The Week: 13th – 19th May

When this post goes up I should be in Sydney. It’s just an overnight trip to see The Australian Ballet’s closing night performance of Giselle at the Opera House. It’s my favourite ballet, and the last one I ever danced.

This week was all about edits on my upcoming book. I’ve almost reached the point of I hate this thing and never want to read it ever, ever again! Quite normal when you’ve already read it eleventy-billion times in the past six months!

R.I.P. to Bob Hawke, who was Prime Minister of Australia for a big chunk of my childhood. I was so surprised to hear he’d died, as he’d been active in the election campaign these past few weeks.

On that note: happy day-after-election day to Australia – ha ha. I have zero confidence in the result (though, by the time this goes up we might already have a result). The world has become a lot crazier over the past decade, and – as the US proved in 2016 – anything can happen.

My father has been working at a pre-polling station for the past three weeks, filling in the time before starting a new management job (he doesn’t understand the concept of “retirement”), and he now has zero faith in the average Australian’s intelligence. A lot of people go to vote and don’t even know what the election is for! Voting is compulsory in Australia, and that’s something I have very mixed feelings about.

Book Feature: Jade by Jill Marie Landis

jade by jill marie landis

My review of First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

Cover Love

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie

Eurovision

First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

I’ve got to say this first: I’m really embarrassed about this cover. I’m not a “topless cover model guy” fan on a good day, but this guy is totally naked!

First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

Just a weekend…

Laura Nilsson knows what she wants: a successful career as a broadcast journalist—and a little fun between the sheets now and again. What she doesn’t want is marriage or kids. When a ripped and sexy stranger intervenes to stop a couple of drunks from harassing her in a hotel bar in Dubai City, all she can think about is spending the rest of the weekend with him—in her bed. There’s just one little problem. Unmarried sex is illegal in Dubai.

… of no-strings sex …

Navy SEAL Javier “Cobra” Corbray is on his way home from a rough deployment in Afghanistan when he finds himself having dinner with “the Baghdad Babe.” What she wants from him—sex with no strings—could land them both in prison. Still, he’s more than happy to oblige her. She’s confident and sexually assertive, and he’s secure enough to lie back and let her make the first strike. But, as she’s about to find out, he’s more than her match.

… or the beginning of something more?
Yet, neither Laura nor Javier has any idea what lies ahead—or how this weekend of mind-blowing sex will impact their emotions. Will they act on their new-found feelings in time, or will they let something special slip away… perhaps forever?

First Strike (I-Team #5.9) by Pamela Clare

First Strike is a novella with a cliffhanger of an ending, but it’s a really well-written one, steamier than I was expecting (but I probably should have got that from the cover!) and one that shows you the quality of Pamela Clare’s writing (in my opinion she’s one of the best authors around).

This was originally the opening of the sixth instalment in the I-Team suspense series, but it got too long and had to be cut from the book.

Set in Dubai, I’m very glad that Clare makes a thing about the restrictive laws there, because I was dubious about something steamy set in a country where even rape victims are locked up for “having premarital sex”. In fact, women’s and girls’ rights are the whole theme of the heroine’s work, and now I really need to find time away from my review book mountain to pick up Striking Distance, the book this is the prequel to.

I don’t know if the author has spent any time in the United Arab Emirates, but she seems to know her setting inside-out. It was Dubai as I recognise it, down to the different nationalities and ethnicities, to the expat scene… Except I don’t know anyone who calls the place “Dubai City”.

The UAE is not a country you want to get caught doing – well – anything in. You can buy alcohol all over the place, but if the authorities don’t like the look of you you can be put in prison for drinking it. It’s such an oddly hypocritical melting pot of people from the world over, and that’s what worked so well for me in how the author captured it.

A good read – but be prepared for steam!

Uh, Book Depository?

Striking Distance Pamela Clare Vladimir Putin Life Coach

For weeks now, I’ve been getting generated ads from The Book Depository on every second website I visit. And the two books above? They’re the two the company keeps recommending for me.

The Navy SEAL hero of Pamela Clare’s Striking Distance (read recently; reviewed soon) is a little different to wannabe macho man Vladimir Putin, who only a few days ago failed miserably – and publicly – at riding a horse (skip to 35 seconds into the video for a laugh), putting to rest the propaganda lie that he sexily rides around Russia topless.

Go and buy Striking Distance – it’s good. Vladimir Putin: Life Coach? Not so much.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

I have an Irish surname, so…

For St Patrick’s Day, here are some books I can think of with an Irish main character, or are actually set in Ireland:

The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie

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

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

IGNORE the AWFUL cover and trashy title! It’s a very good book.

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

Secrets in Scarlet (Rookery Rogues Book 2) Erica Monroe

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

Finally: If you want a book with a hero who came from Ireland centuries ago, you could always try this very popular vampire read!

