The Week: 8th – 14th January

Wednesday summer sunset in Canberra

Another week, another mess in the world… Today is “New Year” by the old calendar, if you need a reason to celebrate something this weekend.

Two stories out of Russia this week that I think are newsworthy!:

Russian man steals armoured tank, rams shop, steals one bottle of wine.

Russian man steals tank, rams shop, steals one bottle of wine.

Russian man steals tank, rams shop, steals bottle of wine..

And, more importantly:

Fewer than one in five Russians are okay with gay sex.

In fact, only 8% of Russians support homosexuality in any form:

Previous surveys showed that the number of Russians against gay sex has progressively increased, from 68 percent in 1998 to 76 percent in 2008.

This year, only 8 percent of respondents said there was nothing objectionable about sexual relations between adults of the same gender.

This is what happens when you let the church run your society and heavily influence your government. This sort of thing is happening in a number of former communist countries at the moment.

Coming Up for Brynn Kelly

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

My review of Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Thomas Hardy’s Early Career

Thomas Hardy, OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, influenced both in his novels and in his poetry

Meet the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan

Meet the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan


Coming Up for Brynn Kelly

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

I am a little confused about why this book currently has two titles. It’s officially called Isle of Shadows, and the cover calls it A Risk Worth Taking. Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to this book, as I’ve really enjoyed the series so far.

He can’t outrun himself…

Legionnaire Jamie Armstrong lives in the shadows. A medic haunted by his mistakes, he knows better than to hope for redemption. But his latest mission brings a threat he doesn’t see coming – an attraction as irresistible as it is dangerous. Hacker Samira Desta is a woman he swore to forget, but as a key witness to a deadly conspiracy, Samira is his to protect.

But the woman he rescues might be the one who saves him

After a year in hiding, Samira’s worst fears come true when her cover is blown and the unlikeliest of allies comes to her aid – the secretive Scot with whom she shared one unforgettable night. Hunted by lethal forces and losing the battle against their desire, Jamie and Samira make a desperate play to take the fight to their enemy – but those at greatest risk of ruin may be themselves…

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Note: I have already reviewed this book once before. However, it was rereleased with a new cover and bonus novella (reviewed HERE) for the end of 2017, so I’m sharing it again.

Rotting in an African dungeon is the last place journalist Tess Newell expected to find herself. Held hostage by the terrorist group she’s investigating, Tess’s salvation—and temptation—arrives in the form of another prisoner. A French Foreign Legionnaire with a sinful smile and too many secrets to be anything but dangerous. Yet she knows he’s her only hope of surviving.

The Legion is the only family Flynn has. His sanctuary and his purgatory, after years spent in hell. When a mission goes south and Flynn is captured, it’s not the enemy that worries him, but the brazen, alluring reporter whose prying questions threaten to bring down his world—and the walls he’s built around his heart.

Yet after a daring escape, Flynn must risk it all and go on the run with Tess to retrieve the evidence she needs. The chemistry between them threatens to detonate but, with the enemy fast closing in, time is running out to unravel the truth from the lies in this deadly conspiracy…

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

It took me a while to read this book, not because it was bad or boring, but because I liked it so much and was enjoying the characters and all the research so much, I wanted to make the most of it.

Edge of Truth is *everything* I’ve been asking for in romantic suspense for years, all there in one book. I think some of the mixed reaction to it has been because it IS about the suspense, and the setting is everything; no random “terrorist-riddled non-American country” cliché here. The research is fantastic, the author’s obvious local knowledge of Africa makes all the difference, and it’s not all about some hot-guy-romance.

However, the romance IS very strong. Hero and heroine are thrown together right from the outset, and are together more or less without a break for the entire book. Both are captured by a terror group, and both have good reasons for their involvement in the unfolding drama.

Television journalist Tess has been digging into US political connections to the terror group and the war they are trying to provoke. She has world-changing information to get out to the public, but she is trapped, imprisoned.

French Foreign Legion soldier Flynn is hiding some major secrets of his own, but he can’t bring himself to walk away from Tess when he helps her escape her captors.

