The Week: 29th July – 4th August

 

Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery New South Wales Australia near Canberra Australian Capital Territory Sonya Heaney 2nd August 2019 2

Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery New South Wales Australia near Canberra Australian Capital Territory Sonya Heaney 2nd August 2019 1

A trip to the cemetery in Queanbeyan, just before the border with Canberra, on Friday afternoon (my grandparents are buried there). If you ever wonder what landscape inspires my writing, take a look at it.

Sonya Heaney Library Books Santa Montefiore Christy Reece Sophie Barnes Historical Costume

Sonya Heaney Library Books Mary Balogh Julia Quinn Lisa Kleypas USSR Ukrainian Costume

I visited the library again on Monday. After figuring out the scary returns scanner, I sent two (of six) books back, and came home with eight more!

Yes, I’ve already read Marrying Winterborne, but I wanted a look at the hardcover version. I’m going to return it for someone else to borrow at the start of next week.

The USSR book is actually a 1980s encyclopaedia of Eastern European costumes, and the section about Ukraine was so fantastic (and strangely accurate, considering Russian propaganda – the only information crossing the Iron Curtain to get to the west – was [and still is] so anti-Ukrainian) I just had to borrow it. I actually want to buy it!

Flock of Galahs Australian Birds Queanbeyan near Canberra Australia 2nd August 2019 Sonya Heaney Grey Pink

Lunchtime at my aunt’s house in Queanbeyan the same day I visited the cemetery.

Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Blue Winter Sky Sunny Warm Afternoon Sonya Heaney 30th July 2019

My amazing writing view in sunny Canberra this week.

New Cover for Lisa Kleypas

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

Happy 201st Birthday, Emily Brontë!

Emily_Brontë_by_Patrick_Branwell_Brontë_restored Emily Brontë, as painted by her brother Patrick Branwell Brontë (died 1848), from a portrait with her sisters.

My review of Consequences of a Hot Havana Night (Passion in Paradise #6) by Louise Fuller

Consequences of a Hot Havana Night (Passion in Paradise #6) by Louise Fuller

Consequences of a Hot Havana Night (Passion in Paradise #6) by Louise Fuller

Consequences of a Hot Havana Night (Passion in Paradise #6) by Louise Fuller

A scorching encounter in the Cuban heat…

Now she’s carrying her boss’ baby!

The wild vibrancy of Kitty’s new home in Havana must be infectious. Why else would the naturally cautious rum distiller have succumbed to the sudden desire to seize one night with a stranger? But if it’s shocking to learn that César is actually her powerful, elusive boss, it’s nothing compared to Kitty’s latest bombshell—she’s pregnant!

Lose yourself in this sparkling pregnancy romance!

Consequences of a Hot Havana Night (Passion in Paradise #6) by Louise Fuller

This was a good little book, and has the most sensible, mature (in behaviour, not age) characters I’ve ever come across in an instalment in Harlequin’s Presents line. There was no manufactured melodrama. However, it gets a bit hard to believe in a “sexy billionaire” story set in a communist country.

Perhaps some readers will find the lack of major conflict in Consequences of a Hot Havana Night a little too tame, but it was nice to come across a Presents hero who didn’t go around treating the heroine like garbage and accusing her of random things she didn’t do. Even though he had a “bad ex” in his past, he also didn’t take those issues out on the current woman in his life.

Also, this was a heroine with an interesting career, which was a nice change!

Now…

I love Cuban culture – who doesn’t? And Havana is a colourful, exciting choice to set a Presents instalment.

However, Cuba is also one of only five communist countries left in the world (alongside North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos). And the realities of communism are ugly – very ugly. This story could never happen, because Cuban citizens are unable to live the lives depicted in the book. It doesn’t matter how pretty Havana looks in the tourist brochures.

There is a review on Goodreads by someone who is actually Cuban that succinctly illustrates why the setting is problematic.

On the other hand, I doubt the communism issues will enter the minds of most readers (my family escaped the Soviet Union; it’s a touchy subject for me). Don’t let that dissuade you from reading this book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 8th – 14th July

I did something spectacularly stupid on Wednesday: I tripped and fell onto the glass corner of a piece of furniture – WITH MY FACE! I’ve spent the rest of the week with the right side of my jaw badly bruised, and also sliced in two places. It’s made going out in public pretty embarrassing! I’m very lucky I didn’t do something much worse – or kill myself – so a funny-looking face is definitely the best option.

