The Week: 13th – 19th May

When this post goes up I should be in Sydney. It’s just an overnight trip to see The Australian Ballet’s closing night performance of Giselle at the Opera House. It’s my favourite ballet, and the last one I ever danced.

This week was all about edits on my upcoming book. I’ve almost reached the point of I hate this thing and never want to read it ever, ever again! Quite normal when you’ve already read it eleventy-billion times in the past six months!

R.I.P. to Bob Hawke, who was Prime Minister of Australia for a big chunk of my childhood. I was so surprised to hear he’d died, as he’d been active in the election campaign these past few weeks.

On that note: happy day-after-election day to Australia – ha ha. I have zero confidence in the result (though, by the time this goes up we might already have a result). The world has become a lot crazier over the past decade, and – as the US proved in 2016 – anything can happen.

My father has been working at a pre-polling station for the past three weeks, filling in the time before starting a new management job (he doesn’t understand the concept of “retirement”), and he now has zero faith in the average Australian’s intelligence. A lot of people go to vote and don’t even know what the election is for! Voting is compulsory in Australia, and that’s something I have very mixed feelings about.

Book Feature: Jade by Jill Marie Landis

jade by jill marie landis

My review of First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

Cover Love

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie

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Cover Love

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie

This different (Australian?) cover for Anne Gracie’s Bride by Mistake popped up when I set up the Kindle app on my new computer, and I thought it was really interesting. Yes, the woman is wearing poorly-fitting evening clothes in the middle of the day, but I like the Georgian house as the backdrop (it helps that I am a huge fan of Georgian architecture!).

I read this book several years ago, and reviewed it HERE.

Here is the original cover:

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie

And here is what it’s about:

Eight years ago, Lieutenant Luke Ripton made a hasty wartime marriage to protect a young girl from a forced union and then left her protected in a remote mountain convent. Now, Luke is Lord Ripton, but he has been unable to obtain an annulment, which leaves him no choice but to collect a wife he never wanted.

For nearly a decade, Isabella has waited like a princess locked in a tower, dreaming of her handsome, dark-eyed prince. Her dreams are shattered when Luke reveals himself, not a prince, but an autocratic soldier, expecting her unquestioning obedience, which is something Isabella’s fiercely independent nature will not tolerate.

But while Luke and Isabella’s fiery personalities clash at every turn, they remain bound to their vows, never expecting that the passionate fury they share could become passion of a different kind . . .

National Dog Day

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Tomorrow is National Dog Day.

The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

I was going to recommend some books with dogs as secondary characters, but then I realised just HOW many there are!

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

From companion dogs in books like Bronwyn Parry’s As Darkness Falls, to goofy dogs like in Jill Shalvis’ Simply Irresistible, to rescued dogs like in Anne Gracie’s The Spring Bride, to the dogs that bring a couple together in Sarah Mayberry’s The Other Side of Us, to the gazillion Harlequin/Mills and Boon category romances with dogs on the covers, they’re everywhere!

 

International Cat Day

The 8th of August each year is International Cat Day.

Cats appear as side characters in plenty of books, from the companion of bookish heroine Amy in Toni Blake’s Willow Springs, to the kittens (and, later, grown cats) in Anne Gracie’s Chance Sisters series, to the stray that moves himself into Lucas Maxfield’s apartment in Easy and Breakable, to those in Beatrix Hathaway’s menagerie in Lisa Kleypas’ Love in the Afternoon.

So, celebrate the day with a book with cats in it!

By the way, the cats at the top are gorgeous stray Jemima, who moved herself into my late-grandmother’s shed in 2014, and two of her three kittens: grey scaredy cat Charlie, who was terrified of everything, and his smaller sister Pheobe, who looked after him (she’s hugging him!). It was lucky we found a home for the two kittens to go to together.

The Week: 23rd – 29th April

 

Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday afternoon. Blindingly bright sunshine and black swans. What a beautiful weekend.

Autumn Colours Autumn Light Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Anzac Day 25th April 2018 Garden Nature

FINALLY, some autumn colours! It’s been too hot!

