New Release Book Review: Undaunted by Leah Ashton

I loved this book, it kept me up til 2am, because I just had to know what was going to happen next. I was lucky enough to preorder a copy of this book last November at the WCFF, I’ve now read it twice as I didn’t get my thoughts down after the first read, thinking I’d remember what I wanted to say.

davUndaunted is the first in a new series, and a new direction for Leah Ashton, and I think she’s on to a winner, I’ve already preordered book 2.

The WASP Team Series is a hot romantic suspense that had me on the edge, not only with the drama going on, but with the chemistry between police officer Luella Brayshaw and WASP operator Nate Rivers.

WASP has brought together every elite police department: tactical response, dignity protection, covert surveillance, bomb technicians, negotiators, snipers – and more – to protect Western Australia from crime. 

At the end of a WASP training exercise Lou (Luella) and Nate end up on a train from Perth to Fremantle where they inadvertently stumble into a situation that will put them in danger and bring to the surface plenty of unresolved personal issues and tension between the two of them, the chemistry was sparking straight away.

I loved reading a book set in my home state, there are plenty set in the Eastern States or in country WA, but few in suburban Perth. I was right there on that train, travelling a trip I’ve done myself once or twice, luckily without an armed crazy man travelling with me.

Nate and Lou are great characters who are completely relatable, as was the backstory of their relationship over a decade previously which comes out as they remember what it was like between them and the way Nate broke Lou’s heart.

A highly enjoyable read that grabbed me from the start.

Amazon AU ebook

Amazon AU paperback

Booktopia

Goodreads

Website

Facebook

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cocktails with Claire: Q&A with Leah Ashton

dav

Hi Leah and welcome, we are celebrating your new direction and your new novel, the first in the WASP Team series. What cocktail would you like to start with for the celebration?

A gin and tonic with a wedge of lime!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure! I live in Perth, I’m married and I have two awesome girls. I’m an introvert, positive, stubborn, and determined.

When did you start writing and was it something you had always wanted to do?

I started writing in my early twenties when a great friend of mine told me she was writing a book, and took me along to a romance writing workshop. I loved to write stories in primary school, and I used to love having my work chosen to be read out to the class. But when I hit high school my stories were clearly not literary enough (and my creative writing marks reflected this) and so I left highschool thinking I wasn’t particularly good at writing stories. So I never planned to be a writer!

How many books have you published so far?

9 books with Harlequin Mills & Boon (contemporary romance) and the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series is out now. 

Your new series WASP Team is a different direction to your previous novels, can you tell us what triggered the change of direction in your writing and what can you tell us about that new direction and how you came up with your ideas?

When I started writing for publication I targeted Harlequin Mills & Boon as writing contemporary romance felt “easier” than having to come up with a romantic suspense plot – even though I’ve loved reading romantic suspense since I was a teenager! I just didn’t think I had clever enough suspense ideas in my head – I’ve always found coming up with ideas the hardest part of writing. I’m not one of those writers that has a million ideas warring in their head. I generally have exactly one idea, and I’ve fought hard for it! 

But after writing so many books for Mills & Boon, my confidence had grown in my writing, and I’d also started to push my creativity. For example, my last two books for Mills & Boon are set on a fictional island nation, and I had to create all sorts of fictional laws and rules and locations – and it made me realise that I’M in charge of my fictional world, and can make up whatever I like. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I think I’ve always taken “write what you know” too close to heart, and it stifled my creativity. 

With my WASP series I’m finally writing the books that I love to read, which are hot, fast paced and suspenseful. I wanted to write a series and so thought an elite policing team would be a great way to link my books. I also wanted to cover more than just tactical (SWAT) police, so WASP is made up of lots of different teams – like undercover operations, police bodyguards etc etc – it gives me way more scope to write different types of stories within the WASP world.

I have been lucky enough to read book one UNDAUNTED, and I loved it, in fact, it kept me up until 2am reading because I just had to know what was going to happen. I especially liked that it was set in Perth and I could relate to all the places in the story. What can you tell us about the story to entice others to read UNDAUNTED and the rest of the series?

