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Guest blogger: Donna Munro

15 November 2020

I know romance readers are spoilt for choice. There are many fabulous romance writers, both traditional and indie. How do you become a reader of someone you’ve never heard of? Possibly that author is me. Hello!

I’ve been freelance writing for thirty-plus years. My first novel, The Zanzibar Moon, was self-published in 2017. The next year Kendwa’s Secret (the prequel) was released, because readers wanted to know about Kendwa’s earlier life. How nice is that?

My third book Elephant Creek is the sequel to The Zanzibar Moon, but all stories are standalone. They’re full of adventure, sizzling romance, animals and children, and set in exotic places with characters you’ll fall in love with. Elephant Creek is in Currumbin on the Gold Coast, where two old circus elephants retired to a valley farm to live out their days.

I want to share my unique stories with readers. As one reader said, ‘… The author had a distinctly Australian voice which I loved … so many elements, so many complications. I found myself unable to stop reading. The pacing was terrific, and the plot was multifaceted, and every storyline was intriguing. Yes, this is a romance but it’s also a story about families and their loving complicated relationships …’ And another, ‘… I found myself thinking about the characters as if I knew them personally. I didn’t want the story to end. Can’t wait for your next book. If you love a romantic story mixed with adventure …’

My latest manuscript is finished, but this time I won’t be self-publishing. I’ll have exciting news about that in the coming months. So, join my mailing list and find out my secret first.

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

Elephant Creek

Emma Jarvis has a dilemma—keep dating rock-star handsome Wade or pursue her crush on sexy, silent, probably-married Noah?

Noah Cooper and his Down’s Syndrome daughter, Hope, are due for a fresh start. But a car accident propels Emma into their secretive world. Will Noah put his guard down long enough to let love back into his life?

Emma finds, convincing Noah of a police conspiracy is one thing. Avoiding combusting when she’s near him is a totally different predicament.

Noah has enough problems without falling for delightful, Emma and her lust-inducing cut-off shorts. His wife’s abandonment. Proving his father’s innocence. And Hope, beginning mainstream school where bullies lurk.

When Noah learns his dead brother’s, son, Jai is with Emma’s family, he must cut contact with Emma or lose what’s most precious to him.

But when Jai and Hope go missing can the adults unite to find the missing children in the Australian bush? Will an old circus elephant be the key to bonding them before it’s too late?

ARRA newsletter #136

15 November 2020

Purple news

The November 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:

  • full results from the annual survey are now available
  • it’s time to decide on our Members’ Choice categories for 2020
  • Christmas giveaways—lots of them!
  • Charlotte’s Web Watch column looks at what was happening in October
  • win a $10 gift card if you can Find the Heart!

Plus our regular columns—romance roundup, 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!

Release day: All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate

12 November 2020

Today is the official release of All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Amy Andrews (ebook, Tule Publishing). Here’s the blurb:

When it comes to love and chocolate, it’s game on…

When traveling chocolatier Vivian Dawson comes to Marietta to open Delish, a chain chocolate shop, she’s unfazed by angry locals. She’s not looking for friends—she’s the competition, and her target is Sage O’Dell’s Copper Mountain Chocolates. To create marketing buzz and a friendly rivalry, Vivian declares Delish’s hot chocolate the best in town and will prove it at Marietta’s Christmas Stroll. Everyone takes a side, and Vivian hopes a certain deputy will take hers for another unforgettable night.

Sheriff’s deputy Reuben Price can’t believe his luck when the woman he’s been thinking about since a rebound one-night stand opens a shop in town. He’s shocked when Marietta’s normally friendly citizens become hostile, but he’s ready to welcome Vivian with open arms and more.

As Vivian is seduced by the charming town and the sexy deputy, she wonders if she’s finally found a home. But when tragedy strikes before Christmas, will Vivian run like she always has or will her growing feelings convince her to stay?

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

I loved finally getting my chance to write in the much-loved world of Marietta, Montana! And I loved being able to write a snowy Christmas. Christmas in Queensland is far from snowy, so being able to indulge all those snowy Christmas-card fantasies was super fun!

