The Week: December 2015 – 3rd December 2016

Pink Flowers Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 29th December 2015 Summer Hot Blue Sky Nature

Keep those decorations up! It’s Christmas again in the coming week (which means we have to start cooking and baking all over again).

We had a fairly low-key Christmas and New Year this year, which we sort of needed after everything that has happened in the past twelve months. It’s odd losing all your traditions because of deaths. You become a bit lost with what to do. On top of that, our holiday in Queensland ended right before Christmas, so it was a scramble to prepare!

It has been REALLY HOT here (and inland heat feels a gazillion degrees hotter than when I’m at the coast!), but apparently we have a cooler change coming now, which will be good when we’re making all the traditional Ukrainian foods.

How is it already 2016?

Best of 2015

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

How did 2015 go? Historical Romance.

Christmas Historical Romance Cover Art by Jon Paul Studios - Copy

How did 2015 go? Contemporary Romance.

Category Romance. No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

How did 2015 go? Romantic Suspense.

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

My review of Instant Frontier Family by Regina Scott

Instant Frontier Family by Regina Scott


The Year: 2015

Canberra Australia Sunset Sonya Heaney 18th November 2015 Sky Spring Clouds Garden Nature

I had a long and detailed post typed and ready to use, but I’ve decided instead to use some pictures.

Sophia Jacyszyn

Obviously, the most significant things that happened for me this year were the deaths of a few people. My grandmother’s death had a massive impact on all of our lives, and we’re still finding our feet with the centre of our family gone.

Cat 3 Queanbeyan Australia Sonya Heaney 19th September 2015

Then we had our creatures.

Our gorgeous stray cat, Sophia (named in honour of my grandmother, as we found her at Baba’s house after she died), had to go on to a new home. As did her kittens. I still miss her.

We had our crazy magpies move in.

11th February russian shelling in Ukraine - 2015

#Russian terrorists in #Ukraine. 5th April 2015.

Russia continued to invade Ukraine, and the world continued to do absolutely nothing to stop it. I hate people sometimes.

Dawn St Kilda Melbourne Australia 16th March 2015 Sonya Heanaey Oksana Heaney 1

Coolangatta Gold Coast Queensland Australia Beach Sonya Heaney 18th December 2015

2015 was one of the few years I didn’t travel overseas. This was a conscious decision for us, as we had our grandmother’s care to take into consideration.

I did, however, manage to make it on a few interstate trips.

Other things happened this year, but these were the significant ones for me.

Best of 2015

2015 was a mixed bag. I read some really great books, and got excited about quite a few things.

However there were also lengthy periods of time where I was either feeling a little blah about my books or I was downright fed up with reading in general, and with the repetition brought on by genre fads.

I saved myself from my reading slumps both by rereading, and also by buying books instead of accepting as many review books as I might have other years.

Every year I post my best reads of the year. Many are 2015 releases, but some are not. Not all of them are the Greatest Read Ever, but every one of these stuck with me in some way, and that’s what counts the most when it comes to a book.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham


His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Brown-Eyed Girl (2015) (The fourth book in the Travis series) by Lisa Kleypas

Collateral Damage (Bagram Special Ops #5) by Kaylea Cross

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

His Christmas Countess (Lords of Disgrace #2) by Louise Allen

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Tall, Dark and Wicked (Wicked Trilogy #2) by Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

Demelza (Poldark #2) by Winston Graham

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bared to You (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Reflected in You (Crossfire #2) by Sylvia Day

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Cold-Hearted Rake (2015) by Lisa Kleypas

His Housekeeper’s Christmas wish by Louise Allen

His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish by Louise Allen

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

How did 2015 go? Romantic Suspense.

Kaylea Cross Pamela Clare Cindy Gerard Romantic Suspense Book Covers

I have hardly read any romantic suspense for the past few years, so I don’t think I can really comment on whether or not my wishes came true this year.

What I do know is that book titles, blurbs and covers are much the same now as they were the year before, and the year before that.

Navy SEAL Romance Book Covers

Basically, I wished for some time off from seeing the words: Navy SEAL.

Did this happen? Of course not! Everyone in romantic suspense is a SEAL these days, including the women. It’s absurd, and I know I’ve probably missed a lot of great books because I just can’t stand the fad anymore!

There’s so much more to both the romantic suspense world AND the military world than a very particular group of Special Forces fighters from a particular part of the military from a particular country!