Undaunted was supposed to be a short novella, but soon I realised that there was way too much story for that! It was inspired loosely by the movie Speed (with Keanu Reeves) in that the action starts almost straight away, with a hostage situation taking place on a train in chapter two. I’ve aimed to keep up the pace through the whole book, but I’ve also made sure that it is primarily a romance. 

The titles of all my WASP books are related to the heroine, so it is Luella who is “undaunted” in this book. She is a police officer who made a big mistake a few weeks before the books starts, and she’s been stripped of her firearm and put onto desk duties. Throughout the book Luella has to confront that mistake, and eventually learn to forgive herself. Nate and Lou have a shared past, too, that they need to overcome, even if their attraction for each other is as electric as ever. I love Lou and Nate as characters – they are both proud, strong people who are brilliant cops – but they aren’t perfect. They make mistakes, they are vulnerable – and they have really fantastic sex 🙂

How long on average does it take you to write a WASP book? And how much research did you have to do for this series in order to keep the police procedures realistic?

I allow about 12 weeks to write a book, but the reality is that I usually write the bulk of it in the six weeks before it’s due.

I am lucky to have access to a police officer who I can ask lots of questions, but Google is also super helpful 🙂 I probably spend more time researching before I start writing, to make sure the general concept is plausible, and from there I just research a little as needed as I write.

Your WASP series is has criminal aspects, what crime would you like to get away with and how would you go about it?

I wouldn’t like to get away with any crime, the guilt would destroy me! 

But if I had to, I’d hack into a bank to siphon money away from greedy corporations that dodge taxes, and donate it to domestic violence and refugee charities. 

Oh I like that crime which is really rectifying a wrong, a modern day Robin Hood

Have you always been a reader, if so what is your favourite childhood book? Did reading as a child have any bearing on your decision to become a writer?

My favourite childhood book was A Stable for Jill by Ruby Ferguson. I LOVED pony books, I still have my favourites on my bookshelf now. I used to read voraciously as a child and teenager (and adult until I started writing!) and I’m positive all the reading I did as a kid has helped my writing now, even if I didn’t aspire to be a writer until much later.

Do you read your book reviews? Do you appreciate reader feedback and take it on board, even if it is negative? How do you deal with negative feedback after spending so much time writing your book?

Yes, I do read them. A great review can make my day! And a bad review is always at least a momentary kick in the guts. However the more books I write the more confidence I have in my writing, and if someone really dislikes my book I now tell myself that my style is just not for them, rather than assuming I am actually the Worst Author Ever.

If I was seeing consistent feedback in my reviews I would definitely take it on board. I know I can always improve as a writer.

Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people would know?

I played the flute from age 7-17 and played in my high school band. I wasn’t very good, however 🙂

How has being Australian AND a woman impacted on your writing and/or writing career?

The impact has only been positive for me, as the Australian romance writing community is incredibly supportive, and it’s a lot easier for a woman to write romance than a man. With Undaunted out next week (as I write this) I’m yet to see whether the Australian setting is a plus or minus for international readers *crosses fingers*.

What authors and types of books do you love the most?

I love romantic suspense, historical romance and contemporary romance. Some of my favourite authors are Linda Howard, Karen Robards, Laura Lee Guhrke, Tessa Dare, Tessa Bailey, Molly O’Keefe and Sarah Mayberry.

Is there anything you would like to add before we chill and have another cocktail?

Only to say that if you love a book (whether mine or any authors!), please consider sending the author an email or contacting them on social media to let them know, or writing a review. Writing can be isolating at times, and there’s nothing better than hearing from readers.

Can you tell us what’s next for the WASP Team? And are there any other projects in the pipeline?

Book two is called Definant, and is out about 4 weeks after Undaunter (just before Easter). In Defiant the hero, Damon, is an undercover cop for WASP, and the heroine, Beth, is a recently divorced high school teacher. A one night stand ends in a kidnapping and they end up running for their lives across the desert to escape a murderous bikie gang. It was fun to write, and I LOVED that Beth is a little older than Damon. Plus, it ended up being super hot. Honestly, I don’t know what has happened to me – my MIlls & Boon books were so sweet 🙂

For now WASP is my only focus, but I have four more WASP books in the pipeline. Relentless (book 3) will be out in May and is about a politician’s daughter and the bodyguard she doesn’t want – and then in book four (no title yet!) the hero and heroine are both police snipers. 

