Pre-release Book Review: The Kissing Contract by Amy Andrews

This was such a fun read, with plenty of sexual tension, a couple of hot scenes, tons of banter and nearly 200 bunnies.

Screenshot_20190708_112358I had a fun time catching Bunnies with Gus and sexy Marshall. When Marshall is ordered by the court to help Gus and the ABL (American Bunny League), you can tell straight away there’s going to be plenty of back and forth between these two characters.

I found Gus and her adamance on following the contract they signed saying no kissing to be amusing considering the sexual tension between the two of them. Also it wasn’t just Marshall who was suffering, I’m not sure I could have held out like she did. But she has her reasons for holding out, past hurts can be nasty things to get over.

I enjoyed Marshall’s teasing of Gus and his frustration with the situation as well as his adamance that he would eventually get that kiss.

I liked the way Marshall started to appreciate the island on a different level over the month he spent there with Gus catching Bunnies, he had a lot of healing to do himself.

This was a fun escapist read, that put a smile on my face and gave me plenty of giggles along the way.

The authors note at the back of the book is definitely worth reading for an extra smile.

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing: Amara for providing me with a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Pre-order your copy today, released on the 15th July 2019

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Entangled Publishing

 

 

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New Release Giveaway and review – The Art of Dust by Mel Rowe

Today I am giving you all an opportunity to win an e-copy of Mel Rowe’s new second chance rural romance The Art of Dust #1 in the Elsie Creek Series, releasing 22nd May 2019. To be in for a chance to win leave a comment below on the blog or on the post on my FB page.

I found this to be a really enjoyable second chance romance. Kat returns to Elsie Creek because her Uncle is Dying, this leads to secrets she has kept being found out, and past misunderstandings coming to light. There were times I wasn’t sure if the characters Kat and Kyle were going to be able to get it together. There was plenty of angst and second guessing, reminiscing and hope for something more. The cast of secondary characters are varied, the old blokes who hang out in the hardware store are quirky and loveable characters. This is a town that’s been through hard times, but still comes together as a community when the chips are down. One of my favourite characters is a water buffalo who delivers messages to the townspeople.

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the ART of DUST

Some summer loves you can never forget, found in a place where summer never ends…Where you’ll discover the essence of the rugged and romantic outback of Australia’s Northern Territory, in this small-town series of Elsie Creek. It’s a place filled with more cattle and crocodiles than people—who still manage to find love…

Are you ready to Escape to a HAPPILY EVER AFTER?

After seven-years, creative Mumpreneur, Kathryn (Kat) Jones, returns to the outback town of Elsie Creek at the request of her dying uncle. Kat can’t fix the man but she can care for his wife, fix his home, and fix his beloved vehicle to get him there.

Workaholic, Kyle Smythe, owns the only mechanical workshop in town, and he’s about to propose to another woman when his ex-muse rolls into his yard seeking help to restore her uncle’s ute.

For Kat, Kyle was her best friend, her creative collaborator, and first and only love. But his rejection tore her heart apart.

Kyle’s scars still sting over Kat’s desertion—especially when he’d needed her the most.

Yet these long-lost summer soulmates are compelled to team-up to make a man they both care for happy in his final days.

Can they work together without re-igniting that spark shared those many summers ago? Or will it remind them of their promises of forever that ended in never…

Are you a fan of small town Australian rural romance stories?

Then you’ll adore Australian bestselling author, Mel A ROWE’s unique outback spin, set in a place where cattle and crocodiles outnumber the people and where the summer never ends… Welcome, to Elsie Creek.

What readers are saying about this sweet, second chance, small town, rural romance:

“The author paints an amazing picture of the outback with her words drawing you into the story…”

“If you’re fan of Aussie outback stories then you will enjoy this…”

“The descriptions of the outback are so real, you would think you were in Australia yourself.”

 “A wonderful outback tale”

Find your favourite online bookstore HERE:

AMAZON   |  KOBO  | APPLE  |  AMAZON AU  OTHER ONLINE BOOKSTORES HERE

Or add it to your Goodreads TBR shelf HERE

About the author

Australian Bestselling Author, Mel A ROWE, is a Writer & Weekend Wanderer, trying not to get too lost outback of Northern Australia.

