The Week: 15th – 21st January

Saturday sunset in Canberra. One of many 39-degree days we’ve just had or have forecast for the next week. The garden is dead!

Blue sky and heat on the anniversary of the 2003 Canberra firestorm.

A sulphur-crested cockatoo watches me water the garden at sunset. Look at the orange summer light…

This has NOT been a productive week, but is has been very hot! We have a serious heatwave around here at the moment – forty-ish degrees every day.

After days of high temperatures, I didn’t really need to see this on Saturday night: Canberra will be the hottest city in Australia on Sunday and Monday.

There are a few authors I was supposed to be in contact with, and I am sorry for not doing that.

I became sick at the end of last week, with something that reappears every so often. From there I became sick in general. For a few days this week I was literally only eating a third of a piece of fruit a day, and struggling to keep that down. As you can imagine, it didn’t exactly leave me with the energy to get out of bed! In the end, all I could do was drink sugary drinks to try and get some energy out of them.

I am sure people have heard of the enormous paedophilia story going on in US gymnastics at the moment. It’s a long read, but this is an important article about it:

The U.S. Gymnastics System Wanted More Medals, And Created A Culture Of Abuse To Get Them

Also, this horrifying development – silencing victims by threatening lawsuits:

USA Gymnastics won’t seek fine if McKayla Maroney discusses abuse

And:

Hear Larry Nassar’s victims in their own (powerful and brave) words

This week marked fifteen years since the horror of Canberra’s 2003 firestorm. It was even hotter that year, and we had a severe drought, and – combined with the dangerous winds – there were never “better” conditions for a catastrophic fire.

The rest of this week:

The West just does NOT get it.

MKR-russian-ad-social Hammer and Sickle Communism

My review of Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen UK Australian Mills and Boon Cover

My review of Miracle on Ladies’ Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Miracle on Ladies' Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Cover Love

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill #1) by Julie Klassen

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen UK Australian Mills and Boon Cover

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen US Cover

Pick your cover!

Plain, lame Ellie Lytton isn’t destined for marriage. She’s perfectly content being her stepbrother’s housekeeper… Until the high-handed Earl of Hainford arrives with shocking news–her stepbrother has been killed!

Ellie believes the earl is responsible for her plight and that he is duty bound to escort her on the journey to her new home. But soon Blake’s fighting an unwanted attraction to his argumentative companion… And when she needs protection, he determines he’ll keep her safe–by making Ellie his countess!

^^^^^^^^

Please ignore the silly blurb. it’s a much better book than it makes it sound.

Marrying His Cinderella Countess by Louise Allen

Of course I liked this book. Louise Allen is a favourite of mine, and she is so comfortable in Regency England that it makes her readers comfortable, too. The Cinderella trope isn’t exactly original, but the way Allen writes it makes all the difference.

We have a downtrodden and traumatised heroine who is also mature and strong without being a silly, flouncy, anachronistic Disney princess. She has her pride, and follows Regency manners (for the most part), holding her head high and staying quiet at slights and insults, and keeping her dignity.

The hero is honest: he can’t see anything appealing about her at first, but he is also kind to her when she literally has nobody else, and when she loses her home due to her stepbrother’s poor investments – and early death.

The relationship develops well, and at a slower pace that seems believable. The heroine tries her best to “fix” herself for him when they marry, which he discovers after the event – and to his horror. There is also a theme of overcoming abuse, which was handled well and without melodramatics.

Overall, this was another excellent book by one of the genre’s most reliable authors.

If you’re going to do a Cinderella theme, this is how is should be done.

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

Cover Love

Marrying His Cinderella Countess Louise Allen British Cover

Marrying His Cinderella Countess Louise Allen American Cover

^^^^

UK and US covers.

Someone loves Louise Allen, because she gets the best covers Mills and Boon/Harlequin puts out. Sure, nobody ever manages a man who looks like he’s from the 19th century, but compared to most dreadful, anachronistic historical romance covers out there, this is another one that’s pretty great.

Allen is by far one of the best authors for this publisher, and I’m really excited about this new book.

Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

walking-jane-austens-london-by-louise-allen

Walking Jane Austen’s London contains eight new walks to appeal to Jane Austen enthusiasts, history buffs and anyone who enjoys exploring London. It is lavishly illustrated in colour with detailed maps, original prints of the period and photographs.

Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

Louise Allen is one of my favourite authors, and – in addition to writing excellent Regency-era stories, she produces some non-fiction guidebooks to the London of two hundred years ago.

I’ve owned Walking Jane Austen’s London for a while now, but recently revisited it for an upcoming short trip to the city.

Having lived on Fleet Street (in the City with a capital *C*), in nearby Holborn on the edge of the West End, and in Notting Hill, I find Allen’s guide very useful, as the old rich, Mayfair part of London is probably the bit of town I’m the least familiar with.

This guide points out heaps of little historical details about the streets and buildings you’d otherwise never know, as well as tying it all in to Austen’s books.

Allen has another guide worth a look: Walks Through Regency London.

Walking Jane Austen’s London is interesting if you plan on being in London soon, or if you’re just a fan of historical fiction.

Coming Up for Louise Allen

surrender-to-the-marquess-herriard-3-by-louise-allen

Honestly, the moment I saw this in the review book options I had it downloaded and on my Kindle. I have that much faith in Louise Allen’s writing that I didn’t even read the blurb.