Thank you so much Leah for joining me for a few coctails and a chat, I can’t wait to read the other books in this series.

About the book:

The first book in the exhilarating WASP Team Series by RITA Award Winning Author Leah Ashton

A gunman. Five hostages. And her ex. Trapped. On a train.

A disgraced police constable

Luella Brayshaw is a great cop. Until she isn’t.

Dumped on desk duties and stripped of her firearm, Lou’s first task is a civilian role in a covert training exercise for WASP. But when that exercise goes horribly wrong, she’s stuck on a train to Fremantle with five terrified hostages – and the man who broke her heart more than a decade ago.

An elite tactical operator

Nate Rivers has dedicated his life to his career. That meant making tough choices – including walking away from Lou. But he’s never doubted that decision… until now.

Twelve years on, Nate is shocked to discover the connection between him and Lou is as electric as ever. But first – they need to get off this train.

A desire they never forgot

The gunman has no idea he has two cops on his train – but unarmed, can Nate and Lou keep everyone alive all the way to Fremantle?

And if they do, Lou knows she can’t make the mistake of trusting Nate with her heart again. But faced with a new threat, they must work together to survive as their passion ignites – and this time, there’s no way Nate is walking away.

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon AU paperback

Booktopia

Website

Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Bingo round 6 + book review

IMG_20190315_112405

This week I’m crossing off the Themes of Fantasy square after reading Akanae by Lynette Noni, I’ve been wanting to read this for ages due to another blogger writing about the series, and I was lucky enough to find it in the book exchange on the last mine site I was on.

Akanae is a YA novel, but I enjoyed it a lot and will be reading the rest of the series. When Alex inadvertently steps through a doorway to another place, it’s the beginning of an adventure and new friendships.

I loved the main characters in this, especially Bear and Jordan who befriend Alex straight away on finding her lost in the woods. They are such fun and loyal friends, completely supporting Alex as she comes to terms with being stuck in Medora and all the differences the world has in it. Finding friends like that is so hard to do. Alex comes to terms with her new circumstances much easier than I would, and takes to her new life in Akanae with ease and wonder.

There’s extremely interesting technology in Medora, everyone at Akanae has a gift or talent of some kind that they are at the academy honing and the lessons all sound extremely interesting, though I’m not sure how I’d go in the combat classes.

There’s a mystery surrounding the library at Akanae and a mysterious stranger who I thought was a bad guy immediately. There’s also plenty of mystery surrounding why Alex has arrived in Medora to begin with.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

 

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop Blog Tour

RosiesTravellingTeaShop_BLOG_TOURToday I’m excited and happy to share with you an exert of Rebecca Raisin’s new novel Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop. If you read my pre-release book review a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know how much I enjoyed this novel. Check out my review here

 

 

 

Chapter OneIMG_20190221_212054

       ‘You’re just not spontaneous enough, Rosie…’

       I’ve misheard, surely. Fatigue sends my brain to mush at the best of times but after twenty hours on my feet, words sound fuzzy, and I struggle to untangle what he’s getting at.

       It’s just gone 2 a.m. on Saturday 2nd February and that means I’m officially 32 years old. By my schedule I should be in the land of nod, but I’d stayed late at work to spontaneously bake a salted caramel tart to share with Callum, hoping he’d actually remember my birthday this year.

       He’s never been a details man – we’re opposites in that respect – so I try not to take it to heart, but part of me hopes this is all a prelude to a fabulous birthday surprise and not the brewing of a row.

