June 6, 2012

Jilted by Rachael JohnsA rare species—an outback romance that fits squarely into the romance genre without losing its character. The setting is familiar but not intrusive, and the story navigates some very emotional territory.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

It’s no secret that I love the idea of outback romance, but I’ve not had much luck finding authors who hit the right balance of romance, setting and character for me. With her new release, Jilted, published under Harlequin’s Mira imprint, Rachael Johns has become one of those rare authors.

Aussie soap star Ellie Hughes is persona non grata in her home town of Hope Junction. Ten years ago, she stood up her childhood sweetheart, Flynn, before going on to become a media sensation and household name.

Now she’s back, determined to care for her injured godmother even though she knows she’ll be walking into hostile territory. Flynn has never forgotten his childhood sweetheart—nor the kind of man he became when she left him standing at the altar. Neither has Hope Junction, and they’re going to make sure Ellie knows it.

Jilted is an outback romance with broad appeal. The setting never overshadows the characters, and the romance follows a familiar path without being too predictable. It feels like an extended Australian Superromance. The plot navigates some very emotional territory and, yes, it made me cry.

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May 25, 2012

Destiny of the Light by Louise Cusack (Shadow Through Time Trilogy, Book 1)This book is heavy on the intrigue and light on the introspection, but there’s plenty of room for strong, independent female characters.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

Catherine lost her mother to cancer and her twin brother in an apparent suicide. When she visits the cliff where she last saw her twin, she’s compelled by a voice in her mind to jump.

So she does.

Catherine wakes up in a strange land in which she is apparently the long-lost Princess Khatrene and her brother, now called Mihale, is the ruling king of Ennae. Though she dies after her jump, Talis, her Guardian, saves her using his special brand of magic.

What follows is a kind of epic road trip interspersed with battles, pursuits, magical machinations and political intrigue. It’s not always easy to follow the plot. There are so many characters and strands that you need to be fully invested in the story to keep track of it all, and I admit that the story couldn’t always sustain my attention.

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May 23, 2012
The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (Highland Pleasures, Book 4)

The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (Highland Pleasures, Book 4)

A moving second-chance romance with well-developed characters. I can’t say enough about this series.

Hart Mackenzie, head of the notorious Mackenzie family, plans to run for prime minister. He took over as head of the family at a young age, protecting his younger siblings from his psychotic father. He was once engaged to Eleanor Ramsay, the love of his life, daughter of an eccentric but impoverished earl. Unfortunate circumstances led to the breaking of their engagement and it’s quite obvious from the start that they never really got over each other.

Now, Eleanor is back in his life, having received a nude photograph of Hart taken a long time ago. Who sent the photos? And can he really handle having Eleanor back in his life?

This story reads like it could have come out of a modern tabloid. Aspiring political candidate let his ex-mistress take photos of him naked when he was young, she died under scandalous circumstances (see book 1) and suddenly his ex-fiancee is receiving the photos in the mail, one by one. If this gets out in the press, Hart’s political career and his party are ruined and with it his dream of an independent Ireland (then Scotland!) someday. So in comes Eleanor, the ex-fiancee, to find the origin of said photos, under the pretense of being his secretary.

I love well-written second chance romances and author Jennifer Ashley does them very well. To me this is what the story is about, and the photos come second. Ashley does a good job of fleshing out Hart and Elizabeth’s relationship and slowly showing us what led to the last big break up before bringing them back together.

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May 18, 2012

I couldn’t attend the SWF 2012 chick-lit panel today, featuring authors Kathy Lette and Toni Jordan as well as moderator Gretel Killeen, but thanks to Twitter, here are some tidbits from the panel.

If you listened to the panel, I’d love to know what you thought!

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May 11, 2012

At lunchtime today, the lovely ladies from Mills & Boon were giving out free books to passers-by at Martin Place, Pitt Street Mall and the QVB. They were aided by so-called ‘buff butlers’ (though I’d say there was more buff than buttering). The initiative seemed well received, although for more impact they really needed more butlers. I say that in a completely objective (not objectifying way).

Check out the pics below or on our Flickr page (I particularly love the butler who pimped out the books to a group of schoolgirls—there’s no more exciting time for Mills & Boon than when you’re in high school!). Also, Decadence had the guys on their knees!

Did you spot the buff butlers and grab a book? Let us know!

Mills & Boon @ Pitt St MallBooks are for sharing, obviously...Mills & Boon @ Pitt St Mall

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May 10, 2012

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, I thought I’d run an adhoc omnibus of links on the blog to highlight links and news that might be of interest.

