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Feature book: Marry in Haste

15 August 2018

Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie

Series: A Marriage of Convenience #1
Subgenre: historical romance
Release date: 2 May 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Format: print and ebook
Length: 304 pages
RRP: print A$14.99; ebook A$10.99

Last year I was delighted to learn of Anne Gracie’s new ‘Marriage of Convenience’ series—a romance trope I’ve always enjoyed. I think it really is romance catnip to a lot of people, and fabulous to read in historicals where it makes every sense.

In this first book, returning war hero (and now spy, hunting for an assassin) Major Calbourne Rutherford discovers he’s become Lord Ashendon, with two wild half-sisters and an even wilder niece he didn’t even know he had, plus a neglected estate to manage. Wrangling the girls is a bit like herding cats, so he tries to engage the services of their previous teacher, Miss Emmaline Westwood.

This is the bit that’s brilliant: she refuses; she’s had a better offer—until Cal unexpectedly offers marriage. Even so, it’s a hard decision for Emmaline to make. Cal doesn’t exactly come across as romantic (which is code for Not Romantic At All, a true desperado to marry for reasons Other Than Romance), but he offers every marital advantage such as societal acceptance for someone standing on uncertain ground like Emmaline.

As in all Anne Gracie’s books, she creates a wonderful ‘family’ for us to enjoy, one that even Cal didn’t realise he had. Emm is a gentle, intelligent heroine, and Cal—well, he is terrific, apart from being prickly and hard to get to know … at first … I also loved the nod to the Chance Sisters series—hello, old friends, nice to see you again! A lovely start to another series. Thanks, Anne!

Reviewed by Malvina

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


Guest blogger: Christine Wells

12 August 2018

Beta testing

Hello everyone and thank you very much for having me on the blog today.

When I wrote historical romance as Christina Brooke, more often than not I chose alpha heroes to match with my heroines. There was the solid, dependable Lord Beckenham in The Greatest Lover Ever, the cold, Machiavellian Marquis of Steyne in The Wickedest Lord Alive, the hulking brute with a heart of gold, Griffin deVere, in Mad About the Earl. The list goes on.

We all know how popular alpha heroes are in romance, but there is a lot to be said for a hero who can be flexible, who isn’t ashamed to show emotion and who can step back and let the heroine take control.

In my latest historical spy story, The Juliet Code, Juliet Barnard is a capable woman. As a wireless operator who parachutes into enemy-occupied France during World War II, she is trained in spycraft and survival, firearms and hand-to-hand combat. She knows how to take care of herself.

When I began writing this novel, I intended to match Juliet with Mac, the strapping Scottish SAS officer who asks for her help hunting down the Nazi war criminal who held Juliet prisoner during the war.

Then Felix Mortimer, the codebreaker from London headquarters, came along. He was so utterly charming, clever and funny, I fell for him … and Juliet did, too. In a gender role reversal, Felix must stay in London waiting for Juliet’s messages while she risks capture, torture and execution every second she remains in Nazi-occupied France.

When Juliet goes missing, not only is Felix beside himself with worry, he feels tremendous guilt for not charging to her rescue, even though there is nothing he—or anyone else—can do:

Ordinarily Felix was calm and collected, taking tense situations in his stride. He was obliged to use considerable intellectual power to decipher incomprehensible messages while under immense pressure, not just in terms of time but because of the loss of life that might result from him getting it wrong. But now, when it really, really mattered, he couldn’t think of any way to help Juliet.

If he were not some useless boffin, if he were a damned war hero like Tommy, he would know exactly what to do. He eyed his friend. ‘You could do it. You could go in and save her.’

Tommy’s eyebrows shot up. ‘What? Drop into a German prison and say, ’Scuse me, but I believe you have something belonging to a friend of mine? Besides, we have no idea where she is. Many more lives at stake than hers if you go off the rails, old chap,’ Tommy added, sounding more reasonable and less like himself by the minute. ‘Think of that whole band of Poles you saved. They’d have been strung up by their eyelids if it weren’t for you.’

