RITA Winners

Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced the winners of the 2016 RITA® and Golden Heart® Awards on July 16 in San Diego, California.

I’m a little late with this, but the winners of the Golden Heart and RITA Awards were announced over the weekend.

As always, I seem not to have read any of these books…

You can read more HERE.

Best First Book Winner

Once and For All: An American Valor Novel by Cheryl Etchison Cheryl Etchison Once and For All: An American Valor Novel by Cheryl Etchison
Avon, ImpulsePriyanka Krishnan and Rebecca Lucash, editors

Contemporary Romance: Long Winner

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan Sarah Morgan Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Harlequin, HQN

Flo Nicoll, editor

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length Winner

Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra Virginia Kantra Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra

Berkley Publishing Group

Cindy Hwang, editor

Contemporary Romance: Short Winner

Christmas on Crimson Mountain by Michelle Major Michelle Major Christmas on Crimson Mountain by Michelle Major

Harlequin, Special Edition

Gail Chasan, editor

Erotic Romance Winner

Off the Clock by Roni Loren Roni Loren Off the Clock by Roni Loren

Penguin Random House, Berkley

Kate Seaver, editor


Historical Romance: Long Winner

No Mistress of Mine by Laura Lee Guhrke Laura Lee Guhrke No Mistress of Mine by Laura Lee Guhrke

Avon Books

Erika Tsang, editor


Historical Romance: Short Winner

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen Kelly Bowen A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen

Grand Central Publishing, Forever

Alex Logan, editor


Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel Weina Dai Randel The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel

Sourcebooks, Landmark

Shana Drehs and Anna Michels, editors


Paranormal Romance Winner

The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy Jeffe Kennedy The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Kensington Publishing Corp.

Peter Senftleben, editor

Romance Novella Winner

Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan Courtney Milan Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan


Lindsey Faber, editor

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray Tammy L Gray My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray

Amazon, Waterfall Press

Amy Hosford, editor

Romantic Suspense Winner

Repressed by Elisabeth Naughton Elisabeth Naughton Repressed by Elisabeth Naughton

Montlake Publishing

Charlotte Herscher and Christopher Werner, editors

Young Adult Romance Winner

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout Jennifer L Armentrout The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Harlequin, HQN Teen

Margo Lipschultz, editor



2017 Golden Heart Winners

Contemporary Romance Winner

Penelope Leas “No Man Left Behind” by Penelope Leas

Contemporary Romance: Short Winner

Susannah Erwin “Job Opening: Billionaire’s Wife” by Susannah Erwin

Historical Romance Winner

Christina Britton “With Love in Sight” by Christina Britton

Paranormal Romance Winner

Kari W Cole “Constant Craving” by Kari W. Cole

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements Winner

Pamela Ferguson “Wings of Love” by Pamela Ferguson

Romantic Suspense Winner

Meta Carroll “Semper Fi” by Meta Carroll

Young Adult Romance Winner

Jennifer Camiccia “Listen” by Jennifer Camiccia

Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

For widower and ex-doctor Trace Warren, a fresh start in Whisper Creek comes with a catch: to save his home and apothecary shop, Trace must remarry. While making Katherine Fleming his wife is simple enough, he refuses to fall in love again. But keeping his distance from the kind, beautiful woman and the infant she brings with her is dangerously difficult… 

Katherine promised to protect the baby left in her care, and a marriage of convenience to Trace is the only way to do that. But all too soon, Trace possesses Katherine’s heart, even as he still carefully guards his own. With hopes of turning their arrangement into a true love match, can Katherine convince Trace to forgive himself for his past mistakes and embrace his new family?

Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

I nearly skipped this one because the blurb piled up all the tropes I hate. However, I wanted to read a Western historical book in particular, and this was available for review, so I gave it a chance. Also, with Harlequin cancelling this book line, I plan to read as many of them as I can before they’re gone forever.

While this one falls closer to the obviously religious end of the Christian fiction spectrum than many books in the line, I was happy from the outset to see all the tropes I was dreading were turned around.

It was a time the marriage of convenience was believable, and I also liked the setup with the baby (it’s not the heroine’s). Additionally, I’m no fan of the “hero must marry by a certain date” trope, but it worked for me here (more or less).

I will say that the widowed hero is hard to like for much of the book. It’s all about his Pain, and how much worse things are for him, and poor him, and he can’t look at a pregnant woman – or a baby.

This is the nineteenth century; almost all married couples lost a number of children, either before birth or soon afterwards. Women had a HUGE chance of dying in childbirth (e.g. Jane Austen lost multiple relatives that way). The hero was a doctor; he would have known all of this.

The heroine lost her love, too, but she isn’t allowed her pain.

I much preferred the heroine (though she cried too often), and I did like the writing of the baby – he felt realistic. Often babies appear in books like this just to be cute accessories rather than characters; not the case here.

I also liked the little attention to historical detail, just as I did in the author’s previous book.

One problematic thing: this is not the first book, nor the first author, in the Love Inspired Historical (Christian) series I’ve read that has had troubling stereotyping of minority characters (Chinese in the last two books I’ve read). There’s writing someone whose first language isn’t English, and then there’s making characters come across as idiots. They’re not the same thing.

