Recently Reread

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

I’d been reading Brynn Kelly‘s international, French Foreign legion-themed romantic suspense books, and got to thinking: now I’ve read those, who else writes amazingly-researched, suspense-heavy military romance?

The obvious answer: Kaylea Cross.

I recently reread Collateral Damage (Bagram Special Ops #5). I reviewed it HERE, and here is what it’s about:

Pride tore them apart…

Warrant Officer Honor Girard made the worst mistake of her life in walking away from the man she promised to marry—and she knows it. An attack on base unexpectedly pushes them together and in the aftermath she realizes she can’t let him go a second time. Only he’s not willing to let her back in. After orders send her back stateside she realises she’s probably lost him forever. It will take either a miracle to bring them back together—or a life-altering tragedy.

Only forgiveness can bring them back together.

Major Liam Magrath lives his life on the edge, flying dangerous missions with the Army’s elite Night Stalkers. Since losing Honor he’s been totally focused on his career, his missions and the welfare of his crew. Then she’s suddenly thrust back into his life and tells him the last thing he expects to hear: she wants another chance. Losing her once was hard enough—giving her another shot isn’t an option. He’s determined to keep his heart walled off from the only woman he’s ever loved, until a catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil changes everything. Now that he’s finally made up his mind to go after her, however, it may be too late. Liam is determined to fight for her at all costs—but first they’ll have to fight for their lives in a disastrous attack that hits far too close to home.

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

Recently Reread: Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

 Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

I’d been reading Brynn Kelly‘s international, French Foreign Legion-themed romantic suspense books, and got to thinking: now I’ve read those, who else writes amazingly-researched, suspense-heavy military romance?

The obvious answer: Kaylea Cross.

I recently reread Tactical Strike (Bagram Special Ops #2). I reviewed it HERE, and here is what it’s about:

Gunship pilot Captain Candace Bradford has worked long and hard to earn her rank and position within the male-dominated world of Air Force Special Operations. She’s not about to let anything or anyone jeopardise that, let alone one sinfully tempting man who seems determined to cause her nothing but trouble. Even if she’s starting to fall for him.

As an elite Combat Controller, Staff Sergeant Ryan Wentworth is used to overcoming adversity in order to complete a mission. Breaking through Candace’s prickly exterior and into her heart is a challenge he can’t let go. But just when he’s begun to gain her trust, they’re thrown together in the field facing an overwhelming enemy force.

Candace and Ryan find themselves on the run, searching the skies for an emergency extraction. But one dangerous enemy has an agenda in mind and he’ll use whatever means necessary to achieve it, including using American forces to do his dirty work.

Happy Belated Birthday, Canada!

National Science and Technology Centre Canberra Australia for Canada Day 150 1st July 2017 Sonya Oksana Heaney Canadian Colours Night

National Science and Technology Centre Canberra Australia for Canada Day 150 1st July 2017 Sonya Oksana Heaney Canadian Colours NightDSC03856

That’s the National Science and Technology in Canberra on Saturday night.

I should be talking about the United States, but while we wait for whatever fresh new insanity Donald Trump will bring the world for Independence Day, allow me to backpedal a few days!

Over the weekend, Canberra lit up national monuments and city landmarks – and the Canadian High Commission – in Canadian colours for the 150th birthday celebrations.

I am really struggling to come up with many books I’ve read that are set in Canada. In know there’re the classics, and there’re the books that inspired shows like Murdoch Mysteries and When Calls the Heart

I know a lot of Canadian authors set their stories in the United States, and that sometimes they have to – such as when Harlequin rebranded the Western line as “American Romance”.

There have been a few Canadian-set category romances I remember enjoying, though I’d have to go digging to find them!

An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser has characters coming and going from Canada, even though we never actually visit on the page. This book is a favourite of mine (even with the cheating storyline – all that drama!).

Of course, there’s Kelley Armstrong’s super-popular Women of the Otherworld series.

And Kaylea Cross’ first romantic suspense series is occasionally set in Vancouver (that would be because the author is Canadian)!

