The Week: 9th – 15th October

Spring Flowers Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 10th October 2017 Pink Garden Nature 1

Spring Flowers Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 10th October 2017 Pink Garden Nature 2

Spring in Canberra this week.

It seems this was the week the Christmas ads started on television. Maybe not for the US  or Canada, with Halloween and Thanksgiving and all of that, but they did here!

This week marked a month since I returned from Spain. However, on Monday we booked a trip for next year: to Ireland and England, so I’m planning again!

We’ll take advantage of Qatar Airways’ new flights out of Canberra and fly into Dublin (where I lived and worked for a little while), and then travel up to Belfast and spend a few weeks in Northern Ireland. My surname is 100% Northern Irish. Even though I’ve only ever seen Northern Ireland in dreary late-November, I remember it as gorgeous.

After that we’ll fly to Leeds (in England) and then spend a few weeks in the Peak District and Yorkshire before flying home from Manchester. My dream Pride and Prejudice adventure…

The plans were changing for weeks. I still “have” to do a more extensive trip around Wales, and spend more time in Scotland. I also want to visit Cornwall, Devon etc. – I’ve seen quite a lot of the south over the years, but not that part. For a small place, there’s too much to see!

Interview: Rachel Brimble

My review of Pursued for the Viscount’s Vengeance by Sarah Mallory

My review of Ethan’s Daughter: Templeton Cove Stories (Templeton Cove #7) by Rachel Brimble

My review of A Baby for Christmas (Sweet Home Montana Book 2) by Joan Kilby

A Baby for Christmas (Sweet Home Montana Book 2) by Joan Kilby

Britain’s Libraries Week

Romance Books Category Romance

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Ethan’s Daughter: Templeton Cove Stories (Templeton Cove #7) by Rachel Brimble

Ethan's Daughter Templeton Cove Stories (Templeton Cove #7) by Rachel Brimble

There’s safety in solitude isn’t there? Single dad and best-selling thriller writer Ethan James has no problem being Templeton Cove’s most famous recluse until a surprise visit from the past plunges him into a real-life crime drama just as feisty nurse Leah Dixon barges her way into his world. Ethan’s first priority is to protect his daughter. His second priority is to keep Leah out of this dark web and that means out of his bed. Except Leah isn’t going anywhere; she’s afraid little Daisy is in danger. Ethan couldn’t live with himself if anything happened to Leah but pushing her away may be even harder!

Ethan’s Daughter (Templeton Cove #7) by Rachel Brimble

Ethan’s Daughter is the seventh in a contemporary romance/ suspense series set in a coastal town, but there’s no problem reading these books out of order – they work as standalones.

I love that this series is set on the English coast. We have a plethora of series like this set all over the United States, but not many set elsewhere.

The focus of this book is strongly on characters and relationships: hero/heroine, father/daughter etc. It is a romance first and suspense second. I think the strong focus on a few characters, with people from past books in the background, is what makes this an easy read, no matter how many books into the series it is.

I liked the “normalness” of the characters. The hero who is distracted by his work, but trying his best as a single dad. The glasses-wearing heroine (yay!) who has her own interests outside any relationships she might have. The daughter who comes across as a real child, not a “romance book child”. The normal, everyday behaviour that goes along with the larger-than-life situations.

This is the strength of many books in Harlequin’s Superromance line: they make it feel like you could meet these people in real life. It is what sets the line apart from the publisher’s other books (and WHY are they discontinuing Superromance next year?!).

Ethan’s Daughter was a nice change from the books I’ve been reading lately – a solid contemporary romance.

Interview: Rachel Brimble

Rachel Brimble

British author Rachel Brimble writes both contemporary romance/suspense and Victorian romances. It’s always great to find an author who can write across subgenres.

Notable and unique about Brimble’s contemporary books is that they are in Harlequin’s Superromance line, where the vast majority of authors and settings are American (with the odd Australian or Kiwi tossed in).

I remember when the Templeton Cove series first began I was excited about a change of location.

I also have a bit of an obsession with the Victorian era, and am always glad to find authors of historical romance who choose to use it!

