The Week: 5th – 11th June

Canberra Australia Winter Evening Lake Burley Griffin Sonya Heaney 11th June 2017 National Carillon Reflection Nature SunsetIMG_2045

Sunday afternoon on the lake in Canberra. That’s Defence on the other side of the water, with the American Eagle statue.

Enjoying the winter sunshine on Tuesday morning.

The neighbour’s cat has basically moved in now. So much for her being timid!

The trip from Queanbeyan to Canberra on Friday anfternoon.

I read a couple of good books this week (not reviewed here yet). One was a contemporary story about the daughter of an overly ambitious US Republican family, and the other was set in 1825 London – but not about aristocrats. However, I’m really struggling to take books about American politics seriously now, considering what is going on at the moment.

Terrible week in the aftermath of the London Bridge attacks. I honestly don’t understand how a man can just walk up to some innocent young woman (or older man – you know what I mean) and murder her like that. Donald Trump’s childish, ignorant responses only added to the disgust we outside the US feel for him.

The anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba

My review of A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms/Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical) by Winnie Griggs

My review of The Second Seduction of a Lady (The Wild Quartet 0.5) by Miranda Neville

Another Behind the Scenes Cover Video

Oh, the subtlety!

 

 

 

A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms/Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical) by Winnie Griggs

A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms-Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical)) by Winnie Griggs

*Despite the cover, there aren’t any horses in this book!*

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil. 

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms/Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical)) by Winnie Griggs

I think I’ve read about half the books in this series, and keep coming back to them because I consider Winnie Griggs to be one of Harlequin’s most reliable authors. Also, this line – when not going overboard with the Christian preaching – produces a lot of easy-to-read Western historical romances that I like to read between longer, darker books.

Set at the VERY end of the nineteenth century, this is a little later than most historicals I read. A Tailor-Made Husband is one of the best books I’ve read by this author. I wasn’t annoyed by the little girl (I’ve been unable to get through some Christian books because the children are nauseating); in fact, I liked the scenes with her the most.

I was much more interested in the family and relationship than I was the mystery, largely because I knew from the outset who was responsible for it. That part of the plot was in danger of some pretty negative stereotyping of women, but I think the author managed to get around it. She definitely does this better than most authors in this Harlequin line.

This is a Christian line, but the first praying didn’t turn up until the 20% mark, and I was so surprised to see it there I was confused for a moment – I’d forgotten it was a Christian book. That works well for me, and I can happily skip over the praying parts without losing anything from the story.

Something I really dislike is characters saying way more when it should be far more – this is something that drives me mad in historical fiction.

And something that is only loosely related to the book: if you’re an author who loves to “fantasy cast” your characters on Pinterest (worth visiting for the dress), I’d recommend not using Anissa Jones as the inspiration for your cute kid, considering her tragic life and very early death!

This is a solid entry both to this series and to this Harlequin line, and it made for nice, easy read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Texas Cinderella (Texas Grooms #8) by Winnie Griggs

texas-cinderella-texas-grooms-8-by-winnie-griggs

In Search of a Groom

After a life of drudgery on her family’s farm, Cassie Lynn Vickers relishes her freedom working in town as a paid companion for feisty Mrs. Flanagan. When her father suddenly demands she come home, she has no choice. Unless she can find a husband. If only she could convince handsome town newcomer Riley Walker to marry her…

Riley is on the run. He’s desperate to keep his niece and nephew safe from his crooked half brother. But a delay in Turnabout, Texas, shows him everything he didn’t know he was missing: home, family—and Cassie Lynn. Can he find a way to become her Prince Charming…and build a real family with the children and Cassie Lynn?

Texas Cinderella (Texas Grooms #8) by Winnie Griggs

The heroine of this book is supposed to be tiny. What happened with these cover models? She’s bigger than he is!

This is a sweet little story set in 1898 Texas. Our heroine is all but being dragged back to the family farm, when what she really wants is freedom and to run a business, and the only way she can see to stay in town is to find a husband.

The hero is not the best choice, as he has no plans to stay in town more than a couple of days, but of course sick children change that.

