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Release day: Limbo

22 May 2015

Today is the official release of Limbo by Amy Andrews (ebook, Escape Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

LimboSix Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’ fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy. So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.

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

I’m excited and nervous about the release of Limbo today. It’s a bit of a different book from my two other single titles, as I delve into several different romantic sub-genres—paranormal, noir and suspense/mystery. But there’s also some sexy times and a quirky, urban-family support cast that are my usual hallmarks. It really is still just me, I promise. With a ghost. And a PI. And fornicating goldfish … I hope you take a chance and pick it up. Dash Dent is waiting to be discovered!

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

Release day: Burning Blood

22 May 2015

Today is the official release of Burning Blood by Daniel de Lorne (Bonds of Blood, book 2) (ebook, Escape Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

Burning BloodFrom the author of the romantic horror debut Beckoning Blood comes the gripping sequel that mixes blood, sex and magic.

No one gets to choose who they spend eternity with.

Aurelia d’Arjou has vampires for brothers, but it is as a witch that she comes into her own power, keeping balance and control, using her strength to mitigate the death and pain that her brothers bring. When she is forced to take on the centuries long task of keeping the world safe from the brutal demon that wore her father’s skin, duty dominates her life. But rare happiness comes in the form of a beguiling, flame-haired oracle who makes the perfect companion…but for one thing.

Hame doesn’t want to be an oracle, but when a demon destroys the closest thing to a father he has, he has little choice but to aid Aurelia with his visions. Unable to love her as she would wish, their centuries-old friendship comes under attack when a handsome Welsh witch enters his life – and his heart.

As treachery and betrayal push Hame to choose between his closest friend and his lover, it becomes clear that when it comes to war, love doesn’t always conquer all, and happy endings are never guaranteed.

Daniel dropped by today to tell us a little about this book

After finishing Beckoning Blood, I realised that there was a whole other side to the story that needed to be told, which didn’t get much of a look-in, what with my vampiric twin brothers, Olivier and Thierry hogging all the spotlight (especially Olivier). This time around, I go into the history of their sister, Aurelia, and readers find out what’s really going on behind the scenes. It’s less gruesome than the first book—there’s definitely a softer approach—but that doesn’t mean it’s all roses (unless they’re covered in lots of thorns). Throw in a bit of unrequited love for a red-headed oracle, and envy over the appearance of handsome blonde witch, and you find that the d’Arjou family are never going to have it easy.

You can find out more about this book at Daniel’s website and buy it at Amazon or other online bookstores.

Feature book: Roses for Sophie

20 May 2015

Roses for SophieRoses for Sophie by Alyssa J Montgomery

Sophie Hamilton is heiress to a big mining company. She is an only child. After her parents’ death when she was a young child, she was raised by her grandfather, Rigby, who has brought her up to be a caring, strong person, and she can run the business really well. Sophie has been married but to her best friend. It ended in divorce, and the media followed her for a long time. She is a private person who does a lot for charities, especially children’s ones. That has much to do with the fact that she has been told, after a riding accident, she will probably never have children of her own. So she throws everything she has into running the company, especially now that her grandfather is very ill. She will do just about anything for him. However, she also has a cousin who wants the job too. Her grandfather wants Sophie to marry and be happy. He feels that she will need support during the years to come, and this is his one wish. Although Sophie believes in love, she will do her best to accommodate that wish, but she needs to find the best man for the job and perhaps a marriage of convenience.

Logan Jackson is head of a huge diamond mine business in Canada and has not been home to Australia for a long time, only to visit his one half-sister Melissa. He has been kidnapped, held hostage in Africa and badly injured during his escape. His childhood was also not the best. His father married one woman after another and never cared about his children. Logan was sent to boarding school when his mother walked out on them both, so love and marriage is something that Logan does not believe in. But when his best friend, Scott, and his wife are killed in a car accident, and Logan has promised to be guardian of their five year old daughter, Charlotte, he has to fight for the right to get her back from her uncaring grandmother. Logan needs to move back to Australia, settle down and maybe find a wife of convenience to help him get the custody he wants.

Fate has brought Sophie and Logan together. At a restaurant in Sydney, neither really knows each other, but there is such a spark of electricity when they first meet, neither can deny it. Logan is then determined to make Sophie his wife for a short time, and he is nothing if not persistent. Sophie has reservations. She dearly wants to marry for the right reasons. Yes, they have a lot going for them: passion, trust and friendship after spending a lot of time together. Sophie knows that this relationship will make her grandfather very happy, and Logan should get custody of Charlotte easily as Sophie already adores the little girl.

