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ARRA newsletter #141

15 April 2021

Purple news

The April 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:

  • the winners of the 2020 awards (pg 2)
  • a wrap-up from the awards ceremony (pg 4)
  • more details on nominating in 2021 (pg 6)
  • interested in a High Tea in 2022? (pg 6)
  • 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 arra.editor@gmail.com.

Happy reading everyone!

Feature book: Revelations of a Secret Princess

14 April 2021

Revelations of a Secret Princess by Annie West

Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 1 Mar 2020
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Format: ebook
Length: 192 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook)

Princess Caro is desperate to connect with the daughter who was stolen from her at birth, even if that means pretending to be a nanny and lying about her true identity.

Jake Maynard is a billionaire, with the world at his fingertips and a newly developed protectiveness for his niece. Hiring Caro is a spur of the moment decision—she’s not as qualified as some of the other applicants—but she does speak his niece’s home language. He can’t put aside his feelings that something about Caro just doesn’t add up.

The struggle of Caro when she first sees her daughter and gets to spend time with her, means the reader is immediately drawn into her story. How could one not feel for her? At the same time, Jake isn’t the bad guy, he’s simply being protective of his niece who he loves dearly. The conflict leapt off the page in this one—neither Caro nor Jake are in the wrong, but you know when the truth is unveiled that one will lose.

Of course, it’s their hearts they lose, but it’s a mighty fine story to get to that point!

I really love the set-up of this story. It felt original for a Harlequin Presents, not just due to the characters but with the plot. I loved the setting—beautiful Switzerland—which really added to the appeal.

The struggle both the hero and heroine feel throughout this story really gripped me and had me turning the pages desperately waiting to find out how it would end. I’m happy to report it didn’t disappoint! Both have backstories that are difficult, Caro’s in particular is heart wrenching.

I’m a real lover of royal stories—this one had all the glitz and glam of that as well as an enjoyable plot that kept me guessing. I am not one bit surprised that this story has been nominated for best short/category romance for 2020. It’s a keeper! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to it in my TBR pile.

Reviewed by Jayne

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

Guest blogger: Megan Mayfair

11 April 2021

The mystery of love

I’m currently working on something new—a fresh series I’m looking forward to sharing with readers a little later this year. It’s been a project that has been on my mind for a while, and something where I’m bringing two of my favourite genres together: mystery and romance.

While there is so much that solving a crime and falling in love don’t appear to have in common, I think there is something about blending the two genres that works so well on the page.

I’ve always read mysteries. As a child anything with a twist and a turn and a baffling puzzle had me zipping through the pages—Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, the Enid Blyton mystery series to name a few. As a teenager, I tore through the Sherlock Holmes series, moved into true crime non-fiction and still love settling down with a good cosy mystery and a hot cup of tea. My most recent obsession has been the Jackman and Evans series by Joy Ellis (narrated to perfection on audiobook by Mr Caramel-Voice, Richard Armitage).

I especially love it when mystery meets romance. Perhaps some unresolved off-the-charts chemistry between a couple of detectives. A dangerous frisson between a possible suspect and an investigator. A sensible and smart love interest for the battle-wary, hardened detective who is fighting an unjust system.

Or perhaps simply two ordinary people thrown together over a baffling puzzle, who as they unravel the mystery, find themselves falling in love amid the chaos.

I’ve always particularly loved the idea of ‘ordinary’ people solving crimes in their ‘spare time’. It was pretty much a childhood ambition of mine, to stumble upon some sort of mystery in my day-to-day world and solve it, bringing together all the pieces of a puzzle that had seemingly been missed by police and investigators.

Alas, after many decades, this has yet to happen to me. The biggest mysteries I tend to investigate in my own life are why the paper is always jamming in the office photocopier, what happened to my kids’ school socks when they went into the washing machine as a pair yet somehow emerge solo, and who keeps on messing with the central heating temperature at home (hint, I suspect Mr M for that one).

