July 3, 2013

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

A sweet but strange hero, a nice but forgettable heroine, and a rushed ending—I’m not going to lie; I will probably read the next few in the series because we get to see more characters and the sex was hot.

I tried to read this book, but couldn’t get past the sexual harassment on page 10, so romance fiction aficionado Gabby Maait kindly agreed to read and review it for Book Thingo. She tweets as @GabbyMaait and you can read more of her reviews at Orchid and Peach Cocktails.

Having recently returned to the country, I’ve been astounded by the amount of fanfic that has been published in the mainstream—now obviously riding on the tailwind of Fifty Shades of Grey. Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren is another example of such Twific though, in my humble opinion, executed much better. But maybe this is because Edward and Bella’s characteristics were so subtle they were barely seen…

Chloe Mills is a 28-year old intern working for the prestigious Ryan Media Group where she’s completing her MBA. Her boss is none other than the Beautiful Bastard himself, Bennett Ryan. Bennett is a dick. He’s overbearing and rude, and is making Chloe’s life hell. But surprisingly, they work really well together. It also doesn’t hurt that they have this wicked attraction to each other and have to stop themselves from fucking all over the office.

That is until Bennett breaks and starts to grope Chloe in his office.

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July 2, 2013

BOOKMARKED is the name we gave to our paper.li journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes paper.li, we also run an adhoc compilation of links on the blog to highlight items that might be of interest.

Julia Quinn — Australian tour

Julia Quinn has announced that she’ll be coming to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle in August. No details yet, but I can tell you that I’ve heard rumours. This is really happening!

Penguin Random House merger completed

It’s official! Books+Publishing has details of key appointments and the new company will be called Random Penguin House. Okay, I made that up. It’s Penguin Random House, but I still think my version is better.

Romance shoes

You read that right! Rudi, who reviews at Orchid and Peach Cocktails, was featured at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Or rather, her shoes—dubbed The Most Awesome Shoes in the Universe—were, created as part of a visual art project at uni. Check out the pictures at SBTB and tell me you wouldn’t commit a crime to own those babies.

Galaxy paranormal romance book club

The next paranormal romance book club is on Thursday, July 4 at 6.30pm. This month’s topic is ‘Power, Sex and Violence’. Contact Galaxy Bookshop for more details.

May & July Romance Buzz

In case you missed it, the May and July issues of the Booktopia Romance Buzz are up. Yes, June is missing, and that’s because the Romance Buzz moved from being sent at the beginning of the month to being sent mid-month and covering the next month’s pre-orders. Too complicated, I know. Just go to straight to the book features. :D July, in particular, is packed with excellent historical romances. The featured authors are Fiona Lowe (May) and Nalini Singh (July)—such lovely, generous and extremely humble authors.

Aussie romance ebooks for 99c

Apple’s iBookstore is running a Home Grown Romance promo, with a selection of titles by Australian and NZ authors. Here’s the list of titles:

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July 1, 2013

Just One Day by Sharla LovelaceA sweet novella about second chances and following your heart, which goes to show that older heroines can be just as sexy, vulnerable and conflicted as any virgin mistress.

Sharla Lovelace’s self-published novella features 44-year old Andie, who has just celebrated her two-year dating anniversary by throwing up spectacularly after a very public marriage proposal. Brad, her would-be fiancé, tells her to spend the day clearing her head before they make plans. He’s the kind of guy who has long-term plans for everything and is very good at making them happen. Having been married before, Andie senses she’s not ready to commit to Brad, but can’t quite pinpoint why her head and her heart are at war.

Andie finds herself driving towards the lake where, just after graduation, she had had a one-night stand, fallen in love and found her heart a little broken when her dream guy just left the next day. Stopping by a diner for a huge breakfast—Brad was a ‘two cups of black coffee and a protein shake’ kind of guy and waffles and bacon were going to be her rebellion, dammit—she’s charmed by an elderly couple only to discover that the diner is owned by none other than Jesse, ‘Mr. Hot Sex on the Beach’.

