What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her March reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The FallsThe French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

With nine books to read and judge for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA awards – none of which I can tell you about, sorry! – I didn’t have much personal reading time left. But I did manage three wonderful books.


Revival 

by Stephen King

King’s storytelling never ceases to amaze me. I kept pausing to try and work out what it was that made this book such a page-turner, but it was a wasted exercise. Each time I tried to analyse it, the story would suck me back and I’d forget what I’d stopped for in the first place.

Spanning five decades, Revival chronicles the relationship between young Jamie Morton and Reverend Charles Jacobs, a man fascinated by the power of electricity. Unhinged by tragedy, Jacobs has a meltdown while preaching, which leads to his sacking. Jamie loses a friend and mentor but as the years pass, this unlikely pair continue to cross paths. Only it appears Jacobs’s fascination has become an obsession. One with the potential to lead Jamie to hell.

Yet another disturbing and fascinating tale from the master.

Grab a copy of Revival here


Whispers Underground 

by Ben Aaronovich

This series cracks me up. It’s such FUN!

Whispers Underground is the third Constable Peter Gant adventure, and trainee wizard Peter is really started to hit his straps. A dead American art student is found in an underground station but this isn’t any ordinary murder. There’s a whiff of magic, and that means Peter and his boss, Inspector Nightingale, must lend a hand. What follows is a wonderful romp through London’s labyrinthine underground world, as well as adventures above. There are chases through sewers and Tube lines, a bit of fun-poking at the art world, some FBI meddling, and encounters with London’s gods and goddesses and other paranormal creatures.

Another witty and clever tale from Aaronovich. Highly recommended. These books make you feel good!

 Grab a copy of Whispers Underground here


The Princess Bride

by William Goldman

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen the film The Princess Bride so I had no idea what this book would be like, let alone about. All I knew was that the film was a cult classic, and was a bit bemused to find that the book came after the film. I assumed it was the other way around.

It was, however, brilliantly weird.

Goldman claims that this book is his abridged version of S. Morgenstern’s classic tale, a story his father used to read to him. But Goldman discovers as an adult that his father never narrated the whole book, only the good bits because the original is bloated with dull detail. So Goldman sets out to create a new version. The rollicking romantic tale of The Princess Bride is there in all its quirky glory, but what makes this extra entertaining are Goldman’s interruptions and comments about everything from the movie to law suits from Morgenstern’s estate. There’s even a cameo by Stephen King.

A hoot! Now to track down a copy of the film and complete my Princess Bride education.

Grab a copy of The Princess Bride here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

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.

 Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The Falls

by Cathryn Hein

For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

Grab a copy of The Falls here

GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Rachael Johns lists her Top Ten Romance Books

We’re so lucky to be able to host guest blogs from some of Australia’s Favourite Authors, and with the dust settling on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a special treat for Romance lovers. A guest blog from romance bestseller Rachael Johns!

Rachael unveils her Top Ten Romance Books of All-Time. Did your favourites make the cut?


Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

bridget-jones-s-diaryThis book was the first book I read and enjoyed after a long drought in high school. It reignited my passion for reading and partly inspired me to write my own book.

Blurb: In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way). In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year’s resolution–the quest for the right man. A dazzling urban satire of modern human relations? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

Celebrating 40 years of outstanding international writing, this is one of the essential Picador novels reissued in a beautiful new series style.

Grab a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary here


Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

wallbangerIt was one of my fave reads of 2013, I laughed out loud in so many places but I also loved the way the author portrays the development of the friendship and romance.

Burb: The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an—um—intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed “dating hiatus,” and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise …

Grab a copy of Wallbanger here


Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

heart-of-the-valleySuch a heart-wrenching story that had me teary early on. This is a hard feat. I rarely cry in books!

Blurb: Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own …

Grab a copy of Heart of the Valley here


Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

northern-lightsThis was my first ever Nora Roberts novel and since then I’ve read loads more. She is not known as the Queen of Romance for nothing and I love the way she crafts characters.