Hence, I decided to invent a few mysteries for my characters to solve. However, there is little chance that I’d leave out a romance for my characters to navigate as well. For me, I love the balance of light and shadow in blending together mystery and romance. Mystery and intrigue played out against a beautiful, budding romance. Clues that lead to the solving of a complex mystery, but also deepen the bond of two people. A terrifying moment where heroes and heroines can save each other, and realise how much is at stake.

As I enjoy plotting out this series and fine-tuning it, I’d love your views on all things romantic suspense. What hooks you into a romantic suspense story, or mystery novel with a central romance? Do you love both the mystery and romance plotlines equally? Who are some of your favourite couples who have bonded over a baffling crime or mystery?

Megan Mayfair writes fiction with a dash of intrigue, a sprinkling of humour and a spoonful of romance. And a lot of heart.

Her series include The Tangled Vines Saga and The Café Chronicles. Tangled Vines won the 2019 Romance Writers of Australia Ruby (Romantic Book of the Year) Award in the romantic elements category.

Megan lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and three young children, and works in public relations. When not writing fiction or press releases, she enjoys spending time with her family, drinking coffee, and searching for the perfect shade of red lipstick.

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

 

Publisher pitch: Pride Publishing, Apr 2021

8 April 2021

The weeks are flying by—already we’re talking about releases in April and May, and we’re so excited to introduce you to our latest romance heroes! We have shifters, fake marriages, cops, and a dystopian war zone. Whether you want to run with the wolves in Harrington Hills or visit the opera with Sebastian and Jasper, there’s a book date for everyone at Pride Publishing.

Don’t forget, plenty of our favourite series are now available in box sets—with a new one released most weeks!

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 …

13 April

Artifacts by Bailey Bradford (Intrinsic Values #1). Shy Aldric has always doubted his own worth, but when he gets a job at an antiques store, he starts to think he has his life back on track. But a consignment from a recently deceased billionaire brings nothing but trouble. Cop Darrell has always been able to handle himself, but meeting Aldric, and facing the danger together, causes him to act in ways he’d never expected.

Holding onto Light by Lucien Grey. In an alternate dystopian reality, former army doctor Harry is living in isolation after a devastating war. His isolation is shattered by the arrival of Kit, on the run from his former master and desperate to keep his identity secret. Though circumstances forced them together, they find a fledgling love together.

20 April

The Captain and the Father of the Bride by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead (Captivating Captains #8). Leo is set to inherit a fortune—the only condition is he must marry. But Leo is single, gay, and nowhere near ready for marriage. His best friend Liv offers to be his bride to fulfil the conditions, but when Leo realises the father of the bride is the man he can’t stop thinking about after a one-night stand, all bets are off.

27 April

Unlikely Harmony by Lily Michaels (Improbable Bonds #3). Sebastian is famous, known internationally for putting a modern face on opera, until a vocal cord injury forces him to stop singing. While he rehabilitates, he works on composing music and hires Jasper to accompany him. The pair begin a tentative relationship, but will it survive once Sebastian has recovered his voice?

4 May

Finding Home by Megan Linden (Harrington Hills #6). In this shifter story, former firefighter Leo is heading home to Harrington Hills no longer feeling like much of anything. Charlie has everything he needs—his brother, his pack, a home. The two clash on their first meeting, but a rocky start doesn’t deter either from looking deeper.

Feature book: From Bridal Designer to Bride

7 April 2021

From Bridal Designer to Bride by Kandy Shepherd

Subgenre: contemporary
Release date: 17 Mar 2021
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Format: ebook and print
Length: 160 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $16.99 (print duo)

You can always rely on Kandy Shepherd to introduce a cute animal into her romance, and she does so here with Daisy, a rescue dog being fostered by high-end bridal designer Eloise Evans. Daisy pops in and out of the story and totally ups the adorable quota, which I’m thankful for. Pets always make a story better. They manage to bring out the best in people—and sometimes the worst, so of course you know who the villains are when they’re horrible to the animals. Thanks Kandy, keep the animals coming; I love them. Your special touch.