The setting is a little later than many historical romances, and so there are a few more freedoms here and there than earlier in the nineteenth century. Women aren’t exactly free to do as they want, but choosing a different life is slightly more acceptable. So it is an interesting choice of time.

What I liked best was that the children weren’t Romance Novel Children. Too many children in books like these are irritating, but Winnie Griggs makes them believable characters (and not annoying!).

An easy read from a reliable author.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 23rd – 29th November

christmas-lights-canberra-australia-world-record-20th-december-2014-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney2World Record Christmas Lights Canberra Australia 21st December 2013 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaneychristmas-lights-canberra-australia-20th-december-2014-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney-1

This week in Canberra – for years in a row – we broke a World Record for Christmas lights. It’s a bit scary, because now we feel like we have to break the record every year! The pictures above are ours from other record-breaking displays before this year.

I foresee a lot of decorating and present-wrapping in my coming week! I actually love the whole Christmas thing, but I doubt I’m going to get much else done, and then I’m away on holidays almost until Christmas.

Here is  a popular romance writing blog‘s take on guns, explaining that if people London and Madrid JUST HAD GUNS they would have survived their terrorist bombings…

As an Australian, I am beyond horrified.

Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Spring Sonya Heaney Sun Sky 18th November 2015

We had another hot week. This sunset is actually from last week, but here is it anyway! I haven’t played around with it in Photoshop – like so many do – but it was actually bright pink, not red. I think I need a new camera!

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Not even a good picture – but one I’m finding all over the internet!

On Tuesday my mother discovered that people have been using my pictures – no credit, and wrongly credited as Sydney instead of Canberra – on various (including tourism) sites. This is theft, and is especially annoying for me as I make an income from some of those pictures!

Daniela

Because White Ribbon Day (a campaign to stop violence against women) was this week, the media trotted out images of women who were murdered by their partners in 2015. As ever, the woman, Daniela, I’d known for twenty-five years, who was murdered by her boyfriend in late April, was all over the place again. Maybe because she was so gorgeous (that sounds really creepy), but whatever the reason, when they want a photo for a campaign to stop violence against women, they use her.

Magpie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th November 2015 Bird Garden Spring NatureUntitled

We have picked up a fourth magpie here (This isn’t it! This is the new girl magpie who thinks she’s my pet dog!). It’s a little baby one that seems to have lost its family and is hanging around the family that lives here. Poor little thing… However, watching it trying to eat without help makes you laugh. I know I shouldn’t, but I never really thought about birds not knowing how to use their beaks! Stupid little creature…

Since the weather is so good, I’ve been working outside quite often. But the silly magpies see my laptop and think it’s a great place to perch. And then they sit on it and close my laptop, and accidentally turn it off. I laugh, but they’re really inconveniencing me! The idiots!

Wild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners, #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

This was definitely not my best reading week! I’m still going through my crazy paranormal phase, but was disappointed by a favourite author’s newest book, and horrified by all the skinny shaming and misogyny in one by another author.

I’m not sure how the romance genre reached a point where it’s considered acceptable to refer to slim women as “bitches” for no reason whatsoever (while going on ad nauseam about the man’s perfect body), and using “skinny” as a gleeful insult… It’s hardly the Girl Power!, feminist thing they think they have going on!

Russian airstrikes target Turkish aid convoy in #Syria. 7 killed, 10 wounded.

This week Russia decided to punish Turkey by bombing their humanitarian aid conveys in Syria. Nice  of them…

Cindy Gerard’s Upcoming Book

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

My review of Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4) by J.R. Ward

 Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4) by J.R. Ward

My review of How to Bewitch an Earl (How To #2) by Ally Broadfield

How to Bewitch an Earl (How To #2) by Ally Broadfield

My review of Turbulent Sea (Drake Sisters #6) by Christine Feehan

Turbulent Sea (Drake Sisters #6) by Christine Feehan American Cover

My review of The Holiday Courtship (Texas Grooms) by Winnie Griggs

The Holiday Courtship (Texas Grooms) by Winnie Griggs

The Holiday Courtship (Texas Grooms) by Winnie Griggs

The Holiday Courtship (Texas Grooms) by Winnie Griggs

A Wife by Christmas  

As Christmas approaches, Hank Chandler is determined to find a wife to mother his sister’s orphaned children. When schoolteacher Janell Whitman offers to help him with his niece and nephew, she seems to be the perfect match—but she won’t accept his proposal. Instead, she insists she’ll find him another bride before the holidays. 