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

Release day: The Tobacconist’s Wife

12 November 2020

Today is the official release of The Tobacconist’s Wife by AnneMarie Brear (ebook and paperback, Lume Books). Here’s the blurb:

Having lost her father, Thea Goodson is alone in the world.

It is true she has a husband, but Ernie is a brutal man, more inclined to use his fists to keep Thea in line than to build on their marriage. And besides, Ernie Goodson has secrets – secrets that even his wife cannot share.

But in Victorian Yorkshire, appearances must be kept up, so Thea goes on powdering her bruises and forcing a smile as she toils in Ernie’s home and tobacco shop. There seems to be no other option.

That is, until a handsome and well-bred stranger arrives to set up shop next door…

Can Thea escape her misery and break from the conventions of society? Or will the clutches of her abusive husband confine her forever?

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

I hope readers enjoy The Tobacconist’s Wife as much as I enjoyed writing it. I was really excited to bring Thea and Adam’s story to life as they both struggle against what is expected of them and find the happiness they deserve. I wanted to make note of a few things in the book that readers might find interesting. I used a historical 1852 map of York, England, for my research base of where my characters lived. This map showed two Black Swan Hotels, one on Coney Street, which is no longer there and one on Peasholme Green, which still stands. Also on the map it shows on Coney Street and the corner of New Street the building of Messer’s Swan, Clough & Company Bank and a little further up the Leopard Public House, both of which no longer exist. The House of Correction on Baile Hill across from the courthouse and over the other side of the River Ouse was demolished in the 1870s. York is a beautiful town, and one I love to walk around and imagine life as it was historically. If you have the chance to visit York I recommend you do so.

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

Feature book: Singapore Fling with the Millionaire

11 November 2020

Singapore Fling with the Millionaire by Michelle Douglas

Subgenre: contemporary
Release date: 16 Sep 2020
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Format: ebook and print
Length: 252 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $16.99 (print duo)

Who’s dreaming about an exotic holiday? You, yes, and you? My goodness, aren’t we all?! Happily, thanks to favourite author Michelle Douglas, we can now armchair travel with absolute safety and absolute delight. Ah, the joys of reading.

Where are we going? Singapore … Just … take my ticket …

Designer Christy Minslow has given everything to her fashion brand Beach Monday. She creates all sorts of quirky, original gorgeous beachy things, like towels and sarongs, and her uniquely fashioned beach umbrellas—very much one of a kind designs that are functional yet fabulously fun. I want one, I truly do.

I can hear Michelle’s love of the beach coming through in Christy, who travels from Australia to emerge from Singapore airport into warm humid heat that embraces her like a beach hug on a summer’s day. Aaah.

Christy’s been invited to Singapore by billionaire James Cooper-Ford, also the head of his family’s international high-end fashion empire, Molto Arketa. They are opening a store on Singapore’s famous Orchard Road, and he wants to feature Christy’s products in the store. His family also want exclusive rights to her products. This may mean buying her out.

Wait, what? Why, after Christy’s spent years designing and building her brand? I think I’ll let the book speak for itself as to her reasons, and James’s desperate need for her to accept his family’s offer. High professional stakes, actually, on both sides, which makes their conflict rather intense.

I can tell you this. Christy’s spent years becoming environmentally accountable in regards to her international contacts and contracts, economic accountability, and promoting social equity in developing countries. She’s concerned that the track record from Molto Arketa may not meet her exacting standards. She doesn’t have blanket trust in the buyout bid and doesn’t want them to take advantage of her. Still, the offer’s intrigued her enough to come to Singapore to explore it a little further. And so, she meets James …

And oh, Singapore. The Gardens by the Bay, the Merlion statue, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Clarke Quay, Sentosa Beach, and yes, Orchard Road. How lovely to walk with James and Christy as they explore!

Will Singapore work its magic as these two begin to fall in love? Will they be able to merge business with romance? Can James find time to relax and enjoy the beach, like he never has before?