I feel as though there should be a lot more Canadian-themed books.

The Week: 22nd – 28th February

Monday Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 22nd February 2016 Sky Garden Nature Sunset

Monday sunset in Canberra *

SO hot this week! It’s supposed to be the end of summer, but we had such a crazy heatwave.

IMG_7031

We got our passports back on Friday. I’m building up a bit of a collection of Ukrainian visas!

Canberra CBD Civic Friday Afternoon Summer Australia Sonya Heaney 26th February 2016 Parliament House

Driving home and about to cross the lake on hot Friday afternoon. That’s Australian Parliament up ahead, but it wasn’t windy enough for the (double-decker bus-sized) flag to stand out.

Last week I started with a magpie in the house. This week – at exactly the same time – I started the week by breaking my toe. What’s going to happen tomorrow…?

I cannot complain, though, because a few hours later my aunt got knocked over by some dogs and needed to have another surgery on a wrist that had already been broken and operated on.

Currently Free: Marked by Kaylea Cross

Marked by Kaylea Cross

Release Day for Cindy Gerard

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Is this supposed to be Ukrainian?

One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory Cover Art

My review of The Highlander’s Runaway Bride by Terri Brisbin

The Highlander's Runaway Bride by Terri Brisbin

My review of Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2) by Jamie McGuire

Walking-Disaster-Cover-2 by Jamie McGuire

My review of Stolen by the Highlander by Terri Brisbin

Stolen by the Highlander by Terri Brisbin

Currently Free: Marked by Kaylea Cross

Kaylea Cross is one of my favourite romantic suspense writers. You can pick up the first in her Hostage Rescue Team series is free at the moment.

Marked by Kaylea Cross

A few places to get it:

Amazon Australia

Amazon US

iBookstore

Check your own country’s Amazon to get it.

When danger lurks behind a familiar face…

Successful architect Rachel Granger loves her job and her life, but when a terrorist on the FBI’s most wanted list targets her, there’s only one man she can trust. She hasn’t seen Jake in years but her former college friend told her he’d always be there for her and she definitely needs him now. Even though her feelings for him go far deeper than friendship and just being around him risks her heart, she would do anything to keep those she loves safe from a madman bent on unleashing hell.

Only one man from her past can help

FBI Special Agent Jake Evers made the biggest mistake of his life when he let Rachel slip through his fingers over two years ago. It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t seen her since then—if she needs him, he’ll be there. When he learns that she’s the target of a domestic terror cell, he’ll do everything in his power to keep her safe. He’s never gotten over her and won’t risk losing her again now that she’s reappeared in his life. But the threat is more widespread than they realised and now it’s a race against time to keep her and scores of innocent civilians alive.

Best of 2015

2015 was a mixed bag. I read some really great books, and got excited about quite a few things.

However there were also lengthy periods of time where I was either feeling a little blah about my books or I was downright fed up with reading in general, and with the repetition brought on by genre fads.

I saved myself from my reading slumps both by rereading, and also by buying books instead of accepting as many review books as I might have other years.

Every year I post my best reads of the year. Many are 2015 releases, but some are not. Not all of them are the Greatest Read Ever, but every one of these stuck with me in some way, and that’s what counts the most when it comes to a book.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham

Poldark_-_Ross_Poldark

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Brown-Eyed Girl (2015) (The fourth book in the Travis series) by Lisa Kleypas

Collateral Damage (Bagram Special Ops #5) by Kaylea Cross

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

His Christmas Countess (Lords of Disgrace #2) by Louise Allen

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Tall, Dark and Wicked (Wicked Trilogy #2) by Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

Demelza (Poldark #2) by Winston Graham

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bared to You (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Reflected in You (Crossfire #2) by Sylvia Day

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

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

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

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Cold-Hearted Rake (2015) by Lisa Kleypas

His Housekeeper’s Christmas wish by Louise Allen

His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish by Louise Allen

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

How did 2015 go? Romantic Suspense.