Lots of work this week – and the realisation I want to change something in my first book, but it’s far too late now! I’m having a bit of trouble balancing historical accuracy with not causing offence to twenty-first century readers:

Writing colonial Australia, and talking about Indigenous characters.

I’m also wading through the seventy-gazillion websites authors are apparently supposed to be on, such as BookBub.

Some of my travel plans have changed, and it now turns out I’d have been able to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne next month, but it’s too late. (However, I definitely had an “Oh my God, I’m a published author!” moment when Harlequin emailed to ask what parties I’m attending. Apparently you get special – free – perks when you write for them!)

I’d like the opportunity to speak to certain people face-to-face about things, but it’s not going to happen this year. Instead, I’m busy stressing about pitching future books…

Oh, and here’s my review of Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice.

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

From penniless delivery girl…

To billionaire’s bride?

The perfect summer Ally Jones spent with gorgeous French billionaire Dominic LeGrand was unforgettable, despite her unrequited feelings. Now Ally’s a struggling courier and is stunned when her latest delivery brings her to Dominic’s door. Yet what’s even more shocking is his proposal! Dominic needs a temporary wife, but with the enticing promise of his expert seduction teasing Ally to her limits, can she really just play the role?

Lose yourself in this tantalising marriage of convenience…

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride by Heidi Rice

When I picked this one up, Harlequin’s Presents line had been on my mind (due to discussions in a writers’ group). It had been ages since I’d read one of these, and I thought something by Heidi Rice was a good way to return.

The Presents line is, as some authors call it, “fairy tales for adults”. It delivers a steamy, larger than life story, with tropes galore.

Contracted as His Cinderella Bride worked for me. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than many Presents books because both hero and heroine approached their fake relationship like adults, and there was no melodrama. Rice delivered all the wealth and opulence – as well as the alpha male – without making the book seem “old school”. And this was a heroine who was a little down on her luck, but who had ambition, and a career in her future.

I loved the London and New York locations, and I especially loved that the author seemed to know her settings personally. They weren’t just window dressing. The reference to the overcrowded Trevi Fountain on the trip to Rome was also welcome, because, honestly, these days there’s nothing romantic about the place:

Trevi Fountain Rome Italy Tourist Crowds Sonya Oksana Heaney Summer 2016

From my last trip to Rome in 2016. You can’t even see the water!

There were a handful of things in the steamier scenes I could take issue with (we really need some new terms that aren’t “velvet over steel” and “bundle of nerves”!), but I did like how the author subtly changed her terminology when the characters went from England to the United States. In fact, I loved that.

This book delivered exactly the quick-read fairy tale (for adults!) I wanted.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 1st – 7th July

Tuggeranong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Mountains Nature 30th June 2019

The amazing Brindabellas that surround Canberra, at the end of last weekend.

The mountains are one of the inspirations for my book.

A crazy collection of noisy miner birds on Friday morning.

Busy week. I tried to get a lot of writing and editing done, but also this:

I swear, there is nothing more frustrating in this universe than trying to organise documentation and get through the red tape of a former (or current) communist country! The hoops you have to jump through are maddening, and I’ve done it twice in less than twelve months, first with communist China last year, and this week in preparation for two months (from August to October) in the former USSR. And it’s that difficult even with me knowing the staff at the embassy here in Canberra!

Why do I do this to myself? I’m not sure of the answer at the moment!

I got mansplained at by a twenty-one year old English guy this week. Not knowing I was Ukrainian, he spewed a whole lot of revolting Russian propaganda at me (what’s with the resurgence of under-thirty tankies?! It’s no better than being a Nazi.).

I was “informed” that Ukrainians want to be part of Russia (they don’t), that Ukrainians love Russians (they don’t – ethnic cleansing and genocide tend to sour people’s feelings). He also “informed” me that there’s nothing wrong with re-forming empires, and that England should be doing the same thing. I was further “informed” that Putin hasn’t done anything wrong (he has), that he wants good relations with the West (he doesn’t), and that it’s only the mean behavior of the EU that’s stopping Russia being good (uh, no).

What it all boils down to is that the whole world is capable of outrage about anything and everything that happens in the United States, but tens of thousands of dead Ukrainians don’t matter.

You know the term “seething with rage”? That’s what I was doing a few days ago.

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Honour Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

Release Day for Anne Gracie

Marry in Secret (Marriage of Convenience #3) by Anne Gracie

Cover Love

My review of Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

The Argentinian returns…

With a shocking proposal!