       ‘Sorry, Callum, what did you say?’ I try to keep my voice light and swig a little too heartily on the cheap red wine I found in the back of the cupboard after Callum told me we needed to have a chat. Surreptitiously, I glance to the table beside me hoping to see a prettily wrapped box but find it bare, bar a stack of cookbooks. Really, I don’t need gifts, do I? Love can be shown in other ways, perhaps he’ll make me a delicious breakfast when we wake up…

       My eyes slip closed. With midnight long gone, my feet ache, and I’m weary right down to my bones. Bed is calling to me in the most seductive way; come hither and sleep, Rosie, it says. Even the thought of a slice of luscious ooey-gooey birthday tart can’t keep me awake and compos mentis. But I know I must focus, he’s trying to tell me something…

        ‘Are you asleep?’ The whine in his voice startles me awake. ‘Rosie, please, don’t make this any harder than it has to be,’ he says, as if I’m being deliberately obtuse.

       Make what harder – what have I missed? I shake my head, hoping the fog will clear. ‘How am I not spontaneous? What do you even mean by that?’ Perhaps he’s nervous because he’s about to brandish two airline tickets to the Bahamas. Happy Birthday, Rosie, time to pack your bags!

       He lets out a long, weary sigh like I’m dense and it strikes me as strange that he’s speaking in riddles at this time of the morning when I have to be at the fishmonger in precisely five hours.

       ‘Look…’ He runs a hand through his thinning red hair. ‘I think we both know it’s over, don’t we?’

       ‘Over?’ My mouth falls open. Just exactly how long did my power nap last for? ‘What… us?’ My incredulity thickens the air. This does not sound anything like a birthday celebration, not even close.

       ‘Yes, us,’ he confirms, averting his eyes.

       ‘Over because I’m not—’, I make air quotes with my fingers, ‘—spontaneous enough?’ Has he polished off the cooking sherry?

       My husband still won’t look at me.

       ‘You’re too staid. You plan your days with military precision from when you wake to when you sleep, and everything in between has a time limit attached to it. There’s no room for fun or frivolity, or god forbid having sex on a day you haven’t scheduled it.’

       So I’m a planner? It’s essential in my line of work as a sous-chef in esteemed Michelin-starred London restaurant Époque, and he should know that, having the exact same position in another restaurant (one with no Michelin stars, sadly). If I didn’t schedule our time together we’d never see each other! And I wouldn’t get the multitude of things done that need doing every single hour of every day. High pressure is an understatement.

       ‘I… I…’ I don’t know how to respond.

       ‘See?’ He stares me down as if I’m a recalcitrant child. ‘You don’t even care! I’d get more affection from a pot plant! You can be a bit of a cold fish, Rosie.’

       His accusation makes me reel, as if I’ve been slapped. ‘That’s harsh, Callum, honestly, what a thing to say!’ Truth be told I’m not one for big shows of affection. If you want my love, you’ll get it when I serve you a plate of something I’ve laboured over. That’s how I express myself, when I cook.

       It dawns on me, thick and fast. ‘There’s someone else.’

       He has the grace to blush.

       A feeling of utter despair descends while my stomach churns. How could he?

       ‘Well?’ I urge him again. Since he’s dropping truth bombs left, right and centre, he can at least admit his part in this… this break-up. Hurt crushes my heart. I hope I’m asleep and having a nightmare.

       ‘Well, yes, there is, but it’s not exactly a surprise, surely? We’re like ships that pass in the night. If only you were more—’

       ‘Don’t you dare say spontaneous.’

       ‘—if only you were less staid.’ He manages a grin. A grin. Do I even know this man who thinks stomping over my heart is perfectly acceptable?

       He continues reluctantly, his face reddening as if he’s embarrassed. ‘It’s just… you’re so predictable, Rosie. I can see into your future, our future because it’s planned to the last microsecond! You’ll always be a sous-chef, and you’ll always schedule your days from sun up to sun down. You’ll keep everyone at arm’s length. Even when I leave, you’ll continue on the exact same trajectory.’ He shakes his head as though he’s disappointed in me but his voice softens. ‘I’m sorry, Rosie, I really am, but I can see it playing out – you’ll stay resolutely single and grow the most cost-effective herb garden this side of the Thames. I hope you don’t, though. I truly hope you find someone who sets your world on fire. But it’s not me, Rosie.’