I really enjoyed this story. It is filled with passion, and it is very emotional as Sophie falls in love with Logan, but Logan takes his time realising that he too loves Sophie. Learning what the different colours of roses mean for romance will make you smile, truly. I was very much looking forward to this one after reading Echoes of the Heart, and it did not disappoint. I highly recommend this one.

Reviewed by Helen S

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

Feature book: Rock Hard

20 May 2015

Rock HardRock Hard by Nalini Singh

The third novel in the Rock Kiss series continues to deliver on the promise offered with the first and second books but is very different.

We met Charlie in Rock Addiction, a shy but loving BFF as she cheered Molly on and supported her in her new life. This time she is front and centre with a T-Rex hot on her trail—and what a T-Rex he is!

Rock Hard opens with Charlie alone in the office on a weekend (as she is doing someone else’s job for them), and it is here we get a first glimpse of the fear she keeps a lid on every single day. It’s also her first ‘formal’ meeting with her new boss, Gabriel Bishop (aka The Bishop, aka T-Rex, aka His Carnivorousness). His reaction to her throwing a stapler at him is priceless … ‘Next time try a hole punch’. I laughed out loud.

Jump forward to Monday, and we cheer as Charlie gets promoted to the position she has actually been doing for the past three years. Though terrified at the thought of all the negotiating she’ll have to do—not to mention keeping her scared (and scarred) hormones under control around Gabriel—she accepts the job.

‘Smart women were his catnip’, so thinks Gabriel Bishop. Sigh.

A tenacious player on the rugby field, he turns that tenacity on the businesses he saves since he no longer plays rugby. Now, oh now, it’s focused on Charlie. He adores her intelligence, and how well they work together, even as her obvious distress around him frustrates him. He doesn’t do slow.

For her part, Charlotte wants to bite him—and not always in a good way. Besides the stapler throwing incident, there is a muffin throwing incident. When Charlie-Mouse roars, she roars. But good. One day after she yells at him as he drives her to distraction, he disappears for ten minutes and buys her cake to sweeten her mood. ‘I cannot be bribed with cake’, she mutters (even as she takes a bite).

Thus begins the sweetest, slowest seduction I’ve read in ages … and I never thought to skip ahead at any time.

Charlie doesn’t know Gabriel has settled on her as ‘the one’ and that his constant challenges are designed to lessen her fears—because when she is angry with him, she forgets to be scared, and the Charlie he longs for peeps out.

She trusts him with her past (such a gift to give him; he knows it) and future. They work ever so slowly towards a deeper relationship, conscious of being careful not to do or say things that will bring back the Charlie-Mouse or cause her distress. She even falls madly in love with his family, and she dreams of having the same with Gabriel if she can get her past firmly dealt with.

Charlie’s fears are well founded—her backstory is not a new one—and as she and Gabriel move ever closer to the happy ever after they both long for, her past comes back and threatens to derail all their progress.

But Charlotte is made of sterner stuff than she realises and is ready when it happens. With Gabriel fighting right by her side, they win through (after a good deal of snapping and sleepless nights).

The closing chapters have a bit of lovely negotiation in them. They made me laugh, sigh and wish them all the best. I recommend you read the series in order, but if all the good press surrounding it makes you pick up this one first, that’s okay too.

Reviewed by Sharon S

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

Feature book: Echoes of the Heart

20 May 2015

Echoes of the HeartEchoes of the Heart by Alyssa J Montgomery

Amanda Bennett has grown up with her Aunt Irene in the western suburbs of Sydney in a housing commission area. She has always been poor, but her aunt and she have had a good life together after Amanda’s mother walked out on her when Amanda was just a toddler. She has never known her father, but she gets a good job as a secretary for a top lawyer in the City. She works hard as her aunt has multiple sclerosis. But when, at the age of twenty-five, she meets the most handsome of men at Whale Beach, her life changes. Jake Formosa is wonderful, and she gives him her virginity. She is quiet and caring, but when their short relationship ends, she is caught up in a tangle and ends up marrying her boss—top Sydney lawyer, Lloyd Bennett. And so begins a cruel and very unhappy time until Lloyd takes his own life. Now Amanda is free to lead her own life and care for her aunt.

