This month is Get Reading! month (previously Books Alive) in Australia. I unearthed an article I wrote for the ARRA newsletter last year around the same time. I’m posting it in full with some additional notes at the end.
If you’ve been book shopping recently, you may have noticed signs promoting the Books Alive campaign. Visit a participating bookshop before September 30 and you can pick up a free reading guide called 50 Books You Can’t Put Down.
I’ll be honest. I find it difficult to get excited about most of the books in the guide. We’re not likely to find Stephanie Laurens or Anna Campbell on the list, let alone the many Australian romance authors who write category novels or who are primarily e-published.
So what’s a romance reader to do? The good news is that there are romances listed—even if it’s not easy to spot them!
How To Break Your Own Heart by Maggie Alderson was a finalist in this year’s R*BY Awards. I haven’t started it yet, but I read the last page—because who doesn’t do that?—and I can confirm that it has a happy ending.
Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry (also a R*BY finalist but for a different title) is a romantic suspense set in the outback, and if you liked Parry’s first book, this one has a stronger external plot and the romance is more hero-centric.
I have it on good authority that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer is romantic. This epistolary novel is set in the Channel Islands just after World War II. I’ve read a few excerpts and it seems to feature various relationships built upon a mutual love of books. Sounds promising!
As a bonus, if you buy these books during Books Alive month, you get a freebie—either an anthology or a children’s book. The anthology includes stories by Australian chick-lit author Anita Heiss, and Toni Jordan, whose debut novel, Addition, I couldn’t put down.
The Books Alive guide got me thinking about what books I’d include in a romance reading list. Here are five books published in 2009 that stood out for me:
Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh is the steamiest book in the Psy-Changeling series thus far. If you like paranormal romance, or if you want to know what all the fuss is about, this is the series to read.
Tempt the Devil by Anna Campbell was launched at ARRC, and it’s my favourite Campbell novel thus far. It combines what I liked best about her first two books.
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan articulates, in the authors’ unique and hilarious style, a defence of the romance genre from a reader’s point of view.
Courting Disaster by Kathleen O’Reilly is published in Australia under Harlequin’s Special Release line as part of The Southern Legacies: The Prestons series. If you like a more old-fashioned type of contemporary romance where the wooing takes a little longer, this is an excellent read. (But skip the first 40 pages of back story.)
Finally, The Eternal Kiss: Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire is an anthology showcasing some talented authors in young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy.
I’m curious to know which books would make it to your list. If you have titles and authors to recommend, please consider posting it on the ARRA loop and sharing the love!
This article was first publised in the ARRA newsletter in September 2009.
I expressed doubt that we’d ever see a Stephanie Laurens title listed in the guide. I have eaten my words because The Elusive Bride is listed this year.
I’ve read and reviewed some of the titles mentioned in this article:
- How To Break Your Own Heart by Maggie Alderson
- Dark Country by Bronwyn Parry
- Addition by Toni Jordan
- Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh
- Courting Disaster by Kathleen O’Reilly
- The Eternal Kiss: Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire edited by Trisha Telep
You can find more information on this year’s Get Reading! campaign at www.getreading.com.au.
Which romance books could you not put down this year?