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

Summer Reads

As well as being “put up the Christmas tree” day, tomorrow is also the start of summer here. A few reads for the season:

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers #1) by Lisa Kleypas

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters #4) by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

a-summer-in-sonoma-a-novel-by-robyn-carr

Whisper Falls (Destiny Series #3) by Toni Blake

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Bye, Winter. Hello, Spring!

I may be in Spain (and summer) at the moment, but the seasons are changing, and spring is coming to Australia!

Here are three spring reads for you (all historical, yes, but it seems it’s the genre that does “season-themed” series the most).:

Devil in Spring (Ravenels #3) by Lisa Kleypas

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

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

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

Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers #4) by Lisa Kleypas

scandal-in-spring-wallflower-book-4-by-lisa-kleypas

Music-Less Historical Romances

Having recently gone on a bit of a period drama-rewatching spree, something has occurred to me: there’s almost never any music in historical romance books.

In fact, the new fad is for female characters in historical romances to reject ALL things that might be considered even slightly feminine. (ALL the cool kids hate sewing – and can’t sew. ALL the cool kids hate dancing – and can’t dance.). Of course they’re crap musicians – ALL the cool kids are!

What I consider to be the most emotionally powerful scene in the 1995 adapatation of Pride and Prejudice is the one that begins with Elizabeth Bennet playing and singing for the Bingleys and Darcys. Then Mr Darcy’s sister takes over, while the clueless Miss Bingley makes a cruel comment and upsets everyone.

The whole scene, while telling you a bunch of other things about the characters and the plot, is about the music. Imagine what a dull – and quiet – evening it would have been without any women with some musical ability!

Watch it below:

In both Pride and Prejudice the book, and every television and film adaptation, Elizabeth and Miss Darcy bond over music, and the snobs use music as a chance to show off.

Then there’s Anne Elliot from another Jane Austen book: Persuasion. There’s that scene where she sheds a quiet tear while playing the piano so the others can dance. There’s no crying in the 1995 movie version, but the scene below at 37:20 shows you exactly how crucial music was for an evening in the Regency era:

Also, in Poldark, Demelza’s triumph over the society ladies comes when she sings at the Christmas party. (As an aside, TV Demelza, Eleanor Tomlinson, did such a good job with her singing in the show that she’s releasing an album!).

Sure, there are some book heroines who enjoy their music. Faith Merridew and Helen Ravenel come to mind. However, we are very much in an era of publishing (and life in general, actually) where authors think that it’s somehow antifeminist for women to anything remotely artistic or creative.

Music isn’t just an art form; it’s to people of two-hundred years ago what television and the internet and evenings out are to us today. It was an essential part of a person’s social life, as it was one of the only ways to break the silence over long, pre-electricity evenings, and to entertain in an era before today’s technology existed.

I do think some authors avoid heroines who play and sing because they – ridiculously – think it’s demeaning to their gender.

However, I also think it simply never occurs to some authors that this was a major aspect of a Georgian/Regency/Victorian person’s day-to-day experience. It’s a little odd.

 

The Week: 26th June – 2nd July

Saturday evening in Canberra. We had literally just sat down at the new Hawaiian restaurant when we were evacuated because of a smoke alarm! I think there were four fire engines that came.

Walt and Burley Sunday Afternoon 25th June 2017 Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana SUnset

Poachers Pantry Hall near Canberra Australia Sheep Farm Nature Sonya Heaney 25th June 2017

The end of last week: lunch in the country (weird sheep!), and after that drinks next to the lake in Canberra.

We have something of a sulphur-crested cockatoo plague here!

Happy 101st birthday to Olivia de Havilland for yesterday. Perhaps best known for Gone With the Wind, she did a lot more than that over her long career.

Fascinating story about the discovery and restoration of Australia’s first flag.

This week, charges were FINALLY brought against Cardinal George Pell. An Australian, and one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, he has been making news headlines here for years. The levels of victim-blaming have been staggering, and some of the conservative media spokespeople ought to be ashamed of themselves.

And – the less said about Trump’s latest Twitter attacks (the lowest he’s ever sunk?), the better.

Speaking of Christmas books already appearing for review, I read my first of the year this week.

New Cover for Anne Gracie

R.I.P. Michael Bond

Twenty Years of Harry Potter

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 Week: 1st – 7th May

Yesterday was the second anniversary of my Ukrainian grandmother’s death. We dropped by the cemetery, and the whole place was full of kangaroos (look how huge the males are!!)! I took a video of them all jumping through, but I haven’t uploaded it yet.

Gorgeous days in Canberra.

The galahs are back and eating another hole in our centuries-old eucalyptus tree. The little idiots don’t look remotely repentant for the destruction they’re taking part in!

And this little creature has moved in permanently. Very tame, and happy to sit near you on the deck.

It has been a good few weeks for reading for me. It’s one of those times of the year where it seems all my favourites have a book coming out, and I have a sea of great review books to pick from.

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

My review of What Regency Women Did for Us by Rachel Knowles

The Making of Romance Covers

Copyright and Book Covers

The Death of a Prima Ballerina

 Fabio on Fox