You might be able to guess. This is a wonderful romance. Christy and James are lovely people, nice, decent, and honest with each other. Both of them have tremendously big, caring hearts, even if they do hide it most of the time.

Such a touching journey. Michelle, thank you again for a few hours of romantic bliss. My romantic Singapore holiday at home.

reviewed by Malvina

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

Feature book: Montana Son

11 November 2020

Montana Son by Juanita Kees

Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 2 Jun 2020
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Length: 222 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $21.99 (print)

The Calhoun family have been dealing with the death of one of their own. Each member of the family has been dealing with Mitch’s death in their own way. And while the impact varies, the one thing is that they are a cohesive group.

Mason and Paige were in the car the night Mitch died. Both feel responsible for Mitch’s death and each has taken their own path to deal with the death. It was also a strain on their relationship.

Paige Drew has been with a racing team. This has been her life, and now the team has been sold and she has to wait to find out if she will be offered a position with the new owners. Paige heads home, to Bigfork. She sees her mother who very stiffly says don’t see us again. Then the next day, paperwork arrives that she can never see them again.

Mason Calhoun has come home to brood. He is a very much a changed man since his brother’s death. He is slowly making inroads into his grief but when Paige returns home, he feels that she is the missing piece in his grief.

Together they work through the way they parted, who is to blame for Mitch’s death, and the deteriorating health of Marty, the Calhoun patriarch, from Parkinson’s Disease. What Paige and Mason don’t know is why Paige’s father is being particularly harsh but then they do find out his reasons and the reality is hard for them to absorb. Together they make sure the situation is resolved with the best outcome possible.

This is another great story in this series. I like this family group and the way in which they deal with the situations that arise. I really want to read the other stories so I can complete the family story.

reviewed by Heather

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

Publisher pitch: Pride Publishing, Nov 2020

9 November 2020

November is here, and with it comes the single releases from the romantic suspense anthology Hard Evidence. There are also new releases from old favourites Simone Anderson and NJ Nielsen, as well as a brand new gay-for-you, fake relationship romp from Brian Lancaster.

Don’t forget, plenty of our favourite series are now available in box sets—with a new one released each week! Find them here.

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 …

10 November

At All Costs by Simone Anderson. It’s Riley’s last chance for a vacation with his best friends before they all enter the working world and he reluctantly joins his family’s company. The holiday soon turns sour when he’s a victim of an attempted kidnapping, saved by Army veteran Kaden. The pair embark on a trip to find out who is after Riley, and soon find themselves facing their feelings for one another.

17 November

Companion Required by Brian Lancaster. CEO Kennedy advertises every year for a companion to join him on his annual break with his gay friends. He pays well, and the all-expenses-paid holiday in exchange for faking a relationship is a bonus. Kieran is down on his luck … he’s straight, but that shouldn’t stop him from applying, right?

Secret’s Hold by LM Somerton. Jamie has witnessed a murder and is on the run from powerful enemies. Can bouncer Bubba protect him? (Previously released in the Hard Evidence anthology.)

24 November

Under His Protection by Cheryl Dragon. A cop protecting his witness, determined not to cross a professional line, it should be easy. But Matt and Josh have history, and this might be their chance. (Previously released in the Hard Evidence anthology.)

1 December

Heartstrings by NJ Nielsen (Wardens of the Guild #3). Daven doesn’t like change, Gabriel is determined to change, and Artemis is determined to claim them both. There’s drama-a-plenty in this fantasy romance from NJ Nielsen.

Ticket to Freedom by Elizabeth Hollows. Calvin works in a bar run by a criminal empire, and is determined to escape. Felix might be the one to save him, but their first meeting throws them into deeper danger. (Previously released in the Hard Evidence anthology.)

Guest blogger: Rachael Johns

8 November 2020

Romantic women’s fiction

Today I want to get something off my chest!! Over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of authors calling their romance novels women’s fiction or vice versa and I think this is a disservice to both genres and the readers who favour one of the other.

