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Feature book: Her Secret Texas Valentine

13 November 2019

Her Secret Texas Valentine by Helen Lacey

Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 1 Feb 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Mills & Boon
Format: ebook and print
Length: 193 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $11.50 (print)

After two terrible dates, Valene (Val) Fortunado, decides to give online dating one last try. When she meets Jake Brockton, it seems like third time lucky. Except he doesn’t tick the boxes on her criteria for Mr. Right. He’s sexy, charming, articulate, family orientated and volunteers at an animal shelter, but he’s also a ranch hand who dropped out of college. Yet, she feels more for him then she has any other guy and the more time she spends with him, the stronger the attraction grows.

Jake Brockton has only had a year to deal with a messy divorce and only tried online dating after his younger sister’s constant urging. When he meets Val, he is instantly attracted to her and can’t spend enough time with her. Despite the attraction, he doesn’t think they could have a relationship as she is a city girl and problems with the family real estate business, where she works, are causing her anxiety. As their bond grows, Jake knows he needs to reveal his secret. He’s not a ranch hand but the owner of the ranch and has a number of other business interests.

After two unsuccessful long-term relationships, Val is angry and hurt when Jake’s failure to correct her assumptions is revealed. His attempts to fix the issues at her work also become another problem for the couple. Can Val get past his omissions and build a relationship with the ‘real’ Jake? Can he deal with the personal issues that Val is dealing with after spending time with him?

Ms Lacey has written another sweet Texan romance where families are important, and our couple must discover who they are while building a relationship. There are many changes ahead for them. You will enjoy several cute scenes, two unusual pet dogs and a shelter dog with personality, alongside the love story. As part of a series there are a number of secondary characters who have stories, but you won’t need to have read those to enjoy this one. I recommend finding a warm place, pouring yourself a hot drink and settling in for a read that will leave you feeling happy and warm, inside and out.

Enjoy.

Reviewed by Tracey

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

Release day: The Magic of Christmas

12 November 2019

Today is the official release of The Magic of Christmas by Alyssa J Montgomery (ebook, Escape Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

‘This year, you’ll have to help create your own Christmas magic.’

Billionaire Jack Mancini has pulled himself up out of the worst circumstances to become a self-made CEO. The one thing Jack can’t face is Christmas. Carols, Christmas trees and cheer only remind him of his dark past. But when he’s asked to stay in London for Christmas by the only person who understands his pain, Jack’s fierce loyalty demands that he agree.

Ever since tragedy struck, Grace Robertson has done everything she can to give her younger brother the life he deserves, ignoring her own passions to focus on her housecleaning business. The two things Grace lets herself indulge in? Fantasising about her handsome employer Jack and playing his beautiful grand piano when she’s finished cleaning his house. When Grace is caught playing the piano, the last thing she expects is for the man of her fantasies to offer her everything she’s ever wanted.

But even as the line between fiction and reality blurs, it seems that the darkness that haunts Jack is inescapable. If only Jack would let in just a little bit of Christmas magic…

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

I love Christmas! I love creating the Christmas atmosphere in my home, the excitement of buying and wrapping presents and writing cards and of catching up with family, friends and neighbours. For the hero in this story, however, Christmas holds nothing but traumatic memories, so in writing this story I wanted to let him experience the magic of Christmas so that he could both open up his heart to love and to the joys of this season. It took some doing and a lot of help from my heroine, Grace, to bring him around. I hope you’ll enjoy Jack Mancini’s journey and that his story will touch you at this special time of the year.

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

Guest blogger: Kat Martin

10 November 2019

Story ideas

I’ve always loved a good plot. People ask me how I come up with ideas for my novels, but the truth is, I really don’t know.

Sometimes the kernel of an idea grows out of a newspaper article or something I see on Facebook or just some old movie. Most of the time, it’s so long ago I don’t actually remember, but my mind does.

The novella, Shadows at Dawn, blossomed the way most of my stories do, basically out of nowhere. Jaxon Ryker first appeared in The Conspiracy, a former Navy SEAL, now a detective working for Chase Garrett, the wealthy owner of Maximum Security, an extremely successful private security firm in Dallas.

I liked Jax right away. He was definitely hero material, but at the same time, Jax was different, kind of soft-spoken, not arrogant, just a really nice guy. Unless you pissed him off.

Turns out Jax had a protective streak a mile wide and the sweet little receptionist at The Max was his weakness.

When Jax happens upon three men attacking her in the parking lot after work, his hero instincts kick in—big time.

Jax is convinced the attack isn’t random and that even after the fight that saved Mindy and drove the men away, she might not be safe. And no way is Jax letting anything happen to her.