Rachel Brimble’s latest book in the Templeton Cove series is Ethan’s Daughter, which I will be reviewing here tomorrow.

What is the inspiration for your Templeton Cove books? Is it difficult to keep all the characters in order?

I’ve wanted to write a small-town series since I started writing novels in 2006 and it was a dream come true when Harlequin contracted the first book, Finding Justice, and then went on to contract 8 more! The setting is inspired by my childhood holidays in various UK seaside towns. I’ve combined aspects of Torquay, Bognor Regis, Lyme Regis, the list goes on…

The series is a mix of mainstream romance and romantic suspense stories so I hope the series is kept fresh for even the most devoted of fans of the series.

As for keeping track of all the characters… Yes! It’s very difficult, lol! I think my cast list is close to 40 now and one or more of them are always pushing themselves forward to ‘star’ in the next book.

Do you find it easier to write one romance subgenre or another? I know of authors who write historical AND contemporary romance, but say they feel more comfortable writing one of those subgenres. Is this the case with you?

I write both historical and contemporary and don’t really find one easier to write than the other – the difference for me is the time spent on research for the historical books. I tend to find a social issue I want to explore and need to read up as much as I can to make sure I have enough knowledge that the setting for the central romance is reflected accurately.

I don’t spend hours torturing myself with making sure everything is absolutely indisputable as it is the romance and emotions that my books really focus on. I just like to feel I’ve done my best to create the atmosphere and environment of the period.

What made you choose the Victorian era for your historical romances? I LOVE the Victorian era (it’s my favourite!), but most authors write Regency books.

I love the Victorian era, too! I like that it was a time of such massive change – from the industrial revolution, to the very beginnings of feminism, to medical discoveries and the huge poverty/wealth divide. All these things provide great beginnings of theme which I can go back to time and time again.

I’m just revising my first venture into the Edwardian era – wish me luck!

How much research do you have to do for your books? E.g. I wouldn’t know the first thing about police procedure.

Haha! See above – I definitely spend more time researching the historical books, but as for the romantic suspense stories, I have the most AMAZING detective contact who helps me a LOT. He’s a godsend! I don’t tend to dig too much into the forensic side of things, I leave that to the crime writers, lol 😀

What is coming up next?

Next up is a new romantic suspense, If I Want You, which is a stand-alone title set in a small UK town. It is fast-paced and gripping, combining a new crime with an old. I absolutely loved writing it! It’s out November 8th and up for pre-order on Amazon right now.

After that, it’s the eighth and final book in my Templeton Cove series (boo!) – A Stranger In The Cove is a mainstream romance and I hope it brings the entire series to a satisfying end. All books can be read stand-alone, though! Out January 2018.

Biography from Rachel Brimble’s site:

I live with my husband, our two teenage daughters in a small market town near the famous Georgian City of Bath. I have been writing contemporary romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin Superromance since 2012, and also have four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

When I’m not writing, you’ll find me with my head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with my family. And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and agent represented in the US.

Christmas Amnesia (Callahan Confidential #3) by Laura Scott

Christmas Amnesia (Callahan Confidential #3) by Laura Scott

Assaulted a week before a high-profile drug trafficking trial, assistant district attorney Madison Callahan narrowly escapes death…but suffers amnesia. Now, when she can’t recall the identity of her attacker, everyone is suspect—except the handsome policeman who saved her. Officer Noah Sinclair will do anything to bring the mob-connected drug trafficker to justice, including providing personal protection to Madison—the sister of the partner he nearly got killed. But helping her regain her memory may end their unlikely alliance because once she remembers him, Noah might be the last man she’ll want to rely on. As the trial looms and with the assailant dead set on ensuring that Madison doesn’t survive to see Christmas, it’ll take everything Noah’s got to keep Madison alive.

Christmas Amnesia (Callahan Confidential #3) by Laura Scott

With such a crazy title and such a pretty cover, how could I resist?!

Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line puts out short, fast-paced romantic suspense books with no sex and a little bit of praying every now and again. They make for good, quick reads, and the Christian aspect is negligible, so I cope.