Plus, isn’t the cover great?!

Surrender to the Marquess (Herriard #3) is out in a few days.

UK Cover:

surrendermarquesssurrender-to-the-marquess-herriard-3-by-louise-allen-uk-cover

A battle of wills!

When Lady Sara Herriard’s husband dies in a duel, she turns her back on the vagaries of the ton. From now on, she will live as she pleases. She won’t change for anyone—certainly not for the infuriating Lucian Avery, Marquess of Cannock!

Lucian must help his sister recover from a disastrous elopement and reluctantly enlists Lady Sara’s help. She couldn’t be further from the conventional, obedient wife he’s expected to marry, but soon all he craves is for her to surrender—and join him in his bed!

So – how did they go?

 I have finished all of the books I listed or discussed as my most anticipated reads of 2016. It was never a comprehensive list, as I tend to read what comes up for review rather than keep track of favourite authors’ newer releases.

Now I have read all of those I mentioned either here or separately – was I disappointed? Not really. Even though I was excited about all of the books below, some I was aware were going to be a little bit of a let-down; it was the series rather than the individual book I was excited about.

There were some great reads, however.

Now, what books are being released in the second half of the year that I have forgotten all about?!

Review: Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterborne (2016) by Lisa Kleypas

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

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

Review: One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

One With You by Sylvia Day

Review: The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

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

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

Review: Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs International Cover

Review: The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen

The Many Sins of Cris de Feaux (Lords of Disgrace #3) by Louise Allen UK Cover

Review: The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

The Week: 4th – 10 July

Winter Evening Lake Burley Griffin Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 9th July 2016

^^^^ Terrible, terrible picture on my old camera from the car yesterday evening. We were driving over the lake in Canberra. My proper camera broke immediately after we got off the plane in Canberra, after two months away – perfect timing! However, I REALLY need to buy a new one.

Rex Burmese Cat Cute

I learnt something sad yesterday. Rex, the cat who has been living at our neighbours’ house, but who adopted US around Christmas, is going to a new home on Thursday. It’s going to be weird to not wake up with him asleep on top of me, and to not spend my days trying to type with a cat on my lap! He’s such a dope.

Obama has announced he will be sending 1000 troops to Poland in a NATO agreement, which is a start in recognising Russian aggression – even if it is years too late to help Ukraine!

Scary law Vladimir Putin passed the other day, which will come into effect on the 20th of July. People in Russia are no longer allowed to practice their religion outside churches. You cannot even mention religion at home! There are only four mosques for about two million Muslims around Moscow at the moment (Russian authorities have refused to let them build more), and so people have been practicing their religion in public spaces. Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism, and even Mormonism are effectively being banned, with only the Russian Orthodox Church supported.

Religious extremists in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine

Winter Morning Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 5th July 2016

Winter morning in Canberra.

Winter Flower Sonya Heaney Canberra Australia 4th July 2016 Garden Nature - Copy

But we have some pretty flowers out!

 Release Day for Anne Gracie

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

My review of Stand-In Rancher Daddy by Renee Ryan

Stand-In Rancher Daddy by Renee Ryan

My review of A SEAL’s Proposal (Sexy SEAL #1) by Tawny Weber

A SEAL's Proposal (Sexy SEAL #1) by Tawny Weber

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

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

My review of His Wicked Wish (Cinderella Sisterhood #5) by Olivia Drake

His Wicked Wish (Cinderella Sisterhood #5) by Olivia Drake

My review of The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

Please don’t pay attention to the super-sleazy blurb!

A proposition from a virgin! 

Gabriel Stone, Earl of Edenbridge, might have a rakish reputation, but he’s also a gentleman—of sorts. So when respectable Lady Caroline Holt offers her maidenhood in exchange for an estate her father gambled away, his curiosity is roused. 

Gabriel is touched when he learns Caroline is helping her brother—he’s protected his brothers all his life…and has the scars to prove it. He’s willing to help her, but is shocked when his mission takes him somewhere he never thought he’d end up—down the aisle!

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

There’re some authors who I just keep describing as: one of my favourite authors, or I am always excited about their new books.

Louise Allen is one of them, and I was so happily surprised when this new book, the final one in a series of four, turned up in the post. I didn’t realise my pre-order had already been released, and I had just finished the previous one in the series and prepared myself for a long wait for the next.

It’s good I read them close together, as – even though they are totally fine as standalones – there are some parts of the previous book that happen at the same time as events in this one.

I just really enjoy this author’s writing. Sure, some aspects of the story (the hermit in the folly was funny, but also silly) are farfetched, but the writing is so good I am always happy to go along with wherever the author wants to take me.

I like that Louise Allen can do tortured characters without descending into melodrama, and I like that she knows her stuff. Meaning: the research is fantastic, and because Allen is a Brit, I’m not constantly being dragged out of the story with incorrect, non-British language, or ridiculously anachronistic attitudes.

There are some heavy issues dealt with in this story, but I liked that the characters didn’t wallow in their misery. I liked that they were much more three-dimensional than that.

I put aside two other books as soon as I opened a Book Depository package and found this one waiting for me, and I stayed up until the sun was up to read it. I can’t think of many authors who are consistently this good.