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

New Book for Mary Balogh

There is information out – if no cover yet – for the seventh book in Mary Balogh’s Westcott family series (even though the sixth book is not out yet), and I am SO excited about it.

I’ve said numerous times how great it is that Balogh’s curent series has such an amazing lot of leading characters, ranging in age from just out of girlhood to grandparents. I thought the fourth book – Someone to Care – was pretty revolutionary, but I think #7 – Someone to Remember – will be even more so.

The heroine of this one is an older spinster character who has been a bit of a family joke throughout the series so far. It was only in book #5 that we got a glimpse of a woman who missed her chance at happiness, and I actually commented on it in my review.

 

Here’s the description for Someone to Remember:

 

It’s never too late to fall in love in this enchanting new novella in the Westcott series from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

Matilda Westcott has spent her life tending to the needs of her mother, the Dowager Countess of Riverdale, never questioning the life of solitude she has spun for herself. To Matilda, who considers herself the ageing spinster daughter, marriage is laughable–love is a game for the young, after all. But her modest, quiet life of order unravels when a dashing gentleman from her past reappears, threatening to charm his way into her heart yet again.

Charles Sawyer, Viscount Dirkson, does not expect to see Matilda Westcott thirty-six years after their failed romance. Moreover, he does not expect decades-old feelings to emerge at the very sight of her. When encountering Matilda at a dinner hosted by the Earl of Riverdale, he finds himself as fascinated by her as he was the first day they met, and wonders if, after all these years, they have a chance at happiness together. Charles is determined to crack the hard exterior Matilda has built for over three decades or risk losing her once again…

Another Cover for Mary Balogh

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

Here is the UK/Australian cover for Mary Balogh’s next book: Someone to Honour, the sixth book in the Westcott family series. (They keep using the same model!). It is due out in July.

The US cover is below, and the book’s description is below it.

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

First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh . . .

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother Harry home from the wars with Napoleon. He’s come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to – secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first these two seem to embody what the other most despises, they will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearance of the once grand lady and once humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love.

The Week: 11th – 17th March

Happy St Patrick’s Day! (And happy birthday to my uncle, whose middle name is – you guessed it – Patrick!).

What a terrible week for New Zealand. I don’t think there’s anything that can be said about it that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over. Since I first visited Christchurch nearly a decade ago they have had a really rough time with earthquakes, and now a terror attack.

Canberra Day and Canberra Kangaroos

kangaroo-dog-and-man-810x520 ‘Only in Canberra’ Bizarre stand-off between kangaroo and dog caught on video

New Cover for Mary Balogh

My review of St. Patrick’s Journey by Calee M. Lee

Browser the Library Cat

Out Now: Toxic Game by Christine Feehan

Remember “Romantica”?

New Cover for Mary Balogh

The sixth book in Mary Balogh’s Westcott family series now has a cover (I’m guessing – by the spelling – this is the US cover). Balogh always gets lovely covers.

I’m really looking forward to this one. The book’s description is below the image.

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

First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh . . .

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother Harry home from the wars with Napoleon. He’s come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to – secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first these two seem to embody what the other most despises, they will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearance of the once grand lady and once humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love.

The Week: 18th – 24th February

Australian Grey Butcher Bird Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 16th February 2019 Bird Birds Nature Cute 1

Steve, our little resident grey butcherbird, hanging out on the back deck.

This week saw the fifth anniversary of the massacre in Kyiv, Ukraine, and revealed a massive plagiarism scandal affecting dozens of authors. A strange week all around.

Summer is nearly over here. As usual, the year is moving too fast!

Out Now: Devil’s Daughter

My review of Devil’s Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Devil's Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Courtney Milan Plagiarised

Plagiarism Update

Here's an updated list of the authors who've reported being plagiarised by Cristiane Serruya or had recipes stolen from their books.

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

A Title to Make You Groan

it's getting scot in here (wild wicked highlanders, #1) by suzanne enoch

No, it’s not Christmastime yet!