Trapped by an electrical storm, Andie and Jesse tentatively catch up on each other’s lives. Lovelace doesn’t shortchange these characters—they’ve lived full lives apart from each other. They acknowledge that their one night together had meant something, but the end of it didn’t paralyse either of them—they’ve both been married and had children. They’re also not coy, understanding that there’s still something between them. But Andie’s time runs out, and as her actions over the last 24 hours catch up with her,  she has to make a choice  between the two men in her life.

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June 27, 2013

The Romance Writers of Australia has announced the finalists for the Romantic Book of the Year awards, more commonly known as the R*BY. The winners will be announced on August 17 at an awards gala at RWA’s annual conference. The RB*Ys are one of the few literary awards determined by readers—members of the RWA are ineligible to judge the entries. This always makes the results very interesting, I feel.

I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read most of the books nominated, and I’m going to try and rectify this. However, it seems unlikely that I’ll get through the list by mid-August. So I’d like to propose a challenge: I’ll send you a free copy of one (or more—but one at a time) titles listed below in exchange for your guest review at Book Thingo. You have to pick a title that hasn’t already been reviewed, and you need to send me the review by the end of July (this gives me time to post them before the awards night). The review should reflect your opinion, and yes, by all means dnf it if it’s not working—and say why in your review—but I ask that you read at least 50 pages before giving up. If you’re interested, leave a comment below or email me at kat@bookthingo.com.au.

And now, the finalists…

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June 26, 2013

Untamed by Anna CowanAn ambitious debut that has polarised romance readers. Whether or not it works for you will depend on how well Anna Cowan’s narrative voice can lull you into looking past its flaws.

This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

When I heard that Australian writer Anna Cowan had sold her cross-dressing duke novel to Destiny, I couldn’t wait to read the book. I’m an occasional visitor at Cowan’s blog, and her analyses of romance tropes, characters and themes led me to expect an extraordinary debut effort. I wasn’t disappointed, but Untamed is also not an easy book to read or even to like. It’s definitely not an easy book to review.

Kit Sutherland agrees to bring Jude, the Duke of Darlington, to her country home in exchange for his promise to end his affair with Kit’s married sister. Outwardly charming, Jude can’t help but manipulate the people around him, sometimes for no other reason than for his own amusement, so When the Duke arrives dressed as an aristocratic lady, Lady Rose, Kit recognises the danger he poses to her family’s equilibrium—as well as her own.

Jude is hovering on the brink of self-destruction, but after a chance encounter at a ballroom where his lover’s sister, Kit, inadvertently gives him her scathing opinion of the Duke of Darlington, Jude is drawn by instinct to her.  He ingratiates himself into her family and her life, and thwarts her every attempt to keep her distance—and he does so arrogantly, selfishly and ruthlessly. Eventually, their deceit is unravelled at great consequence to Kit and her family, and Cowan reveals the darker undercurrents surrounding Kit’s relationships with her siblings, as well as Jude’s secrets.

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June 24, 2013
Me with Sylvia Day

Me with Sylvia Day

Jen’s recap of Sylvia Day’s exclusive morning tea with members of the Australian Romance Readers Association.

On Friday morning I was fortunate enough to be a part of ARRA’s exclusive morning tea with Sylvia Day at Dymocks 234 Collins, as a sort-of organiser (but I was merely the +1 among the other twenty ARRA members). Actually I wasn’t even expecting to go, but HELLO JEN?, it’s SYLVIA DAY–when will another opportunity come again?

I can safely claim with all my arrogant fangirl authority that I have been a long-time Day reader, pre-Crossfire. I was almost out of high school when I discovered that there was even more smut beyond FanFiction.Net and Anne Rice (see, I got corrupted early). Now that was some tertiary education right there.

So it comes with great delight, some bemusement, and not a little “I saw her first!” smugness that we come to this Day (sorry, can’t help myself).