Janell moved to Turnabout, Texas, to put her past behind her and focus on her future—one that doesn’t include marriage. But while she plays matchmaker and cares for Hank’s children, she loses her heart to the two youngsters…and their adoptive father. If Janell reveals her secrets to Hank, will he still want her to be his Christmas bride?

The Holiday Courtship (Texas Grooms) by Winnie Griggs

Winnie Griggs writes solid romances that are a little bit Christian but not overwhelmingly so. Anyone can read and enjoy them.

The Holiday Courtship is a solid read, if not my favourite from her, involving the care of two orphaned children, one of whom was made deaf by the accident that killed her parents.

My problem with this one is the category romance format. It’s an unwritten rule (or is it actually a rule?) that these books begin with a really loooong section devoted to a very short space of time. In this book’s case, more than one quarter of the text is devoted to less than twenty-four hours in the timeline.

By this point the heroine has not just met the hero and his niece and nephew, but has taken them out, cared for and cooked and cleaned for them, made a longer-term commitment to help them, AND has received an offer of marriage from the hero.

It’s too much too soon, and I find that the way the starts of these books are dragged out makes it hard for me to slog through.

If you get beyond that, as I said, this author writes solid stories with some interesting topics. She really gets these little communities in developing parts of the US in the late nineteenth century. There’s plenty to like here, but I sometimes find the category romance format tiring to get through.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Second Chance Hero by Winnie Griggs

Second Chance Hero by Winnie Griggs

Winning the Widow’s Heart

To help his dying sister, Nate Cooper once broke the law—and he’s regretted it ever since. Now the ex-con turned saddler hopes for a new beginning in Turnabout, Texas. So when Nate saves a young widow’s daughter from imminent harm, he’s shocked to be called a hero.

Single mom Verity Leggett leads a safe life, avoiding danger and excitement at all costs. But her daughter’s rescuer Mr Cooper seems like a perfectly responsible—and handsome—man she can rely on. But when his secrets come to light, will Verity be able to get over his past and see Nate for the caring man he’s become?

Texas Grooms: In search of their brides…

Second Chance Hero by Winnie Griggs

This little Christian romance – don’t worry, it’s not preachy! – rolls along at a steady pace. It’s about redemption on the hero’s part, and about finding a second chance at love on the part of the widowed heroine’s.

Not as full of action and adventure as many books in the Western genre, this is about the characters, and the cast includes the heroine’s young daughter and our hero’s stray dog (love the name Beans!).

It’s hardly the most important thing in the book, but I was really happy to have a historical romance hero who was five foot nine. I get tired of anachronistic giants turning up in this genre all the time!

Though not my standout read of the year, fans of fairly gentle Christian fiction will probably enjoy this one.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Her Holiday Family by Winnie Griggs

Her Holiday Family by Winnie Griggs

THE CHRISTMAS CHILDREN

Reserved widow Eileen Pierce never considered herself the kind of woman who was cut out to be a mother. She wouldn’t know what to do with one child, much less ten. But when handyman Simon Tucker is stranded in town with a group of young orphans at Christmastime, she discovers she can’t just turn them away.

Simon knows there’s more to Eileen than meets the eye. Though his easygoing demeanour immediately clashes with her buttoned-up propriety, Simon’s kindness soon melts Eileen’s stern facade. Simon and the children already upended Eileen’s quiet, orderly life. Will they do the same to her guarded heart?

Texas Grooms: In search of their brides…

Her Holiday Family by Winnie Griggs

If you like tame Western historical romances, this is the kind of book you’ll probably enjoy. Yes, it’s a Christian romance, but I think the author did a good job of weaving the Christianity into everyday life rather than preaching. I don’t read Bibles or any of that, but I didn’t find the religion distracting.

Our hero turns up in town with ten children in tow, and he needs someone to take them in temporarily to care for them. However, I thought he was being desperately unrealistic when it came out he expected one person to take all of them in – including him!

