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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Book Review: Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer

Wow what a fabulous read, for some reason I’ve been putting off reading this book despite loving Anna Romer’s other books. I’m so glad I finally managed to read it. With its mysterious and darkly atmospheric cover, it completely sets the scene for the secrets that are going to be uncovered. This is a mystery, a thriller, a love story, a story about family, forgiveness, trauma and letting the past go and getting on with life.

IMG_20190508_003954Talk about twists and turns. I did have my suspicions about one of the mysteries, but some of the events leading up to the reveals were unexpected. The characters were well written and relatable, thankfully, despite not having been through the traumatic experiences that Abby and Lilly had been through I was still able to put myself in their shoes, not that I’d want to.

Abby has been through a traumatic experience as a child which has continued to haunt her and has laid the foundations for how she lives her life, never trusting people, unable to forgive herself for anything or believe others will truly love her.

I loved Tom, the surly hermit-like author who Abby goes to interview and ends up with far more than she ever expected. Meeting Tom was the catalyst for all the changes and truths that come about during the course of the story.

A mystery that is uncovered in Tom’s house and possible links to the past lead Abby to meet Lilly and Joe and learn a lot about secrets and the tricks the mind can play.

Through diary entries we slowly glean information about the events that Lilly survived, and the things that happened in the past. But you’ll have to wait until the end to uncover everything.

I completely disliked Abby’s editor Kendra and her thoughts on who and what kind of people deserve our attention, compassion and help made my blood boil. It is the marginalised people who most need these things from us.

This was a 5⭐ read and one I have no trouble recommending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

RELEASE DAY Book Review & Giveaway : The Scream Behind Her Smile by Athena Daniels

What can I possibly say about this book to convey how much I loved it. I was lucky enough to read the first two drafts of this novel and they both blew me away, but this final copy, wow, Athena has written a psychological thriller that had my heart in my throat from the opening scene. At times the intensity was such that I had to put the book down and take a deep breath. At others I wanted to reach in and slap Derek, her husband so badly I was clenching my jaw and gasping in disbelief.

IMG_20190309_073822I became completely involved in the main character, Claire’s life from the get-go. Claire is a great character, well written and relatable, she starts off lost and unsure of herself and her life after suffering the loss of her child. As the story progresses and secrets are uncovered, Claire’s strength emerges as she fights to gain an understanding of what her husband has been hiding and develop her newfound confidence. Her life begins to unravel at the same time she wakes up from the half-life she has been living, but instead of collapsing, she uses her circumstances to grow, I was backing her completely, cheering her on every time she confronted her husband and hoping she would survive the fallout.

Claire’s husband Derek is unlikable from the first chapters and just becomes more despicable as the story unfolds. From beginning to end he unveils himself as a detestable character who I continued to hope would get exactly what he deserved. I remember messaging Athena and saying “Her husband is f**king nuts!” He wasn’t the only character who I felt this way about, the ‘she’ in the opening scene is as, if not more unlikable than Derek.

Zach is another great character, with many layers and a few surprising secrets. I loved the relationship that grew between Claire and Zach, I think I fell in love with him myself. One of my favourite secondary characters was Claire’s assistant Kira, I loved her loyalty and her no bullshit approach, what a great friend Claire had in her.

This novel kept me hooked from start to finish with heart-stopping moments, a few laugh-out-loud moments, plenty of twists and turns, betrayal and murder, in a romantic psychological thriller that will definitely be in my top 10 reads of the year. I didn’t see half of what happened coming and was still shaking my head in disbelief at the end.

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The scream behind promoI have one paperback copy (Australia only due to postage) and two ebook copies (Australia & International) to giveaway to readers of my blog. Leave a comment and show Athena some love by adding her book on goodreads or liking her Facebook page and you’ll be in the draw for a copy of this fabulous book. Please indicate if you are a international reader.

For another chance to win read my Q&A with Athena and leave a comment on that post as there’s a copy to win there also.

Website

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the book: An emotionally gripping romantic thriller, this is a novel of love, marriage, deception and murder.

It’s one thing to discover the man you married is not who you think he is. It’s another thing entirely to prove it. After all, who is going to take the word of an unstable woman who’s never fully recovered from the heartbreak of losing her child?