Jake is the head of one of the biggest media companies in the country. He is mega rich and very handsome. He has had a good life growing up with loving parents and has never wanted for anything. Then he meets the most beautiful girl ever, and he falls head over heels in love with Amanda. He is determined to make her his. His father is not happy about the relationship though, and he says that she is a gold-digger, comes from the wrong side of town and will let him down. But Jake knows better. When his father has a heart attack, things change drastically for Amanda and Jake with misunderstandings between them, and Amanda ends up married to Lloyd while Jake marries his best friend, Sophie. Jake and Sophie’s marriage lasts six months only.

Jake never forgets Amanda, and when she is widowed, he is determined to finally purge her from his life. He sets out to blackmail her into spending time with him. He comes across as cruel, but Amanda is so desperate to help her aunt that she will do just about anything—even prostitute herself. So the journey begins, but there are so many secrets, and Amanda is sworn to secrecy about her marriage. With the media following her around after the suicide note from Lloyd is sent to them, their time together is one uphill battle, but neither can deny the electricity that sparks between them, and it is hard for Jake to keep their time together businesslike.

I really enjoyed this story. Although Jake seems a bit cruel in his ways, he is far from cruel. He is such a caring hero as he discovers so many truths about Amanda’s marriage: why Amanda married Lloyd and misunderstood his relationship with Sophie. All these reasons have pulled them apart, but both Jake and Amanda have loved each other always. The things that Jake does to help Amanda, as the truth comes out, will have you smiling. This is a sensual and emotional story that I highly recommend. I loved it.

Reviewed by Helen S

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

Guest blogger: Joanie MacNeil

17 May 2015

JoanieMcNeilMy writing journey

At the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention, I listened to guest authors speak about their journey to publication. I began to reflect on my own writing journey. Though the outcomes weren’t what I’d initially hoped for, I learned a lot during my travels along that often uneven and rocky path.

Other than one major publisher, few options were available for authors to submit their category length contemporary romance manuscripts—not until the ground-breaking US electronic publishers dared to appear on the scene. How exciting it was to be in on the ground floor of a new publishing opportunity. While these early epublishers strived for, and were often denied, recognition within the industry, they were the groundbreakers for today’s digital-first publishers and self-publishing providers. The more reputable epublishers worked extremely hard to produce and maintain a high standard, providing the same services for authors as the traditional publishers.

In those very early days of epublishing anyone could upload their novels to the internet for reading on the computer, and these often poorly written, unedited works did nothing to enhance the status and credibility of the fledgling epublishing industry. Thank goodness those days are behind us.

I was first published in 1999. I received an email on a Monday morning from a US epublisher—they liked my story and wanted to publish it. OMG! They must have emailed me by mistake. No one else wanted my book. But no, the offer was meant for me. An editor actually liked my work, thought it good enough to be published. Wow! At last! My writing was on the right track after all. What a great way to begin the working week! It makes me shudder now to recall that my first book was available on a floppy disk, a subsequent book with another company on CD. Downloads were available for reading on the computer. The process continued to become streamlined and more secure, producing different formats for the range of early ereaders. Epublishing was certainly a learn-as-you-go process, for both authors and publishers.

My novels continued to be published both electronically and in print by a selection of epublishers. I was lucky in that most were genuine, very professional and produced quality books. Unfortunately, with minimum staff (usually themselves and one or two others) plus the continued pressure of high volumes of work, and subsequent ill health, some regrettably closed, with rights returned to authors. While recently searching my files for a release letter to enable me to submit the last of my previously published books elsewhere, I realised just how many of my epublishers have come and gone. I am pleased to say that four of my very early ebooks remain with the original publisher, and others have been with the same publisher for quite some time now. Two of my books were re-released last year with Canadian publisher, BooksWeLove Ltd.

My stories came from the heart, with strong, romantic, sensitive heroes who would do the right thing by the heroine. My heroes had qualities that were important to me, as did my heroines.

During those early days of my writing journey, I wrote short stories for anthologies, available electronically and in print; became a volunteer review coordinator for a US review site; a website coordinator for an online group of international epublished authors; and other assorted writing-related activities. I encouraged new writers to pursue their dreams to become published authors. And I found time to write, actively participate in a busy online US critique group, work full time and raise three children. I became an expert juggler.

