The Week 22nd – 28th April

Happy Easter – again! (I know – those aren’t pysanky in the bowl, but at least the embroidery is from Ukraine!)

The way the calendar works this year, it’s all too much in one go. Four days of Easter a week ago, and then Anzac Day here in Australia on Thursday, and now four more days of old-calendar/Ukrainian Easter – and then it’s Mother’s Day here a few days after that!

Winter just refuses to arrive in Canberra. Nearly two-thirds of the way through autumn, and the temperatures are still in the mid-twenties. No rain, either – which I’d be really happy to see at the moment…

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At the Australian War Memorial (which is here in Canberra), after the national Anzac Day service. That’s my Vietnam veteran father, and in the second picture you can see me looking at a Vietnam War display inside the museum with him. (I need to brush up on this stuff; I’m currently editing another veteran’s book!)

It was shocking this year to see all extra security and all the concrete barricades along the length of Anzac Parade (the giant boulevard that connects the War Memorial to the rest of the city, and the place the service happens). Terrorism is changing the world very fast.

Autumn Colours Autumn Leaves in the Garden Tuggeranong Canberra Australia April 2019 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 3

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Some autumn colours in Canberra.

New Book for Mary Balogh

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Another Cover for Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh's next book Someone to Honour the sixth book in the Westcott family series UKAustralian Cover.

Nora Roberts sues Brazilian author, cites ‘multi-plagiarism’.

Cristiane Serruya has plagiarism scandal 1

Anzac Day Reads: Karina Bliss

A Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss

Anzac Day Reads: Helene Young

Wings of Fear (Border Watch #1) by Helene Young

Anzac Day Reads: Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Out Now: A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon #2) by Mimi Matthews

Anzac Day Reads: Karina Bliss

A Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss

With Anzac Day coming up on the 25th, I’m recommending some Australian and New Zealand authors who have written about war veterans.

Anzac (“Australian and New Zealand Army Corps“) Day is our main day to commemorate those who served in the military.

Today I’m recommending Kiwi author Karina Bliss, who has written some great stories about New Zealand war veterans. In particular, check out her Special Forces series. I reviewed one of the books HERE.

Book Feature: Resurrection (Rock Solid #4) by Karina Bliss

This is where I send my apologies to author Karina Bliss, whose book Resurrection came out a while ago, and I’ve still not got around to writing a review! It’s coming soon, I promise!

In the meantime, I’d like to say that Bliss is one of those authors you’re guaranteed to enjoy. Call me biased, but there’s something about contemporary romances by Kiwi and Australian authors that really appeals to me. They write in such a “contemporary” way, and you can identify with the characters as if they’re real people.

I’ve loved Bliss’ books since day one, and would recommend every one I’ve read so far.

Resurrection (Rock Solid #4) by Karina Bliss

Resurrection (Rock Solid #4) by Karina Bliss

No more rock stars. Not ever.

Lily Hagen Stuart has done that scene to death. Her new career in early childhood education is way more rewarding and she deals with far fewer tantrums. Then a stolen sex tape is posted online and her future is in jeopardy. She needs to get away from the paparazzi and the only place that offers refuge is the world she swore never to return to: the music world. Fine. A few weeks—tops. That’s all she needs to get her life back. And keeping her hands off gorgeous Moss McFadden? Should be easy.

Moss McFadden may be a rising rock star, but he’s quite happy to keep everyone at arm’s length. Until Lily needs help, that is. They strike a deal that puts them in closer proximity than is good for his equilibrium. Still, he can keep his fascination with her in check. Or can he? Because when she lends him a hand in a life-changing situation, all his defences are shot. And as he goes down in a wave of longing, he wonders if she just might be his salvation.