Christmas Amnesia – of course – deals with “Romance Novel Amnesia”, which bears little resemblance to the real condition but makes for a good plot. It’s not a trope many authors are using anymore, but I’ll put up with it in a category romance.

The pace is fast and the action constant, which is something I really appreciate about these books, and also something that sometimes gets lost in longer romantic suspense reads.

I also liked that the heroine was smart and had a well-established career. There are a lot of pregnant damsels in these books, and this was a nice change.

A solid, quick read with plenty of tropes category romance readers favour.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 11th – 17th September

Spring Blossoms Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 11th September 2017

Monday Afternoon

Home after a month! We arrived in Sydney on Sunday night (with the Brazilian football team!), and had to stay overnight because we got in so late. The five-star hotel was lost on me because I lay there wide awake for a few hours and then gave up. Stupid jetlag.

As soon as I stepped off the plane in Canberra on Monday all I could smell was blossoms. It was such a change after Barcelona.

I think I’m catching up pretty fast with books and reviews and all of that, but I’m having a bit of trouble finding space for my shopping…

It’s not all rainbows and roses, however. I have come home to a country that has gone all Donald Trump. They have just RUINED our beautiful Parliament House (as in *the nation’s* parliament – this is the capital city) with a metres-high fence around it that is so ugly it makes me want to cry (thank you, terrorists).

And we’re in the midst of a national marriage equality debate that has resulted in some appalling acts by some people. The “gay marriage survey” everyone over eighteen is being mailed arrived here first – maybe because we’re in the capital city. I have done mine and posted it, but that doesn’t stop me being subjected to disgusting, homophobic TV ads for a couple more months.

Ugh. Australia used to pride itself on being progressive! Second country in the world to give women the vote. I am SO happy to live in Canberra, a progressive bubble in a backwards nation!

Rereading Now

To the Brink by Cindy Gerard

My review of Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

My review of Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

 My review of A Rake’s Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden

A Rake's Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and died in 1976.

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

Working undercover for the government, Bartholomew Dyer must expose a nefarious plot to make Napoleon the ruler of England! He needs access to the highest echelons of Society to find those involved, so he’s forced to enlist the help of the woman who jilted him five years ago—Moira, Lady Rexford.

Moira’s widowed yet still as captivating as ever, and Bart’s determined not to succumb to her charms a second time. But, as they race against time, Bart suspects it’s not their lives at greatest risk—it’s their hearts…

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this, and considered three things:

#1 Spy romances (in a historical setting) don’t often work for me.

#2 Georgie Lee is a talented author.

#3 The Harlequin Historical line usually delivers good books.

Two out of three won out for me, and so I gave this ridiculously-titled book a go – and I’m glad I did.

There’s also the little fact I love reunion stories, and I think it was important in this one, as the action takes place over only a few days. If these two had been characters who hadn’t met before – rather than characters who used to be engaged – it would have been a little hard to believe.

Historical *romances* that involve spies can be a little hard to pull off, particularly if the characters involved are part of the aristocracy. Dukes and Earls and Countesses etc. running around back alleys is a hard idea to make convincing. It was interesting that the hero was a fifth son, and so considered expendable by many (like his father). It was easier to buy that he’d be doing these things behind the scenes.

I liked the interesting take on the heroine’s social isolation; she was almost a beautiful version of Anne Elliot (from Jane Austen’s Persuasion) – a character I find interesting because she’s “quieter” than most literary heroines. She is always helping everyone, but is also overlooked by everyone except the hero.

I liked that she knew how to behave in society, and is beautiful, and cares about her standing in the ton, but she is not extravagant and confident enough (or at least hasn’t been in the past) to catch people’s notice.

She does have a few “Too Stupid To Live” moments, but at least she owned up to most of them, and gave a decent reason for her behaviour. Also, it’s not as though most aristocratic young ladies would have a clue how to do the spy stuff…

Perhaps the end of the book escalated very fast and turned one of the characters into a caricature, and perhaps some of the “can we talk about our relationship?” moments came at the worst times (when the whole of England was in danger), but overall this book rose above my expectations.

Well-researched – and this is very well-researched – spy themes can work in historical romances. I think this was one of those times.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.