These books target a very particular demographic, and it’s – ahem – more Trump than tolerance. I’d like to see LIH fix this issue, but as the line is now defunct it’s too late.

Good and bad in this one. As with the previous book in the series, I appreciate the author’s attention to detail and the historical feel. However, I wish this grumpy hero had woken up to himself a little earlier on.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 24th – 30th July

Monday sunshine in Canberra

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the Thredbo landslide. I remember the aftermath of the disaster very clearly, and all the media attention surrounding it. Because people tend to pass through Canberra to get to the Snowy Mountains, it had quite an impact around here.

My review of A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

A Repost

This Book!

Cover Love

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

Rosa Rothwell knows her pregnancy is scandalous. She will do anything to protect her baby, even staging a daring escape from her family’s Italian home. Rosa has no idea what the future holds–until a handsome but infuriating stranger offers his help.

Convinced his family is cursed, Lord Hunter believes he’s far better off alone. But the pregnant debutante’s sweet nature touches him deeply. Can he confront his demons at last, and give them both a new future…as husband and wife?

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

I chose this book to review because Venice is on the cover, and I spent a month there earlier this year. Though a little over half the book takes place in Italy, the page time devoted to Venice is pretty brief.

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante is a mixed bag, and in some ways (e.g. the naïve heroine and the high drama) makes this book seem like it was written a few decades ago. The structure of the story was too messy for me, with town, city AND country-hopping nonstop and a population of redundant characters disappearing before they seemed to serve a purpose.

I did like that there was some adventure, and that the author came up with some interesting places for her characters to travel to.

However, the pacing was strange, with big jumps in time, too many short scenes packed into each chapter, and a heroine who had a real talent for falling into TSTL situations involving all kinds of criminals and life-threatening dramas.

I don’t like it when historical fiction gives you no context. Judging by the technology (or lack thereof), transport options, and references to clothing, I’m placing this as a Regency-era read (1811-20), but you have to take a guess. What I know for certain is that the characters were more than a century away from the traffic bridge from mainland Italy to Venice being built; how did they arrive in horse-drawn carriages? Even *today* it takes about an hour to get there on a boat. No horse-drawn carriage was crossing that much sea two centuries ago!

Characters appear and disappear from the story – never to be seen again –just to introduce more dramatics and to push the plot ahead. And so many of those characters are stereotypes (especially the Italians, and the women in general); everyone was either evil or saintly.

There’re even a few characters discussed who never make it onto the page. They should have been edited out to give the plot a bit more clarity.

The time-jumps add to the confusion. Each chapter is made up of lots of little scenes, sometimes taking the story ahead weeks without any warning (or paragraph breaks!). At one particularly awkward point, we went from a sex scene to meeting the heroine’s father without any indication time had moved on.

When hero and heroine became victims of a shipwreck and conveniently – and immediately – wash up at their house even though they weren’t meant to be sailing to that location, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief anymore.

It is around this time the professions of love between the two leads begin, even though the heroine has spent more than a month travelling with the hero without saying a word to him. She’s angry with him, but this grudge doesn’t even seem *possible* to me, and certainly shouldn’t be the prelude to undying adoration.

What started out seeming like a great read quickly became confusing, overpopulated, and jumping from one massive drama to another without giving the characters a chance to recover.

A quick look through reviews of the author’s other books give the impression this is standard (even down to shipwrecks and sprained ankles being favourite plot devices). Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be giving Martin’s work a second chance.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

A Repost

I just wanted to share this again, in case you missed it last week:

Author Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins Launches GoFundMe to Bring Novel to the Big Screen

While Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and more recently, Steve Harvey’s “Think Like A Man,” are books that have transitioned to successful feature films — this is an industry rarity. Many Black romance novels are bound by the paper and hardback covers they’re given and their stories are never told three dimensionally.

With a GoFundMe page, a goal of $100,000 and only 30 days to reach it, Jenkins and Bolling have called on fans for their support.

The Week: 17th – 23rd July

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature Gum Tree

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

This week marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death.

Three years since MH17 was shot down.

There was another major service at the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Canberra on Saturday, with more ambassadors attending than three years ago (now more countries are worried about the threat from Moscow).

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

Congratulations to Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews for continuing to win stages in the Tour de France. He is not only from this city, but also from my high school, as was Michael Rogers, former Tour star of my generation, as well as a world champion in the sport. Despite almost zero funding for our public high school from the Federal Government, Melrose High kids achieve things! I doubt there’s any other school in the world that has produced TWO Tour stars. Forgive me for my pride. 🙂 🙂

Devastating news about John McCain’s cancer diagnosis this week. US politics has become so polarised that both the far-left and the far-right are losing their minds, and in the midst of it all you had a decent man who stood up for a lot of things I believe in, even though I’m not on his side of politics. He is one of the ONLY Republicans to have ever stood up against Russian aggression and meddling, and for this alone he’d have had my respect. He stood up for Ukraine from the beginning of this horrific, current war the rest of his party no longer cares about, and has even gone to the frontlines to visit the troops. However, even before then he had my respect on most things, and had a decency to his politics that is sorely missing in the 2010s.

My review of The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

Jane Austen around the world.

TV Adaptation for Sylvia Day

Beverly Jenkins Launches GoFundMe to Bring Novel to the Big Screen