But Felix didn’t find saving the lives of virtual strangers any compensation for losing Juliet.

While Felix is struggling with his guilt, Juliet must overcome her own secret shame. She has never doubted Felix’s feelings, but she needs to reclaim her sense of self before she can truly love again. Like all my romance novels, this love story has a happy ending:

Juliet sipped her champagne. ‘I take it your family still don’t know what you did in the war.’

‘George knows,’ said Felix. ‘But my parents still think I worked at the Marylebone branch of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. They were so proud of me holding down a steady, respectable job, I didn’t like to disillusion them.’

She chuckled. ‘But surely now that your play is a hit they must be pleased.’

Felix shook his head and regarded his parents, who sat farther down the table, with great fondness. ‘They are mortified. They see it as your duty to improve me.’

‘Improve you?’ She leaned in to kiss him, much to the delight of the guests, who were unaccustomed to public displays of emotion from either of them. ‘An impossible task, for you are perfect in every way.’

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

The Juliet Code

1947. The war is over, but Juliet Barnard is hiding a secret. While her family believed she was helping the war effort from the safety of England, in truth Juliet was a trained wireless operator, dropped behind enemy lines in Paris to spy on the Germans. But the mission went critically wrong when Juliet was caught and imprisoned in a mansion in Paris’s Avenue Foch. Now she can’t—or won’t—relive the horrors that occurred there, and the people she betrayed …

The last thing Juliet wants is to return to France, but when ex-SAS officer Mac begs Juliet to help him find his sister, another British agent who is still missing, she can’t refuse. And in retracing her past, Juliet begins to realise that in wartime, the greatest enemy isn’t always the one that you’re expecting to fight.

Buy The Juliet Code from: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

Weekly musing: dystopian romances

9 August 2018

This week let’s explore dystopian romance. These are romances that are usually set in a current or post-apocalyptic world. Think along the lines of The Hunger Games and Divergent, or The Walking Dead.

The reasons behind this current state of the world vary, ranging from war, pandemics to ecological disasters. These worlds can be dealing with the current disaster or the direct aftermath or even to thousands of years in the future.

I’ve found the comment elements in these novels are that the hero and heroines are very strong, mentally and/or physcially. There may also have been an uprising of zombies. Other common themes found in this genre is a repressed social system, loss of indiviual freedom/expression, and a constant state of violence/war.

Enemies to lovers and opposites attract are common tropes/themes within this genre. Which tropes or themes to do you like to read in dystopian romance?

My top 10 must-reads (okay, 12 made it this week):

  • City of Light by Keri Arthur (Outcast)
  • Flesh by Kylie Scott (Flesh)
  • Matched by Ally Condie (Matched)
  • Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole (Off the Grid)
  • Inside Out by Maria V Snyder (Insiders)
  • Angelfall by Susan Ee (Penryn and the End of Days)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games)
  • Divergent by Victoria Roth (Divergent)
  • House Immortal by Devon Monk (House Immortal)
  • Revelation by Erica Hayes (The Seven Signs)
  • Deviants by Maureen McGowan (Dust Chronicles)
  • Removed by SJ Pajonas (Nogiku series)

Who are your favourite dystopian romace authors? What are your must-reads for dystopian romance?

My favourite covers are:

(How pretty is the Italian cover of Angelfall by Susan Ee?)


Happy reading!

#SecretProject #Discussions #LoveReading

Feature book: Country Roads

8 August 2018

Country Roads by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Subgenre: rural romance
Release date: 25 Jan 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: print and ebook
Length: 312 pages
RRP: print A$29.99 / ebook A$19.99

As Country Roads opens Matt Harvey is trying to rebuild his life after a car accident killed his fiancée, and badly damaged his leg. He decides to move from the city to a small, renovator’s delight cottage in the small country town of White Gum Creek, seeking a fresh start. Bec Duprey runs the family farm, Bluestone Ridge, next door. The first meeting between them doesn’t go well but as they continue to bump into each other, this begins to change.

