Release Day for The Landowner’s Secret!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Happy release day to me! If things have gone to plan I’m in Romania at the moment, so I’m not home to celebrate.

You can read the first two chapters of The Landowner’s Secret HERE.

Here are the links to order it:

HarperCollins AU US UK

Amazon AU US UK CA IN

Kobo AU NZ US UK CA IE IN ZA

Barnes and Noble

Apple Books

Google Play

Booktopia

And here’s what it’s about:

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

Six Months Ago; One Day to Go!

On this day six months ago, at 5:57pm, this extraordinary email popped up in my inbox and changed everything. (Sue Brockhoff is Harlequin’s Publishing Director.)

Sue Brockhoff Sonya Heaney Offer 11th March 2019

Even though the email’s subject was “Offer”, I still braced myself for the worst. Instead, I discovered that my dream publisher had just made me an offer to buy my book, countering one made from another publisher.

Initial suggestions that The Landowner’s Secret (Or Secret Land as it was called then) would be published early next year were soon scrapped, and instead my book is now out tomorrow – the 12th of September.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Here’s a link to the first two chapters.

And here’s what it’s about:

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

Author Sonya Heaney on Cinderella romances and her debut book The Landowner’s Secret

thumbnail_landownerssecret

It went up much sooner than I expected it to, but a few days ago I was asked to write an article for (Harlequin/HarperCollins-owned) romance.com.au, and here it is:

Author Sonya Heaney on Cinderella romances and her debut book The Landowner’s Secret

Disclaimer: I *did not* choose the GIFs for this. So apologies for the Poldark woman mistake!

The Landowner’s Secret Excerpt

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Terrifying to think about it, but my first book with Harlequin/HarperCollins, The Landowner’s Secret, is out next week.

 

Here is what it’s about:

 

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

 

And here are the first few pages:

 

Chapter 1

Southern Tablelands, New South Wales

Late April, 1885

 

Alice Ryan woke at the first shout, and sat bolt upright at the second.

With her mind still muddled by sleep, her body shook with fright before she even realised what was happening. She felt the unease, the disturbance in the night. This far out the bush was usually still, the quietness punctuated only by the odd scuffle of a possum or rustle of wind in the trees. But right now there was an energy that didn’t belong.

Curling her fingers into the counterpane, she waited in dreadful anticipation.

There. A voice—faint, but distinct—reached her ears, becoming louder as she sat frozen in place.

Someone was out there, in the dark.

‘Ian?’ she whispered, uncertain. Who else could it be but her brother, and yet … Some instinct stopped her from calling out and confirming she was home. And just as it took complete hold, a second voice joined the first.

Slipping free of the blanket and pressing her bare feet to the floor, she clutched the bed’s footboard and waited. And waited.

The light of a flame—so dim at first she thought she’d imagined it—flashed not too far beyond the cottage’s small window. It wasn’t much, but it was so foreign in the darkness of the scrub.

She strained to make out any sounds that weren’t meant to be there, but heard next to nothing over the pounding in her ears. Moments later the light flashed by again. It was closer this time.

Alice startled; clapped a hand to her mouth.

This was all wrong. Nobody had a reason to be there, on a road that led to nothing but her home. This far out she was all alone, except for—

Endmoor.

If she could slip out unnoticed, she could reach the big homestead beyond the trees on foot—thieves or troublemakers would be mad to try anything with Robert Farrer. The landowner was too wealthy, with too many men on his property, and no doubt he had better weapons than she did if it came to that.

Alice made her decision in an instant.

Moving fast, she struggled into her frock and grabbed her shawl from the end of the bed before slipping a hand beneath the mattress for the small packet she kept hidden there. She stuffed it down the front of her bodice, shaking with fright and determination.

Trying her best to be quiet, she scrambled across to press her back against the cool wall near the door.

One of the men spoke again but she still couldn’t make out the words. There were at least two of them and they weren’t just talking, but laughing. Whacks echoed through the night air, as though they were hitting at the scrub with sticks, and then she heard more laughter in amongst the other sounds of the night.

Whatever they were about, it was a game to them. Likely a drunken game …

Alice curled her toes against the freezing floor and hugged herself tightly, willing them to just go, just leave her be and make their fun elsewhere. The voices came more loudly from the front of the house. Her only way of escape was through there.