From Bridal Designer to Bride is the beginning of the linked ‘How to Make a Wedding’ series. The second book, From Tropical Fling to Forever by Nina Singh, is coming out in May 2021. I’m very keen to read it, as it features an intriguing secondary character from FBDTB, a wedding cake baker/designer called Victoria Preston, from Boston.

Back to our bridal designer, Eloise, who works in Double Bay, Sydney. Unbeknown to Eloise, Josh Taylor, a billionaire tech entrepreneur, also from Boston and a friend of Victoria, has come to Sydney to—well, find Eloise. To hopefully casually bump into her and get to know her a little, on Victoria’s request (or Tori, as she’s known). He and Tori have known each other for years, and Josh is happy to help his childhood friend out. He was in Australia on business, so why not combine business with—um—a secret person-finding mission?

So he’s lurking around Eloise’s atelier, drinking lots of coffee in a nearby cafe and nervously trying not to act like a stalker, hoping she’ll make an appearance so he can somehow work out a way to meet her.

Intrigued? You bet I was. Sound awkward? Absolutely! Once you learn the reason, though, you’ll fully endorse Josh’s lurking behaviour. Trust me, it’s not creepy or anything, but it’s quite intense for him, knowing how much it means for Tori. Kudos to Kandy Shepherd for pulling off all this awkwardness—and, of course, she uses dear little Daisy to entangle Josh and Eloise in a cute meet when Eloise takes her for a walk.

What Josh doesn’t expect is to fall hook, line and sinker for Eloise from the moment he sets eyes on her. His intense reaction takes him completely by surprise; this doesn’t usually happen to him. He wants to behave honourably, given the reasons for seeking Eloise, but from that first meeting—their first coffee—their first meal together—and then their first kiss, which is such a wonderful, sweet-to-unexpectedly-steamy first kiss—he is lost.

Meanwhile, Eloise is oblivious to anything but a nice, accidental meeting with Josh (thanks, Daisy). She’s totally charmed by him, but a little wary and reserved after having a bad run with her last relationship. She doesn’t want to experience that again, but their attraction is undeniable.

It’s interesting to watch Josh respond with respect and interest to her passion for her business, and to watch Eloise realise Josh is a huge international tech name. Their high regard for each other as professionals is wonderful; they meet as equals.

There’s a lot of back story in this book I’d rather not reveal because it would wreck the twist surprise for readers. May I suggest diving in ASAP before reading too many spoilers; the story will grab hold of you straight away. There are lots of twists and turns before the end, and some shocks and revelations that are gasp-worthy.

The other gasp-worthy thing are the frocks! Kandy describes the wedding dresses and the other frocks with such detail I could easily visualise them. The sensual fabrics, the details, the lace, the sparkly bits, the beautiful lines, the swish, the allure, the glamour! They’re all divine. And there’s an absolutely gorgeous wedding in Bowral we get to attend. It sounded like bride heaven, loving and wonderful, featuring—naturally—some of Eloise’s stunning creations.

There’s so much emotion here, you’ll be cheering for Eloise and Josh, even when all seems lost. Now I can’t wait for Tori’s story.

Reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author. ARRA members who leave a comment by 28 April 2021 will go into the draw to win a copy.

Favourite reads: Mar 2021

5 April 2021

Books_purpleWelcome to our favourite reads for March. 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 March …

The Unworthy Duke by Charlotte Anne (historical romance)

I loved this regency story of a young woman escaping her horrible abusive brother. Ellen lands a lady’s companion job with a dowager Marchioness, who has a very grumpy grandson, Cal, and Owen, her flamboyant ward (Owen was such fun!). Ellen is determined to stay focused and save for a better life for her and her little sister. Cal has issues of his own to work on, but they get through it all together. I think the main reason I loved this book was because both characters were haunted and needed each other in order to save themselves. Well done—I loved it. [Linda, WA]