Kaylea Cross Pamela Clare Cindy Gerard Romantic Suspense Book Covers

I have hardly read any romantic suspense for the past few years, so I don’t think I can really comment on whether or not my wishes came true this year.

What I do know is that book titles, blurbs and covers are much the same now as they were the year before, and the year before that.

Navy SEAL Romance Book Covers

Basically, I wished for some time off from seeing the words: Navy SEAL.

Did this happen? Of course not! Everyone in romantic suspense is a SEAL these days, including the women. It’s absurd, and I know I’ve probably missed a lot of great books because I just can’t stand the fad anymore!

There’s so much more to both the romantic suspense world AND the military world than a very particular group of Special Forces fighters from a particular part of the military from a particular country!

Variety is good, and the SEAL in romantic suspense is the same as the duke in historical romance. The guy just won’t take a break!

I wanted the subgenre to deal with real world issues, not made-up stuff.

A couple of people are attempting it, but mostly the genre is still about secret agencies of secret SEALs who do secret stuff to stop secret Really Evil Men from doing things that have no relation to the real world.

Half the world is at war at the moment, and there are a whole lot of regimes doing terrible things. The Soviet Union is in the process of being recreated. There’s so much material out there; no need to make stuff up!

Running Fire by Lindsay McKenna

I wanted authors to stop with the ridiculous and tragic backstories.

If your book is about people being chased by terrorists, then that’s what your book should be about. I sort of want to laugh when the author also heaps rapes and attempted murders and homelessness and abuse and the kitchen sink onto their heroes’ and heroines’ shoulders.

I’ve still been reading overly tragic backstories since making that request at the start of the year, but I haven’t read enough in the subgenre to know if any change is happening on this front.

I can’t report on a subgenre I hardly read in 2015, but I CAN report on the review books I saw coming my way. From what I can gather from them – books I decided against reading and reviewing – 2015 was a case of same again.

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

Marc and Sophie Hunter, Gabe and Kat Rossiter, Holly Andris and the rest of the
I-Team gang find themselves in the same historic Denver hotel celebrating the approach of Christmas at different holiday parties. What starts out as a fun winter evening with friends soon becomes a brutal fight to survive when the hotel is taken over by a group of ruthless narco-terrorists who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

On the outside, Julian Darcangelo, Zach McBride, Nick Andris and others join together with the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to free their friends, knowing that if they fail, the people they love will be…

Dead by Midnight.

Featuring cameo appearances by the men of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, a series by New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross.

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

I want to say this is a five star read. It’s close. Even if you have NO idea who all these featured couples are (because this book is about EVERYONE in the series), you will get caught up in the brilliantly constructed suspense story that manages to jump from place to place while still making sense. You’ll LOVE the realistic dialogue and the brilliant research that makes this a believable story.

But it’s CLOSE, not there. My issue is: BABIES. But more about that later.

I’m not up to date on the I-Team series, but I knew almost enough to keep up (even if Marc/Matt and Kat/Kara kept mixing me up!). I think Clare did a great job of dropping hints about who these people are without annoying us with info-dumps.

On top of that, Kaylea Cross is one of the BEST romantic/military suspense authors you will ever read, and her characters appear in this book, so that made it extra great.

It’s really hard to explain why some authors have “it” and some don’t, but it’s there in the text. People act and think and speak like actual human beings. The research is impeccable, so you really feel like you’re immersed in the situation.

While the author clearly favours Sophie and Marc (book three) over any of the other couples (they’re all here in the book, but the page time devoted to certain pairings is really distorted, and even his sister gets more page time than almost anyone), I didn’t mind because the structure of this complex story was so impressive. Few authors could jump from room to room, person to person, and situation to situation without making it jarring. It was pretty brilliant.

As someone who isn’t from the United States, I found the constant mentions of ‘holiday party’ and ‘holiday decorations’ really jarring and distracting; it’s Christmas – call it by what it is! But then I suppose that’s accurate for the setting…

Now, the thing I really didn’t like:

I think Pamela Clare is an incredible author. I also think she is an incredible woman in general, and has achieved amazing things as a journalist (which is why her stories are so believable and accurate).