Alejandro Sabato, the unforgettable man from Emily Green’s past, has hired the PR executive to redeem his playboy reputation. She suggests he take a convenient wife to show he’s changed. What she doesn’t expect is Alejandro’s insistence that she take on the role! Emily is dangerously aware of the enduring desire still sparking between them. But can she risk her heart again when she’s only a bride on paper?

Turn the page and begin this marriage of convenience…

Look for 8 new titles from Harlequin Presents every month!

Harlequin Presents: Glamorous international settings… powerful men… passionate romances.

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

I nearly didn’t read this one because the woman on the cover reminded me too much of Ivanka Trump. Actually, even after completing the book I think she looks completely wrong for the heroine!

I was going through a bit of a Harlequin Presents thing recently because of discussion in a private writing group, and I worked my way through the review copies of upcoming books.

Bought Bride for the Argentinian is classic Presents – as you would expect from Sharon Kendrick. I liked a lot of things about it, and I liked that the author came up with a way to make her “down on her luck” heroine have a lot of strength and ambition, despite her circumstances.

Reunion romances are my favourites, so I loved that aspect of the story, too.

There were some editing issues that created inconsistencies. An example: the heroine tells the hero about her job in PR – and then a few pages later, during the same conversation, she’s shocked that he knows she works in PR! Harlequin has some of the best editing in the business, so I was a bit surprised by these little issues.

A portion of this book takes place at the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix, and as I’ve attended almost every one of those races since the mid-2000s, I could definitely nitpick, but I won’t. The one thing I’ll say: drivers don’t go out partying the night before they have to *race a car* at hundreds of kilometres an hour. They get paid tens of millions for their skills, and they take it seriously!

However, this book delivered on the Presents promise, and will be a fun, quick read for fans of the line.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 17th- 23rd June

My book is done! I’ve passed it back and forth with my editor six times, and now she has sent it off to the publisher. I plan to never read it again, in case I find glaring mistakes!

I was, however, rather excited to see myself popping up in advertising alongside some pretty big-name authors this week:

Sonya Heaney on Romance.com.au Coming Soon

On My Radar: The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

My review of The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

The Greek's Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women’s Stories and Killing ‘Chick Lit’

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women's Stories and Killing 'Chick Lit' Mrs Everything.

The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

The Greek's Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle SmartThe Greek's Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart Mills and Boon Modern

“You will go to the ball.”

And be seduced by a billionaire…

Hotel maid Tabitha is stunned to be gifted a ticket to an elite ball hosted by Greek tycoon Giannis Basinas. It’s meant to be a night of pure luxury. But this untouched Cinderella ends up in Giannis’s bed—utterly pleasured! Making a hasty morning exit out the window, Tabitha expects to return to her ordinary life. Until she discovers her midnight mischief had nine-month consequences!

Lose yourself in this enchanting Cinderella story…

The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

“Fairy tales for adults” is what this Harlequin/Mills and Boon line is all about, and The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella goes one step further by actually making this a (steamy) Cinderella retelling.

I won’t lie: I’m not the biggest fan of pregnancy storylines, but the gorgeous blue dress on the cover won me over. I read this book on a trip to and from Sydney, and it was exactly the entertainment I wanted to break up the journey.

Packed full of popular tropes, and with all the elements a fairy tale retelling should have, I’m glad I picked it up.

Naturally, with the Cinderella storyline featuring some over-the-top nasty female characters, you are also going to get that here. However, because of the precedent, I – someone who hates negative stereotyping of women more than any other trope – was willing to forgive it. I also appreciated that the “bad” women were balanced out with plenty of nice women.

I liked the way everything came together, and while the alpha male characters in this line can be a bit too cruel, I do think the issues between hero and heroine resolved themselves well here.

Also appreciated was that the downtrodden heroine really came into her own at the end.

Finally, I loved that the hero’s Santorini house. I stayed in something similar (but much, much smaller!) when I was there, and the whole feel of the place was well-described.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 10th – 16th June

We’re getting scarily close to being halfway through the year! I have so much to do, and no time to do it.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

I handed in my manuscript on Friday, after a few rounds of edits. I think I’m owed some champagne! Yesterday I had another read through my contract to see what I’m actually allowed to do when it comes to sharing excerpts etc., so hopefully I’ll be able to do some of that soon.

Book Feature: Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

Lies Jane Austen Told Me (Proper Romance) by Julie Wright

Recently Reread: Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Recently Reread: Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

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

Eurovision