Of course, that one person turns out to be our heroine. She was a little hard to understand at first because she’s not only a private person but she’s hiding secrets. She was also raised in a strict way and so wasn’t the best person to deal with unruly children at the beginning. However, I like it when a character can change and grow on you as you read.

As cheesy as the ten children theme might sound, I think it was handled pretty well. I know some readers will run screaming from the idea, but it was definitely not as over-the-top as it could have been.

This is the kind of book readers of the line will already know they enjoy, so I’m preaching to the converted. If Christian romance (or the American South in the late nineteenth century) isn’t your thing, this probably isn’t the book for you.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 30th June – 6th July

Snow on the Brindabella Ranges Canberra Australia 30th June 2014 Sonya Heaney Christopher Heaney 1

Snow on the mountains around Canberra.

Not a lot to say this week. Some really annoying things happened, but that has nothing to do with my reading! But I’m still annoyed…

We had some crazy weather in Australia, and winter finally decided to arrive. We don’t get snow here, but you could see it on the Brindabella Ranges.

I tried a few different books this week, including a paranormal book that made both vampires and werewolves out to be something other than sparkly and sexy! I’m also discovering I really enjoy reading about the Georgian era.

Poor Russia – the authorities have lost the plot. This week, some of their crazy bans (like the lace underwear ban) came into effect. And look how a Russian gang decided to celebrate the 4th of July:

russiansinkyivdestroyeaglestatueon4thjuly20143

By burning down an eagle statue in Kyiv, Ukraine. Nice of them… Is there anybody they aren’t going to target? Propaganda definitely makes people deranged.

My review of Lone Star Heiress by Winnie Griggs

Lone Star Heiress by Winnie Griggs

My review of A Hero in the Making by Laurie Kingery

A Hero in the Making by Laurie Kingery

My review of Her Irresistible Protector by Michelle Douglas

Her Irresistible Protector by Michelle Douglas

My review of The Texan’s Cowgirl Bride by Trish Milburn

The Texan's Cowgirl Bride by Trish Milburn

My review of Bride of a Scottish Warrior by Adrienne Basso

Bride of a Scottish Warrior by Adrienne Basso

My review of Lone Wolf Standing by Carla Cassidy

Lone Wolf Standing by Carla Cassidy

Lone Star Heiress by Winnie Griggs

 

Lone Star Heiress by Winnie Griggs

Rescuer Turned Husband?

Plucky Ivy Feagan is headed to Turnabout, Texas, to claim an inheritance, not a widower’s heart. That all changes when strapping schoolteacher Mitch Parker rescues her in the wilderness. Straightlaced Mitch has never met a woman like Ivy—beautiful, adventurous and good-hearted—but he already lost love once and doesn’t dare try again.

When Turnabout’s gossips target Mitch and Ivy’s friendship, he proposes to save her reputation. But Ivy doesn’t want to marry for honour, and she doesn’t need to marry for money. Ivy will only agree to a proposal made for love’s sake—but will Mitch make his heart part of the marriage offer?

Texas Grooms: In search of their brides…

Lone Star Heiress by Winnie Griggs

Christian books set in 19th century Texas aren’t really my thing, but I was all out of historical romances to read, so I thought I’d give Lone Star Heiress a chance.

I liked some aspects of this story a lot, and found others to be just okay. The plot is very slow to develop, but then Christian romances tend to be a little more like this than mainstream fiction.

I did really like the opening few chapters. Our heroine is surprised by our hero, falls, and injures herself. It gave them an excuse to spend time together despite social rules that otherwise wouldn’t have allowed it.

This is not the first book in the series, and I think people who are already fans will enjoy catching up with all the characters. For me as a newbie to the author’s “world”, I sometimes felt like the characters were just being dragged around town so we could meet up with everyone. There was a lot of going to various stores and restaurants apparently just for the hero to meet with friends and for the heroine to become familiar with all the characters.

I didn’t find the Christian aspect of the story too pushy or preachy. I also think the religious aspect works better in the historical setting – I don’t feel like I’m being preached to as much as getting a peek into the way people lived back then.

This was a decent enough little story. It was a bit too slow for me, which was unfortunate because the characters had the potential to make a fun read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.