: Maya Linnell

20 June 2021

So many threads of inspiration come together to make up a novel, and while some are impossible to define, others can be traced back to conversations with friends and family and little memories that jumped onto the page while I wrote, demanding a cameo role in my novels.

In Magpie’s Bend, Lara McIntyre isn’t impressed when her sisters start organising a singles ball to help save their general store. The leading man, Toby Paxton, isn’t especially thrilled with a wardrobe mishap on the evening of the event either.

The origins of this safari suit sub-plot hark back to a black-tie ball I attended in my 20s. The ball was part of a rural singles weekend aimed at attracting city girls from Melbourne (and country girls from interstate, like me), similar to Farmer Wants a Wife before it was turned into a TV show. Most of the bachelors wore their best black suits, but for me, three men stood out like sore thumbs. Two blokes were intentionally stealing the spotlight in wide-legged, retro safari suits, while one was completely oblivious to his fashion blunder, with distinctly odd socks poking out from under his suit pants.

Not only did I meet my future husband that weekend (Mr Odd Socks), but I had a snippet of inspiration for a novel. Fast forward fifteen years. I started drafting my third story for Allen & Unwin, and those safari suits and the romance at that fabulously rustic event danced onto the page.

The ball scenes were an absolute joy to write and, although I’m not sure if either of the chaps in the safari suits won any hearts that night, I’m ever so grateful for their inspiration.

A paddock of donkeys, big and small, just down the lane from our home in rural Victoria, also paved the way for a cameo in Lara’s story. These animals are smart, strong and oh-so stubborn.

Our real-life neighbour is a delight, often inviting us around to groom and ride her donkeys, nothing like the curmudgeonly Clyde McCluskey in Magpie’s Bend. McCluskey and his donkeys pop up throughout the story, and when he’s not complaining about his neighbours—Lara on one side and Toby on the other—he’s throwing in his ten cents about the general store fundraising events. I think we’ve all known a neighbour like that, haven’t we? But scratch a little further under the surface, and it’s easy to see how damaging loneliness can be, why community connections need to be nurtured, not ignored, and the truth that deep down, everybody wants to be loved.

Keen to find out how McCluskey’s donkeys are involved in the grassroots campaign to save the general store, and who ends up dancing to Nutbush City Limits in a safari suit? Then grab yourself a copy of Magpie’s Bend in paperback, ebook or audiobook.

Follow Maya online or sign up to her monthly newsletter for book giveaways, recipes and a generous serve of country living.

You can find Maya here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Magpie’s Bend

A big-hearted story of community spirit and farming families from the bestselling author of Bottlebrush Creek.

‘Maya Linnell knows how to tug on our heartstrings, with just the right dollop of reality … I couldn’t put it down.’—Catriona Rowntree

Bush nurse Lara McIntyre and journalist Toby Paxton are thrust into the limelight when an accident puts the beating heart of their community in jeopardy.

The small country town of Bridgefield can’t manage without their general store and post office, but Lara can’t stomach the idea of out-of-town buyers revamping it with no regard for what the residents want or need. She’s also unsure about where Toby’s allegiances lie in this fight.

Loyalties are put to the test as the locals attempt to save the shop, with personal agendas, old grudges and misunderstandings threatening their best efforts.

Featuring a black-tie ball, a fun run, a magpie called Vegemite and a snake-chasing kelpie called Basil, Magpie’s Bend is a story about rural lives, family, love and letting go.

Available to purchase via this link as well as in bookstores and department stores around the country.

Release day: The Night That Changed Everything

16 June 2021

Today is the official release of The Night That Changed Everything by Helen Lacey (The Culhanes of Cedar River #5) (ebook and paperback, Harlequin Special Edition). Here’s the blurb:

Cover image of The Night That Changed Everything by Helen LaceyHe vowed to always be there for her…

But not as her husband!

Winona Sheehan and Grant Culhane have been BFFs since childhood. So when Winona’s sort-of boyfriend ditches their ill-advised Vegas wedding, Grant is there…with his sexy smiles and way too much consolation! Suddenly, Winona trades one groom for another—and Grant’s baby is on the way. With buddy boundaries crossed and a years’ long secret crush fulfilled, Winona wonders if her husband is ready for a family … or firmly in the friend zone.

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

I’ve always enjoyed the friends-to-lovers type of stories. When Harry Met Sally. Definitely, Maybe. Some Kind of Wonderful. There’s something sweet and a little sentimental about best friends discovering they have fallen in love. In my latest Culhanes of Cedar River book from Harlequin Special Edition, The Night That Changed Everything, Grant and Winona have been BFFs since they were kids and definitely didn’t see the status of their relationship changing anytime soon. Or did they? I’d like to think that even without an AWOL fiancé, too many tequila shots and a Vegas all-night chapel, they would have still managed to find their way to one another eventually. I hope you enjoy The Night That Changed Everything. Happy reading!

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

Release day: The Billion-Dollar Bride Hunt

16 June 2021

Today is the official release of The Billion-Dollar Bride Hunt by Melanie Milburne (ebook and paperback, Harlequin Presents). Here’s the blurb:

Cover image of The Billion-Dollar Bride Hunt by Melanie MilburneThe billionaire, the matchmaker and their off-limits attraction… 

What if the woman he wants…
Is the one finding his bride?