First, let me say that I believe both genres are AWESOME. I read and write in both of them. Sometimes I want to read a book where the focus is on a central love story and it has an emotionally and satisfying ending (ROMANCE) and sometimes I’m in the mood for a book that focuses much more on a woman’s (or a group of women’s) emotional journey as they navigate the issues and challenges in everyday life. You know—conflicts with siblings, children, parents, work colleagues—that kind of stuff. I believe that both romance and women’s fiction are, at their core, stories about relationships, but the latter doesn’t have to be about romantic relationships at all.

So, there are romance novels (AWESOME) and women’s fiction novels (AWESOME) but then there are ALSO books that Avery Cove describes as a marriage between the two. These books are women’s fiction novels with strong romantic elements (romantic women’s fiction). The focus is on the woman’s (or women’s) journey as they navigate some particular life issue, but there will also be a gorgeous hero who comes along and plays an important role in the story. Whereas in a romance novel, the romance IS the main plot, in romantic women’s fiction the romance is usually a subplot.

I have written books that sit firmly in the romance category (my rural romances) and others that sit in the category of women’s fiction (The Art of Keeping Secrets, The Greatest Gift, Lost Without You) but my favourite women’s fiction books that I have read and written have been those with strong romance elements (The Patterson Girls, Just One Wish and my latest book Flying the Nest), where you get the best of BOTH genres.

For example, in Flying the Nest, the protagonist (Ashling) is confronting major issues in her marriage and has to face the possibility of becoming a single mum and sharing equal custody with her husband. This book is about Ashling working out whether her marriage is worth fighting for, supporting her children through not only the emotional turmoil of parental separation but also other issues faced by today’s teens AND trying to work out what she wants for herself and who she wants to be going forward. The fact she meets a handsome fisherman on this journey and happens to hit it off and find a fantastic emotional and physical connection is a big bonus (of course it also brings its own complications), but it’s not the main thrust of the book.

Having thought a while about this, I believe that rather than only thinking in terms of romance OR women’s fiction, we need to embrace this hybrid genre of romantic women’s fiction and recognise that it is different to romance and different to women’s fiction. This genre is catnip for readers who love both romance AND women’s fiction and want it all in one book.

Some of my favourite authors who write romantic women’s fiction are Kristan Higgins and Katherine Center, and I also adored Maisey Yate’s debut in this genre, Secrets from a Happy Marriage (out in US already, but not available in Australia till next year).

I’d love to hear any recommendations for fabulous books in the genre of romantic women’s fiction. Do you have a fave? Do you like this genre? Or do you prefer books that are either romance OR women’s fiction?

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

Flying the Nest

They say a change is as good as a holiday…but what if you don’t want either?

Is her family’s happiness more important than her own?

The first time Ashling Wood realises her marriage is on the rocks is when her husband, Adrian, suggests they try nest parenting. Heartbroken, Ash suddenly finds herself living a double life – one week with her children, the next cohabiting with her happily single sister-in-law. Her friends think the modern custody solution is an exciting opportunity for her to spread her wings, but all Ash wants is her family back together.

An offer to renovate a seaside cottage seems like the perfect distraction for Ash while waiting for Adrian to come to his senses. She’s determined to fix her marriage as well as the cottage, but life gets even more complicated when she meets local fisherman Dan Emerson.

Soon, each home-stay becomes more dysfunctional, while for the other week Ash enjoys the peaceful life of the beachside community. The more time Ash spends in Ragged Point, the more she questions what she really wants. Is a sea-change the fresh start she needs to move on?

When tragedy calls Ash back to the city, she’s torn between the needs of her family and her future. Can her family life fit in with a permanent move to the beach or could Ash’s new-found independence attract Adrian back to the nest?