Matt is busy, writing his book, renovating the cottage, and rebuilding his life as he settles into the community. Bec has virtually run the farm since her father was paralysed in an accident a few years ago. She provides all of the physical labour, and responds to the farm demands, but her Dad insists that all decisions, especially monetary ones, go through him, with him having the final say. This leaves her increasingly frustrated and then her life is further complicated when her ex fiancé, Zane Turner, suddenly begins pursuing her again. As a neighbour, it is difficult to avoid Zane. When town gossip also begins to swirl, Bec finds that spending time with Matt is what she needs, and they get closer as they open up to each other.

Yet Zane still keeps popping up at the worst times and her frustration boils over with her father. While Bec’s life is complicated Matt is feeling more at home and settled. He starts making long term plans and becomes more of a fixture in the town. Would Bec consider becoming a permanent part of his life? He supports her as much as possible, but can she have him and the farm?

This is a relaxing read which will have you cheering on the hero and the heroine as they navigate their journeys. The secondary characters are also a unique mix which will provide you with interesting insights. This book will have you emotionally invested in the characters and reacting to the events that impact on them. You will need to put aside some time to enjoy this story as you will want to enjoy every page without interruption. Ms Hurley-Moore has also now released the next book in the series if you want to continue the series.

Reviewed by Tracey T

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. ARRA members who leave a comment on the blog by 22 August 2018 will go into the draw to win a copy of the book.

Release day: In Too Deep

7 August 2018

Today is the official release of In Too Deep by Dani Collins (Blue Spruce Lodge, book 3) (ebook, Tule Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

At her wit’s end with her twelve-year-old niece, Wren Snow takes the manager’s job at Blue Spruce Lodge so Sky can get to know her father, Trigg Johanssen—a tycoon snowboarder with a playboy reputation.

Gold-medalist Trigg Johanssen is furious she kept Sky a secret, but quits competition to focus on his newly discovered daughter only to have his chemistry with Wren complicate their attempts to co-parent.

When outside forces threaten the ski resort he’s rebuilding, a marriage of convenience seems like the answer. It would give his daughter the life she deserves, but is it too much for a heartbroken woman still nursing past hurts?

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

When I was writing From the Top (book 2, Blue Spruce Lodge), I had a scene where Trigg confides to Nate that he got a girl pregnant as a teen, but she terminated the pregnancy. Trigg says, “I’d have a twelve-year-old.” As soon as I wrote the words, I thought, What if she had the baby?! By the end of that book, Wren had arrived at Blue Spruce Lodge, but she wasn’t the mother of that baby. She was Sky’s aunt. I couldn’t wait to write In Too Deep and find out what had happened to leave Wren with custody of her niece. I already knew Trigg’s daughter was a bitter pill of a tween, which totally serves that playboy right. Trigg falls for mousy Wren as he learns the ropes of being a dad. I hope you enjoy their journey to HEA!

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


Release day: Ghost of a Chance

7 August 2018

Today is the official release of Ghost of a Chance by McKenna Dean (Redclaw Security series, book 2) (ebook, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

At sixteen, Sarah Atwell walked away from her love of horses and a promising career as a competitive rider after discovering she’d inherited the family curse. Years later, her grandmother stunned everyone by leaving Sarah her horse farm—worth millions—but with conditions Sarah might not be able to meet.

A former Redclaw agent, Casey Barnes retired when a security assignment went bad, killing his partner and leaving him as a partial amputee. His inner wolf is in hiding. He’s been living quietly as a horse trainer, but June Atwell’s death now pits him against her granddaughter for rights to the stable.

With both of them snowed in at the farm, a series of increasingly serious accidents draws Sarah and Casey closer together, but they each harbor secrets that might tear them apart.