Variety is good, and the SEAL in romantic suspense is the same as the duke in historical romance. The guy just won’t take a break!

I wanted the subgenre to deal with real world issues, not made-up stuff.

A couple of people are attempting it, but mostly the genre is still about secret agencies of secret SEALs who do secret stuff to stop secret Really Evil Men from doing things that have no relation to the real world.

Half the world is at war at the moment, and there are a whole lot of regimes doing terrible things. The Soviet Union is in the process of being recreated. There’s so much material out there; no need to make stuff up!

Running Fire by Lindsay McKenna

I wanted authors to stop with the ridiculous and tragic backstories.

If your book is about people being chased by terrorists, then that’s what your book should be about. I sort of want to laugh when the author also heaps rapes and attempted murders and homelessness and abuse and the kitchen sink onto their heroes’ and heroines’ shoulders.

I’ve still been reading overly tragic backstories since making that request at the start of the year, but I haven’t read enough in the subgenre to know if any change is happening on this front.

I can’t report on a subgenre I hardly read in 2015, but I CAN report on the review books I saw coming my way. From what I can gather from them – books I decided against reading and reviewing – 2015 was a case of same again.

How did 2015 go? Contemporary Romance.

Sarah Mayberry Julie James Contemporary Romance Book Covers

How did my wishes for contemporary romance for 2015 match up with how contemporary romance in 2015 actually turned out?

My number one wish for contemporary romance for 2015 was for authors to stop being so bloody misogynistic.

Did they do this? Some are great, and I’ve been really happy with some series that celebrate the female characters at least as much as the male characters:

Win Me (The Outback Bachelor Ball Book 1) by Joan KilbyWoo Me (The Outback Bachelor Ball Book 2) by Karina BlissWait for Me (The Outback Bachelor Ball #3)  by Sarah Mayberry

But the subgenre as a whole? Nope, not really.

I read some books that were truly horrifying and made me disgusted with women writers for hating their own gender so much. Such as this one.

Something reading romance teaches you is exactly how many women are misogynists, and how many fantasise about bad things happening to other women. We’re not at war with each other, and if your male characters don’t act like this, the women sure don’t have to.

This needs to change.

Category Romance. No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

I was sick of the same themes and occupations over and over and wanted more variety.

Did I get it? Well, publishers themselves have been starting to put out calls for more variety. No more home renovation and no more ageing parents (why people in their twenties would be putting their parents into nursing homes is beyond me!). Publishers are tired of reading about bakers – and so am I.

PLEASE no more traumatised navy SEAL cowboys returning to small town Texas. PLEASE. I beg you!

Change doesn’t come fast though, but I have hope that this is something that IS changing. I’ve read some more modern and relevant contemporary romance this year. It’s just a matter of dumping the traditional Harlequin tropes and recognising the real world is a whole lot more interesting than that.

I wanted contemporary romance to tackle real world issues.

It’s utterly bizarre how contemporary romance tends to ignore reality. So much is going on in the world and there are so many places and issues that books could deal with. A lot of readers steer clear of contemporary romance because they find it too mundane.

It doesn’t have to be.

I think this might be changing gradually too.

I was sick of all the sex and wanted this amazing little thing called a PLOT to return.

This is a generalisation, and it depends on the author and the book. However, I know I’m not the only one who has said this recently. The sex-obsession has actually sent me in the direction of Christian fiction. I don’t want to be preached at or converted, but I also appreciate the time taken to develop a relationship before everyone jumps into bed.

Yes, I read some good contemporary romances in 2015, but I also didn’t read all that much of this subgenre this year. Hopefully I’ll do better next year, and hopefully I’ll discover that the issues I have are being changed!

How did 2015 go? Historical Romance.

Christmas Historical Romance Cover Art by Jon Paul Studios - Copy

I began the year hoping for a few things in the historical romance genre.

H.R.H. Duke Carl Theodor in Bavaria (1808-1888)

I wanted fewer dukes.

Yeah, that’s not happening, is it. Dukes are not just everywhere you look and in almost every book, but now they’re also super spies!

Unfortunately, until someone makes princes the new thing, I think dukes are here to stay.

I was happy to see that Lisa Kleypas’ new series – so far – does not include a single duke!

Historical Romance Fashions and Hairstyles Versus the Reality Victorian Era Portrait Book Cover

I wanted more historical accuracy and less anachronistic behaviour on display for the female characters.