I liked the two of them together from the start. These days, readers want kick-ass women, but there are other ways a woman can be strong. What Jax sees is a sweet girl he believes would never be able to handle a tough guy like him. But Mindy proves him wrong.

As the danger unfolds, Mindy and Jax are forced to work together to find the men who want her dead and figure out why.

I hope you’ll give this fun read a try and that you like Jax and Mindy as much as I did. If you do, you can also find them in The Deception, book #2 of my Maximum Security Series after The Conspiracy.

Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, LJ Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times bestseller list, and her novel, Beyond Reason, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s next hardcover, The Deception, a romantic thriller, will be released on 10 September.

You can find Kat here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Shadows at Dawn

Don’t miss this scorching novella, part of what Publishers Weekly is calling Kat Martin’s ‘tantalising’ new Maximum Security series!

Private detective Jaxon Ryker swore to himself he would keep his hands off Mindy Stewart. No matter how much Jax might secretly wish otherwise, his colleague at The Max is strictly off-limits. But when Mindy is the victim of an attempted kidnapping, everything changes. With both of them thrust into danger, Jax swears to protect her. As they work together in search of answers, it becomes clear Mindy’s life is on the line, so a trap is set—with Mindy as bait. Jax and Mindy have to put aside their overwhelming attraction, but if they live through this, all bets are off…

‘Martin keeps the twists and turns coming in the sensuous and spirited Maximum Security romantic thrillers.’—Publishers Weekly

Shadows at Dawn is available from: Amazon | Kobo | Google | iTunes | B&N

Publisher pitch: Pride Publishing, Nov 2019

8 November 2019

It’s a big month at Pride Publishing, with new releases in some of our most popular series. We revisit Sin City with Morticia Knight, Cedarwood with Megan Slayer, and meet a brand-new Captain ready to captivate us with Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead. And as an extra treat, we’re sneaking in our first Christmas story of the year … and hope your Christmas wishes are granted, too.

You can find more of our titles at www.pride-publishing.com, where we’re also releasing box sets of some of our favourite series, so you can binge the whole series in one sitting! (Series of six or more books are split into multiple box sets.) 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:

12 November

Negotiating Love by Morticia Knight (Sin City Uniforms #5). This newly expanded version gives us even more Steve and Allistair, kinks and all. SWAT team member Steve and reclusive billionaire Allistair come from different worlds, but is their shared kink enough to make a relationship? And can they survive the threats to Allistair’s fortune … and life?

19 November

A Granted Wish by Lily Michaels. The Christmas office party is in full swing, and Adam has finally mustered the courage to approach his Scrooge-like boss. Do Christmas wishes really come true? Get into the festive spirit with this steamy seasonal romance.

26 November

Rocking Cedarwood by Megan Slayer (Cedarwood Pride #5). We’re back in Cedarwood and this time it’s rocking! Geeky teacher Michael has a secret … he spends his summers as Bandit, rock god. Can Niall accept all of Michael, and is Cedarwood ready for their starry romance?

3 December

The Captain and the Best Man by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead (Captivating Captains #4). The latest Captain to captivate our hearts is pilot Guy Collingwood, whose steamy holiday romance with Josh has us swooning. Josh is in St Sebastian as best man at his friend’s wedding, but family drama and a tropical storm make waves in his new relationship.

 

Feature book: Burn

6 November 2019

Burn by Keri Arthur

Series: Kingdoms of Earth and Air #3
Subgenre: fantasy romance
Release date: 11 Jun 2019
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Length: 382 pages
RRP: $6.96 (ebook); $29.69 (print)

Nara is a drakkon rider, apparently the last one, as she has somehow found herself 200 years in the future. She wakes up a prisoner, chained to Kaiden, also a prisoner, and they have to work together to escape. Old allies now see her as an enemy, and old enemies are now the evil overlords. Worse than that, there don’t appear to be any free drakkons anymore.

Kaiden is not sure he can trust Nara, but initially he has no choice, and then he wants answers about this mysterious woman. While the things she claims seem far-fetched, eventually he starts to believe that what she says is true. He certainly has to believe her connection with the drakkons.

Nara and Kaiden don’t know the meaning of quit, and somehow manage to get through one impossible situation after another. The story is a rollercoaster ride, with just enough building chemistry thrown in to please romance readers, although the romance is mostly off the page.

I loved that it was the heroine, not the hero, who is the one who will save the world. But Nara was definitely put through the wringer. Lucky for her, drakkon riders are tough—they can call fire and they heal faster than normal. And I loved the drakkons: they were blood-thirsty while still seeming child-like. They really stole some of the scenes. Rumour has it there might be a story sometime in the future about the drakkons. Yay!

