What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her May 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.


Lyrebird Hill

by Anna Romer

I thoroughly enjoyed Romer’s debut novel Thornwood House and her follow up, Lyrebird Hill, didn’t disappoint. The story unfolded beautifully, slipping between the present and colonial times, and held me captivated throughout. As with Thornwood house, the story had a wonderful gothic feel which made the suspense part of the novel even more intense, and Romer is a master at bringing the Australian bush to vivid life.

Lyrebird Hill unfolds with Ruby Cardel discovering that her sister Jamie’s death – an event she’s managed to blank from her memory – may have a sinister connection. When Ruby journeys back to her childhood home, the vault of her memory begins to open, bringing with it uncertainty and danger.

Highly recommended.

Grab a copy of Lyrebird Hill here


Already Dead 

by Jaye Ford

The suspense and action begin almost immediately in this gripping thriller from Jaye Ford and barely lets up until the final page. When an armed stranger jumps into her car, journalist Miranda Jack is forced on a terrifying ride. Her abductor, Brendan Walsh, seems a madman, but as her ordeal progresses and Miranda listens to his paranoid rants, Miranda is left with doubts. Doubts that force her to seek answers even when it appears doing so might place her in danger.

As with Jaye Ford’s previous novels, Already Dead was a page-turner so compelling all I wanted was to gobble it down in one sitting. I loved the thrill ride, loved the touch of romance and loved the landscape. She’s an auto-buy author. Next please!

 Grab a copy of Already Dead here


You’re Just Too Good To Be True

by Sofija Stefanovic

This short book looks at online romance scams, how they operate and the devastating impact they can have on those caught up in them. Triggered by her eighty-year-old friend Bill’s experiences, Stefanovic sympathetically reveals how Bill’s search for online love took him from hope to bankruptcy. It’s sad and frustrating and I feel desperately sorry for Bill and others caught up in these scams. To have the human need for love exploited so badly is horrible.

The story gets even more interesting when Stefanovic decides to lure a scammer into talking to her about their operations, and finds herself in turn being drawn into this morally murky world.

Fascinating. And an eye-opener on how easily people can be manipulated, regardless of background.

Grab a copy of You’re Just Too Good To Be True here


The Diabolical Miss Hyde

by Viola Carr

This book is brilliantly cross-genre, spanning romance, steampunk, horror and crime, and probably a few others, and, as the title indicates, takes more than a little bit of inspiration from classics such as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein and more. It’s dark, no question and certainly not a typical romance, but it worked thanks to an intriguing plot and great characters, and some seriously lush world building.

Crime scene investigator Eliza Jekyll is daughter of the famous Dr Henry Jekyll (from the classic novel) and suffers his same condition. Her “evil twin” is Lizzie, and she’s a blast compared to straight-laced Eliza, if a tad violent-minded. The two are in a constant battle for domination, a battle that becomes more fraught when the Royal Society’s enforcer, Captain Lafayette, comes to assist in the hunt for the bizarre new serial killer stalking London’s streets. For this is the man who could see Eliza’s career and life destroyed. Except Lafayette may not be all he seems either, and Lizzie is on the trail. So perhaps is someone even more dangerous.

Great fun!

Grab a copy of The Diabolical Miss Hyde 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

What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her April 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.


All the Light We Cannot See
Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize

by Anthony Doerr

Oh, this was beautiful! The writing was completely gorgeous, the settings stunningly rendered, and the terrors of occupied France and Nazi obsessions truly frightening in their depiction. The story unfolds in two interweaving narrations. The first is Marie Laure, a blind girl whose father is Master of Locks at the Natural History Museum in Paris. After the Germans occupy Paris, Marie Laure and her father flee to her uncle’s house at Saint-Malo. Meanwhile, orphan Werner grows up in Germany, but when his talents with electronics is spotted, he’s sent to a brutal Hitler Youth academy. As the war progresses, these two characters dance closer and closer.