Blurb: Lunacy, Alaska – population 506 – is Nate Burke’s last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he had watched his partner die – and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by mid-afternoon and temperatures fall to below zero, will bring some kind of solace. It isn’t as if he has anywhere else to go Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose and pulling apart two brothers fighting overJohn Wayne’s best movie Nate’s first weeks on the job are relatively quiet …

Grab a copy of Northern Lights here


The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella by Liz Fielding

the-secret-life-of-lady-gabriellaThis book broadened my thinking about what a Mills & Boon book was and I gobbled it up in one sitting.

Blurb: Lady Gabriella March is the perfect domestic goddess at least, that’s what her editor at Milady magazine thinks. In truth she’s simply Ellie March, cleaner and aspiring writer, who uses the beautiful mansion she is housesitting to inspire her.

When the owner returns unexpectedly, Ellie’s fledgling writing career is threatened. But even more dangerous is the man himself! Gorgeous Dr Benedict Faulkner is quite the opposite of the aging academic she imagined, and soon it is her heart, and not just her secret, that is exposed.

 Grab a copy of The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella here


the-ultimate-heroThe Magnate’s Indecent Proposal by Ally Blake

Another favourite Mills & Boon of mine. I loved the cute premise of this book and the rest of the book lived up to it.

Blurb: After her third nuisance call of the morning, Chelsea finally twigged. She must have accidentally swapped mobile phones with someone in the cafe that morning! To her pleasant surprise, the owner was darkly handsome and seriously sexy Damien ‘Rich-list’ Halliburton. Chelsea had sworn off men long ago, and hadn’t since been tempted. But with a guy this gorgeous how could she refuse his wicked, seductive and very indecent proposal?

Grab a copy of The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal here


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceWhat can I say? Jane Austen is a master of romance and Mr Darcy is swoon-worthy!

Blurb: When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships,gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice here


Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

too-good-to-be-trueMy first Higgins book and definitely not my last. I adore Kristan’s writing and the embarrassing situations she throws her heroines into.

Blurb: When Grace Emerson’s ex-fiance starts dating her younger sister, extreme measures are called for. To keep everyone from obsessing about her love life, Grace announces that she’s seeing someone… Someone wonderful. Someone handsome. Someone completely made up.

Who is this Mr Right? Someone…exactly unlike her renegade neighbour Callahan O’Shea. Well, someone with his looks, maybe. His hot body. His knife-sharp sense of humour. His smarts and his big heart. Whoa. No. Callahan O’Shea is not her perfect man! Not with his unsavoury past. So why does Mr Wrong feel so…right?

Grab a copy of Too Good To Be True here


Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

faking-itThe love scene from this book stands out as being one of my fave love scenes of all times. The sex wasn’t clichéd at all, in fact it was almost too real but somehow it worked and taught me a lot about what makes a believable and affective sex scene.

Blurb: Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery—and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch, who likes to escape reality; Eve, the oldest daughter, who has a slight identity problem (she has two); Nadine, the granddaughter, who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And last, Matilda, the youngest daughter, who has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, a secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past …


The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

the-perfect-rakeThis was my first Anne Gracie and my first historical with actual sex in it. Until that moment, I didn’t know such fabulous love scenes were allowed in historical books. I love all of Anne’s characters, but her hero in this book is to-die-for.

Blurb: She ran from a brute…
Fleeing the harsh guardianship of her grandfather, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke… But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster…

Grab a copy of The Perfect Rake here


About Rachael Johns

rachael johnsRachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. She lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training.

At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she LOVED contemporary romance.

The Road to Hopethe-road-to-hope
by Rachael Johns

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

Pre-order a copy of The Road to Hope here

What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

January was the month I discovered Australian author Bec McMaster’s wonderful steampunk series. But I also enjoyed a sweet rural romance, a super-steamy novella and a lovely creepy tale.