Cursing her rotten luck, her absent brother, and all the trouble life brought down on her, she took a big breath for courage and lurched past the window as fast as she could, scrambling in the darkness for the small knife she’d left on the table.

‘Ian, you bastard!’ The call came from so close by her heart nearly stopped.

Desperation took over then, and she chose speed over silence. Fumbling in the shadows with frozen fingers, shoving her way through the bits and pieces she’d left on the table that evening, she patted about desperately until they hit a strip of cold metal. The knife.

‘Help me, help me,’ she whispered to a God who’d never listened before, and gripped the handle firmly, her other hand shaking, while she once again backed up against the wall.

Bracing herself for anything, she pulled back the curtain only enough to get a glimpse of the clearing around the porch. In a sliver of moonlight she could just make out the figures of grown men dotted around the clearing. Further down the trail, near the road, she saw more forms and shadows. Horses, she realised with even more dread in her belly. She sure as hell couldn’t outrun those.

Shaking more, she cast her mind out beyond them all, mapping herself a route of escape. If they were here for Ian, they were out of luck. As usual he was nowhere to be found.

She let the curtain slip back through her fingers and then bent to grasp the laces of the boots left beside the door. There was no time to tug them on, nor to find her stockings.

She nearly shrieked with surprise when something whacked directly against the outside of the house, but held fast and slapped a hand over her mouth again as she waited for what’d come next.

‘Are you comin’ out, or are we comin’ to get you?’ one of them called. It was not a familiar voice.

‘We don’t have all night!’ yelled another.

There was more laughing. More jokes.

Alice rose carefully, quickly tugging the shawl more tightly around herself without letting her grip on the knife loosen. She edged the door open the tiniest amount, trying to peer beyond the intruders to find the fastest direction into the trees. The boots banged lightly against the old wood, and she pressed her lips tightly together in frustration.

‘Maybe there’s no-one ’ere. I swear, James, if we’re out ’ere freezin’ our bloody arses off for no reason …’

‘Someone’s ’ere. There’s smoke comin’ from the chimney and I saw movement at the window just now.’

‘Bloody hell,’ Alice whispered, becoming number and shakier than before. ‘Bloody, bloody hell.’

There was silence then except for the shuffling of shoes in the dirt. And then a third man spoke.

‘Maybe it’s the sister.’

‘There’s a sister?’

An awful pause followed. And then, ‘Is she pretty?’

Alice wished the bottom of the floor would open up and swallow her whole. Fear icier than the chill in the air ran over her from head-top to heels. She knew more about physical fighting than any proper lady ever would, but she was still a scrap of a thing and not likely to get far before they …

‘There’s only one way to find out.’ The first man said. ‘James? Kick in the door.’

‘Not bloody likely,’ she whispered. She’d go to the devil before she let that happen or let a single one of them put his grubby paws on her.

And with those thoughts giving her fresh determination, she flung the door open and ran.

 

You can order it at these links:

 

HarperCollins AU US UK

Amazon AU US UK CA IN

Romance.com.au

Kobo AU NZ US UK CA IE IN ZA

Barnes and Noble

Apple Books

Google Play

Booktopia

Voices of the Foreign Legion by Adrian Gilbert

Voices of the Foreign Legion by Adrian Gilbert

The French Foreign Legion has established a reputation as the most formidable of military forces. Created as a means of protecting French interests abroad, the legion spearheaded French colonialism in North Africa during the nineteenth century. Accepting volunteers from all parts of the world, the legion acquired an aura of mystery—and a less than enviable reputation for brutality within its ranks. Attracting recruits from all over the world, these new soldiers explain in their own words why they submitted themselves to such brutal training.

Voices of the Foreign Legion looks at how the legion selects its recruits, where they come from, and why they seek a life of incredible hardship and danger. It also analyzes the legion’s strict attitude toward discipline, questions why desertion is a perennial problem, and assesses the legion’s military achievements since its formation in 1831. Its scope ranges from the conquest of the colonies in Africa and the Far East, through the horrors of the two World Wars, to the bitter but ultimately hopeless battles to maintain France’s imperial possessions.

Voices of the Foreign Legion by Adrian Gilbert

Before reading this book, all I knew about the French Foreign Legion was from Brynn Kelly’s brilliant suspense series.

That series was a large part of why I requested Voices of the Foreign Legion for review. I’m glad I did, because it was a really interesting read.

Adrian Gilbert used a lot of primary sources and interviews with former members of the Legion in his book, and it gave a fascinating look into a secretive world.