What a week. Here, it was beautiful, and we had a public holiday on Wednesday, which we spent outside at an old pub, watching military guys – fresh from the national Anzac Day parade at the Australian War Memorial – getting increasingly… festive…

I am gradually catching up with my reading, but I’ll have more commitments in the coming months, and then will be away in Britain and Ireland for a month and a half, and I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment.

Then we had the good, the awful, and the downright weird in the world this week. An unusually-named royal baby on Monday. An outspoken misogynist going on a killing rampage in Toronto. Macron’s utterly bizarre visit to the White House.

Roland Scahill Korea Tweet

Before people start celebrating what’s going on in Korea, they should consider the words of people like Garry Kasparov.

I’ve been sick most of the week, so missed a farewell lunch with Ukrainian embassy staff who are finally going home after a decade, but was given a book as a farewell gift (because – duh – it’s me!). On the topic of Ukraine, there are still some 4.4 million Ukrainians in desperate need because of the ongoing war with Russia. I simply do not understand why it never makes the news when Syria, Yemen, Palestine etc. do on an almost daily basis. It is because people don’t want to admit there’s a war in Europe?

Apologies to authors waiting on reviews. They’re on their way! Sort of…

Anzac Day

Military_cross_and_othersMilitary cross and bar, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, 1939-45 War Medal and Australian Service Medal 1939-45 (L-R) - Australian War Mem

My review of Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

Release Day for Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

Release Day for Joanna Shupe

A Scandalous Deal (The Four Hundred Series #2) by Joanna Shupe

World Book Day

wbd2002_cmyk World Book Day United Nations

Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

A shy heiress and a well-known rake face a scandal-forced marriage that might be true love in the latest irresistible romance from the national bestselling author of Marry in Haste.

Shy young heiress, Lady Lily Rutherford, is in no hurry to marry. She dreams of true love and a real courtship. But when disaster strikes, she finds herself facing a scandal-forced marriage to her rescuer, Edward Galbraith, a well known rake.

Despite his reputation Lily is drawn to the handsome Galbraith. In the gamble of her life, she agrees to marry him, hoping to turn a convenient marriage into a love match.

As heir to a title, Galbraith knows he must wed, so a convenient marriage suits him perfectly. But there is a darkness in his past, and secrets he refuses to share with his tender-hearted young bride. All Lily’s efforts to get close to him fall on stony ground, and in desperation she retreats to his childhood home–the place he’s avoided for nearly a decade.

Must Lily reconcile herself to a marriage without love? Or will Galbraith realise that this warm-hearted, loving girl is the key to healing the wounds of his past–and his heart?

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

I have a point to make at the end, but as it’s something of a spoiler, you might want to avoid it.

Sometimes there’s a book you just have to write a dot-point review for to stop it turning into an essay. Marry in Scandal is one of those books:

  • The cover is odd. Lily struggles with her weight; this cover model obviously does not. She is also described as having “tawny” curls; this cover model does not.
  • What Anne Gracie does best is make her characters sympathetic. Whether it’s a heroine who is very self-conscious about her appearance who we really feel for, or a secondary character who hides past hurts behind a not-so-nice exterior, you always identify with them in some way.
  • Gracie’s books have a heavy focus on the female characters, which I love. I doubt less established authors would get away with introducing their heroes so late in so many books, but Gracie takes her time setting the scene before the hero makes it onto the page.
  • She also tends to give her leading ladies personal quests, little things they achieve throughout the book without the hero’s assistance.
  • This heroine is naïve and dumb sometimes, but she is also only eighteen.
  • There was a scene towards the end of the first book in the series that some thought was too rushed. The heroine of that book is shot, and it takes that for the hero to realise he loves her. The criticism in book one was that it came out of the blue and was dealt with in only a few pages.
  •  Something very similar happens in this book, but it’s even more obvious. Lily is riding her horse, thinking about that gunshot scene in book one, and wondering if she’ll have to have an accident to make the hero realise he loves her.
  • In the next instant – in the same scene – something happens, and the hero’s attitude to her changes. It was too much, too obvious.
  • A lot happens in the last ten percent of the book, and I think it all deserved more page time.

 

Marry in Scandal deals with a lot of interesting things, and has some unique characters. I do feel that it needed some more editing for the pacing in order for it to be the best book it could have been.

 

My point:

A year ago and a month, Andreea Cristea was killed by an Islamic extremist on Westminster Bridge in the same spot (and sort of the same way) the villain of this book is.