Kiss of Steel / Heart of Iron

by Bec McMaster

Oh, this series is FUN! I adore Victorian era-set books and the whole idea of steam and clockpunk, but this series has vampires and werewolves woven through for extra paranormal spice. Plotting is clever and the world building great. I can picture vividly McMaster’s re-imagined Whitechapel, and the elevated world of London’s Blue Blood elite. The heroes are tough and sexy, the heroines more than a match, and the romances passionate. Expect lots of twists and turns before the hero and heroine reach their happily-ever-after. Brilliant escapist reads.

Grab a copy of Kiss of Steel & Heart of Iron


Moonlight Plains

by Barbara Hannay

This was a lovely sweet romance set mostly in north Queensland around Charters Towers and Townsville. I happened to be in Townsville when I started reading this and found the historical parts of the story particularly interesting. Moonlight Plains swings between 1942, when the Japanese were heading dangerously toward Australia and our north was populated with Allied troops, and contemporary times. The characters’ stories from both eras are entwined via Moonlight Plains, the homestead of which the contemporary hero, the very sexy Luke, is renovating. Family secrets, romance and more. Gorgeous stuff.

The book is the final in Hannay’s loosely related series that began with her best-selling Zoe’s Muster and continued with Home Before Sundown.

 Grab a copy of Moonlight Plains here


Secret Confessions – Sydney Housewives: Christa

by Keziah Hill

This was a fast and seriously steamy read that I enjoyed hugely. Secret Confessions – Sydney Housewives is a series of short novellas written by some of Australia’s best romance authors. Each story features a wealthy and self-assured Sydney woman whose secret personal life involves some rather sexy adventures. Christa – a formidable raiser of funds for charity – has a unique way of getting Sydney’s elite to part with their money. A touch of voyeurism and a scorching threesome: turn the air-con to high and prepare to get hot!


Forever Odd

by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas, the first in this popular and quirky supernatural thriller series, was one of those books that made me smile and sniffle and want to lie on the couch with every other book in the series.

I can’t give too much away about Forever Odd because I wouldn’t want to spoil the twist of the first book for anyone, but in this we follow our dead-person-seeing short-order cook hero Odd on another of his paranormal adventures. After being visited by the ghost of his friend Dr Jessop, Odd heads to the Jessop house to investigate. There, he finds not only a murder scene but the realisation his fragile friend Danny has been kidnapped. Determined to find him, the ensuing battle of wits between Odd and his cunning and evil enemy makes for a compelling and exciting read. Next please!

Grab a copy of Forever Odd here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

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.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

It was all romance and crime fiction this month, with a blockbuster cherry on top!


Rivers of London / Moon Over Soho

by Ben Aaronovitch

What a delight this series is, like Harry Potter for grown-ups! The lead character, Peter Grant, is witty, brave and, in my humble opinion, just a little bit sexy. He doesn’t seem to have trouble getting the girls, that’s for sure (except maybe the one he really wants). Think urban fantasy police procedural with magic, and brilliant fun. I’ll definitely be reading more. Highly recommended.

Grab a copy of Rivers of London & Moon Over Soho 


Hades

by Candice Fox

Ooh, now this was different and in the best possible way. A crime thriller with memorable, flawed characters that’s dark ‘n dirty and right up my alley. When homicide detective Frank Bennett is teamed with Eden Archer he thinks he’s won the police partner lottery, but Eden is as mysterious as the serial killer they’re hunting. And might even be as dangerous. This won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Novel. The sequel, Eden, is out now and I plan to read it soon.

 Grab a copy of Hades here


Call Me Irresistible

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Loved it! Phillips is a romance superstar in the US but until this runaway bride story I’d never read any of her books. Now I wish I’d read her years ago. The hero, Ted (perfect man and groom) and heroine, Meg (the bride’s best friend who, according to everyone in Wynette, causes Ted to be jilted) were fascinating and their unexpected and unwanted attraction worked perfectly. Loads of quirky characters, a believable romance, plus buckets of warmth, humour, and small town mayhem. Fabulous.