Ukrainian Christmas Eve 6th January 2018 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Canberra Australia Silver Christmas Tree Silver Blue Gold Decorations

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

There’s no cover yet, but Someone to Honour, the sixth book in Mary Balogh’s excellent Westcott family series is due out in November, and now has a description:

 

First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died, and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother, Harry, home from the wars with Napoleon. Gil has come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to—secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first Gil and Abigail seem to embody what the other most despises, each will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearances of the once-grand lady and the once-humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honour means, and how only with it can one find love.

Wish List for 2019

New Year 2019

Other years I’ve written a longish post about what I want to see in books in the new year.

This year? It’s simple:

  • More world issues in romantic suspense (though I suspect I’m in the minority on that one!). More books like Brynn Kelly’s which involve characters from all different countries.
  • More Regency romances in the style of Madeline Hunter and Mary Balogh, books where it feels like it’s the Regency era.
  • More Victorian romances like Lisa Kleypas’ and Mimi Matthews’.

That’s it!

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

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

During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.

After her husband’s passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snowbank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them, for she is nine years older than he.

They return to London the following Season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love. . . .

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

Someone to Trust takes its time to develop, but by the halfway point I thought it was doing something I haven’t come across often before, and I was hooked. Mary Balogh’s Westcott family books have the most unusual and diverse types of romances I’ve come across in a series, and yet it never feels forced.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a book that can be as easily enjoyed if readers are new to the series, and a glance at a few reviews confirms it. There are too many characters, with too many complex histories and relationships, for this one to be anything other than confusing to newbie – particularly in the Christmas scenes at the start.

However, beyond that, this is a bittersweet sort of story, with a relationship that starts off a little improbable, and develops into something very strong. We have a heroine who has been a background character for four books before this, steady, friendly, a little plain… and a widow who escaped an abusive husband. In her mid-thirties, she is watching life pass her by, and she is willing to settle on a loveless second marriage in order to achieve some of her dreams.

Our hero is the younger brother of the heroine of book three, and is significantly enough younger than the heroine that not a single character ever considered they could or would marry. However, he comes from a family of vain, narcissistic people, and has grown to appreciate a person’s character over anything else.

Something else I really appreciated was that the spinster aunt of the family, one who has been a bit of a caricature so far, was revealed to have hidden pain and lost hopes and dreams of her own. Even in reality – even today – women like her are still mocked for being husbandless and childless, and it’s so easy to forget that these women often had all the same plans for their futures other women did – only, they never achieved them.

And because I thought the characterisation of all involved was so realistic and even moving, this one comment stood out to me as deeply insensitive:

 

She had no children and no sense of humour—strange that those two things seemed to go together in his mind.

 

I’m still not sure why it was even in the book, considering how wonderfully the themes were handled the rest of the time.

Each book in this series seems to be a little more unconventional than the one that came before it, and – for me – each one is a surprise in that it is even more emotional, beneath that Regency veneer. I also think that is why the books in this series divide readers, many of whom probably aren’t looking for these themes in their historical romance romps.

This isn’t as easy a book to love as the other instalments in the series, and yet at some point as I was reading I realised I’d gone from liking it to loving it. Even with the occasional overabundance of characters, in amongst them was a deeply emotional story that I will remember when I’ve forgotten a lot of others.

The Week: 26th November – 2nd December

This has been a dramatic week both personally and for the world, and so I’ve run out of time to even take a picture of my Christmas decorations! Maybe next week…

Darth Putin is a parody account the Russians periodically try to get banned.

This week Russia’s war in Ukraine finally made it back into the news.

Tomi Adeyemi apologises to Nora Roberts

Tomi-AdeyemiTomi Adeyemi apologises to Nora Roberts

My review of The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor

Release Day for Mary Balogh

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

Helene Young: ‘I chose a career as a pilot over motherhood. I don’t regret a thing’

Shattered-Sky-Front-Cover1-190x300

Behind the Scenes of a Harlequin Cover Shoot

Go Behind the Scenes of a Harlequin Cover Shoot Falling for the Wrong Brother,