More than that, the scene was rushed, and treated as a joke (all three young women starring in this series seem to think it’s funny – not a way I’d expect heroines to react to any death).

Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but I thought this unnecessary scene was *in*sensitive.

Getting Back on Track

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

I can’t believe it, but I have hardly read more than a few pages of anything since the Easter long weekend! It’s partly because I was interstate, partly because it was then Ukrainian Easter, partly because this past weekend was also full of Ukrainian Easter-related things…

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

However, I’m back to all those books I’ve been looking forward to for months. Amongst the new releases I’m reading right now are those from Anne Gracie and Madeline Hunter, and I plan to have a lot more reviews soon.

The Week: 2nd – 8th April

Canberra Australia Australian Capital Territory Hot Afternoon Autumn Colours Autumn Leaves Sonya Natalia Heaney Easter Monday 2nd April 2018 Garden Blue Sky Nature

Canberra Australia Blue Sky Australian Capital Territory Tuggeranong Sonya Heaney Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Autumn Sunny Afternoon 4th April 2018

Autumn leaves and blue skies in Canberra during our current heatwave.

This week feels more like a month! I started it in Broulee on the New South Wales South Coast, spent most of it in the bizarre autumn heatwave that has hit Canberra, watched more than my share of the Commonwealth Games that started mid-week, and now it’s Ukrainian Easter!

I have a number of review books – and a few books I bought for myself – that I thought I’d be finished and have reviewed by now, but I’m really behind. What might have been a relaxing beach holiday with my family turned into lots of kilometres-long walks along coasts and around rocky headlands, visits to lots of Victorian towns, visits to beaches I went to as a kid in the 1980s, and lunches and dinners out at both pubs and fancy restaurants! I walked along a lot of beaches, but never even sat on the sand once!

Today is A Big Day for Ukrainians. The Easter basket and the traditional foods have more significance than Christmas, and if you are in Ukraine around this time of year (as I’ve been a few times), people will continue to wish you “Христос воскрес!” – (Khrystos Voskres! – “Christ is Risen!” – “Happy Easter”) for many weeks after the holiday is over.

Easter Long Weekend

North Broulee Beach New South Wales South Coast Australia Sonya Heaney 31st March 2018 Coast

New (Old!) Books

London as it Might have Been by Felix Barker and Ralph Hyde

Release Day for Anne Gracie

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

Does a Fiction Author Need a Blog?

blogging_platforms-580x290

Good Friday – again!

Velykden Old Ukrainian Eastere Postcard Oleg Kovalenko, Lviv, Ukraine (1990-1995)

Release Day for Anne Gracie

The second instalment in Anne Gracie‘s Convenient Marriage series – Marry in Scandal – is out now. You can read my review of the first book HERE, and the blurb for the new book is below the image.

Marry in Scandal (Convenient Marriage series #2) by Anne Gracie

A shy heiress and a well-known rake face a scandal-forced marriage that might be true love in the latest irresistible romance from the national bestselling author of Marry in Haste.

Shy young heiress, Lady Lily Rutherford, is in no hurry to marry. She dreams of true love and a real courtship. But when disaster strikes, she finds herself facing a scandal-forced marriage to her rescuer, Edward Galbraith, a well known rake.

Despite his reputation Lily is drawn to the handsome Galbraith. In the gamble of her life, she agrees to marry him, hoping to turn a convenient marriage into a love match.

As heir to a title, Galbraith knows he must wed, so a convenient marriage suits him perfectly. But there is a darkness in his past, and secrets he refuses to share with his tender-hearted young bride. All Lily’s efforts to get close to him fall on stony ground, and in desperation she retreats to his childhood home–the place he’s avoided for nearly a decade.

Must Lily reconcile herself to a marriage without love? Or will Galbraith realise that this warm-hearted, loving girl is the key to healing the wounds of his past–and his heart?

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

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

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

someone-to-hold-westcott-book-2-by-mary-balogh-uk-australian-cover

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

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

surrender-to-the-marquess-herriard-3-by-louise-allen

Mogul (The Knickerbocker Club #3) by Joanna Shupe

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

marry-in-haste-marriage-of-convenience-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