  Grab a copy of Call Me Irresistible here


Her Christmas Earl

by Anna Campbell

My new favourite Anna Campbell! Okay, so maybe that has something to do with the fact that I read it on Christmas Eve and was right in the mood for something romantic and seasonally themed, but this was a fast fabulous read and I loved it. Can’t beat a reformed rake trope and the sheer warmth of the story and its characters had me sucked in from the first page. Plus who would have thought so much fun could be had in a wardrobe?

Click here for more from Anna Campbell


Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

Good writing buddy Rachael Johns pleaded with me to read this and what a fantastic tale it was. The way the story explored suburban lives reminded me a lot of Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap. The view isn’t always pleasant but Moriarty tackles the dark and complex issues she raises with sensitivity. On a basic level, it’s a whodunnit – we know from the outset that a death has occurred but not who died or how they died – but it’s so much more than that. The cliques, politics, gossip and sometimes sheer weirdness of being a school parent was brilliantly done, and I especially liked the structure, which made this a compelling page turner.

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you’ve read next month!

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.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

Lots of romance recently, from rural to historical, sexy contemporary and suspense. Plus a spooky thriller and a brilliantly written true-life crime thrown in to perk things up.


Mr Impossible

by Loretta Chase

This is one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read. Every part of this book was a delight, from the characters to the setting, plot and dialogue. No wonder it’s considered a classic of the genre.

Rupert Carsington has been sent to Egypt by his father in a last ditch attempt to sort him out. But Rupert soon lands in a Cairo jail and no one seems in a hurry to let him out. Until scholarly widow Lady Daphne Pembroke strides in. Daphne’s brother Miles has been kidnapped by a rival who believes Miles holds the key to a fantastic treasure. In an unlikely business alliance, Daphne frees Rupert and together they attempt to rescue Miles. But danger and desert heat seem to have them acting in ways they never imagined.

Truly wonderful. Clever, witty and gorgeously romantic. A not to be missed romance.

Grab a copy of Mr Impossible here


Poppy’s Dilemma

by Karly Lane

Karly Lane is one of my favourite rural romance authors. In Poppy’s Dilemma she’s stretched herself further and written a story with two narratives – one historical, the other contemporary – and it doesn’t disappoint.

Poppy Abbot is a city career-girl, still grieving the loss of her grandmother. When she discovers a diary among her grandmother’s effects written by Maggie Abbot, a relative she’s never heard of, Poppy is intrigued. Beginning before the Great War, the diary unfolds to reveal a wonderful love story between Maggie and a man named Alex, but crucial pages are missing and Poppy hankers to know what happened to the couple. After difficulties arise at work, Poppy escapes to her grandmother’s house in rural Warrial. As she falls into country life, more and more of Maggie’s and Alex’s story is revealed, and with it the feeling that perhaps Poppy’s own life needs reassessment.

Poppy’s Dilemma is a heartfelt book about the tragedy of war, but it’s also mystery, a lesson in what matters most, and an enjoyable romance. Highly recommended.

 Grab a copy of Poppy’s Dilemma here


No More Mr. Nice Guy

by Amy Andrews

This is one hot book! And a hoot to read with lots of sex, snappy dialogue, a vet hero (swoon) and a heroine you want to cheer on.

After a stale long-term relationship breaks down Josie Butler seeks refuge with her best friend. During a drunken night, Josie makes a sex to-do list which is discovered by her friend’s brother Mack. Suddenly these old acquaintances are looking at one another in new ways. Mack and Josie come to an agreement. He’ll help her fulfil her list before she heads overseas, no strings attached. Except neither count on their hearts having other plans.

Great fun!

  Grab a copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy here


The Honeymoon Trap

by Kelly Hunter

This is a short but beautifully formed romance between geeky gamer Eli Jackson and vivacious costume designer Zoe Daniels. Married during an online role-playing game, the ‘newlyweds’ are tricked into sharing a room at a gaming convention by Eli’s brothers. Though this is the first time they’ve met in person, the attraction is fast and it’s clear Eli and Zoe are made for each other. But Zoe has a secret that could change everything.