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

Sarah, the heroine in Ghost of a Chance, holds a special place in my heart because I identify with her on so many levels. We both grew up with difficult-to-please parents with exacting standards. Like Sarah, I’m both an avid fangirl, and many days I doubt my own abilities and self-worth. It’s one of the reasons why it’s important with me to show each of the heroines in the Redclaw series learning to accept themselves for who they are and embracing their strengths instead of seeing certain characteristics as flaws. Each of the Redclaw books are centered on the elite paranormal shifter firm in some way, but feature different pairings and can be read as standalones.

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

Favourite reads: Jul 2018

5 August 2018

Books_purpleWelcome to our Favourite Reads for July. 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 July …

The Drifter by Anthea Hodgson (rural romance)

I picked this up after a recommendation, and I loved it. Cate and Henry, damaged, guilt-ridden, lost, come together on a rundown farm in WA’s wheat belt. They’re both so much more than they at first appear, and watching their layers peel away is genuinely moving. Cate’s Great-Aunt Ida is another fabulous character who leaps off the page. The setting is so evocative, and the writing is just gorgeous. What a wonderful story—if you’re a ruro fan, and even if you’re not, don’t miss it. [Anna C, Qld]

Getting Lucky by Avril Tremayne (Reunions #1)

This is a fabulous friends-to-lovers story, one that I just about inhaled. It is a Harlequin Dare, so it is hot, steamy and sexy, but written so well there is emotion and humour threaded all the way through this one. Ms Tremayne has bought this couple to life and it is the start of a series. Bring them on I say! This is one that I highly recommend for anyone who loves a great story with the bedroom door open. [Helen S, NSW]

The First Time at Firelight Falls by Julie Anne Long (Hellcat Canyon #4) (contemporary romance)

The latest in the fabulous Hellcat Canyon series, small town contemporary romances. In First Time at Firelight Falls, the ‘six-foot-infinity, smoldery-eyed, bass-voiced’ hero is a former Navy SEAL turned … um? Primary school headmaster? Really? But it works! A romance between single mother Eden and her daughter’s school principal isn’t your usual combination, but with lots of fun, snappy dialogue and sassy, sexy flirting it made me laugh out loud and turn the pages far into the night. I gobbled it down. Lots of fun. [Anne, Vic]

Firefighter Sea Dragon by Zoe Chant (Fire and Rescue Shifters #4) (paranormal romance)

This book features an honourable sea dragon knight and his (unknowingly) royal mate. The plot is intriguing and the chemistry between the leads is hot, but it is the humour that really stands out in this one. Normally in shifter books the shifter half is the inner voice, but in this one the sea dragon is always uppermost even in human form, and his human half is his inner voice, which adds to the fun. I highly recommend this entire series. [Deb, NSW]

Edge of the Enforcer by Cherise Sinclair (Mountain Masters and Dark Haven #6) (erotic romance)

Cherise has the incredible skill of packing so much in one story. I have to admit I was intrigued on how I would view a sadist hero and if this would be an issue for me as a reader (my ignorance over what motivates a sadist) but to be honest, the explanation was interwoven into the storyline of the hero and it was so believably done, without sounding preachy, it was a non-issue part of the story. This is what I find Cherise does so well—I love her layered characters and the emotional arc’s she winds into the plot. As I usually do when I get a Cherise Sinclair book, I read it in one sitting. It’s another one for the keeper shelf. [Kylie, NSW]

Summer Return by Elise K Ackers (Return to Me #1) (rural romance)

The characters in this book really grabbed me right from the start. Ethan is a tortured hero who stays away from his hometown, rather than reveal the reason he left. Sam has been in love with him before he left town (and her) and finds his infrequent visits painful. This time he is home for the funeral of his brother’s wife and he seems to be staying a while. The two kids in this story really made it. [Debbie, ACT]

A Vicarage Wedding by Kate Hewitt (The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite #3) (contemporary romance)

I loved this sweet series with four sisters finding love. This one in particular has a lot of soul searching when Rachel’s wedding plans fall through, but she meets someone unexpected. Love seeing the other sisters again, and the ongoing life in the vicarage. [Malvina, NSW]