When Matteo Vitale strides into matchmaker Emmaline Woodcroft’s office, he has an unusual request. He must marry  and father an heir if he’s to inherit his family estate. After his first marriage ended tragically, what he needs is a wife who isn’t looking for love!

To understand her enigmatic client, Emmie accepts an invitation to his Italian villa. As she gets closer to the real Matteo, for once she gives in to desire. The trouble is, Emmie knows she can’t be the bride Matteo’s looking for…

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

I was inspired to write this, my 90th book, by rereading Jane Austen’s Emma, as well as watching the most recent movie with Bill Nighy as Emma’s father. He was brilliant, and I ended up watching it three times! I love situational irony and I got to thinking—what could be more ironic than a professional matchmaker falling in love with her client? Having been a successful matchmaker in the past, I was familiar with the need to know someone well enough in order to recommend them to someone else, which is what my heroine Emmie sets out to do with Matteo Vitale. One of the things that came to me when writing this novel is—how well do any of us know ourselves? Do we truly understand our emotional dynamics, the negative scripts we live our lives by, the patterns and habits of behaviour that interfere with or block or sabotage what our heart most desires? I hope you enjoy The Billion-Dollar Bride Hunt as much as I enjoyed writing and researching it!

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

Feature book: A Cowboy Kind of Love

16 June 2021

A Cowboy Kind of Love by Donna Grant

Subgenre: western romance
Release date: 27 Apr 2021
Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks
Format: ebook and print
Length: 304 pages
RRP: $7.72 (ebook); $17.10 (print)

As with the previous stories in this series it is high on action and suspense. There is the FBI, former SEALs, local police and a myriad of other law enforcement groups! From the group of friends, it is Jace and Taryn’s story.

Taryn Hillman left him. With only a text message. It has been years but still the pain is intense for Jace, so much so that he is often drunk. Then he imagines he sees her in his home. This time it is for real, Taryn has returned. She has a mission but doesn’t want Jace to help, but wants to see him again.

Jace eventually gets the story from Taryn, then he and his friends develop a plan to support Taryn and get rid of the man who is in control of her life. Taryn wants but doesn’t want the help. She has been relying on her own wits for years and is a problem solver. But having this back up means that if things go wrong the man she loves could die. There are lots of surprises in store for Taryn when the deal goes down, but she knows her man will be there. I would certainly love to tell more about the cartel, buuuut that means giving away a few twists and turns.

Once the cartel boss is dead (I can tell you that one!) the danger is not over and there are still more life-threatening situations. Then this couple can be together.

There is certainly a lot of angst for this couple. They knew they were meant to be together, but circumstances were not going to allow that to be. If these circumstances no longer existed, then they could share a life together. The ride is fast and furious in this story. It is certainly a page turner. I did like revisiting with the couples from the previous stories and finding out where they are in their lives. But they would always look out for their friends.

reviewed by Heather

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

ARRA newsletter #143

15 June 2021

Purple news

The June 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:

  • general admission tickets for ARR2021 on sale now
  • author EOIs for ARR2023 are now open
  • check the event calendar, for events near you
  • win a $10 gift card—if you can Find the Heart!

Plus our regular columns—romance roundup, web watch, 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

Happy reading everyone!

Guest blogger: Allison Butler

13 June 2021

Tribute to a Nag

In medieval Scotland, a laird valued many things, some of which were his clan, his castle, his cattle, his sword, and his horse. In my latest release, The Thief, Laird Lachlan Elliot has spent every night for the last four weeks in bone-chilling misery determined to catch whoever is stealing from his prized herd. Imagine his frustration and fury when he learns the thief has stolen his horse.

Once native to Scotland and northern England, the Galloway Nag was a well-known type of pony, first noted in English literature when Shakespeare referred to the ‘Galloway Nags’ in Henry IV part II.

What makes this now-extinct horse breed worth mentioning?

From the fifteenth to the early seventeenth century on both sides of the border between England and Scotland, a place where the land had been continually ravaged by marauding armies, there existed people who’d suffered greatly, people who adapted to a time of lawlessness and strife, who often turned to raiding to survive and made it a way of life. They are known as the border reivers.

Autumn saw the herds brought down, fat and healthy from the summer pastures to the inbye fields. Autumn also heralded the beginning of the raiding season. Successful raids carried out by border reivers depended on knowledge of the land, the competence of those one rode with and the skill of one’s weapon of choice. But, as Alistair Moffat, historian and author of the masterpiece, The Reivers, wrote: ‘What delivered a party of reivers to their quarry, what indeed made their whole way of life possible was an animal too little remarked upon by historians, the remarkable pony known as the Galloway Nag’.

The Galloway Nag was said to have good looks, a wide deep chest, be of a bright bay or brown colour, with black legs, small head and neck and stood almost fourteen hands high. Its qualities were its surefootedness, a necessity considering the mountainous byways and inhospitable valleys they travelled, often by moonlight on rain-swept November nights. Its speed, a blessing when being pursued, or in pursuit. But perhaps its best quality was its stoutness. Strong of character, brave, bold, determined, and enduring.