However, she has a big love of pregnancy, childbirth and babies, and seems to struggle to believe not all women are the same.

The loss of a star for this book comes from one character: Holly (who is otherwise great!). Holly is a super-lady without being GI Jane. An operative who basically saves the day- er, night). She is intelligent and fun and kind, and she doesn’t want children.

However, over the course of one night – even less than that, actually (as the book’s timeline is given to you chapter by chapter) she decides she LOVES babies, thinks childbirth is wonderful, and tells her husband she is giving up on birth control so she can have his babies.

This upsets me greatly.

I am one of those women who apparently MUST be “cured” of their desire to NOT have children. As much as the author loves the whole baby thing, I dislike it just as strongly. No terrorist will ever cure me of that, I’m sorry. Seeing Holly cooing at babies after a few hours with terrorists…

I’d like to see ONE Clare heroine who doesn’t think childbirth is the best thing EVAH!

However, kudos to the author for this (Holly speaking to her husband about having babies):

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re not the one who has to go through it. All you have to do is come.”

But then I remove it for this (and other quotes) – after the attack:

Holly sat next to Sophie, her gaze on the babies.

Well, that’s new.

However, this book is sort of cool. How often do you find a major terrorist issue incorporated into a Christmas romance book without it being ridiculous? The combination of Clare and Cross is about as good as it gets.

Even if you don’t know who all these characters are, I still think I’d recommend this to pretty much anyone who reads this sort of book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 17th – 23rd August

End of Winter in Tuggeranong Canberra Australia 14th August 2015 Sonya Heaney Garden Eucalyptus Gum Tree Nature

Spring is in the air here. I put the heater on, immediately get hot, and then realise winter is pretty much done. The air is full of the smells of wattle and blossoms, and it’s warmer here now (twenty degrees – or sixty-eight Fahrenheit) than some countries I’ve visited in summer!

Pro-Ukrainian Anti-Russian invasion protest Canberra Australia 5th March 2014 2

Happy Ukrainian Flag Day! (This actually is our picture from a protest in Canberra last year, but you get the idea!) Screw Putin.

Wattle Garden Winter Tugggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 14th August 2015 Nature 2

In the garden in Canberra at the moment.

Flower Garden Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Winter Spring Red 22nd August 2015

This week began with my aunt’s birthday. When we were at the pub we received an offer on my late-grandmother’s house, which we accepted. The end of an era…

Our internet died this week, and getting by without it for a little while was bizarre! Also not good when I had a half-finished blog post that was due to go up because I’d stupidly scheduled it instead of saving it as a draft!

And Ashley Madison, the “dating” website that proudly encourages married people to have affairs, got hacked. Some 37 million people’s identities could be revealed, including multiple Australian politicians (I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked!).

20thAugust2015The Russian terrorist who publicly claimed bragged he shot down MH17 before being silenced by Putin, on Thursday once again called for Russia to totally destroy Ukraine. Does anybody care Donald Trump sure doesn'2

Yes, I know he looks like Hitler. This is the Russian military leader who claimed responsibility for shooting down MH17, up to no good again this week. The “New Russia” flag in the background looks a hell of a lot like the Confederate flag, does it not?

Running out of ideas for reprehensible romance heroes?

#Russian terrorists in #Ukraine. 5th April 2015.

Wallpaper Romance

When Calls the Heart Season Two.

Cover Love

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter

My review of Collateral Damage (Bagram Special Ops #5) by Kaylea Cross

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

My review of Wagon Train Sweetheart (Journey West #2) by Lacy Williams

Wagon Train Sweetheart (Journey West #2) by Lacy Williams

My review of Protecting the Colton Bride (The Coltons of Oklahoma) by Elle James

Protecting the Colton Bride (The Coltons of Oklahoma) by Elle James