Kristan Higgins announced as keynote speaker for ARRC2013

ARRA recently announced that contemporary romance author Kristan Higgins will be one of the keynote speakers for the 2013 Australian Romance Readers Convention.

How likely is it that you’ll find R*BY finalists in your library?

Library insider VaVeros looked up the availability of titles shortlisted for the 2012 R*BY awards and concluded that they’d be pretty hard to find in your local library. June Loves, Helene Young, Mardi McConnochie, Anna Jacobs and Anna Campbell seem to be the most popular.

‘Harlequin makes a total of 1.94, and I make .06.’

Former Harlequin Intrigue author Ann Voss Peterson has written a guest post on Joe Konrath’s blog explaining why her contract with Harlequin does not allow her to make a living out of writing. It’s an interesting post, and the comments that follow—some from fellow ex-Harlequin authors—are a little depressing. There’s also some discussion around how well ebook backlists sell through Harlequin versus the author self-publishing their own backlists. Harlequin doesn’t come out well in this one.

Index of Harlequin Mills & Boon historicals

Maili sent me a link to a fan site dedicated to cataloguing category historical romances. This is for the dedicated glommers!

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May 7, 2012
stockxchng sucess way by dlnny via stock.xchng

Source: stock.xchng

Congratulations to all the finalists for the 2012 R*BY awards!

Romance Writers of Australia has announced the finalists for the 2012 Romantic Book of the Year awards. The awards will be presented on Saturday, August 18, at the RWA national conference at the Gold Coast.

Short Sweet
Molly Cooper’s Dream Date by Barbara Hannay
How To Save a Marriage In a Million by Leonie Knight
Abby and The Bachelor Cop by Marion Lennox
Single Dad’s Triple Trouble by Fiona Lowe

Short Sexy
The Fearless Maverick by Robyn Grady
The Man She Loves to Hate by Kelly Hunter (Kat’s review)
The Wedding Charade by Melanie Milburne
Her Not-So-Secret-Diary by Anne Oliver

Long Romance
Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell
Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe (Kat’s review)
The Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry
The Voyagers by Mardi McConnochie

Romantic Elements
The Trader’s Wife by Anna Jacobs
The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group by June Loves
Busted In Bollywood by Nicola Marsh
Shattered Sky by Helene Young

May 4, 2012
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (The Blood of Eden, Book 1)

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (The Blood of Eden, Book 1)

A compelling read, given Julie Kagawa’s brilliant writing and ability to create characters we can sympathise with, but it offers nothing new in terms of the vampire mythos.

Oh how I wanted so badly to LOVE this book! It had all the ingredients of a five-star read—most especially in today’s young adult (YA) market. Post-apocalyptic? Check. Vampires? Check. Did I hear you say, What about zombies? Check that, too (though they’re not named thus in the book, they are pretty much the mindless, walking dead with a one-track mind: to eat you).

Throw in a feisty katana-wielding female lead and a love interest worthy of being swooned at and it should have been a straightforward A+. Ach, but it pains me to admit that it falls short of being mind blowing.

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May 2, 2012
Flawless by Carrie Lofty (The Christies, Book 1)

Flawless by Carrie Lofty (The Christies, Book 1)

A second chance romance filled with adventure and set in a South African diamond mine. Not your conventional romance.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft’s father, Sir William Christie, died and left each of his four children an inheritence. For them to claim it, each one has to take a part of his business and make it successful. Vivienne ends up with a diamond mine in South Africa that she has to make profitable in a year.

Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft, and his wife have been estranged for a few years. He wants to get her back and somehow prove himself to her by taking part in making the venture profitable.

I love adventure romances in your not so average settings! It’s not often that you get a romance in colonial South Africa—in a diamond mine, no less—and for that alone I bought this book. (Okay, Rendezvous also recommended it in their newsletter.) It didn’t disappoint.

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May 1, 2012

Kate and Kat talk about their favourite Australian romance authors. Part 10 (final) of a series of vodcasts for Aussie Author Month 2012.

In this series, Kate and I talk about some of our favourite Australian romance authors, with some digression into our to-be-read lists. In our final vodcast for this series, we talk about our favourite books with romantic elements and why we love them so much.

Unfortunately, due to technical issues, the bit where we talk about tentacle porn ended up on the cutting room floor.

If you can’t see the video below, click here to view it directly on YouTube. It runs for just under 10 minutes.

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