Sadly, due to crossbreeding, the Galloway Nag became extinct in the nineteenth century. If you ever get the chance to visit Scotland, outside the old town hall in Galashiels, there’s a superb bronze statue of a rearing Galloway Nag carrying a fully armed border reiver.

Image courtesy of Undiscovered Scotland

Transportation. Worker. Warrior. Friend.
A four-legged hero.
Journey Home
Leg throbbing, stains blood-red. Weary. Head hurts. Mind cloudy, shades of grey. ‘Home, lad.’ Stretch along sturdy neck, coarse mane scratching whiskered cheek. Cold, dirt-encrusted fingers linked, locked. Blessed rest. Steady rock and sway. Night. Day. Blurred, steady rock and sway. Night. Dawn’s chill blanket. Body aches. Stillness. Lids heavy. Eyes slowly open. Stone croft. Wife running. Heart sighs. Shiver ripples beneath me. Hold tightens. ‘Thank ye, lad,’ whispered words. Mouth curves. Home …

Happy reading and best wishes to all.

Allison Butler xx

You can find Allison here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Thief

To fulfill his father’s dying wish, Border laird Lachlan Elliot must marry and sire a legitimate heir, cementing his family’s name in the tumultuous borderlands. But his marriage will be one of convenience. Lachlan has no time for the pain and betrayal of love, and his land and position must always come first. So even when the spirited thief he catches stealing his horse turns out to be breathtaking—and appropriate—he vows to marry her, bed her, but never love her.

Kenzie never wanted an arranged marriage, but to be forced to wed the domineering laird who catches her thieving from his lands is even worse. Feisty, strong-willed and determined to make her own way, Kenzie may have no choice but to agree to the marriage, but she will never give up her independence. Lachlan may own her body, but he will never own her heart.

The Thief is now available in print


Release day: Forgive Me

12 June 2021

Today is the official release of Forgive Me by KL Wilde (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Cover of Forgive Me by KL WildeWelcome to Janson Technology, where your pleasure is our only desire.

In Book One, Hannah finally spends a weekend test-driving one of the android sex workers she’s devoted her whole life to creating. It was supposed to be a one-time fling, a secret memory that would live inside the walls of the Janson Hotel. Which is why she can’t believe her eyes when he shows up at her office the next day! Will she be charged with theft, or will he be the one to steal her heart? These stories are bite-sized morsels designed to be consumed in thirty minutes or less – plenty of time to fill you with desire and leave you lovingly satiated. Each story has its own Happily Ever After, or Happily For Now because everyone deserves a happy ending.

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

Forgive Me is the first story in the Janson Technology robotic erotica series, set in the not-too-distant future, in a hotel filled with amorous androids. The first three stories are out now, each one a tasty bite-sized temptation, and each more delicious than the last. Treat yourself, go on, buy all three!

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

Feature book: The Giving Tree

9 June 2021

The Giving Tree by Phillipa Nefri Clark

Series: Charlotte Dean Mysteries #5
Subgenre: Australian small town mystery
Release date: 8 Dec 2020
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Length: 150 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $16.85 (print)

A year has passed in Kingfisher Falls since the first book in this series (A Deadly Start, originally known as The Christmas Tree Thief). Everyone is hopeful for a crime-free Christmas season. Unfortunately, because of said crime spree over the last year, takings are down at the local shops and Kingfisher Falls isn’t getting anywhere near the normal number of visitors over the festive season. People are a bit worried about coming to the town.

Charlotte and her employer Rosie—who is Trev’s mother—come up with a lovely scheme to entice people in, as well as something that can give back to the community. They organise for every business to have a small Giving Tree, whereby people who buy the goods and services of each shop can also contribute a small gift donation for someone in need. The gift card is written out and hung on a little tree, often placed near or on the front counter.

At first this seems to work beautifully. People are in a giving mood, and over the first week hundreds of dollars of donations are written on the lovely gift cards.

Then, disaster! Someone begins to steal the gift cards (how low can you go?!), and the shops are reluctant to keep them going as a result. They’re worried the thief will keep coming back—and that they’ll actually find some way to spend the money on the stolen cards. Not a desired end result.

The odious local mayor (with suspect criminal connections) is the first to point the finger at a local, Henry, recently tangled up in a crime. But Henry, only just back in town, is horrified. He claims he’s innocent. Will the town believe him? Maybe not as the evidence piles up …

Meanwhile, poor Trev is trying to find the right time to propose to Charlotte. Every time he thinks it’s a great time for the Big Moment, something happens. And then even more events get set in motion from Charlotte’s past, which make him hesitate—again—as Charlotte struggles with her personal issues. Will the proposal happen at all? Will Charlotte achieve some inner peace and finally be able to put the past behind her?

This book is the end of the series, so you’ll be happy to note everything comes to a conclusion, but with quite a few surprises along the way. The climactic armed show-down is totally worth the read!
I don’t want to tell you any spoilers, just dive in and relish another satisfying romantic cosy mystery.

Reviewed by Malvina

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