Regency-set intrigue and determined rakes, a classic adventure, some sexy magic and mystery, wallbanging and a hot Scot in a kilt. My July reads were as romantic as they come.
Son of the Morning
by Linda Howard
When Australian historical romance author Anna Campbell (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss) described this book as “out Da Vinci-ing The Da Vinci Code” I had to give it a run. And what fun I had, too. Loads of action, an unusual romance with a hot Scot, Templar treasure, deadly danger, time travel and a good dose of sex for extra spice.
Scholar Grace St John finds her life destroyed when she begins translating an ancient Templar document. Forced on the run, with the police and a terrible enemy after her, she manages to survive on her wits and friendship. As Grace eludes her hunters she continues her translation, uncovering a secret force and the warrior bound to protect it forever. To save herself, and the world, from evil she must travel back in time. And face the raw passion and power of Black Niall.
Romance, adventure and men in kilts. You can’t go wrong!
The Winter Bride
by Anne Gracie
Oh, how I adore this series! It started with The Autumn Bride, which was absolutely gorgeous and I thought couldn’t be bested… until I read The Winter Bride. Loved it. Like really, really loved it, to the point that this is now my favourite Anne Gracie.
The Winter Bride continues the story of the Chance Sisters, this time focusing on Damaris Chance and muffin-fearing (yes, you read that right), steadfast rake Freddie Monkton-Coombes. For their own reasons, both have sworn off marriage, but when circumstances call for a fake betrothal, Freddie and Damaris are thrown together. All goes well. Too well, in fact. Which leads Freddie into thinking that this muffin caper isn’t so frightening after all. But can he convince Damaris of the same?
Not only was this story an absolute delight with it’s cute muffin theme, it was also hugely emotional. Freddie’s and Damaris’s backstories left me in tears, the poor darlings, but also cheering madly for their happily-ever-after. An absolute delight. Go buy it. You’ll have a ball…
by Alice Clayton
I admit that I was reluctant to read this book but fellow author Rachael Johns (Outback Blaze) remained adamant that it was brilliant. With nearly 80,000 Goodreads ratings indicating the same, I figured I’d better see what the fuss was about. About 10% through I sent Rach a cranky email along the lines of “I told you this wasn’t my thing!” but she insisted I read on. The story picked up. Then it really started romping and next thing I know I was having a fantastic time.
Olivia has lost her O. Simon, her hot neighbour, definitely hasn’t. When Simon’s over-active sex life leads to a hallway confrontation, attraction smacks them both in the face. But with Olivia loving her single life (even if she is missing her O) and Simon busy with his harem, romance is out of the question. Friendship, however, blossoms and it’s the growth of this friendship that makes this book so wonderful. That and super snappy dialogue, naughty cat antics, friends in messed-up relationships, and some tasty baking as an added bonus. And wallbanging. Mustn’t forget that!
Humorous and heart-warming. Yep, Rach and all those Goodreads ratings were spot on. A hugely enjoyable contemporary romance that’ll leave you smiling.
City of Lost Dreams
by Magnus Flyte
The first in this series, City of Dark Magic, was a blast of a read. Sexy, funny, full of adventure and history, with a bit of the paranormal thrown in to liven things up. The second, City of Lost Dreams, is the same, albeit with a more complex storyline. But the same unique characters I fell in love with are back, and in a nice pickle too.
Musicologist Sarah Weston is in Vienna looking for a cure for her dangerously ill young friend Pollina. When the scientist who could cure Pollina suddenly disappears, apparently on the run, Sarah is forced to help her. But mysterious things begin to happen, to Sarah and those she comes in contact with. Meanwhile, Prince Max is in Prague, investigating the sudden re-appearance of people long dead, while Nicholas Pertusato is on his own mission, chasing fast-disappearing alchemist’s relics. When they realise the connections, the trio discover it might not be only Pollina’s life under threat.
This sequel was wonderfully entertaining. Great pacing, lots of intrigue, fabulous atmosphere, sexy and fun. Can’t wait for the next.
King Solomon’s Mines
by H. Rider Haggard
I’ve been meaning to read this book for donkey’s. Now I wish I had before because I’d probably be on my second or third read now. What a hoot! Except for the elephant shooting. Can’t say I appreciated that at all, but those were the times, sadly. The rest was a great fat adventure with plenty of drama and heroism and brilliant characters. Alan Quatermain was much more subtle and interesting than his Hollywood hero, Sir Henry had me in tears with his heroics, Captain Good and his lovely white legs provided comic relief, Umpoba was brilliantly regal, King Twala twisted by violence and corruption, his witch Gagool perfectly evil, while the Kukuana warriors were magnificent, courageous and fierce. What amazed me the most was how King Solomon’s Mines read. I’d expected a bit of a slog given it was published in 1885, but it romped along like a modern boy’s own adventure.
A Dangerous Madness
by Michelle Diener
I’m not afraid to admit I’m a total Michelle Diener fangirl. I could rave for hours about her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series. They’re like reading Tudor-set James Bonds, full of action, intrigue and a delicious romance. A Dangerous Madness is set in the ever-popular Regency era and while it’s connected to previous novels The Emperor’s Conspiracy and A Banquet of Lies (both brilliant), it can be easily read alone.
When Phoebe Hillier is jilted by her fool of a betrothed, instead of despair, she’s rather relieved. Until she discovers Sheldrake had been involved in something unsavoury. Something that places her in grave danger. Enter the Duke of Wittaker, on his own investigation of a plot against the Prime Minister. When it leads him to Phoebe sparks fly. But who can be trusted during these dangerous times? Especially when they’ve both been living lies.
In all Diener’s books, the pacing of both the thriller plot and romance is superb. I also adore her characters. They’re courageous, clever, interesting and possess great integrity. But I really love how she brings the politics of the period to life, whether that be in the court of Henry VIII or the Regency era. The author notes at the end of the book also make for fascinating reading. Highly recommended.
Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.
Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.
Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.
Rocking Horse Hill
Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?
Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.
When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.
But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.
Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.