Formed in the nineteenth century, the Legion is made up of men from all over the world. There’s an air of mystery about it all, and members receive new identities upon entering, which is why it is seen as such a “cool” thing for a guy to do. As in the past, many men enter to escape upheaval at home, and I appreciated how many personal accounts – historical and current – were used.

Unlike many military-themed nonfiction books, this one would make a good read for anyone. It’s definitely not all facts, figures, and too much terminology to get your head around.

Another thing that I learnt from this book? Brynn Kelly sure did her research!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 26th August – 1st September

Nearly Spring in Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney End of August 2019 Garden Nature Blossom Blossoms Wattle

It’s starting to look and feel (and smell!) like spring in Canberra.

Goodbye to winter! It’s spring here, it’s sunny, everything is blossoming! I have allergies, of course – as ever – but that’s fine.

I need to have a little fangirl moment: a few nights ago one of my absolute favourite historical romance authors “liked” my author page on Facebook, and that made an otherwise appalling week pretty bright for a few hours! My page doesn’t have much there yet, but will after my book comes out.

I worked harder this week than I’ve ever worked in my life, and that includes back when I was a ballet dancer. I’m about to send the sequel to The Landowner’s Secret – out in two weeks! – off to my editor, but the process has not been without drama.

The hours I’ve been putting in these past few days have been unbelievable. I thought 13.5 hours on Monday was bad, but then Thursday happened. I started working at 4am and didn’t stop until 11pm (that’s NINETEEN hours). I slept on the couch for two hours, started working again at 1am, and then emailed my editor at 4:30 in the morning in a state of panic!

What happened, you ask? Well …

In the past fortnight I decided to completely rework the structure of the second book (totally my idea – I can’t blame my publisher for this!). I got myself into such a situation that the timeline and continuity were completely messed up. Every change I made to one scene meant I had to change every other scene in the book.

The process was … not … fun.

With me heading off to Europe on Saturday, I had to get this book done NOW.

I haven’t been reading, replying to emails, or even eating or sleeping this week, and now I’m drifting in the sort of weird, exhausted haze caused by of one of those mega 40+ hour international trips Australians often have to take – but worse.

Here’s my post about inspiration for my September book.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Book Inspiration

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

One thing that thrilled me about the cover for The Landowner’s Secret, my upcoming book, was that the designer really took the setting into consideration.

Yes, the story is set in colonial Australia, and yes, I know many people think of Australia in terms of either beaches or deserts. However, *my* Australia is about the mountains and the bush, and my book is set in the shadow of the Brindabella Range.

I look at these mountains every day. I can see them from the backyard, the front yard, from half the windows of the house (which proved pretty scary when fire came rolling down the hills during the devastating Canberra firestorm!).

Here is an image from of the mountains from Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons. I think the view is reflected so well on the book cover:

Mount_Ginini_-_Namadgi_National_Park_-_2 ACT NSW Canberra Region Australia October 2006

Here are a couple of random shots of I’ve taken while in the car (not driving!). The farmland in the third one is where I’ve set my hero’s homestead.

driving-south-canberra-tuggeranong-australia-brindabella-ranges-mountains-anzac-day-25th-april-2015-sonya-heaney

winter-queanbeyan-to-canberra-australia-5th-june-2015-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney-brindabella-ranges-travel-road-state-border

I know a lot of book covers in this world don’t have a lot to do with what’s actually written on the pages, and I consider myself very lucky that mine does!

The Week: 19th – 25th August

Currawongs Blue Winter Sky Sonya Heaney Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Canberra Australia Garden 22nd August 2019

With spring in the air in Canberra, we’re having a bit of a currawong invasion at the moment (that’s just a few of them!).

It’s deafening around here. Those birds are freakishly loud, especially when they fight, which is what is happening nonstop now!

Another busy week. I’m heading overseas VERY soon, and I have a book to finish before then. Packing also has to happen at some point!

The other day I found this on the American HarperCollins website. I can’t believe I’m turning up alongside these authors!

HarperCollins Historical Romance Tessa Dare Caroline Linden Joanna Shupe Sarah Maclean Lorraine Heath Sonya Heaney 2019

Recently Reread: Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas

And here’s a bit of Derbyshire history for you (it’s an amazing part of England, and I’m so glad to have spent time there last year.)

eyam_church_derbyshire_1890 england victorian britain