Falling for His Island Nurse by Marion Lennox (contemporary romance)

I loved this book. It is a wonderful book for a couple of reasons. First—and awed congratulations here—it’s Marion’s 125th book! Wow! Second, the characters grabbed my heart from the beginning and didn’t let go: the guarded and wounded Dr Angus Knox, his beautiful little son, and nurse Freya Mayberry, with deep hurts from a terrible past. The other ‘character’ you’ll truly love is the setting, beautiful Shearwater Island and its wonderful locals. As a plus there’s Seaweed the dog, a shaggy giant plucked from the watery jaws of death. A very special romance. [Malvina, NSW]

Bound to Her Fake Fiancé Boss by Hayson Manning (contemporary romance)

I have been waiting for this book for a while and, wow, I was not disappointed. What an awesome story; it is emotional and so very sensual and witty. I had lots of LOL moments reading this one as we get to know Asia and Jason. Their road to a HEA is a very rocky one, but one that I feel is a must read. If you enjoy a fabulous hot sexy, witty romance with a hero to die for and a feisty strong stubborn heroine, don’t miss this one. [Helen, NSW]

Tragic by Devney Perry (Lake Cove #3) (contemporary romance)

Kaine has left everything and everyone behind after a horrible tragedy. He’s now living in the woods at Lark Cove, ignoring the locals and doing his woodwork. Piper moves in next door and the first time they meet he slams his door in her face. But they can’t avoid each other completely and in time he finds that spending time with Piper is the one thing that quiets the rage in him. A lovely story about the healing power of love, which is not as angsty at the title implies. [Debbie, ACT]

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish (contemporary mm romance)

This month I discovered the amazing Roan Parrish, and it all started with this book. It’s honestly one of the sweetest books (but still hot and heavy) that I’ve ever read. Where Alex is so steady and calm, Corbin is completely … not. His best friends are the characters he loves to draw, his family is his dog pack and his truly believes he is cursed. These two are a perfect match and their love story is so gentle and caring. [Charlotte, ACT]

Guest blogger: Vicki Milliken

4 April 2021

One of the preoccupations of my heroine in The Battle for Eliza, besides the hero, is ballroom dancing.

I am a self-confessed lover of ballroom, having been introduced to it in my early twenties. I can still remember the social nights at Orchard’s Dance Studio in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Twice weekly the lights would blaze from the top floor of a building in Gipps Street.

The evening would always start with a progressive to the tune of Two Hearts by Phil Collins. After that, females lined up along one row of seats and males along another on the opposite side of the room. We’d all wait patiently for the next available staff member—those who had been anointed as being able to dance well—who would dance one song with each student before returning them to the end of their respective lines.

One of the rules of etiquette at Orchard’s was that a request to dance couldn’t be refused. I remember feeling pained on more than one occasion when, having waited patiently in line for a staff member and reached the front of the queue, I was suddenly spotted by an exuberant but awkward fellow student and asked to take the floor. Groan!

Sometimes, fortune intervened, and my favourite staff member would ask me to dance out of turn, having ensured that neither Nola, Dick nor their daughter Joanne Orchard were watching.

My love of ballroom revolved around the physicality, learning the intricacies of steps and patterns, and of course, having a legitimate reason to chat up the opposite sex or to be chatted up.

Roll forward ten years and I found myself living in Melbourne. One of my first priorities was to find myself a dancing studio. That search brought me to Pat McGuire’s in Yarraville. Sadly, neither Pat nor his studio are still with us. He was a fiery, passionate dancer, in his seventies, whose claim to fame was having never been beaten at Tango, in competition.

It was at this studio that I discovered two additional loves. Ballroom dancing exams or medals, which allowed me to dress up, complete with diamantes, swinging skirts and feathers, and my husband, who came without either sparkles, skirts or feathers—thank goodness!

Those of my parents’ generation and older remember their youth being spent dancing—up to six times a week—and the opportunities for romance, fun, friends (and fitness) as they waltzed, foxtrotted, quickstepped and jived.

