One Year

Today is the one-year anniversary of Harlequin making me an offer for the manuscript that would become The Landowner’s Secret. A lot has happened since then, and in that time I’ve worked on a number of other books. So much has changed in the past twelve months.

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Just in case you’re interested, here’s the book’s information again:

The Landowner’s Secret

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

Read the first two chapters.

HarperCollins AU US UK

Amazon AU US UK CA IN

The Artist’s Secret Cover!

I was waiting to get a file from my publisher before I put this up, but The Artist’s Secret, the second book in what is now named the Brindabella Secrets trilogy, has started to appear online for preorders, so I’m sharing it!
I LOVE this cover. It was supposed to be an orangey-red colour, but was changed to blue, and I couldn’t be happier. The scenery in the background looks just like the region the story is set.
I’ll share more preorder links in a few days, but the book’s page on romance.com.au links to Amazon etc.
So, here it is (and the blurb is beneath it):

The Artist's Secret (Brindabella Secrets #2) by Sonya Heaney

Despite their growing attraction, both Peter and Elizabeth have secrets that will come between them.
New South Wales, 1887

Peter Rowe’s life is in the city, but his soul is in Australia’s southern tablelands-a place he’s never seen. Taking the new land manager’s position on the thriving estate of Endmoor is the chance he needs to discover what happened to the family he has never met. What he doesn’t expect to find in the bush is his employer’s talented, beautiful sister.

Elizabeth Farrer’s world is changing rapidly. An artist whose work has begun to gain acclaim, her brother’s marriage has made her redundant in her own home and she intends to leave the country and make a life of her own. Her plans would take her far from her beloved New South Wales, but with the arrival of Endmoor’s newest employee-a man unlike any other she has met-she discovers there might just be a reason to stay right where she is.

Just as they conquer their most difficult obstacles, old prejudices rise up and threaten to keep them apart …

 

The Week: 17th – 23rd February

This has been a busy week. I’m working hard to get my next book finished by my self-imposed deadline of mid-March; I’ve learnt that I’m the kind of person who needs those deadlines to get things done, even if it gets really stressful near the end!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

Here’s another reminder that Australian and Kiwi readers can buy my first book, The Landowner’s Secret, for $1.99 until the end of this month!

Chasing Cassandra (Ravenels #6) (2020) (The sixth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas US Cover 2019

I haven’t had much time to read this week, but I’m working my way through Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas – which came out on Tuesday – and I’m loving it so far.

Release Day for Chasing Cassandra

Chasing Cassandra, the sixth and final book in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels series, is out now!

Chasing Cassandra (Ravenels #6) (2020) (The sixth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas US Cover 2019

Everything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything – or anyone – is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife – and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love – the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants – or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun . . .

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas returns with the next dazzling romance in the Ravenels series – perfect for fans of Sarah MacLean, Julia Quinn and Eloisa James.

Book News!

I have something wonderful for my next book, The Artist’s Secret, that I desperately want to share, but I can’t yet! The book’s release date has been changed, so you’ll have to wait a few extra weeks.

However … Yesterday, after a crazy-long wait, my editor sent me the cover for approval, and I LOVE it. As with the cover of The Landowner’s Secret, the background image is perfect. And the main image? Well, I’ll give a spoiler: the cover took so long to reach me because it was rejected by the Harlequin team and sent back to be redone a couple of times.

The problem was that the colour scheme wasn’t working, so they changed it completely. The spoiler: now it’s blue. And anybody who regularly reads this blog probably noticed that’s a colour I have a little obsession with – especially on book covers!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share the cover very soon.

Chasing Cassandra Excerpt

An excerpt of Chasing Cassandra, the sixth book in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels series, is available to read on her website. The book is out on the 18th of this month.

Chasing Cassandra (Ravenels #6) (2020) (The sixth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas US Cover 2019

Everything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything – or anyone – is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife – and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love – the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants – or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun . . .

January Roundup

Namadgi National Park Southern Canberra Tuggeranong Bushfire Brindabella Range Mountains Sonya Oksana Heaney Evening of 28th January 2020

Bushfire view from my back deck. Flames crossing the ridge.

I’ve avoided writing weekly summaries for a while now because so much has been happening, and Canberra has been hit by natural disaster after natural disaster (which have been routinely knocking out the internet). We’ve had two freak hailstorms that destroyed large parts of the city, and fire after fire after fire. My brother was trapped in Canberra Airport a few days ago, when a fire burnt into the city from the east.

It’s been frightening to spend the last few nights watching flames coming into our valley – and it brings back memories of the horrific firestorm that hit us in 2003.

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My apartment view in Brisbane.