       What in the world? Not only is he dumping me, he’s planning my spinsterhood too? Jinxing me to a lonely life where my only companion is my tarragon plant? Well, not on my watch! I might be sleep-deprived but I’m nobody’s fool. The love I have for him pulses, but I remember the other woman and it firms my resolve.

       He sighs and gives me a pitying smile. ‘I hate to say it, Rosie. But you’re turning into your dad. Not wanting to leave the…’

       ‘Get out,’ I say. He is a monster.

       ‘What?’

       Cold fish, eh? ‘OUT!’ I muster the loudest voice I can.

       ‘But I thought we’d sort who gets what first?’

       ‘Out and I mean it, Callum.’ I will not give him the satisfaction of walking all over me just because he thinks he can.

       ‘Fine, but I’m keeping this apartment. You can—’

       ‘NOW!’ The roar startles even me. You want to see me warm up? ‘LEAVE!’

       He jumps from the couch and dashes to the hallway, where I see a small bag he’s left in readiness, knowing the outcome of our ‘quick chat’ long before I did. With one last guilty look over his shoulder, he leaves with a bang of the door. He’s gone just like that.

       As though I’m someone so easy to walk away from.

       Laying down on the sofa, I clutch a cushion to my chest and wait for the pain to subside. How has it all gone so wrong? There’s someone else in his life? When did he find time to romance anyone?

       Sure, I don’t go out much, other than for work purposes, but that’s because there’s no bloody time to go out! I’m not like my dad, am I? No, Callum is using that as ammunition, knowing how sensitive I am to such a comparison.

       The sting of his words burns and doubt creeps in. Am I not spontaneous enough? Am I far too predictable?

       Admittedly I’d been feeling hemmed in, ennui creeping into everything, even my menu. Each day bleeding into the next with no discernible change except the plat de jour. Sure, my professional life is on track but lately even my enthusiasm for that has waned. I’ve had enough of tweezing micro herbs to last a lifetime. Of plating minuscule food at macro prices. Of the constant bickering in the kitchen. The noise, the bluster, the backstabbing. Of never seeing blue skies or the sun setting. Of not being able to sit beside my husband on the couch at a reasonable hour and keep my eyes open at the same time.

       Is this my fault? Am I a cold fish? I like routine and order so I know where I fit in the world. Everything is controlled and organised. There’s no clutter, mess, or fuss, or any chance I’ll lose control of any facet of my life. That need to keep life contained is a relic of my childhood. Is my marriage now a casualty of that?

       But he’d promised he’d love me for better or worse.

       Am I supposed to hope he comes to his senses or to beg him to come back?

       Sighing, I place a hand on my heart, trying to ease the ache. I could never trust him again. I’m a stickler for rules, always have been, and cheating, well… I can’t forgive that.

       But bloody hell, our lives had been all mapped out. Our first child was scheduled for conception in 2021. The second in 2023. And he’s just blithely walking away from his children like that! Didn’t he understand I would have given up my career for our future family? The career I’d worked so hard for! And I would have done it gladly, too.

       Now this?

       The gossip will spread like wildfire around the foodie world. My name embroiled in a scandal not of my choosing. It’s taken me fifteen years to get to where I am in my career, and that’s meant sacrificing a few things along the way, like a social life, and free time, real friendships. But that was all part of the bigger picture, the tapestry of our lives.

       It hurts behind my eyes just thinking about it all.

       And I mean to cry and wail and torment myself about the ‘other woman’, or force myself up off the couch and throw my lovingly baked birthday tart at the wall, or eat it all in one go as tears stream down my face – something dramatic and movie-esque – but I don’t. Instead, I fall into a deep sleep, only waking when my alarm shrills at stupid o’clock the next day, and with it comes the overwhelming knowledge that I must leave London. At 32, this could be my rebirth, couldn’t it?

       Not spontaneous enough? Cold fish? Spinster? Like my dad?

       I’ll show you.

 

Now I advise you to all jump straight online and order Rebecca’s book and join Rosie on her adventure.

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin is published by HQ Digital in eBook on 3rd March 2019.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true, once in a lifetime love.

Book Blurb:

Rosie Lewis has her life together.

A swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.

That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he’s had an affair.

Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.

Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found travelling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?

A laugh-out-loud novel of love, friendship and adventure! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

New Release Book Review: Ruined by Tania Joyce

I was given the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel by a new to me, Australian author. I was not expecting the emotional story that I got. I expected a rockstar romance, but this story went much deeper with a focus on endometriosis and autism being a couple of the themes in this book. There are some heartbreaking scenes in this story, so be warned you may need tissues.

IMG_20190310_133019This is the second book in the series, the first is Hunter, Kyle and Gemma’s story, but I felt this worked well as a standalone as enough of their past history is made known to us throughout the story. I will go back and read Ripped at some point though.

We meet Hunter, rockstar extraordinaire or so he seems, when he is trying to convince fashionista Kara to let her hair down with him for one night of fun. Despite Hunter’s ability to come across as a bit of an asshole, you can tell, well I could, that underneath there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Kara and Hunter make for an unlikely couple at the beginning, for a start they can’t stand each other. It was a pleasure to watch them grow and learn about each other as the story went on. I guess an unplanned pregnancy can create the need for many changes.

There’s plenty of drama, only a small amount of angst, (thank goodness as I can’t deal with real angsty stories) there’s romance and some corny bits too (which since it’s a romance it’s allowed).

Tania Joyce has written a story I really enjoyed, with characters I grew to care about, and some extremely heartfelt moments, I look forward to reading more of her work.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy for me to review. 

About the book: One night of fun turns into a nightmare. Newly single, broken-hearted and being told she’ll never conceive naturally, Kara Knight drowns her sorrows at her best friend’s engagement party and falls into bed with the one person who was on her never-touch list—playboy rock star Hunter Collins. 

Becoming pregnant is nothing short of a miracle.

But Hunter is haunted by a traumatic upbringing and isn’t prepared to become a father.

With Hunter on tour and Kara’s health at risk, is she destined to be a single mom? Or will a tragic twist of fate bring this unlikely pair together?

Amazon AU

Amazon US

 

 

Pre-release Book Review: In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O’Connor

I have just finished reading this wonderful novel, but I’m not sure my heart or my nerves could have taken much more. Mary-Anne O’Connor certainly put all my emotions through the wringer and my stress levels through the roof. Everytime I put the book down saying “Oh my god, I can’t read any more”, my offsider would tell me, “It’s only a story”, “No mate, it’s really not, it is so much more, I’m completely enmeshed in these peoples lives and this author is killing me!”

IMG_20190309_154143When we meet Eve she’s a maid in a rich house, knowing from the blurb that she ends up penniless and sent to Botany Bay, I continued reading with trepidation, not wanting to get to the bad parts about why this happens. This trepidation occured on and off throughout the story, at 70 something % I actually had to do something I rarely do and skim forward to a few pages near the end just so I could see if it was going to turn out OK, even after doing this, my level of angst was high for the rest of the story, until the end, which was a wonderful ending.

Kieran and his family have many trials to work through to achieve their dreams of a new life in Australia. I loved Kieran’s character, he really was a lovely guy who I felt was a little lost until he finds his ‘gold’. Kieran suffers the most out of his family members, he’s the main reason I wanted to put the book down so often.

Eve’s story is one of terrible circumstances, circumstances that back in the 1850s occurred far too often to the lower classes, but hers is also a story of bravery in the face of all that she has to deal with.

It’s hard to reconcile the Sydney I know with the one Mary-Anne O’Connor describes. “Rows of buildings painstakingly constructed from the local limestone relieved their heated skin as they passed through The Rocks but it did little to relieve the stench of humanity living in squalor. Refuse lined the steep, narrow streets and the faces that passed by were streaked with dirt, mostly workmen such as themselves… this was the convict side of town.” I can’t even begin to imagine having to face the kind of hardships and treatment convicts had to deal with back then, many just for stealing an apple. As with everything in this story, the depiction of the crossing in the convict ship had me completely there, on that ship with Eve and her fellow passengers, the experience was not a pleasant one, the ones who survived and were able to make a life in Australia were extremely lucky.