I’ve been saying I wanted real-world issues in my books, and I always, always appreciate an author who knows her setting inside out. This book created a sense of place more than almost anything I’ve ever read, and that is one of the reasons I’m going to remember it long after more generic suspense books.

Everything about Edge of Truth comes across as relevant to right now, to the corruption and double-sided dealings of many powerful people in world (and especially US) politics.

However, this would all be nothing without the great characters. The Kiwi author manages to create a totally realistic Australian hero and an American heroine. Their relationship is built on desperate situations and a lot of clever conversation. The dialogue is natural and believable.

The story unfolds over only a few days, and yet I bought into the relationship. Perhaps there was a time or two where the focus on the growing attraction between the two might have seemed slightly out of place, but as the book unfolded I realised I was fine with it.

Africa isn’t the most popular setting for Western stories, romances or otherwise, but I strongly encourage readers to bury their fears of the foreign and give this one a go.

I just knew from the first time I read the blurb that this was going to be a book I’d love, and I was correct.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Best of 2017

In no particular order: my favourite reads of 2017:

(I guarantee I’ve forgotten at least one book!)

Edge of Truth (The Legionnaires #2) by Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Devil in Spring (Ravenels #3) by Lisa Kleypas


The Lost Letter: A Victorian Romance by Mimi Matthews

The Lost Letter A Victorian Romance by Mimi Matthews

My Lady Governess by Elise Clarke

My Lady Governess by Elise Clarke

Someone to Hold (Westcott #2) by Mary Balogh


The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society #1) by Madeline Hunter


Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

Surrender to the Marquess (Herriard #3) by Louise Allen


Mogul (The Knickerbocker Club #3) by Joanna Shupe


Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen

(To be reviewed in a couple of weeks.)

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen UK Australian Mills and Boon Cover

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

Marry in Haste (Convenient Marriage series #1) by Anne Gracie


A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors #4) by Sabrina Jeffries

The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors #4) by Sabrina Jeffries

And – to be released in early 2018:

The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter: a Victorian Romance by Mimi Matthews

My Goodreads review.

The Viscount and the Vicar's Daughter A Victorian Romance by Mimi Matthews

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

At the end of the earth, they’ll play a dangerous game…

French Foreign Legionnaire Cody Castillo—“Texas” to his fellow commandos—is an adrenalin-junkie. Chasing deadly thrills is his only reprieve from a bloodstained past he can’t forget. But when he finds himself caught in a mass murderer’s crosshairs in the lonely wilds of New Zealand, he finds an unexpected and intriguing ally.

Ex-air force pilot Tia Kupa has always found safety in nature, until a killer turns the wilderness into a playground. In this life-or-death game, the guarded woman who lives by the rules must rely on a risk taker with a death wish. The sexy devil-may-care legionnaire may be the wrong guy for her, but desire is just as primal as terror. Even if they outrun a predator, they can’t escape the sizzling bond neither of them saw coming.

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

I discovered Brynn Kelly with the second book in her brilliant Legionnaires series, and the rerelease of that book includes this novella, featuring a different set of main characters.

Kelly has the writing style that I love in suspense stories. The dialogue feels real, the situations – though larger than life – are written in a “real” way, the characters feel real and feel like they really do exist in the present. It’s hard to explain the difference between an author like Kelly (or Cindy Gerard or Kaylea Cross) and others in the genre, but it’s huge.

This is as much a suspense story as a romance. It’s tough, and the characters go through tough things. There’s violence and action, and don’t go in expecting something else just because there’s a good-looking guy in the cover. It also packs in a lot of story for a shorter read. Somehow I was convinced of the relationship succeeding even though it happens over a short space of time.

Kelly always writes settings like she knows the inside-out and back-to-front, no matter where in the world her characters go. This is the first time she has set a story in her native New Zealand, so she had an advantage there, but her local knowledge really transforms the book.

I also enjoy her use of characters of different nationalities. The American guy feels American. The Australian guy (in book two) feels Australian etc.

I have nothing negative to say about Forbidden River. I am just glad to find another author to add to my “favourites”.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

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

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.