The past is the past, and it’s more than a little insulting to imply your heroine is not worthwhile unless she acts like she’s from 2015.

Did I get my wish? Uh… I guess it depends entirely on which author you choose. Some authors do a great job, and some do not.

Second Chance Hero by Winnie Griggs

I thought some more variety with time periods and settings might be nice.

I have been reading quite a lot of Western historical romance this year, and enjoying the change. However, it’s not exactly a new and untapped setting!

I actually don’t mind so much with this point. Some locations and eras are popular for a reason, and I like to read about those.

Ass Donkey

I wanted authors to have their British characters using British English.

Uh, no change here. Authors: ARSE. Please learn the word – and use it! 🙂

2015 wasn’t that bad a year for historical romance, actually. I read some really good books. I did go through a few periods where I was bored out of my mind, but taking a break and reading something different usually fixed that.


12th November 2013 Canberra Sunset Australia Sonya Heaney

One totally random picture of a Canberra sunset!

For a couple of months now I’ve been reading maybe half – maybe even less – than I usually do. This started out as a bit of a multi-purpose blog, but very quickly turned primarily into a book blog.

I hope this trend of not reading as much changes soon, but I think there are probably more features on covers and publishing news than there used to be, and because I schedule most posts months in advance, this might go on for a few weeks. They’re replacing some of the space I used to post book reviews.

Mind you, I have been posting seven days a week for years, even when I was away in Europe for a month or two at a time!

Maybe some more balance is good. I’ve been spending maybe ten hours a day a number of days a week working on Photoshop and various designs (and taking painkillers for my poor mouse hand!). And now I’ve taken Ukrainian embroidery and cross stitch back up, and will be constructing pieces for sale, there goes more of my reading time!

I’ve been reading a bit about other readers complaining they’re bored with their books at the moment. I don’t know if that’s my problem (mind you, I’ve read some FANTASTIC books recently) or if it’s just that the past couple of years have been full of death and other horrible things for me, and I just need to change MY mood…

Either way, I promise not to slack off too much!

What I want to see in 2015: Historical Romance

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

Historical romance. My obsession of 2014. I think this is a genre that you develop much higher expectations of the more you read (or at least, it is for me – I believe some people go the other way). The more you learn about history, the more accuracy you expect from your authors. The less tolerance you have for ridiculous anachronistic behaviour. I have an almost zero tolerance policy for non-British terminology in British-set books these days.

My wants for the genre are not all that different from a year ago.

  • Fewer dukes. God, please give us fewer dukes in 2015! Many readers seem to be unaware of how rare a thing a Regency duke was, and exactly how prestigious one was. The Mr Darcys of the world weren’t setting foot in rooms with dukes, and yet nobody has a problem with Darcy! “Duke” is not shorthand for characterisation. Dukes are unnecessary. It’s like a Disney princess fantasy. If you insist on writing about dukes, please make his social position crucial to the story! It can be done.
  • More care with accuracy. If you want to have your characters speaking in modern American English and acting with all the social freedom of a woman in twenty-first century London, then please write contemporary romance. Historical romance promises so many chances for conflict and drama because of the differences and because of the restrictions – particularly on women. Why not work with that tension instead of pretending it didn’t exist!
  • Time periods and settings. A few years ago I got annoyed with people who said the Regency era is comforting to them, and that they read a lot of books set in that time and place because it’s familiar to them. I get it now. I’ll give Regency, Victorian or even earlier Georgian England a glance before I go to most other books. However, I still love variety, and would like to see more of it.

However I’d like to see books with these familiar settings come up with some new ideas. And by “new idea” I don’t mean that you make your duke a spy! In fact, Regency aristocrats working as secret spies – that’s a trope that needs to die a swift death. It’s the ultimate invitation for anachronistic behaviour.

 Sinful in Satin by Madeline Hunter

In 2015 I want to see more creative approaches to familiar times and locations. I don’t want to have a giggle when reading blurbs that are just carbon copies of a dozen other books I’ve already looked at that day. I want authors to take as much care with British English as they do with getting forms of address correct. I don’t want women’s lives of the past scoffed at because they had different values and experiences. I don’t want to read about one more heroine who is considered “better” than her rivals because she refuses to learn how to sew!

I actually read some really great historical romances in 2014. So I guess I want authors to continue to inspire me this year. I’m really hoping my new favourite authors don’t disappear.