The Week: 19th – 25th March

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Moody sky at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.

First autumn leaves in Canberra.

Our crazy resident brushtail possum and her baby curled up in the tree outside my room on Tuesday afternoon.

kaetlyn-osmond Canada_s Kaetlyn Osmond. 2018 World Figure Skating Champion.

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Huge congratulations to Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, who just became the 2018 World Figure Skating Champion. I am SO disappointed this wasn’t the result at the Olympics a few weeks ago. Osmond is a complete skater, not a jumping machine with zero artistic merit.

This week the world’s last male white rhinoceros died. The species is about to become extinct. And the United States is run by a family who goes to Africa to trophy-hunt endangered animals…

One week until Easter, and March is basically over. What happened?! I am going away over the long weekend.

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

Someone to Trust (Westcott Book #5) by Mary Balogh

My review of First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) by Mary Balogh

First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) by Mary Balogh

My review of Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

My review of Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Make a date with Harlequin: Prince

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Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Charter pilot Caitlyn Brevard’s sister disappeared while working undercover to expose human traffickers in the Caribbean. Four months later, Caitlyn has finally found her, but to infiltrate the captor’s inner circle and rescue Rose, she must appear at the man’s gala event with a fiancé she concocted to keep his lecherous son at bay. Can she convince Kurt Steele to forgive a past betrayal and play the doting groom-to-be?

Former special operator and wounded warrior Kurt can’t say no to a friend in need, especially not Caitlyn, who he can’t forget, no matter how hard he tries. But playing ardent fiancé to the woman who broke his heart—and still attracts him like no other—might just be more than he can bear. When their mission turns deadly, he and Caitlyn must risk everything to save Rose and get a second chance at a love worth dying for.

Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

**For the second time, I owe Gwen Hernandez an apology for taking so long to get to her book. February was a little hectic, and my reading fell so far behind!**

When I start a romantic suspense book I can almost immediately put it into one of two categories. There are the fluffy ones, where it’s more a contemporary romance with an odd suspense scene thrown in here or there. Authors who write this type of book don’t put in the same effort with their research or locations and are more interested in the relationship stuff.

Then there’s the type of suspense I much prefer: books like this one, where there’s a balance of character development and suspense, and effort is put into creating the plot and the “world” of the story.

As I read almost only review books these days, it means I can’t keep up with series very often. I really enjoyed the last Hernandez book I read – Blindsided – but haven’t kept up with every instalment. It seems this one, Running Blind, is *the* anticipated book in the series. Our hero here has extra things to deal with, having been left permanently disabled from his military years.

For me, I’m always interested in a reunion story. It’s a trope that works especially well in romantic suspense because there’s not always much time to establish a relationship while also literally fighting for your life. It also adds layers of angst and maturity – characters are forced to be grownups and confront their issues from page one.

Hernandez chooses interesting locations and writes her suspense like someone who knows her stuff. It makes all the difference.

Men of Steele is a solid series with each book being very distinctive from the one that came before it.

 

Review copy provided by the author.

The Week: 24th – 30th April

Gorgeous Friday afternoon in Canberra.

Autumn colours this week.

Autumn Flowers Garden Canberra Australia After the Rain Sonya Heaney 26th April 2017 Nature

After the rain. Wednesday afternoon. We have autumn flowers everywhere all of a sudden.

Autumn FINALLY hit us this week. So annoying that Tuesday – Anzac Day – was not a nice day, when we’d been having summer weather until now. We apparently had 38 000 people at the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, thousands more than other cities with populations six or more times ours. Not a bad effort!

Christopher Heaney Australian Army Vietnam War 1968 1969 IMG_0078My father in Nui Dat (Vietnam) in the 1960s.

We went to lunch with my war veteran father, who’d been planning to march this year (he never does), but then changed his mind. The place we chose was almost completely booked out for a reunion of military intelligence people – so many men and women with their medals! My father impressed them, however. One actually commented he was a “real” veteran because of all the combat he’d seen.

On Saturday evening I went to buy some wine – and got asked for ID again (or “carded”, as I believe Americans say). Now, I’m closer to forty than thirty, and the legal drinking age here is eighteen. I first worked in a bar in the year 2000. Exactly what point in time are people going to stop asking me if I’m older than schoolchildren?! People keep saying: take it as a compliment. But… Especially when it’s a teenager at the cash register! I think: I am literally old enough to be your mother!

The bombed car on the back of a truck after the attack.

This week an American citizen was killed in a Russian car bomb in Ukraine. (RT News – the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel – was on the scene within three minutes of the bombing, because that’s NOT suspicious in any way!!). Whereas Donald Trump was all over Twitter about the American killed in the Westminster terror attack, calling him a hero and all of that, there was deafening silence from the US government over what was essentially a political assassination in Ukraine.

I guess the president only values some Americans…

My review of Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Lisa Kleypas Interview

Vintage War Romance

Free read over at Harlequin

The Handmaid’s Tale Premieres

A note on something that happened last week.

Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

SHE’S RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Framed for espionage, reformed hacker Valerie Sanchez has no choice but to run. Worse, when the proof of her innocence is destroyed, things turn deadly. Can she trust the sexy terrorist hunter who mysteriously turns up to protect her, or is he the real threat?

HE’S HOT ON HER TRAIL
Former Marine sniper Scott Kramer’s job was supposed to be easy. Follow the hot computer geek who stole plans for classified weapons until she meets her buyer, then let law enforcement take over. But when Valerie becomes an assassin’s target, Scott’s gut says she’s innocent. Now, he must risk his life—and his heart—to keep her safe.

Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

I owe Gwen Hernandez an apology. I had a review copy of Blindsided sitting on my desktop from before I went away in February, and then forgot to review it!

Behind this generic Torso-Man cover is a VERY intelligent, detailed and complex romantic suspense book. Hernandez has done her research and put together a plot that involves hacking, espionage, and a whole lot of distrust.

This is not your generic romance.

You would never know this was part of a series; it’s a complete story in its own right, and because hero and heroine are on the run for most of the book the focus hardly shifts to secondary characters.

I go on about books with “more” quite often; this is one of them. I don’t know how it works, but some authors pack so much more plot, characterisation, more everything into the same word count as authors who use a lot of exposition as padding. I appreciate books like this one so much more.

I have no idea how the author knows so much about computer hacking, but the knowledge made the scenes involving it much more realistic. I really believed this was a heroine who was at the top of her game.

This is one of those romantic suspense books that is proper suspense, with each scene moving the action forwards, and things not being wrapped up until the very end (so no waffling scenes at the end to up the word count).

One thing I didn’t love was the way the hero kept referring to the heroine’s tits, and her rack, and all of that. It’s probably pretty accurate for a guy’s mind, but it made me think a little less of him. However, this did change as the book went on and his feelings towards her grew, which was a nice touch.

On the other hand, I loved that he was just average-sized. Not every hero has to be a hulking great giant. Another thing I loved about him was that his “I don’t do relationships” attitude that drives me totally insane in most books had an actual background and valid reason here, and he didn’t fight it too much when he realised things were changing.

I really enjoyed this solid suspense story that had a lot more depth than most in the genre. It’s nice to be reminded what’s so great about romantic suspense.

 

Review copy provided by the author.

The Week: 23rd – 29th June

 Ice Skating in Canberra Australia 21st June 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney

The outdoor ice rink in Canberra last weekend.

TheBorgiasLucreziaFindsHerLoverMurderedAdjustedSonyaHeaney

I actually watched a lot of television episodes this week, and didn’t read as much. I watched one and a half seasons of The Borgias, which I was avoiding for years because of the pathetic levels of historical accuracy and serious miscasting in the other show it is compared to: The Tudors.

There’s definitely too much sex in The Borgias, but it’s a gorgeous production with a great cast, and I’m really enjoying it. Historical liberties and everything… I could do without all the negativity directed towards France, however. But I’m not letting it ruin a hugely entertaining show.

 EU-SUMMIT-UKRAINE-POROSHENKO

Ukraine signed the trade deal with the European Union on Friday. This is especially significant because the Russian-oriented former president refused to do it, which is was caused the protests and resulted in Russia’s invasion and war.

What a waste, all for something that could have been signed last year, sparing Ukraine all of this death.

My review of Blind Fury by Gwen Hernandez

Blind Fury (Men of Steele, Book 1) by Gwen Hernandez

My review of The Promise by Robyn Carr

The Promise by Robyn Carr

My review of Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne

Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne

My review of Never Surrender by Lindsay McKenna

Never Surrender by Lindsay McKenna

My review of Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

My review of Last Rake Standing by Jayne Fresina

Last Rake Standing by Jayne Fresina

Blind Fury by Gwen Hernandez

Blind Fury (Men of Steele, Book 1) by Gwen Hernandez

When always-play-it-safe Jenna Ryan starts questioning how her brother died in Afghanistan, someone decides she must be stopped. Permanently. Her brother’s best friend—a sexy thrill-seeker she can’t stop thinking about—won’t reveal what he knows about the fatal shoot-out, putting Jenna at odds with the only man she trusts to keep her alive.

Former special forces operator Mick Fury would give his life to keep his best friend’s irresistible sister safe. He took an oath to stay silent about their last mission, but Mick’s will is tested by the white-hot attraction to Jenna he’s tried to ignore for years. Now he must risk everything—even falling in love—to protect her from the truth that could destroy them both.

Blind Fury (Men of Steele, Book 1) by Gwen Hernandez

I know these topless, spray-tanned men sell books, but for me? I nearly missed out on a fun read because the cover frightened me!

This book was great fun.

I had no expectations of Blind Fury when I downloaded it, but it fitted in with my promise to read more suspense in 2014. It turned out to be a very entertaining book packed with so much action it felt like watching a movie.

Was it perfect? No. Was some of it a little silly? Yes. But this is an author with more readability to her writing than a lot of the authors who get similar things bought by the big publishers. At least we actually got suspense in this one, unlike a lot of recent “romantic suspense” bestsellers that have been sappy romance cover to cover with no action in between.

When reading Blind Fury, you’ll want to ignore yourself if you start worrying about the plausibility. There’s so much drama and – yes – romance packed into the space of a few days that… Hmm. I did think the heroine reacted unrealistically to a day that involved a funeral, a trashed house, a trashed car, a couple of stalkers and then an exploded house AND murder attempt. In ONE day! She was altogether too cool and collected and blasé.

I also don’t see the need for rushed marriage proposals in books like this. “Happy for now” is just fine with me.

However, it sort of seemed like the extreme aspects of the story just added to the fun.

This was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for when I read it. I was becoming quite tired of the super-realistic contemporary romances that represented day to day life with very little in the way of twists or individuality to make one stand out from the other.

I would love to see this author and more like her writing for the bigger publishers. I’d like more books like this around to show that romances can be about more than small town quilting shops and misogynistic MMA fighters.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.