The Week: 31st July – 6th August

Winter morning…

Wednesday Sunset

Well, another crazy week in this crazy world. I can’t even be bothered getting into it! We’ve all gone insane.

However, everyone should watch Opera Versus Trump.

I am off to Spain in exactly one week, and will be gone a month. Am I packed? No. Have I wrapped everything up? No. I planned to be ready ages ago, and of course that never happened! 🙂 It didn’t help I’ve had a bad cold all week (or maybe that’s just a very convenient excuse!).

Because we’ve had some major terrorism threats in Australia in the past couple of weeks they’ve upped all our airport security to a point it’s going to be a nightmare next weekend. Our trip will involve flying Canberra to Sydney, to Thailand, to Dubai, to Spain. The stop in Thailand is just half an hour or so, but they make you get off the plane and go through two security checks – just to get back on the same plane again!

My brother is in Croatia, heading to Italy soon. He has to fly home through Doha, which has just been made a lot more interesting with the Gulf blockade on Qatar!

As I said: the world has gone insane. 🙂

RITA Winners

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

On My Radar

Resistance is Futile

 The Twentieth Anniversary of Stuart Diver’s Rescue

Thredbo Landslide. 2nd August 1997. This photograph was taken moments after Stuart Diver was freed from the rubble after spending 65 hours buried in the rubble. Mr Diver lost his first w

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

Self-published

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

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Firstly: look what the Australian publishers did to this cover:

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr Australian Cover

They turned it into a rural Australian fiction cover! This book is set in Colorado (as in, NOT Australia!), and is about a surgeon, not a cowgirl – this is weird!

Under extreme pressure, neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails now belong to Maggie’s eccentric father, Sully. She relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life.

But Maggie’s world is rocked and she must take responsibility for the Crossing. When a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, offers to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of his motives—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Something you should know: I didn’t finish this book. I was really enjoying it, was on the lookout specifically for a *Robyn Carr*-style easy read at a time I was tired of my review books. I bought it because I never got around to downloading the review copy when it was a new release, and because I was planning on reading book two in the series next.

And then I hit a comment – and then another comment – I could not overlook.

I was a little confused by the mixed reviews for this book. It seems that everyone expects Carr to write her crazy-successful Virgin River again and again, and every time she tries something new she’s criticised for it.

Yes, she has a unique writing style that means she can info-dump until the cows come home, and a lot of the action happens off the page, and yet somehow it WORKS. Sometimes I want to read a Robyn Carr book specifically, because it’s so comforting, and she GETS real life so well, from every perspective.

I found this to be the case with What We Find, too. I could read about everyday people and their everyday issues forever and not be bored when it’s written by this author.

I was really enjoying this book.

And then she introduced the dodgy ex-husband. The ex-Ukrainian husband.

Are you allowed to have a bad character of any nationality? Of course you are.

But there’s a BIG problem here.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw a Ukrainian character in a book? Never? That’s right. Even when authors have their characters come from a Ukrainian city like Odesa (Odessa), or give them one Ukrainian surname or another, they STILL call them “Russian” – because readers think it’s sexy.

What We Find is the one and only time we are presented with a character from Ukraine in a book, and the author chose to make him a money-hungry guy looking to marry his way into America, a man who then tries to steal all the heroine’s money out from under her when they divorce.

This is racism. This is appalling stereotyping. And this is coming at a time where Ukraine is being invaded, tens of thousands killed, millions displaced and refugees (including people in my own family).

Imagine if it had been a Syrian or Iraqi character written this way, at this time…

In Robyn Carr’s last series she presented us with charming Russians who got happy-ever-afters. I’m not trying for a conspiracy theory, but the contrast between the author’s perceptions of the two warring nationalities is troubling.

Sometimes there’s One Little Thing in a book that turns me off it completely (e.g. comments about “dumb” blondes); this was one of those things.

It is such a minor piece of the book I’m sure anyone else who has read it would think I’ve lost my mind. However, it upset me. Deeply. Of all the nationalities in the world, why’d the author deliberately choose to kick Ukrainians when they’re down?

It’s a pity, because I’d planned to invest in this series for the long run.

I still might pick this one up again in the future, and keep going. I still might try book two. But my initial reaction was to stop cold and put the book aside, and if I get over it and move on with this otherwise wonderful author, it won’t be this week.

Winter Reads

Yes, it’s the first day of winter here. Below are a few winter reads I’d recommend if you’re in the mood (or too hot in the Northern Hemisphere!). However, so many books with a winter theme are Christmas books; I tried my best to find a mere handful of others!!

The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

Never Too Late by Robyn Carr

never-too-late-a-novel-by-robyn-carr

Now, this one has “Christmas” in the title, but I still consider it a regular winter book. Also – it’s one of only two or three books out of a few thousand I’ve read that literally moved me to tears:

A Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River #4) by Robyn Carr

The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham

Victoria Langley’s world crumbles when her husband leaves, but she knows exactly where to go to mend her broken heart. The rugged shores of Cornwall will be her perfect sanctuary. 

In the quaint, little village of Tregollan, nestled in the sea cliffs, Victoria is drawn to Seafall Cottage, covered in vines and gracefully falling apart. Inside she finds a diary full of secrets, from 1905.

Victoria is determined to unravel the diary’s mystery, but the residents of Tregollan are tight-lipped about Tilly Asprey, the cottage’s last owner. Just as she reaches a dead end, Victoria meets Adam Waters, the lawyer handling the cottage’s sale. He’s handsome, charming, and has a missing piece of the puzzle.

Tilly’s diary tells a devastating love story that mirrors Victoria’s own. Can Victoria learn from Tilly’s mistakes, and give herself a second chance at love? Or is history doomed to repeat itself?

The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham

I have a fascination with Cornwall, so I was excited to read this one. It’s a solid, interesting read, even though I seriously question the “romance” labelling. (The UK and US differ pretty heavily on what they define a romance as, with the expectation in America that much more time be spent with the love interest.)

This women’s fiction mystery was a well-written, engaging read. It has a bit of everything in it, with marriage issues, a big move to a new town, a mystery surrounding an old diary, new friends (and, yes, eventually some touches of romance).

It was a surprise to see it written in the first person, which is practically a universally hated style outside teen books, but I think the author had the talent to pull it off. It’s a tough way to write without starting every sentence with ‘I’.

There’s a fine line between making a small town quirky and interesting and making it clichéd. It worked here, and I think the appeal of Cornwall for many is the sense of community the area gives off in the media.

I also liked that the major players seemed to be regular people you might to see in real life. Dialogue and behaviour was natural; this is an author who doesn’t feel the need to make her characters perfect in order for them to have a romance.

Overall, I enjoyed this book for a change from my regular reading. It’s an easy read with solid writing throughout.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.