Coming Up Soon

For this blog, I mean! With each month of 2018 I’ve fallen a little more behind with my reading and reviewing, and it’s only going to get worse in the second half of the year as I spend a couple of months overseas and interstate.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been reading, and will be reviewing soon:

Watchmaker's Heart by Juli D. Revezzo

Watchmaker’s Heart by Juli D. Revezzo

For Miss Phoebe Lockswell, fashionable London tea parties and balls aren’t her style. Instead, she prefers to tinker tirelessly with a clockwork diffuser she’s built from scratch. If only she can get the invention to work on command, she might earn her way out of an arranged marriage to a repugnant member of the House of Commons. London watchmaker Mortimer Kidd was brought up hard in the arms of an infamous London gang. Despite the respectability he strives for now, the gang leader is blackmailing him. When Mortimer sees Phoebe’s diffuser, he thinks he’s found a way to buy himself out of trouble. The brash Phoebe manages to steal his heart, however, before he can purloin her invention. Will Mortimer’s unsavoury past catch up to him before he convinces Phoebe of his devotion? Worse, once Phoebe learns the truth, will she ever trust him again?

Resurrection (Rock Solid #4) by Karina Bliss

Resurrection (Rock Solid #4) by Karina Bliss

No more rock stars. Ever.

Lily Hagen Stuart has done that scene to death. Her new career in early childhood education is way more rewarding and she deals with far fewer tantrums. Then a stolen sex tape is posted online and her future is in jeopardy. She needs to get away from the paparazzi and the only place that offers refuge is the world she swore never to return to: the music world. Fine. A few months—tops. That’s all she needs to get her life back. And keeping her hands off gorgeous Moss McFadden? Should be easy since they’ve always avoided each other. Moss McFadden may be a rising rock star, but he’s quite happy to keep everyone at arm’s length. Until Lily needs help, that is. They strike a deal that puts them in closer proximity than is good for his equilibrium. Still, he can keep his growing fascination with her in check. Or can he? Because when she lends him a hand in a life-changing situation, all his defenses are shot. And as he goes down in a wave of longing, he wonders if she just might be his salvation.

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

A Risk Worth Taking (The Legionnaires #3) by Brynn Kelly

He can’t outrun himself… Legionnaire Jamie Armstrong lives in the shadows. A medic haunted by his mistakes, he knows better than to hope for redemption. But his latest mission brings a threat he doesn’t see coming—an attraction as irresistible as it is dangerous. Hacker Samira Desta is a woman he swore to forget, but as a key witness to a deadly conspiracy, Samira is his to protect. But the woman he rescues might be the one who saves him After a year in hiding, Samira’s worst fears come true when her cover is blown and the unlikeliest of allies comes to her aid—the secretive Scot with whom she shared one unforgettable night. Hunted by lethal forces and losing the battle against their desire, Jamie and Samira make a desperate play to take the fight to their enemy—but those at greatest risk of ruin may be themselves…

Someone to Care (Westcott Family #4) by Mary Balogh

Someone to Care (Westcott #4) by Mary Balogh

No one has felt the death of the Earl of Riverdale more keenly than his wife, the now dispossessed countess Viola Kingsley. On her way home alone from Bath, Viola meets an adventurous aristocrat at a country inn. Since she is being forced to stay for a day and night, she goes to the village fair with him and impulsively gives in to his suggestion that they run away together for a while—a brief respite from their lives of duty and responsibility. What they discover together is the last thing Viola would have ever expected…

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Vietnam War Memorial Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th May 2015

Me on Anzac Parade, the huge, memorial-lined road that leads up to the museum.

Today is Anzac Day, Australia and new Zealand’s biggest day for our war veterans. The national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra is televised, and before that there’s a dawn service (which I have never been to, despite coming from a family of veterans, but I always hear the neighbours getting up at about 4am!).

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We usually drop by the War Memorial a little later in the day and spend some time at the Vietnam War section.

I was trying to think of romance and suspense reads that involve Australian military or veterans, and came up with a few authors.

Hélène Young writes suspense books with some romance, and featuring Australian military characters.

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Barbara Hannay’s The Secret Years is set half in the Second World War and half in the present, and I really enjoyed it. The woman in the WW2 part is posted to the consulate in Canberra.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Sarah Mayberry has a really good book about a female veteran.

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Joan Kilby’s Protecting her Son involves an Australian Special Forces veteran, and has a scene at the end set at the War Memorial above!

Protecting Her Son

Fiona Greene’s Home For Christmas – well, the cover and title tell you what you need to know!