Loved it. A fun fast read that put a big smile on my face.


The Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House is a book that seems to crop up often whenever scare-the-pants-off-me stories are mentioned. I can’t say it did that to me but it certainly had a few nightmarish moments.

Occult scholar Dr Montague has engaged three others to join him at Hill House, a strangely built house notorious for never retaining tenants. There’s Eleanor, a delicate young woman who’s spent years caring for her invalid mother, Theodora, a free spirited and self sufficient woman, and Luke, heir to Hill House. Plus creepy caretakers Mr and Mrs Dudley, who refuse to stay in the house at night. From the moment the group move in odd events begin occurring. Soon the paranormal activities escalate. The house appears to be drawing energy and focus. And its target is one of them.

One for daytime reading!

Grab a copy of The Haunting of Hill House here


This House of Grief

by Helen Garner

This is a gripping courtroom drama that follows the trials of Robert Farquharson, a man accused of murdering his three children on Father’s Day 2005 by driving his car into a deep dam near Winchelsea in Victoria.

It’s also a heartbreaking story of grief and confusion. How could a loving father do this to his three young boys? How could he hate his ex-wife with that much passion? What made this man act in such a way? Throughout the narrative Garner seeks answers but only one man knows what happened on the road that night and his version – that he blacked out in a rare case of cough syncope – is very hard to swallow.

As with all her books, Garner’s writing is amazing and I was constantly underlining passages. Her descriptions of the players, their characters, her own feelings, are compelling. A study of character and the courts brilliantly related.

Grab a copy of This House of Grief here


In The Bleak Midwinter

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

I adore a juicy crime story and this series has been highly recommended by a couple of writer friends. The premise is certainly hooky, featuring female Episcopalian minister Clare Fergusson who joins forces with Russ Van Alstyne, the married police chief of the Adirondack mountain town of Millers Kill.

Clare is a former army helicopter pilot who retrained as a minister and is new in town. When she discovers a newborn baby on the church steps along with a note that the baby should be adopted by a couple from the congregation, Clare can’t help but become involved in the investigation, and with Russ. And both are dangerous.

Although I picked the murderer fairly early on I enjoyed this mainly for the relationship between Clare and Russ. I can easily see how readers have become invested in the couple and made the series so successful. They’re very likeable and with Russ married and Clare a minister the romantic conflict is clear.

Grab a copy of In The Bleak Midwinter here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

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.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

What Cathryn Read – The September Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

I read some wonderful books this month, from a traditional Mills & Boon romance that surprised me hugely, to heart-pounding thrillers, an Australian bush-set Gothic mystery and the heart-warming tale of a socially awkward vet.


Damaso Claims His Heir

by Annie West

It’s been quite some time since I’ve read a Mills & Boon, and I have to admit the traditional Sexy and Presents lines with their über alpha heroes has never really appealed. I tend to wish the heroine would just push the silly man back into his Bentley and find herself a nice beta good sort, preferably a footy playing one with a farm, a collie and a ute. Damaso Claims His Heir, however, was a revelation. The story took off from the first page, and galloped wonderfully along to the end. The characters had amazing backstories, the settings were interesting and exotic, and the writing vivid.

Dogged by scandal and heartbroken from the death of her brother, Princess Marisa of Bengaria is not only running from her homeland but from her emotions. When she meets Brazillian billionaire Damaso Pires she senses a man who might heal her. But at the end of a passionate night together, scared by the intensity of his feelings toward this amazing woman, Damaso walks out and Marisa’s emotional shutters slam once again closed. But one night stands can have consequences, and when Damaso discovers Marisa is pregnant, there’s no way he’s letting go of his heir.

If you’re curious about what a modern Mills & Boon is like, or simply after page-turning, emotional romance from a skilled and experienced author, then Damaso Claims His Heir is for you.

Grab a copy of Damaso Claims His Heir here


Thornwood House

by Anna Romer

This has probably been said many times, but if you’re a fan of Kate Morton (as I am) then Thornwood House is right in your zone.