Favourite reads: Oct 2020

5 November 2020

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 …

Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher (fantasy romance)

This story is fantasy and romance. Stephen is a paladin (warrior) whose god had died. Broken and one of only a handful of paladins, he lives only for the chance to be useful before he dies. When he encounters our heroine, talented perfumer Grace, in an alley and rescues her from danger, the two begin a cautious romance. As well as treachery, spies, poisoners and a cryptic killer stalking Grace, there’s some wonderful humour as well as a charming romance. [Anne, Vic]

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren (romantic comedy)

A romantic comedy meets Christmas meets Groundhog Day! Because I went into it cold I had no idea about the ‘groundhog’ part (fully disclosed on the blurb, which I didn’t read). I was all, whaaat?!, and laughed all the way. Besides that, I totally loved the Christmas vibe. This was Christmas on overdrive—just wonderful. Also the characters: four different family groups in one big holiday house. Heh, what could possibly go wrong? It’s loads of fun with great characters, smart dialogue, crazy situations, Christmas, and romance. Definitely on my ‘nice’ list! [Malvina, NSW]

Power Exchange by AJ Rose (m/m romance)

This was a very satisfying read. I’m a sucker for shows like NCIS and Law & Order, so the main character being a homicide detective really appealed to me, as did the crime scene/suspense component of the story. What really stood out for me was the connection I felt with the main character, Gavin. I really enjoyed the layers and depth to his character, and that I was absorbed by his journey of discovery about who and what he was in the BDSM world, and the relationship/romance he shared with Ben. [Kylie, NSW]

Xmas Dust by Mel A Rowe (Elsie Creek #4) (rural romance)

This is a beautifully written story with all the emotions that had me turning the pages and opened up the Northern Territory for me. The people who live there have big hearts and are a lot of fun lot to be with, especially in Elsie Creek. The characters are so easy to like, laugh and cry with, this is one that I do highly recommend. I loved this story so very much (and the series)—bring on Elsie Creek #5. [Helen, NSW]

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan (Wedgeford Trials #1) (historical romance)

If you are looking for a low-angst historical set in a small village in the English countryside where more than half of the population is non-Caucasian, then this might be the book for you. Ms Chloe Fong has plans for her father’s un-named sauce and the return of her childhood sweetheart is not going to ruin them. This is a delight story of a half-Chinese Duke in disguise and how he woos the woman he has decided is his. I really enjoyed the banter between the two main characters. [Cora, ACT]

Most Eligible Billionaire by Annika Martin (Billionaires of Manhattan #1) (romantic comedy)

It has been a long time since I’ve read a romantic comedy, and I hadn’t realised how much I miss them. This is a charming story with lots of LOL moments. Totally ridiculous premise (rich lady leaves her fortune to her beloved dog, with the dogwalker as trustee), but the characters are so charming that I didn’t care. When her son Henry’s ruthless tactics just bounce off Vicky he decides to charm her instead—and ends up being charmed himself. Vicky meanwhile can’t resist the chance to wind him up, with hilarious results. A fantastic, fun read. [Debbie, ACT]

 

Release day: Christmas at Kissing Point

4 November 2020

Today is the official release of Christmas at Kissing Point by Kerrie Starbuck, Peta Crake, Clare Miles, Jacqueline Hayley and Tanya Nellestein (ebook and print, self-published). Here’s the blurb:

The sleepy seaside town of Kissing Point comes alive at Christmas when it fills to the brim with summer holidaymakers. But this year there are more than carols and the scent of Christmas barbeques in the air. This year, Santa is playing Cupid , as five couples get a chance at love, helped along by warm summer nights and sparkling ocean waves. An unlucky-in-love postwoman, a one-night stand lover and an interfering ex. A new-to-town baker, her prickly landlord and a spark that has nothing to do with faulty wiring. A movie stunt double, a neurologist and a love seat rumoured to be magic. Old school sweethearts and a half-forgotten marriage pact. A Christmas hating billionaire, his hardworking PA and an impossible-to-keep deal. Five couples, five chances at love and a Merry Christmas in Kissing Point…

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

Feeling stressed? Short attention span? No worries! Take your imagination on a virtual holiday by treating yourself to a fabulous indulgence with this collection of romantic short stories set by the seaside.

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