Sylvia Day morning tea

Pamela welcomes Sylvia

For the event, we were led into the upstairs Bargain Books alcove of the bookstore, away from the public (it felt kind of funny, actually). There was already a significant line in the general queue waiting for Sylvia’s 12pm signing, from which we received quite a lot of perplexed and envious stares and pointing fingers. Yeah, that was nice to drink in.

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Posted by Jen in Events (3 comments)
Keywords: dymocks, sylvia day
June 20, 2013

The King by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 12) - US editionJ. R. Ward has posted the US cover for her next Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, The King, on her official Facebook page. (Thank you, Decadence, for your vigilance in all matters relating to the BDB!)

As Decadence pointed out to me, the widow’s peak and the ring fit his description, and ‘the background looks fucking awesome’. I do agree with her in that I always pictured Wrath as being much larger, but maybe it’s just because all the BDB characters are written larger than life.

Check out those tight leather pants. I can’t even imagine how sweaty and stinky they get.

What? Am I ruining the illusion? ;-)

You can preorder the US hardcover from Amazon and Book Depository. It comes out March 25, 2014.

Click here for more BDB cheat sheets and spoilers.

June 18, 2013

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa DareJust like a prospective duchess, it was charming and witty and able to stand alone.

The Dowager Duchess of Halford is desperate for her son Griffin, the current duke, to get married. He absolutely refuses. She drags him to Spinster Spindle Cove to check out prospective candidates and says that he can pick anyone and she will turn that girl into his duchess.

Pauline Simms is having a really shitty day. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, but she is trying to make the most of her life as a serving girl in a tavern. Her day is about to get better or worse, depending on your point of view, when the duke picks her to be his duchess.

Griffin and Pauline make a deal: if she fails in a week he will give her the money she needs to open her dream bookshop in the village. The catch is that Pauline is actually really good at her duchess lessons. And serving girl or no, she would make an awesome duchess. Will love prevail? Of course, it will.

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June 11, 2013

Turn Right At Machu Picchu by Mark Adams - Australian editionWhether you’re a tourist, an Indiana Jones wannabe (or you just love Harrison Ford) or an armchair traveller, this is the perfect book to take you away to faraway lands.

In line with Travel Tuesday (#traveltuesday) on Twitter, Wandergurl is attempting to review a travel book once a month. It does not always happen, obvs.

Once upon a time, there was a writer called Mark Adams. He wrote for an adventure magazine but never really had any adventures. One day, he decided to follow the footsteps of Hiram Bingham, the man who made Machu Picchu known to the world. This is Adams’s thoroughly engaging, adventure-filled story.

About five years ago, I did a version of the Inca Trail called the Lares Trek (I booked late and couldn’t get a permit to do the actual one). After about four exhausting days, I made it to Machu Picchu and it was one of the best experiences of my life, never mind that I had never hiked before and had problems with altitude. Like Adams, prior to this adventure I had never slept in a tent (unless you count that one time in high school when they made us go camping overnight), or owned hiking boots. It was the trip that inspired many more adventures, so when I saw this book, I had to have it.

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June 6, 2013

The Mad Earl's Bride by Loretta ChaseI love Loretta Chase and this story did not disappoint. I only wished it had been longer.

The Earl of Rawnsley has quite possibly gone mad, and is dying besides, and now lives in the moors of Dartmoor. Gwendolyn Adams has just been asked to marry him to secure an heir before he dies. (This actually made a lot of sense to me in a romance novel context.) Is he really mad? What’s in it for her? And is he really going to die?

Dorian, the Earl, is your classic tormented hero—tormented by the actions of his past, a hard-handed, unforgiving family, and the ‘spirits’ that he supposedly sees. He just wants to be left alone to die in peace. Given his past history, he is incredibly worried about what will happen to him when he finally succumbs to this madness (warning: the descriptions of mental institutions in that time are pretty heartbreaking, and while author Loretta Chase doesn’t go into a lot of detail, things happen to a certain character and it is well described). When he unexpectedly inherits the earldom, he has no intention of continuing the title, but suddenly this lady shows up on his doorstep and somehow also saves his life.

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