It is Eliza’s love of dancing that throws her together with one of the sailors from the USS Oklahoma—Wil. Together they set out to win a waltz competition during the madness that was fleet fortnight, in Melbourne, in 1925.

Competitions were common. Some were serious, others less so. Balloon dances were in the latter category and involved couples circulating the floor with a balloon tied around the female’s wrist or ankle. The idea was to lay siege and burst other competitor’s balloons with a small pin or other means. The couple with their balloon intact at the end were declared the winners.

Of course, ensuring Eliza was dressed elegantly and in keeping with the times was important and formed a serious part of my research. In 1925, low backs were common, as was beading, embroidery and fringes. Newspaper articles of the day report lengthy descriptions of women’s attire at important balls and dances—turquoise blue and silver frosted lame; sequin and jet encrusted black georgette; white satin romaine with rows of crystal fringe interspersed with floral bead embroidery; feather bordered flame georgette with a neckline of diamante. Sigh!

Eliza appears in a stunning art deco ballgown in one scene. I searched high and low for a photo that I could model the gown on, and this is it, worn by Norma Shearer in the movie Upstage in 1926. And before anyone writes to me, yes, this is the year after Eliza appeared in it. A girl ahead of her time!

Writing The Battle for Eliza was fun—not the least of which was stepping back in time and losing myself in the ballrooms of 1925 Melbourne.

Australian author Vicki Milliken opted out of the corporate sphere to follow a passion to write. The Battle for Eliza is her first historical romance. When not writing, she spends her time cycling, ballroom dancing, travelling, reading and drinking chai lattes. She is looking forward to the day her writing keeps her in champagne.

You can find Vicki here: Website | Facebook 

The Battle for Eliza

Allies become enemies in affairs of the heart …

It’s 1925, and twenty-five-year-old Eliza Sinclair is determined not to be left ‘on the shelf’. Inexperienced in romance, she decides to master the art. But finding love is proving harder than she imagined.

That is, until ten thousand American sailors arrive on Melbourne’s shores. Caught up in the excitement, Eliza enters a dance competition and is thrilled to find herself partnered with Seaman Wil Sanders. Wil is fun and lays on the charm, and his kisses make it clear that the contest isn’t the only thing he wants to win. And if that’s making Alex Heaton question his commitment to his bachelor lifestyle and his role as her honorary big brother, then she isn’t complaining.

Eliza finds herself caught in a tug of war between the two men. Navigating the battle for her heart and finding her happy-ever-after, will require Eliza to draw on all her newfound confidence and savoir faire.

Publisher pitch: Tule Publishing, Apr 2021

3 April 2021

Tule PublishingTule Publishing brings you the best in commercial fiction, from romance to chick-lit to compelling women’s fiction. Whether you’re in the mood for sexy or sweet, Tule brings you fresh, modern and exciting plots and beloved classic romance.

Tule has over 130 authors who have unique styles, terrific voices, and have helped us grow to house over 600 titles, and garner 13 RITA® nominations and one win in five years.

We love our readers and acclaimed authors! Visit us at www.tulepublishing.com or subscribe to our newsletter here.

This April, enjoy Tule Publishing’s newest releases from our Montana Born, American Heart, Texas Born, Muse and Tule Mystery imprints.

  • Montana Cowboy Daddy by Jane Porter
  • What the Heart Wants by Tiana Laveen
  • The Rancher by Julia Justiss
  • The Witch’s Compromise by Leigh Ann Edwards
  • The Cowboy’s Vow by Leah Vale
  • The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet by Katherine Cowley
  • To Rescue the Runaway Bride by Kelsey McKnight
  • Truly, Madly Texas by Eve Gaddy

 

Publisher pitch: Totally Bound, Apr 2021

1 April 2021

We’re celebrating Spring this month with our Love’s Bloom collection; three stories celebrating the flush of love. Later in the month, we kick off a brand-new reverse harem series from bestselling author Jayce Carter and revisit our favourite circus, Arcanium. There’s a top-secret science project, handymen ready to fix all our problems, and a chilling thriller from David M Salkin.