After the unexpected death of her ex-partner, single mum Audrey Kepler is stunned to find she’s inherited Thornwood House, a large rural property in the rugged Queensland bush. Though long abandoned and valuable, Audrey’s plan to sell Thornwood disappears when she feels an immediate affinity with the house. Affinity that grows when she discovers a photograph of the house’s former occupant, Samuel Riordan, a man accused of bashing a young woman to death. But there have been other suspicious deaths in the area, and soon Audrey becomes consumed with their mystery. As she comes closer to the truth, Audrey discovers her obsession might come at an unthinkable price.

I adored this book. Beautiful writing, a wonderfully complex mystery, fantastic Gothic atmosphere and a romantic subplot that still makes me gooey when I think of it. I look forward to sinking into Romer’s new release, Lyrebird Hill.

 Grab a copy of Thornwood House here


Blood Secret

by Jaye Ford

Oh, I so adore having the pants scared off me, and Jaye Ford managed to do that within the first few pages of Blood Secret. This is fast-paced, clever thriller writing at its best.

Rennie Carter has been on the run for most of her life but for the last few years the sleepy area of Haven Bay and lover Max Tully have provided sanctuary and a kind of contentment. Though Rennie knows one day she’ll have to run again, for now she’s making the most of it. Except one night Max goes missing.

No one seems to believe that Max is in danger, but Rennie does. She’s convinced that her past has stolen into her life again, but as she searches for Max she discovers that, like her, the man she loves may also not be who he seems. Except whose secret has caused him to vanish so suddenly? And what other things are being hidden in Haven Bay?

There aren’t that many books that can make me physically anxious for the characters but Blood Secret certainly did. Whether it’s this one, Beyond Fear, Scared Yet? or her new release Already Dead, give yourself a thrill and read a Jaye Ford book. They’re brilliant.

  Grab a copy of Blood Secret here


Dog Gone, Back Soon

by Nick Trout

This series is so much fun. It started with The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs and I don’t know if there are any more planned but I hope so. It’s like James Herriot for a modern audience with a tricky romance thrown in.

Without giving too much of the first book’s plot away, our hero vet, the nerdy, socially awkward Dr Cyrus Mills, has managed to save the practice he inherited from his father. Now he’s determined to make The Bedside Manor for Sick Animals a business to be proud of. Except there’s stiff competition from Healthy Paws, the factory-like practice across town, and they like to play dirty. Nor do Eden Falls locals, with their eccentricities and baffling animal mysteries, make it easy. Then there’s Amy, the beautiful girl Cyrus hankers for but seems to stuff up every meeting with.

Life tends to become complicated for poor Doc Cyrus, but that’s what makes these books such a hoot to read. Nick Trout is a vet himself and draws both his animal (and people) characters wonderfully. The veterinary mysteries and facts are fascinating too.

Heart-warming and adorable. Like a beloved pet, this is a book to cuddle up with.

Grab a copy of Dog Gone, Back Soon here


The Fallen Angelthe-fallen-angel

by Daniel Silva

This is this first novel I’ve read from this acclaimed thriller author and unlikely to be the last. The Fallen Angel was so good that half way through reading I ordered a copy for my dad. He’s reading it now, and is completely hooked. I bet he ends up borrowing every book in the Gabriel Allon series from the library.

Gabriel Allon is an accomplished art restorer who also happens to be a sometime Israeli spy. When a woman is killed in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Gabriel’s Vatican connections compel him to abandon the Caravaggio he restoring and investigate. It’s not long before he’s drawn into the criminal underworld, but one dangerous night he discovers this underworld might be linked to something bigger. Something in the fearsome realm of terror that could destroy peace forever.

This is race against the clock, edge of your seat thriller-land. I particularly admired the swift sketches that brought clearly to life characters regular readers would know without being boring or slowing the plot. Great stuff.

Grab a copy of The Fallen Angel here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

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.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

What Cathryn Read – The August Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

A rather mixed bag this month, with everything from an unputdownable epic fantasy romance series to a fabulous sports romance and a gruesome murder mystery. Great fun!


