The Week: 1st – 7th July

Tuggeranong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Mountains Nature 30th June 2019

The amazing Brindabellas that surround Canberra, at the end of last weekend.

The mountains are one of the inspirations for my book.

A crazy collection of noisy miner birds on Friday morning.

Busy week. I tried to get a lot of writing and editing done, but also this:

I swear, there is nothing more frustrating in this universe than trying to organise documentation and get through the red tape of a former (or current) communist country! The hoops you have to jump through are maddening, and I’ve done it twice in less than twelve months, first with communist China last year, and this week in preparation for two months (from August to October) in the former USSR. And it’s that difficult even with me knowing the staff at the embassy here in Canberra!

Why do I do this to myself? I’m not sure of the answer at the moment!

I got mansplained at by a twenty-one year old English guy this week. Not knowing I was Ukrainian, he spewed a whole lot of revolting Russian propaganda at me (what’s with the resurgence of under-thirty tankies?! It’s no better than being a Nazi.).

I was “informed” that Ukrainians want to be part of Russia (they don’t), that Ukrainians love Russians (they don’t – ethnic cleansing and genocide tend to sour people’s feelings). He also “informed” me that there’s nothing wrong with re-forming empires, and that England should be doing the same thing. I was further “informed” that Putin hasn’t done anything wrong (he has), that he wants good relations with the West (he doesn’t), and that it’s only the mean behavior of the EU that’s stopping Russia being good (uh, no).

What it all boils down to is that the whole world is capable of outrage about anything and everything that happens in the United States, but tens of thousands of dead Ukrainians don’t matter.

You know the term “seething with rage”? That’s what I was doing a few days ago.

Release Day for Mary Balogh

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

Release Day for Anne Gracie

Marry in Secret (Marriage of Convenience #3) by Anne Gracie

Cover Love

My review of Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

The Argentinian returns…

With a shocking proposal!

Alejandro Sabato, the unforgettable man from Emily Green’s past, has hired the PR executive to redeem his playboy reputation. She suggests he take a convenient wife to show he’s changed. What she doesn’t expect is Alejandro’s insistence that she take on the role! Emily is dangerously aware of the enduring desire still sparking between them. But can she risk her heart again when she’s only a bride on paper?

Turn the page and begin this marriage of convenience…

Look for 8 new titles from Harlequin Presents every month!

Harlequin Presents: Glamorous international settings… powerful men… passionate romances.

Bought Bride for the Argentinian by Sharon Kendrick

I nearly didn’t read this one because the woman on the cover reminded me too much of Ivanka Trump. Actually, even after completing the book I think she looks completely wrong for the heroine!

I was going through a bit of a Harlequin Presents thing recently because of discussion in a private writing group, and I worked my way through the review copies of upcoming books.

Bought Bride for the Argentinian is classic Presents – as you would expect from Sharon Kendrick. I liked a lot of things about it, and I liked that the author came up with a way to make her “down on her luck” heroine have a lot of strength and ambition, despite her circumstances.

Reunion romances are my favourites, so I loved that aspect of the story, too.

There were some editing issues that created inconsistencies. An example: the heroine tells the hero about her job in PR – and then a few pages later, during the same conversation, she’s shocked that he knows she works in PR! Harlequin has some of the best editing in the business, so I was a bit surprised by these little issues.

A portion of this book takes place at the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix, and as I’ve attended almost every one of those races since the mid-2000s, I could definitely nitpick, but I won’t. The one thing I’ll say: drivers don’t go out partying the night before they have to *race a car* at hundreds of kilometres an hour. They get paid tens of millions for their skills, and they take it seriously!

However, this book delivered on the Presents promise, and will be a fun, quick read for fans of the line.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Ten Years

It is the tenth anniversary of the publication of one of the romance genre’s most infamous books:

The Playboy Sheikh’s Virgin Stable Girl

If you’d like to have a good laugh, you can read the wonderful review/summary over at Smart Bitches.

The Playboy Sheikh_s Virgin Stable Girl by Sharon Kendrick

Polo-playing sheikh Prince Kaliq Al’Farisi loves his women as much as his horses. They’re wild, willing, and he’s their master!Stable girl Eleni is a local Calistan. Raised by her brutal father on the horse-racing circuit, she feels unlovable. When her precious horses are given to Sheikh Kaliq, she refuses to be parted from them.The playboy sheikh is determined to bed Eleni–and when Kaliq realises she’s a virgin, the challenge only becomes more interesting….

All those misconceptions about Harlequin/Mills and Boon

 Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

The world’s massive category romance publishing house does itself no favours. Don’t worry, I know it. With titles like The Playboy Sheikh’s Virgin Stable-Girl and Pregnesia you can’t really blame people for some of the things they assume.

The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl by Sharon Kendrick Pregnesia by Carla Cassidy

However, I recently read a one star review for a Harlequin book (Mills and Boon is the original company, and the name it still goes by in places like Britain and Australia). The reviewer’s problem? She’d picked it up because there were no intimate scenes and she’d been led to believe these books were riddled with explicit sex.

And they’re just not.

Similarly, people who have come to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander since the television show started – and who don’t like the rape and abuse in the book – insult it by calling it “a glorified Harlequin romance”. Same is said to insult Fifty Shades of Grey.

Even a lot of ardent romance readers dismiss the books without giving them a try.

Ugh. Just… ugh!

 Married by Christmas by Karen Kirst

I didn’t start reading category romance until recently, very recently. So recently that my first book was Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry, published only a few years ago. I wanted to try something to come to my own conclusions.  Sarah Mayberry is an Australian author, and the book is set somewhere I’ve been, so I thought if nothing else, I might enjoy that aspect of it.

 Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry

Sarah Mayberry converted me.

Beyond the cheesy cover and generic title was a great story, and – shock, horror – they didn’t have sex in every chapter! It was tame, it was about friends and family, it was about a woman who at thirty was getting on with her dreams – career dreams, not romance dreams.

The thing about category romance is that the books are literally divided into categories. Multiple branches of these are Christian fiction, so you’re going to be lucky to even get a chaste kiss. Other lines are about police officers and crime, about Jane Austen’s England, about all sorts of things.

This is not pornography. And many of the books have heaps of storylines going on beyond the romance.

Yes, there’re still category lines for all the sheikhs, secretaries and billionaires you could want, and yet even then if you’re looking for something racy, you might be disappointed.

 Season of Change by Melinda Curtis

As I said, they don’t do themselves any favours with the titles and covers, but these publishers aren’t cranking out garbage. There’s good and bad in every genre, from every publisher, but I will defend category romance to anyone. You can’t dismiss thousands and thousands of books with many themes and settings just like that.

I’ve read some truly terrible category romances, but some others also consistently make it onto my “Best Of” lists each year.