Besides indulging in her regular random road trips, fumbling with her camera, and annoying her family with her bad singing—it’s her novels she enjoys creating the most. Suffering from an allergy to all things corporately serious, Mel’s novels are dished up with a dash of drama, witty humour, and quirky family units. Known for reinventing romantic versions of home, Mel takes her common characters on an uncommon journey that leads from boardrooms to billabongs as they try to find their own HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Feel free to connect with Mel at… https://melarowe.com

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Pre-release Book Review: The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair

‘Dreams really can come true’ 

What a wonderful story Alli Sinclair has created in The Cinema at Starlight Creek. At its heart this is a story about following your dreams and your heart. It’s also about love, friendship, heartache, community and change and about having and being a voice for others. This is a story I’ve been anticipating since I heard about it nearly 7 months ago. It’s a dual timeline narrative, which is one of my favourite genres, blending historical with modern day stories. It has the most delightful cover, one of my favourites, especially as it tells the story so well.

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I was transported to 1950s Hollywood so completely, I could see it all playing out in my head, just like a movie. Lena Lee, Hollywood starlet’s story was a very powerful one about a woman who followed her dreams and fought for what she believed in as well as giving others less fortunate a voice and paving the way for more equality between men and women in the movie world. If we think things are hard and less than equal now, you can imagine how hard things were then. Lena Lee gives us a voice, a real person to travel with and discover what it was like for women back then, especially a woman with integrity and a kind heart like Lena had. Though things have changed a great deal, things are still much the same around the world for women, we need people like Lena Lee to keep fighting for change and equality.

I had very little knowledge about the film industry in the 50s, yes, I’d heard of the hunt for communists, the Hollywood blacklist and the Hollywood 10. People who were jailed and or barred from the industry, most times for no good reason. I might have heard something about the censorship placed on the movie business, but had no idea how much influence, the Hays Code had on what film producers were able to put in their movies. I found this to be a very interesting part of the story. Now days these people would have a heart attack at what is played out on the screen.

Now cut to 1994 in small town Queensland, a town called Starlight Creek and a run down art deco movie theatre. We meet Claire who has been tasked with finding and acquiring the use of one of the last cinemas designed by a female architect Amelia Elliot so as they can continue filming a mini series. Claire has big dreams of making her own documentaries one day, and she is working her way up through the industry, this is a make or break time for her. Even now chauvinism is rife in many industries, (I should know, I’m in the mining industry), and Claire has to work harder to prove herself while up against many odds.

We meet Hattie, a strong and stubborn older woman who owns the cinema and her nephew Luke, neither of who want to help Claire with her plans.

I loved Hattie, she seemed like such a generous soul, one who had much to teach Claire and Luke. I loved Claire whose determination and belief that dreams could come true and you could have everything you wanted, were in direct opposition to Lukes ideas and beliefs. I loved getting to know Luke and when he opened up to Claire about his dreams, I was sure Alli Sinclair had been looking inside my head, I could totally relate to his dreams as they are in essence my own. If only he (and myself) could believe in them and trust they can be made real.

As well as the history, the icons, the dreams, the role models, there is of course the romance. Both Lena Lee and Claire encounter men who make them question their paths, though the outcome for these relationships is quite different for each woman. I loved both storylines, but part of me loved Lena Lee’s a fraction more. Everything Lena went through felt so intense and there’s a few scenes that made me teary (just a warning).

This is a wonderful story and I enjoyed every minute of it, it definitely was worth the 7 months of waiting to finally get to read a copy.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia, NetGalley and Alli Sinclair for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Available 20th May 2019 in Australia and 5th November 2019 elsewhere. Preorder now!

Harlequin Australia

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kensington books

 

 

 

 

 

Prerelease Book Review: River Stone by Rachel Hennessy

The first in a new YA trilogy The Burning Days, River Stone is a different take on the dystopian genre. The world has been destroyed due to misuse of the environment, animals are extinct, land masses have changed, the air is unbreathable in cities, drought has made outer areas unlivable. Then comes The Burning.

mdePeople who survived The Burning have started small tribes away from the cities, hiding and starting new communities with new rules and laws to help them survive.

Pandora’s tribe The River People has survived for close to 20 years, but now a forgotten disease has struck the village and things are going to change.