Home For Christmas by Fiona Greene

Karly Lane writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, with some themes involving veterans.

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And, for Kiwi veteran heroes, there is Karina Bliss’ New Zealand Special Forces series, beginning with Here Comes the Groom.

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The Week: 21st – 27th November

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Hot and sunny start to the week in Canberra. And the last of the spring flowers in the garden.

I feel like a proud parent, but here are our two baby magpies. I filmed them on Friday afternoon (and the video is a bit shaky because I was trying to fix my hair at the time!). Apparently every magpie family has its own song, and every late-spring-early-summer the young birds start practicing their singing.

These two are disturbingly tame. They try to follow me into the house! Their parents drop them off here at about five-something in the morning, and they stay here all day, until around sunset (I swear, they’re the same as humans!). They’re so cute. Also, they like standing on one leg for some reason.

(I’m going to rant a bit now, so you might want to skim to the next part!)

We went to see The Nutcracker on Saturday night. Back when I was a ballet dancer, there was nothing better than dancing in falling snow.

However, I AM deeply upset they not only called a dance in act two the “Russian dance”, but that they called it the “Gopak”.

“Gopak”, which is actually the Hopak (because Ukrainian and Russian alphabets are different), is the national dance of Ukraine, and has NOTHING do to with Russia. Talk about “cultural appropriation”! On Saturday night it got THE biggest cheer out of all the dances, and it makes my heart hurt.

HERE is the proper Ukrainian (not Russian!) dance! Skip to two minutes in to see the big tricks.

One of the men looks disturbingly like my brother, who used to do this stuff a little while ago.

However – has anybody heard of the book Mao’s Last Dancer? It was also made into a movie. It’s a true story about a Chinese dancer who was forced into the communist system as a ballet dancer, but then defected to the United States, and now lives here in Australia. We got to talk to him, Li Cunxin, again last night, for the first time in ages. He is the director of the ballet company we went to see.

My review of Someone to Love (Westcott #1) by Mary Balogh

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My review of The Dare and the Doctor (Winner Takes All #3) by Kate Noble

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My review of The Governess Was Wild (Governess #3) by Julia Kelly

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You Had Me at Christmas #1

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You Had Me at Christmas #2

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You Had Me at Christmas #3

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You Had Me at Christmas

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Here is the excerpt from Karina Bliss‘ contribution to You Had Me at Christmas. The story is Play.

The cocktail waitress arrived, leggy and blond, with a professional smile that got real when she looked at Jared Walker. Her gaze darted to Kayla, assessing and then dismissive in an unconscious gesture that would have been insulting if Kayla hadn’t become so used to it.

A pretty woman carrying some baby weight was a six, at best, in Hollywood, where even the waitresses—many of them would-be models or actresses—were often eights.

“Welcome to Joy,” The blond angled her body toward Jared. “May I take your order?”

“Your call, Betty.” Jared used the pseudonym Kayla had suggested for their “meeting as strangers” date. Stay…or go?”

She shrugged off her coat. Her husband was good at buying clothes but the dress was tighter than she’d worn since having kids, with a deep cleavage she had to stop herself adjusting. “Let’s have a drink, and see what happens.”

His eyes were hot as he glanced down her dress, and a shiver of anticipation quickened Kayla’s blood. A heady sense of power.

She looked at the waitress, who was clearly revising her grade. “Mulled wine, please.”

“Sure. And for you, sir?”

“Another beer for me, thank you.” The slow curve of his smile was still there as he looked up. The blond sucked in a breath.

“I see you chose one of our craft beers, let me tell you about the others.” As the waitress launched into serious flirt mode, Kayla surreptitiously checked her cell in case the sitter was having trouble settling the kids.

A masculine hand covered the screen. “Remember the rules—cells only for emergencies.” Jared confiscated it. “And give me your wedding ring.”

The waitress blinked.

Kayla tugged it off. “I see you’ve already removed yours,” she commented. The wedding band of cheap, shiny gold—all they could afford then—gleamed as she dropped it into “Bob’s” outstretched palm.