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

The Week: 17th – 23rd October

yellow-roses-canberra-australia-sonya-heaney-spring-garden-18th-october-2016-nature

white-roses-canberra-australia-sonya-heaney-spring-garden-18th-october-2016-nature

Spring Roses

We booked tickets for the Royal Ballet in London this week. I used to go to Covent Garden all the time when I lived in London, but it’s been years since my last visit. We’ll be seeing The Sleeping Beauty, and the performance we’re seeing is being broadcast in cinemas around the world. It’s a very stressful, difficult ballet to be performing with that extra pressure!

We had a big family thing this week, because our French/Swiss family were all here. My father’s side of the family is HUGE, so a family event means a million people crammed into a house!

This pretty much sums up the US election:

3rd-debate-putin-and-trump-together

Nobody is forcing people to like Hillary Clinton, but I’ve been horrified by some romance authors and their followers this week, women who support Trump so much they are denying women ever experience sexual harassment. So much for romance respecting women!

The we get more stories like this one:

Italy abortion row as woman dies after hospital miscarriage

I am Catholic, and the church is a huge part of Ukrainian culture. I don’t think people understand that I’m deathly serious when I say I’m not going to church ever again. I’m sick of the Catholic church murdering women and then calling themselves “pro-life”. These stories are coming out of Ireland, Italy, Poland, everywhere.

When almost ALL doctors in Italy refuse to perform medical procedures to save women’s lives – because of religion – well, Italy has a big human rights issue. Women matter more than unviable foetuses.

And speaking of wholesome “God-fearing” men:

Arkansas judge who ‘traded sexual favours’ in return for lighter sentences indicted

‘Joseph Boeckmann resigned in May after dozens of men claimed he paid them to allow him to spank them with a paddle and to take photos of the red skin.

…the opportunity to view and to photograph in compromising positions persons who appeared before him in traffic and misdemeanour criminal cases in exchange for dismissing the cases”.’

Seriously, what is happening to the world at the moment…?

My review of Slow Burn (Colorado High Country #2) by Pamela Clare

slow-burn-colorado-high-country-2-by-pamela-clare

Laurell K. Hamilton on research in Ireland

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‘Romance Novels Empower My Feminism’

Sarah Mayberry Julie James Contemporary Romance Book Covers

Cover Love

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery book 1) by Deanna Raybourn

Cover Love

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Slow Burn (Colorado High Country #2) by Pamela Clare

slow-burn-colorado-high-country-2-by-pamela-clare

Victoria Woodley is done with men. Fresh off a dating nightmare, she flies from her home in Chicago to Scarlet Springs to take part in her best friend’s wedding. Who picks her up at the airport? Eric Hawke. Of course. She made a fool of herself over him last time she was here. He’s cocky, charming, and sexy as sin. But the fact that she’s attracted to him is all the proof she needs that he’s bad news. She would ignore him if she could. But he’s the best man, and she’s the maid of honor. She can’t just tell him to jump in a lake—especially not when her lips are locked with his.

Eric isn’t looking for a relationship. Between running the firehouse and volunteering for the county’s search and rescue team, he has enough on his plate. He doesn’t need to get tangled up with a woman from the big city, especially one whose idea of roughing it is going without designer coffee. Yet from the moment he looks into Victoria’s big brown eyes, the attraction he feels is too strong to deny. Faster than he can imagine, the spark of desire that has smoldered between them since the first day they met will flare into full-blown passion.

But can Eric convince Victoria to set aside her doubts and trust him with her heart before their time together runs out?

Slow Burn (Colorado High Country #2) by Pamela Clare

Pamela Clare is one of the best romance writers around. I didn’t even bother finding out what this book was about before I cracked open my review copy – I knew I’d enjoy whatever it was, and whatever subgenre it was written in.

Slow Burn might be the second in a series, but I don’t think that’s an issue if – like me – you haven’t read the first book. Clare creates completely modern, relevant, believable characters. There is no shame attached to sex (and some parts of this book are fairly steamy – as if the cover doesn’t give it away!). She has created a community of friends who seem like normal, twenty-first century thirty-somethings, with modern, twenty-first century dramas.

The hero and heroine are thrown together in a way that makes the speed of their relationship believable. They’re leading the wedding party of the hero and heroine of the first book, and taking part in days of organised activities in the build-up to it.

I tend to have a problem with books where everyone is moving to a small town because the city is evil, and they are all acting like an older generation with different priorities in life. However, I didn’t find this to be the case at all in this book, which was a huge relief. The small town is made out to be the sort of place that might appeal to people in the main characters’ demographic.

If there’s one thing I’m not so sure about, I think it’s a cultural difference on my part. Where I live nobody would try some of the emotional speeches and grand gestures that these characters do (e.g. at the wedding or at Thanksgiving). We’re a little too sarcastic for that sort of stuff in my neck of the woods!

However, I did really enjoy this one. It felt much more realistic to me than most contemporary romance.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.