I really enjoyed this novel, and except for a part in the middle which had me disinterested for a bit, I plowed through 80% of this novel not wanting to put it down.

The River People have a coming of age ritual where the parents pick a partner for their children in order to keep the tribe going. Pandora’s promised was Matthew, not a choice that Pandora was happy with. I didn’t much like Matthew, I thought he was childish, surly and selfish at times. And in the middle of the story he really started to get on my nerves, as did Pandora for a while when she wouldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted. The whole premise of having a person chosen, a promised one, didn’t sit well with me, I got the reasoning behind it, but if there are other tribes around, why not go outside the tribe to find a partner. When Pandora and her friends come across The Mountain people and she meets Bayat, and their connection is instant, I felt this should have been an option. Matthew’s behaviour towards Bayat and his possessiveness towards Pandora, even knowing she didn’t want him really annoyed me to the point I put the novel down for a few days. I am glad I picked it up again, once I got past the really annoying bits, the story picked up again and the action didn’t stop.

Pandora and her friends are tasked with travelling to the city, a place they know nothing about to try to find medicine to cure the people in the tribe. Their adventure starts when they leave their home for the first time. This journey that they begin completely drew me in and I travelled with them along the river into the unknown, not knowing what they would encounter. They meet Bayat and the mountain people on the way, who know much more about what they are going to encounter in the city. Bayat decides that to give them half a chance he will accompany them. The journey to the city, their awe at seeing immense steel structures for the first time was like the wonder I’ve had when I’ve travelled to places with ancient temples, where seeing something is different to having a vague theory of what it is.

Friendships and beliefs are tested and they will learn to rely on their inner strength and each other to keep going and stay alive. Their encounters in the city will change everything, especially for Pandora.

I am really looking forward to book 2 in this new series and seeing where it goes from here.

Available 15th May 2019

Thanks to MidnightSun Publishing for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

MidnightSun Publishing

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

 

Pre-release Book Review: Shadows Over Wongan Creek by Juanita Kees

This is the newest book in the Wongan Creek series by Juanita Kees and I have to say it was fabulous, this is definitely my favourite of the series, and I’ve enjoyed them all.

IMG_20190227_181354Back in Wongan Creek we meet Fenella, or Fen as she’s better known. Fen was such a great character, flawed but an amazingly strong person with a huge heart despite the trauma she’s endured in her past. Fen is definitely my favourite female character from this series. After an error in judgement about a guy she let into her life and her families business, Fen is being threatened and told to keep quiet. Showing her strength, Fen works with the police to try to catch the bad guys.

Kieran was Fen’s best friend, with a soul connection between them that has never been broken, only stretched. Arriving back in Wongan Creek and taking a job at Fen’s vineyard, their emotional connection is like a magnet drawing them together. Both have issues to deal with, pretty difficult ones, especially since Kieran now has a 4 year old son, Liam to think of. Liam is a gorgeous little character, recovering from his own trauma, your heart will go out to this broken little boy, who Kieran hopes will heal in the only place he’s ever really called home, surrounded by friends and a community that had his back when he was younger.

Lucky the bearded dragon, a rescue pet of Fen’s plays an important role in this story too, another interesting character.

This is a story about second chances, but also a story about love, forgiveness and trust.

Juanita has written a story that highlights and deals with past traumas and memories, ones remembered and ones repressed and how they can follow us through our lives, affecting the things that are most important to us. Fen has some serious trauma and repressed memories that she is going to have to face if she wants to be free and whole. She is lucky, she has an amazing support system in her adopted mother Liv, a beautiful person, and in Kieran who won’t let her deal with things by herself. Many people dealing with things like Fen is dealing with, don’t have that support network available to them.

There is plenty of suspense, criminal activity and threats happening in this story and plenty of twists, something Juanita is very good at putting into her stories. There is also plenty of heart, from the community who are there to support each other, and Harry who pops in with his little pearls of knowing, and Riggs, the town policeman does another great job of trying to get to the bottom of things, as well as keep Fen and her family safe.

I found it hard to put this book down and if it hadn’t been for having to sleep before work, I’d have read to whole thing in one sitting. I loved the characters in this story and I know Fen and Kieran will get their HEA.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for a digital copy in return for an honest review. 

Releases 4th March

Amazon AU

Amazon US

HarperCollins