As well as being named best historical fiction in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards, and a slate of other awards, All The Light We Cannot See recently won a Pulitzer Prize. Well deserved, I reckon.

Grab a copy of All the Light We Cannot See here


Red Queen 

by Victoria Aveyard

I didn’t realise this was a young adult fantasy until after I’d started reading but it proved to be another very enjoyable addition to the genre. Mare Barrow is a red blood and therefore relegated to her world’s lowest class. Her people are used as not much more than slave labour to the ruling silver blood class, and cannon fodder in their constant wars. When Mare is given a job in the palace, an accident reveals she has powers no Silver possesses. Frightened of what she is and to explain her power, the Silver ruling family give her a new history. Mare is not longer red but silver and, worse, she’s engaged to a prince of the class she hates.

Plenty of action and intrigue, some pretty cool superhero-type talents, plus a nice hint of romance kept the pages turning.

 Grab a copy of Red Queen here


Lord of the Scoundrels

by Loretta Chase

A rollicking romance by a master storyteller, Lord of Scoundrels is considered one of the genre’s greats. I loved it. The story pitted two extremely clever characters against one another, and the result was a smart and sometimes very funny duel. Spinster Jessica Trent is on a mission to save her not very bright brother from the scandalous and self-described ‘Bane and Blight of the Ballisters’, the Marquess of Dain. Dain thinks he’s more than a match for any woman, and any man for that matter, but he has never met the likes of Jessica. She not only runs rings around him, she ties him in complete knots. The only problem is that she’s having a little too much fun doing it.

A blast!

Grab a copy of Lord of the Scoundrels here


The Strings of Murder

by Oscar de Muriel

Ooh, I adore a good Victorian-era murder or two, and this crime novel didn’t disappoint. Very much in the vein of Sherlock Holmes, the story unfolds when cultured, fussy and stuffy Inspector Ian Frey is sent – much to his horror – from London to the wilds of Edinburgh to help solve the mystery of a murdered violinist. If that wasn’t bad enough his new boss, Detective ‘Nine Nails McGray’, is everything Ian is not. There’s conflict and mystery galore, and even a dabble or two in the macabre.

This is clearly the first in what will be a series. I’ll definitely be buying the next.

Grab a copy of The Strings of Murder here


Cold Deception

by D.B. Tait

D.B. Tait is a new voice in Australian crime fiction and a very welcome addition to the genre. Having worked in the criminal justice system for many years, D.B. really knows her stuff and it shows. The descriptions of prison life were fascinating and sometimes disturbing, and provided a gritty edge to the tale. Ten years ago, Julia Taylor went to prison for murder. Now she’s home in the Blue Mountains but from the first day of her release the peace she so desperately craves is shattered. Everyone has secrets, the biggest of all is Julia’s, and someone seems very afraid she might tell…

A pacy story set in a wonderfully described location, with loads of intrigue and a nice sub-drama involving family relations, plus a touch of romance. Highly recommended.

Grab a copy of Cold Deception here


Captive Prince / Prince’s Gambit

by C.S. Pacat

I don’t even know where to begin with this series. Gobsmacking hardly seems to cover it. What I can say is that it’s a stunningly written fantasy, stuffed with political intrigue, that had me hooked from page one and kept me in its grip until it’s end.

Captive Prince begins with Damen, hero and true heir to Akielos, being presented as a slave gift to his country’s arch enemy after Damen’s half-brother suddenly seizes the Akielos throne. Damen’s new master is the beautiful but vicious Prince Laurent. Before long, Damen is caught up in the deadly fight that is Veretian politics. What follows is a tale full of unexpected and breathtaking twists, most of which I never saw coming.

This series is incredible. It’s sometimes erotic and sometimes violent, but always fascinating and unlike anything I’ve ever read. Amazing. Hurry up book three!

Grab a copy of Captive Prince & Prince’s Gambit 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

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

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