The Week: 3rd – 9th February

DC-10 American Water Bombing Air Tanker Canberra Bushfires Gowrie Tuggeranong Australia Sonya Heaney 3rd February 2020

Namadgi National Park Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke Haze Canberra Australia Tuggeranong Sonya Oksana Heaney Afternoon 3rd February 2020 Smoke

A huge change in a couple of hours on Monday: the American DC-10 firefighting plane over my house just before the smoke hit – again.

Canberra Australia Bushfire Moon Sonya Heaney 3rd February 2020

And a bushfire-coloured moon on Monday night.

Big week! My mother’s birthday on Monday, and mine on Friday, and all the dramas of our endless fires and storms thrown in the middle.

This week I got my first look at the cover for The Artist’s Secret (I love it!), and I hunkered down and got to work finishing the third book, which doesn’t have a name yet.

I’ve appeared in a few articles in recent weeks.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Chasing Cassandra Excerpt

Chasing Cassandra (Ravenels #6) (2020) (The sixth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas US Cover 2019

My review of Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Cover Love

The Gentleman's Deception by Karen Tuft

Interviews Everywhere!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

HarperCollins website Romance.com.au has featured my books (and me!) in several articles in the last few weeks. And today – my birthday – I was happy to discover I was in *two* pieces, alongside a bunch of amazing authors.

Below are links to the three most recent pieces, and I’m due to be in two more in the next few weeks.

11 historical romances to read while you wait for Outlander season 5

We asked Romance Authors how they like to spend Valentine’s Day

Romance Authors give their Recommendations for Valentine’s Day Reads

For the last article I recommended Never Deny a Duke by Madeline Hunter – reviewed HERE.

Book News!

I have something wonderful for my next book, The Artist’s Secret, that I desperately want to share, but I can’t yet! The book’s release date has been changed, so you’ll have to wait a few extra weeks.

However … Yesterday, after a crazy-long wait, my editor sent me the cover for approval, and I LOVE it. As with the cover of The Landowner’s Secret, the background image is perfect. And the main image? Well, I’ll give a spoiler: the cover took so long to reach me because it was rejected by the Harlequin team and sent back to be redone a couple of times.

The problem was that the colour scheme wasn’t working, so they changed it completely. The spoiler: now it’s blue. And anybody who regularly reads this blog probably noticed that’s a colour I have a little obsession with – especially on book covers!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share the cover very soon.

Cover Love

Yes, she’s wearing a mashup of clothing from several different times of the day, but how great is the concept for this cover?! I always love covers that have energy in them. It’s why I like this one so much.

The Gentleman's Deception by Karen Tuft

The Gentleman’s Deception by Karen Tuft

Renowned actress Ruby Chadwick, The Darling of Drury Lane, has long planned and prepared for her final performance. With exceptional beauty comes the unwanted attention of men, and after years of fending off odious suitors, Ruby is ready to leave it all behind in favor of a quiet life. The first step is to reclaim a piece of her past: her true identity as Lavinia Fernley. But leaving town unnoticed proves impossible, and in one desperate moment, she embarks on the greatest act of her life when she throws herself into the arms of a stranger to avoid recognition.

Lucas Jennings is shocked to find the stunning redhead in his arms, but something moves him to play along with her ruse when she calls him her husband. This charade marks the start of an unpredictable journey as he escorts the lovely Lavinia and her traveling companions to Primrose Farm, far from the glaring lights of London. Soon, the tables are turned when Lucas introduces Lavinia to his family—as his fiancée. Before long, their mutual deception begins to feel all too real. But when the truth of her past is revealed, will Lavinia’s dream of a happy ending slip through her fingers?

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library.

  • Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan?
  • Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall?
  • Perhaps the butler did it.

All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit … and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.

Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Until now I had only ever read one novella from Tessa Dare, but I saw Do You Want to Start a Scandal on the shelf at the library and decided to give it a go even though I had no idea where the book stood in relation to the author’s series.

Dare’s writing gets you hooked from the outset, and I raced through this book, enjoying most things about it. It’s exactly the type of historical romance I’ve come to expect from Avon: lively, steamy, and fairly light-hearted.

When the “aristocrat is a spy” theme turned up I wasn’t thrilled, but it thankfully took a backseat to the rest of the plotand to the romanceand in the end I didn’t have much of an issue with it.

The relationship in this book moves at lighting speed, but I appreciated that the characters got on despite many differences, and that they weren’t too silly about the reality that they’d have to marry. There was almost a category romance feel in the way the hero and heroine were together for almost the entire book, and how there was minimal secondary character interference.