Find out more on our website.

Here’s what’s coming up in April …

6 April

Second Chance at First Love by Zoe Allison (Love’s Bloom Spring Collection). Old school friends Eva and Damon are thrown back together after years apart—both fresh out of relationships and adjusting to their new lives. Eva is holding onto trauma she won’t share, even as Damon tries to break down her walls. Can these former friends find a new love?

Dear Elliot by P Stormcrow (Love’s Bloom Spring Collection). A fresh start is on order for Emma and Elliot. Emma is far too busy to deal with the childhood crush who once ghosted her, but when Elliot walks back into her life the pair are forced to spill their secrets.

The Daisy Chain by Raven McAllan (Love’s Bloom Spring Collection). Daisy has a choice—stick to a quiet, boring life or take a chance. She’s ditched her loser boyfriend and is ready to celebrate her best friend’s wedding, but the best man is a handful and she’s not sure he’s worth the risk. Can Callum convince her to take a leap into the unknown?

13 April

Synapse Nine by Eilis Muir (Deep Mesa #1). Elana has spent her life denying her special abilities, but all that changes when she’s recruited into a top-secret project. Dr Cameron Graeme is heading the project, and the two battle their mutual desire as they focus on the work. But something more powerful has a different plan for the pair.

20 April

A Reluctant Attraction by Rosanna Leo (Handymen #3). Nick needs a change—he’s ready to step away from the Handymen show, but there’s one project left to complete. Widowed Claire runs a struggling cat sanctuary in dire need of renovation. They start out as friends, neither ready for a commitment, but their deepening connection is impossible to deny.

Grave Robbing and Other Hobbies by Jayce Carter (Grave Concerns #1). A paranormal reverse harem from bestselling author Jayce Carter. Ava talks to spirits, a skill that sees her digging up a body at the behest of the local vampire coven. She has her hands full with a vamp, mage, werewolf detective and Hunter, who isn’t even close to human.

27 April

Illusion by Aurelia T Evans (Arcanium #11). Arcanium’s greatest illusion is that there’s any illusion at all. We’re back at our favourite circus for the final time, and Bell’s old flame returns offering an alliance. Maya is back too—Bell knows she’s happiest without him and the memories of him, but can he resist her?

Blood from a Stone by David M Salkin. Special Forces veteran Cory moves to a new house on Harker’s Island with his new love Amanda. But Cory is soon dragged deep into the history of the house and the mystery that surrounds it. When the person at the centre of the mystery is the future President of the United States, Cory and Amanda find themselves in danger.

 

Release day: Cowboy Desire

1 April 2021

Today is the official release of Cowboy Desire by Alice Renaud, Alan Souter, Callie Carmen, Dee S Knight, Eileen Troemel, Estelle Pettersen, Jan Selbourne, Nancy Golinski, Patricia Elliott, RM Olivia, Starla Kaye, Virginia Wallace, Suzanne Smith, and Zia Westfield (ebook, Black Velvet Seductions). Here’s the blurb:

Cowboy Desire is an eclectic assortment of short stories.
It includes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and even outer space romance, Cowboy Desire offers fourteen stunning short stories.

These fourteen authors provide a range of sweet to sexy stories all with a Western cowboy theme. They feature strong men and women battling the weather and dangerous terrain, here on earth and in outer space.

The collection is as diverse as the authors who wrote them. Here’s a chance to discover new talented authors and the characters they create. Within these pages, there are blends of tender, often moving, thought-provoking and downright sexy stories.

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

Cowboy Desire is a collaboration of cowboy/country/western romances from 14 authors of diverse backgrounds living in different parts of the world, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The stories from these authors range widely and include paranormal, sweet, historical, contemporary, and erotic romances. The stories are set in different places, including Australia and outer space! 

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