I was also in Brisbane for a while – how strange to be in a part of Australia where there’s no evidence of fire when your own region is burning!

In Canberra we’ve had record-breaking, relentless heat, smoke, and waterbombers flying over the house all day and all night. Seeing the giant American DC-10 water tanker flying low over your house is surreal and scary.

EDIT. The DC-10 from Alabama flying over my house just before 3pm today:

Water Bombing Aeroplane Surveillance Namadgi Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

A plane dumping fire retardant flies over my house, back from the fires. It looks like the evening, but that’s the middle of the afternoon.

My local library is now an evacuation centre as a massive fire sweeps in towards Canberra. Today is expected to be catastrophic, and the army is door-knocking in my area to prepare people for what’s to come.

None of us know what’s going to happen over this weekend …

Currawong Bushfire Smoke Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Oksana Heaney 29th January 2020

The Landowner’s Secret for $1.99!

The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Summer of Love Promotion

SUMMER OF LOVE_1080X1080 - The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

Happy 207th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

Jane Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, was published on the 28th of January 1813. Here is the front page from a first edition copy of the book.

My review of Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl

Book Feature: The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes

the perfect wife by katherine scholes

Regency Ostriches

Lord Avery's Legacy by Allison Land

Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

Queanbeyan, New South Wales lies just over the state border from Canberra (about a fifteen-minute drive from where I live). It serves as inspiration for my town in my book, The Landowner’s Secret (on sale now!), which is set in the 1880s. (I don’t use the same place name, however.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in Queanbeyan over the years because I’ve always had family who lived there, and so I know the place very well. I was christened and made my first communion there, in the Ukrainian church my refugee grandfather helped to build. We also have a bit of a family tradition of Friday or weekend lunch at one of the old pubs in town.

However, being able to track down some images of the town from the Victorian era, of the buildings that the reckless developers pulled down in the 1970s, has been invaluable.

Here is John Bull’s Store, circa 1883:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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Here is the old post office, built between 1879 and 1880:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Built 1879-80. Post office in Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia. From the Queanbeyan Museum.

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And here is Monaro Street, which is still Queanbeyan’s main street, circa 1880. It’s a faded old photo, but I notice the town’s transformation over the 1880s, as the population grew and the railway arrived (in 1887), and I have tried to incorporate that into the series:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Monaro Street, looking East, Queanbeyan c. 1880. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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More images can be found on the book’s Pinterest board.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

The Landowner’s Secret

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

Regency is NOT Victorian – which is NOT Edwardian!

Santos-Dumont_flight_around_the_Eiffel_TowerSanto Dumont circles the Eiffel Tower on 13 July 1901 in Dirigible No. 5 Paris 1901 airship zeppelin edwardian era.jpg

Paris in 1901 – a time of photography and airships.

All right, I’ve had it. If I see one more book or television show or movie about the Tudors or Marie Antoinette or World War One labelled as a “Regency romance”, I’m going to scream!

Even if you use a slightly extended version of the term “Regency” to describe historical romance books (say, 1800 to 1830), I think it should be made illegal to call stories set a full century before or after the era “Regency romances”.

A popular author’s new historical romance series is allegedly set in the early 1900s, and yet it’s being labelled “Regency” by readers and publishers alike, and fails to include any of the massive changes that happened in the world in those ninety years between one era and the other. I’m seeing this so often in historical fiction that it’s driving me bonkers!

Here’s how it works:

Regency era:

1811-1820

Jane Austen, skinny dresses, Napoleon, and a man too mentally unstable to rule on the British throne.

Mailcoach England 1827

Transport in 1827

First_electric_tram-_Siemens_1881_in_LichterfeldeFirst electric tram- Siemens 1881 in Lichterfelde

Transport in the 1880s

Victorian era:

1837-1901

Trains, photographs, telegrams, telephones, big sleeves and even bigger skirts, Christian morals hiding dirty lifestyles, and a short, (allegedly) grumpy lady on the British throne.

Flatiron_Building_under_construction_II,_New_York_City,_1902Flatiron Building (at the time still called the Fuller Building) in early stage of construction, Fifth Avenue and Broadway, New York City. edwardian era

New York City in 1902

Edwardian era:

1901-1910

Cars, airships, early feature films, and a large, sickly man on the British throne.

Labelling an Edwardian book set nearly a century after Jane Austen died as Regency is like setting a book in 2019 and including the first Academy Awards (with Emil Jannings – born 135 years ago – winning best actor), Stalin’s purges, the birth of Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the death of Wyatt Earp. Oh, and while we’re at it, we might as well include the Wall Street Crash and the beginning of the Great Depression, and pretend the internet doesn’t exist. In 2019.

Absurd? Yes. So please, please stop it. The past is a little more complicated – and interesting – than that.