Days of Blood and Starlight / Dreams of Gods and Monsters

by Laini Taylor

This series… I’m not sure I have the words. It’s incredible. The first, Daughter of Smoke and Bone enthralled me deeply enough, but parts two and three? I honestly couldn’t stop reading. These are big fat bricks of books and I devoured them. Which is amazing because fantasy is not something I often read.

I’m not sure I can tell you anything about the plot of these two without giving away too much of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I wouldn’t want to spoil this series for anyone. What I will say is that the scope of the overarching plot is breathtaking in its complexity, the writing is rich and mesmerising, and the themes are huge. As for the love story between the chimera-raised Karou and seraphim hero Akira… heartbreaking and beautiful. Sigh.

Start with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and keep going. This series is a triumph.

Grab a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy here


We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

I did not realise this was a young adult book when I bought it. It appeared in the publisher Allen & Unwin’s newsletter and I liked the sound of it so decided to give it a whirl. I can’t say I’m sorry I did because it was a very enjoyable read with a nice twist at the end. The writing style was interesting, using single words and brief paragraphing that some might find irritating but worked for me because I felt it reflected the narrator Cadence Sinclair’s fractured mind.

We Were Liars is coming of age story with a suspense element. Cadence is from an old money family who spend their summers on a private island. There, she hangs with her cousins – the self-labelled Liars – living a spoiled life. One summer something goes terribly wrong but Cadence can’t remember what it is. Her mind blocks it out. As she narrates her story and tries to resurrect her memory, she relives the lead up to that time; the family’s acute dysfunction, her friendships and loves. The moment when everything clicks into place in the end is nicely satisfying.

 Grab a copy of We Were Liars here


The Devil in Denim

by Melanie Scott

Dark fantasy readers will know Melanie Scott as M. J Scott, of Half Light City series fame, but the Melbourne based author has turned her hand to sports romance. And what’s not to enjoy in that!

Maggie Jameson’s dad has owned the New York Saints major league baseball team forever. She grew up breathing the Saints, the team acting as a surrogate family after the death of her mother, and the players stepping into the role of protective elder brothers. She, in turn, is like the team’s mascot, and is affectionately known as Saint Maggie. All she wants is to take over the running of the team that is her life, except her dad throws a curveball and suddenly sells the Saints to a trio of rather hunky, super-successful men. Conflict ensues!

I loved how this book started. Maggie slamming down tequila in a bar only to be rescued rather manfully by our hot hero Alex Winters. This had a nice rawness to it and told me I was in for a rollicking adult romance. The rest didn’t disappoint either. The dialogue between Maggie and Alex was fantastic – witty and sexy – and the racy bits suitably so. A perfect read to relax with.

This is the beginning of a related trilogy featuring the Saints’ three new owners , with Angel in Armani coming in January. Can’t wait!

  Grab a copy of The Devil in Denim here


The Devil’s Workshop

by Alex Grecian

I adore Victorian era set stories, in particular mysteries and crime and the more gas-light atmospheric the better. A legacy, I expect, from my deep love for Sherlock Holmes (hurry up Anthony Horowitz with Moriarty).

This is the third in Grecian’s Murder Squad series and probably his goriest. The Yard and The Black Country contained their fair share of icky murders but in resurrecting Jack the Ripper Grecian has made this book particularly blood-soaked. With some of the plot carrying over from the previous books I suggest reading books one and two first to get the most out of this.

The Devil’s Workshop sees Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersmith investigating a suspiciously imaginative breakout from Bridewell Prison. Now some of the nation’s worst murderers are on the loose and one of the sickest knows where Day and his heavily pregnant wife Claire lives. During the ensuing man-hunt we’re sent twisting and tripping over and under London, following not only Day and Hammersmith but Grecian’s collection of evil-minded monsters. The conclusion had me fretting badly. Not one for late night reading!

Grab a copy of The Devil’s Workshop here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

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.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

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