The only question now, is how far he will go to protect his secrets.

~~~

As I lie here in my front hallway, in the place where it all began, I wonder what would have happened if I’d never opened the door that afternoon?

Would she have gone somewhere else? Would she have swept off in another direction, an alternative reality where our lives would never have crossed paths?
And now I’m lying here, blood pooling beneath my body, deep crimson smears on cold white tiles, remembering every sordid moment in vivid detail.

There’s a shadow standing over me.

“I want you to die here, slowly and alone.” Her voice is cold, emotionless. “And I want you to use the time to think about what you did. And when you take your last breath, I want you to realize it’s all your fault. All of it!”

I drift in and out of consciousness and wonder if I had my chance to do it over again, if I had the choice, would I choose not to open the door that day?

Even after everything, I know that I would.

I’d go through it all again, and then some, if it meant the chance to be with Zach just one more time…

Book Bingo Round 7 & Book Review: Wayward Heart by Cathryn Hein

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This fortnight I chose to pick the square first and then find a book that matched. I chose the square Book by an Author with the same initials as yours. Which lead me to pick up Cathryn Hein’s Wayward Heart.

davI’ve had this on my shelf for ages and at only 40 or so pages in, I knew I was going to love it. This is definitely my favourite Cathryn Hein novel to date. The subject matter combined with the writing just had something extra that drew me deeply into the story straight away.

There are many reasons we connect to certain stories. I connected with our female lead Jasmine straight away, she was real and flawed, having been involved with the wrong man, she was now trying to get over the relationship. I connected with Digby too, the hurt he felt, so deep inside for the loss of his fiance was heartbreaking.

This story had so many dynamics for me and took my heart for a ride throughout. Cathryn Hein has done a wonderful job making her characters and their circumstances complete. The guilt and blame the characters carried or lay at anothers feet, the healing that needed to be done in order to move on, the jealousy you can feel seeing a loved one succeed in something you feel should have been yours and the loss of direction in life, these are some of the concepts that spoke to me through this story.

This was an absolutely enjoyable story and I’m glad thanks to book Bingo, I got to it sooner rather than later.

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

 

Book Review: House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

House of Second Chances is the sequel to Esther Campion’s 2017 novel Leaving Ocean Road, which I enjoyed a lot. I was keen to see what Ellen and Gerry were doing now. This novel does touch on Ellen and Gerry, but it is set more in Ireland with Ellen’s brother, Aidan being the main character in this one and her old school friend, Colette.

IMG_20190302_152949I very much enjoyed this novel, but I have to say it took me quite a while to get into it. There are an awful lot of characters I had to get my head around and found myself scrolling back on my kindle to try to figure out where I’d previously met each character. I did eventually get my head around them all. The characters are all great, I could easily relate to and empathise with the things they were going through.

It made a nice change to read a book where the main characters are my age and even more so that they are still searching for love just like me. Perhaps there is hope for me yet.

The story revolves around a cottage that Ellen and Aidan have been left by their grandmother to do up and make into something that will generate an income. Aidan, still living in Ireland and being a builder is predominantly in charge of the main aspects of this. Ellen has decided to enlist her friend Colette who is now a master interior designer in helping make their plans a reality. I’m sure there’s no need to tell you that Aidan and Colette don’t hit it off straight away. As well as not hitting it off they are still both dealing with the emotional fallout from past relationships that they haven’t been able to get past, despite the many years that have passed. As they interact and grow, learn things about themselves and each other, I continued to keep my fingers crossed that these two might be just what the other has been looking for.

I enjoyed the whole interior design/renovation theme, so many books these days seem to revolve around food and cooking, neither of which interest me at all, so this was a nice change and the descriptions were vivid enough for me to be able to imagine the various phases of the job, from start to finish. I wouldn’t mind going to stay there myself one day.

There were so many threads to the story, each one interwoven with the rest of the cast of characters. One of my favourites was Shane a wayward around 18 year old who is a nephew of Colette’s friend and business partner John. He adds some great scenes to the story and some of his antics made me grin, but I loved seeing how Collette and John influenced his future.

One of the young characters in the story suffers from an illness I’d never heard of, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a terrible disease that in this story takes its toll on the child and parents, as well as allowing us to be made aware of it.

The story flows along at a gentle pace until at about the 70% mark where a tradgey strikes that affects many of our characters, the pace seems to really pick up from this point on.

This was a feel good story, about friends, family and life, about not giving up on what your heart really wants out of life and taking the chances to make it happen. I am sure there’s going to be a third book in this series and if so, I’ll look forward to seeing where the various characters are in their lives.

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

Amazon AU

Hachette Australia