Those years were an enjoyable, though sometimes frustrating, journey in the very slowly changing world of publishing. There were times when doubts about my writing surfaced, and I wondered whether it was worth the effort. Publishing options had stabilised. In the US, ebook readers came and went, some better than others. While one or two models eventually became available in Australia, the cost was way more than Americans paid. To have my print books shipped to Australia to sell at conferences was an expensive exercise; and impossible to get them into bookshops here—sadly nothing has changed there. I wanted something more for my books. For me, having them available on bookshelves here in Australia would have meant so much.

For various reasons, most not writing related, my writer’s journey slowed dramatically. Though I wrote intermittently, I didn’t really make any progress. Was it time to walk away? Put my writing career behind me? Where was the passion for writing that I’d enjoyed and maintained so strongly in the early years? I was fed up with saying that I’d get back into writing, convinced I sounded like a broken record, but something inside me demanded several times that I hang in there, that my career wasn’t over yet. One of my writer friends commented that she could see the frustrated author in me. I hung on to that thought—it seemed to be a fitting term for how I was feeling about writing and publishing options. Giving it a name meant I could understand it, and that provided a small push towards picking up the pieces to continue the writing journey.

I have come to appreciate that no author’s journey is the same, that it is okay to travel a different path, and that one experience is no less valuable than that of another. I now think of my earlier books as the stepping stones in my writer’s journey.

As authors, multi-published or otherwise, we are always learning new things about our craft, changing markets, expectations of readers, and getting our heads around the new genres; marketing has become more important, along with author branding and social media. There is no end to the added tasks of being an author.

With so many more publishing options available now, authors can pick and choose, or go the self-publishing route. What a long and bumpy road it has been since those early innovative epublishers first challenged the industry. I am proud to have been a part of it. And now, once again, it is an exciting time to be part of the industry changes.

My writer’s journey has been unique. I have achieved worthwhile milestones, which no one can take away from me. My enthusiasm and passion for creating stories is still there. I look forward to writing and sharing my new stories.

Regards
Joanie

You can find Joanie here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

December HeatDecember Heat

Following the death of her husband, Nicolette Oliver concentrates on re-establishing her career as a dancer, though still dealing with emotional issues relating to her life with Mark. When his friend appears on her doorstep, Nicolette honors her late husband’s invitation and invites Jake to stay.

Jake Harrigan has always been attracted to Nic and sees her as untouchable, even though she is now on her own. They are opposites, their lives and expectations literally worlds apart. Drawn into a romantic interlude, the parting is difficult when Jake returns to Europe to resume his career as TV news journalist and Nic moves to Sydney to begin rehearsals for the show that will resurrect her career.

Jake returns to Australia to see Nic again and also to finalize details with his network to sail around the world making documentaries. Will Jake follow his heart and ask Nic to give up all that she’s worked for and sail away with him?

Release day: Sadie’s Surrender

17 May 2015

Today is the official release of Sadie’s Surrender by Afton Locke (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

Sadie's SurrenderAfter her husband leaves her for another woman, Sadie Johnson feels unattractive. Unable to face a dreary future of shucking oysters and living with her critical mother, she dreams of being a businesswoman. But in 1936, opportunities for women of color in Oyster Island are limited.

An oysterman at heart, Henry Rockfield would rather sail than run the local branch of his brother’s oyster company. He’s not happy about belonging to the town Klan either, but he’ll do anything to keep the peace and help his family.

When sassy Sadie proves she can run the plant, he can’t resist putting her secretly in charge so he can return to the sea. But when desire resurrects a tragic mistake from his past, he learns business and pleasure are a dangerous mix. When racial conflict hits home, forcing them to choose between love and duty, will Sadie surrender?

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

Sadie’s Surrender is book 3 in the Oyster Harbor series. I’m from Maryland and, while visiting there one summer, I got inspired to write an interracial romance set in the 1930s. Plucking the Pearl, book 1, centred around an oyster house and the love affair an oyster shucker had with her white boss. Rose, Exposed, the sequel, explored the relationship between the heroine’s cousin and a biracial artist. Finally, the heroine’s other cousin finds love with the hero’s brother. Oyster Harbor is a small town where love often crosses the color line with sparkling results.

You can find out more about this book at Afton’s website and buy it at Amazon.

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