A couple of niggles: there were times when Nara was unconscious for extended periods of time (I really meant it when I said she was put through the wringer), which meant we didn’t know what everyone else was doing. Unavoidable with first-person POV stories, but a lot obviously happened during those periods and it felt like a shame to miss it. And there were questions about how Nara ended up in the future that weren’t answered, in particular what was trapped behind the ice.

Reviewed by Debbie

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

Feature book: The Earl Next Door

6 November 2019

The Earl Next Door by Amelia Grey

Subgenre: historical romance
Release date: 28 May 2019
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Format: ebook and print
Length: 300 pages
RRP: $6.84 (ebook); $15.99 (print)

It will be her first appearance in Society since her mourning finished. And she makes an impact when all others thought she was meek, mild and unwell.

Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, has lived in the country since her marriage, and now that her husband is dead (when his ship sank), she is out of mourning, and wanting to re-enter society. She, and two of the other widows, have set up a school for the daughters of the other seaman on the ship, and it is right next door to the Earl of Lyonwood.

Adeline’s husband kept her in the country so that she could have his child. Well, he had to create the child first, and he tried all manner of vile methods to ensure she fell pregnant. He would brag that even his mistress could have his child. Adeline was made to feel a failure.

The earl is not particularly enamoured with the idea of girls shrieking near his window. He makes his point, but does show some empathy to what Adeline and her friends are trying to achieve. He also finds that he is very attracted to Adeline and makes it known to her that he wants to marry her. He does need to allow her the space to see the possibilities, even though he doesn’t want her to find another man. And they are lined up to meet her.

I liked reading this story. It has some interesting aspects and kept my interest as I wanted to see where the story would lead. I did know that they would end up together, there are predictable elements but sometimes that journey can be interesting. The idea of a school for underprivileged girls, to teach them to sew and read, in the middle of Mayfair and all the Lords and Ladies, was one such interesting aspect. Of course, Lyon finding the girls in his bathing chamber held a moment to make the reader smile.

I liked Lyon’s compassion for the girls and their situation. He could have had it removed from the area, but he allowed the school to continue. There are also many other times when his compassion showed, which really shows his character, and makes him an endearing lord and one you would want for yourself!

Reviewed by Heather

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

Favourite reads: Oct 2019

5 November 2019

Books_purpleWelcome to our favourite reads for October. 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 October …

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (historical romance) (A League of Extraordinary Women #1)

I really liked this book, a Victorian romance set in Oxford that also outlined the issues and difficulties with the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement. I admire those brave women who made life better for all women as a result. The romance was so fraught with issues I wondered whether there was going to be a HEA; so much tension! The duke and Annabelle were terrific together, and so intelligent. A great debut. [Malvina, NSW]

Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur (urban fantasy) (Riley Jenson Guardian #7)

This was my top read for October. A paranormal romance, this book saw Riley faced with a series of murdered vampires and a mysterious shapeshifter. While solving crimes, Riley was also trying to solve the conundrum of her love life—Quinn, her hot, sensuous and possessive vampire lover; or Key, the no-nonsense werewolf who works as a hired killer. I can’t wait to find out who she chooses in the upcoming books. [Charlotte, ACT]

Diamond in the Dust by Mel A Rowe (rural romance) (Elsie Creek #2)

This is a beautiful story filled with emotion, romance and fun, the setting is just awesome and the characters that live in Elsie Creek are so good they are real people, people who become friends they make you laugh and shed a tear, this is the second book in this series, but can be read as a standalone and I loved getting to know Verily and Alex, I do highly recommend this one, the Northern Territory is a place I would love to visit. [Helen, NSW]

Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik (sci-fi romance) (Consortium Rebellion #2)

An operatic space setting a romance between a chief intelligence officer and a princess who is more than she seems. Aurora Blazing leads us on an intergalactic chase with Princess Beatrice to find her kidnapped brother, while dodging a frustratingly attractive intelligence officer who would like nothing more than to lock her in her room on Earth. When these two eventually team up the sparks start to fly. Add in some high-stakes action and this is a must read. [Cora, ACT]

Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen (contemporary romance) (The Company #1)

Both Eric and Alex have appeared (separately) in the Brooklyn Bruisers series, but they meet again after 20 years in this book. Childhood friends, they are brought back together when she needs a bodyguard and hires his brother’s firm. As adults they slip back into the friendship surprisingly easily (after a rocky start), and it so enjoyable to watch the friendship blossom into something more. There are plenty of complications in this story, but their attraction to each other is not one of them. Their lives are very different, but they’re perfect for each other—they just need to figure that out. Lots of feels in this one! [Debbie, ACT]