“No ties, no responsibilities and no guilt,” he reminded her. “This evening we’re all about…pleasure.” His pause left no doubt as to what that pleasure entailed. Tangled sheets and tangled bodies.

“I’ll get your drinks,” the waitress murmured.

“Was that wise?” Kayla said, when she’d left. “Your face has been everywhere the past couple of months.”

“I could tell she didn’t recognize me. You look gorgeous,” he added. “I got the size perfectly.”

And wasn’t that like a man. Tight is good, tighter is better. God bless their sexual myopia. “So, Bob.” Channeling a throaty-voiced temptress, Kayla sat back. “Is this the part where you tell me your wife doesn’t understand you?”

“And you tell me your husband takes you for granted.” His tone was wry, and their eyes met in rueful acknowledgment of his earlier slip.

She took pity on him. “Or we can skip that part,” she suggested.

“Let’s skip that part.”

“You’re going to have your work cut out for you, persuading me into an affair, Bob.” She crossed one smooth leg over the other, watching him watch. The light caught the sparkle on her red stilettos—the shoes he’d bought for her when he’d been accepted into Rage. “I’m a happily married woman.”

“Yeah?” He caught the stiletto as it slipped off her dangling foot. “How’s the sex been lately?”

The Week: 14th – 20th November

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Friday evening in Canberra.

Summer is definitely here now! Such a hot, sunny week. We’ve had to start putting water all around the garden for the animals in the area.

Even though I’m refusing to decorate for Christmas until the first of December (as Ukrainians keep celebrating until mid-January), I have basically finished everything else that needs doing (shopping!) for our two Christmases.

I hope everyone in New Zealand is okay after the earthquake. I was in Christchurch just before the quake a few years ago. It was so sad.

New cover for Joanna Shupe

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My review of Fall (Rock Solid #2) by Karina Bliss

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My review of Reunited at Christmas (Alaskan Grooms #4) by Belle Calhoune

Reunited at Christmas (Alaskan Grooms #4) by Belle Calhoune

My review of The Danger of Desire (Sinful Suitors #3) by Sabrina Jeffries

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On this day: the premiere of Little Women

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Fall (Rock Solid #2) by Karina Bliss

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Keep Rage together at all costs…

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage’s nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She’s supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it.

But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.

Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they’re hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they’re all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he’s almost convinced, too.

Fall (Rock Solid #2) by Karina Bliss

Though listed as the second book, there is a novella between the first instalment in the Rock Solid series and this one. This is the first I’ve read, and I thought I managed fine starting here.

Fall is good because it does the thing that’s most important to me in contemporary romance: it makes the people seem realistic. Despite the fame and fortune the characters have found in the rock music industry, they behave like people who might actually exist, and have quirks and interests and distinct personalities. They have families, and friends, and histories. And sometimes they screw up or drink too much or have casual sex.

These are also characters who speak like real people – and this is the hardest thing to find in the books in this subgenre!

Both hero and heroine were very distinctive. I can’t say the “fake relationship” is a trope I usually go for – and yet here it worked well and didn’t feel like a “trope” at all. There was a lot more going on and there was a decent motivation to fake the relationship in the first place. It was a backstory with substance to it, and so the relationship (that turned real pretty fast) was only part of a large whole.

Now, if there is any theme that invites misogyny, it’s the rock star theme. I think it was handled well here. Because everyone was an individual it was a lot harder to stereotype the female characters, and without that stereotyping it’s hard to be sexist. What a novel concept to have more than one female character with a few dimensions to her!

There were so many little things that made characters stand out from each other. For example, the hero who doesn’t know how to punch properly(!), and who knows what he wants out of life (which includes a family). The heroine who takes pride in her appearance and appreciates quality brands without the people who mattered treating her like a slutty bimbo.

I also really appreciated the way differences in language and culture between the US and New Zealand were worked through the story without being obvious or resorting to clichés.

It seemed that too many contemporary romances I’ve tried recently felt stilted and Brady Bunch-like, and nothing about them was resonating with me. There was something really appealing about a book where the people both live a glamorous life and also go through the day-to-day family and friendship stuff we can all identify with.

Now, to head back and read the other books!

 

Review copy provided by the author.