I think the mystery and suspense aspects were toned down enough to not seem ridiculous, and when I reached the last part of the book I couldn’t put it down until I was done.

I had a couple of issues with the Americanisms—and it’s the ground floor, not the first!—but overall this didn’t distract me like it does in some historical romances.

A fun holiday read.

Chasing Cassandra Excerpt

An excerpt of Chasing Cassandra, the sixth book in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels series, is available to read on her website. The book is out on the 18th of this month.

Chasing Cassandra (Ravenels #6) (2020) (The sixth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas US Cover 2019

Everything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything – or anyone – is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife – and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love – the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants – or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun . . .

January Roundup

Namadgi National Park Southern Canberra Tuggeranong Bushfire Brindabella Range Mountains Sonya Oksana Heaney Evening of 28th January 2020

Bushfire view from my back deck. Flames crossing the ridge.

I’ve avoided writing weekly summaries for a while now because so much has been happening, and Canberra has been hit by natural disaster after natural disaster (which have been routinely knocking out the internet). We’ve had two freak hailstorms that destroyed large parts of the city, and fire after fire after fire. My brother was trapped in Canberra Airport a few days ago, when a fire burnt into the city from the east.

It’s been frightening to spend the last few nights watching flames coming into our valley – and it brings back memories of the horrific firestorm that hit us in 2003.

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My apartment view in Brisbane.

I was also in Brisbane for a while – how strange to be in a part of Australia where there’s no evidence of fire when your own region is burning!

In Canberra we’ve had record-breaking, relentless heat, smoke, and waterbombers flying over the house all day and all night. Seeing the giant American DC-10 water tanker flying low over your house is surreal and scary.

EDIT. The DC-10 from Alabama flying over my house just before 3pm today:

Water Bombing Aeroplane Surveillance Namadgi Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

A plane dumping fire retardant flies over my house, back from the fires. It looks like the evening, but that’s the middle of the afternoon.

My local library is now an evacuation centre as a massive fire sweeps in towards Canberra. Today is expected to be catastrophic, and the army is door-knocking in my area to prepare people for what’s to come.

None of us know what’s going to happen over this weekend …

Currawong Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

The Landowner’s Secret for $1.99!

The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Summer of Love Promotion

SUMMER OF LOVE_1080X1080 - The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

Happy 207th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

Jane Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, was published on the 28th of January 1813. Here is the front page from a first edition copy of the book.

My review of Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Book Feature: The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes

the perfect wife by katherine scholes

Regency Ostriches

Lord Avery's Legacy by Allison Land

“Women Built This Castle”

It’s a few years old now, but there’s a very worthwhile look at sexism in publishing over at YA Interrobang:

Women Built This Castle: an in-depth look at sexism in YA

The article discusses the way women build up different genres, and how those genres are laughed at and treated as “lesser” than areas men write in. It discusses how the moment a man turns up and has some success in an area of publishing (i.e. John Green in young adult fiction), people consider the books legitimate.

We’re conditioned to believe that women’s interests are fringe interests, and that the things we write aren’t as good as anything produced by men.

The same can be said about Nicholas Sparks in romance/women’s fiction.

There’s also a discussion about it at the Absolute Write Water Cooler that is worth a read.

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

Queanbeyan, New South Wales lies just over the state border from Canberra (about a fifteen-minute drive from where I live). It serves as inspiration for my town in my book, The Landowner’s Secret (on sale now!), which is set in the 1880s. (I don’t use the same place name, however.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in Queanbeyan over the years because I’ve always had family who lived there, and so I know the place very well. I was christened and made my first communion there, in the Ukrainian church my refugee grandfather helped to build. We also have a bit of a family tradition of Friday or weekend lunch at one of the old pubs in town.

However, being able to track down some images of the town from the Victorian era, of the buildings that the reckless developers pulled down in the 1970s, has been invaluable.

Here is John Bull’s Store, circa 1883:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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Here is the old post office, built between 1879 and 1880:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Built 1879-80. Post office in Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia. From the Queanbeyan Museum.

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And here is Monaro Street, which is still Queanbeyan’s main street, circa 1880. It’s a faded old photo, but I notice the town’s transformation over the 1880s, as the population grew and the railway arrived (in 1887), and I have tried to incorporate that into the series:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Monaro Street, looking East, Queanbeyan c. 1880. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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More images can be found on the book’s Pinterest board.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

The Landowner’s Secret

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.