I’ve read a few books set in the gold fields and around The Eureka Stockade now, and each time I learn a little more about the history of this country, the atrocities that were carried out by order of the government and the people killed trying to defend their rights, and how the people of that time helped form the democracy we have today. “And all because men had united under the Southern Cross, that sky-flung symbol of freedom, and the Australian public and her juries had refused to allow them to be punished for doing so. For ultimately all they wanted was fairness and equality, two things they would now hopefully build this land on, giving future generations a parliament where all classes could be represented  from all nations of this earth.” I think it’s important we are reminded of the sacrifices our forebearers made to give us these rights and freedoms that we now take for granted.

Mary-Anne O’Connor has done an incredibly good job of bringing to life the time and the places in which this novel is set. The characters are a miriad of different people from all walks of life, some are nicer than others, but all are needed to tell this story. There are heartbreaking moments in this story, but also moments full of joy. Life in the 1850s was certainly not the easiest of times and I’m not sure I’d have survived. Though I guess just like the characters in this story, none of us know how strong we are and what we are capable of until we are put in situations that require us to be, “This great southern land was wild and unpredictable, sometimes savage, sometimes beautiful  but like anywhere there was opportunity, if you sought to find it.” 

This is the second book by Mary-Anne O’Connor I’ve read, War Flower was also a heartbreaking but fabulous read, I have Gallipoli Street sitting on my shelf and once I get over the emotional experience of In a Great Southern Land, I will be making time to read it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me a digital copy to review. 

Available 18th March 2019

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Harlequin Australia

Goodreads

 

Pre-release Book Review: Home at Last by Meredith Appleyard

This is my first book by Meredith Appleyard despite having one or two on my bookshelf. I was struggling to stick with a book when I picked this up, and thankfully it was a great decision because I couldn’t put it down.

IMG_20190307_141602Set in Broken Hill, an outback town I’ve only seen or heard of in books and movies, it’s nevertheless a place I can easily imagine especially after living in the WA Pilbara for a while.

Home at last is a story of new beginnings, new opportunities, new friends and relationships, about not letting the past dictate our future, taking responsibility for it but not letting it define us. It is also a story about secrets and who really benefits from keeping them.

I really enjoyed this book, Meredith did a great job of giving me a glimpse into the life of the people who work in the RFDS and the good and bad that they can experience everytime they are called out to a new patient. Anna is a pilot and her love for her new job and its challenges is clear, though it’s not always an easy job. Nick is the flight nurse, who does an incredible job and has given me a new appreciation for the job these nurses and doctors do with very little support.

I really loved Nick’s character, and I thought the way he knew what he wanted when it came to Anna and the way he wouldn’t give up was lovely. I enjoyed Anna’s character, I thought the choices she’d had to make as a single mum were hard ones, but she made them for the right reasons. I didn’t get however why she was so secretive about being a single mum, I started to get a little annoyed at her for this, especially when it came to Nick. Anna’s daughter Izzy was an interesting teenager and the relationship between them and Anna’s sister Teresa was definitely a supportive one, both were very lucky that Teresa was so willing to help with the responsibilities of caring for Izzy, something many other single mum’s wouldn’t have as part of their support system.

This story also highlighted some important matters, such as mental health, especially of those living in remote places, and the lack of close by support.

Another aspect was that of homelessness, especially in women over 50, which is becoming one of the biggest groups of people currently finding themselves homeless. Nick’s mother Marlene was quite a character and her homeless status was part of her own making and the lifestyle choices she’d made. It was interesting though to hear why she now said she chose to live in her car rather than go into a home and lose her independence. I loved how Anna formed a relationship with Marlene and the benefits each got from that relationship as the story developed.

I began to wonder as I neared the end if the story was going to have the happy ending I wanted it to have, there were so many secrets, misunderstandings and issues still to work through, part of me was afraid to keep reading, I do love a happy ending.

A really enjoyable read with some great characters, I will definitely look at getting my other Meredith Appleyard books read after enjoying this one so much.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me a digital copy to review.

Available 18th March 2019

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Harlequin Australia