Nine Naughty Questions with… Rachael Johns, author of The Road to Hope

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rachael Johns

author of The Road to Hope and many more…

Nine Naughty Questions

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1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.

I was made from heartache mixed with a liberal dose of teenage dramatics. I’d never been a huge reader in school (aside from the entire Babysitters series) but I was a mad romantic, crushing on the same guy for almost five years. We ended up “together” for five months and when we broke up at the end of year twelve I was devastated. I thought my life was over and for some reason turned to writing as a form of therapy. I wrote 80000 terrible words about me and that guy but by the end of it, I’d caught the bug. It took me fifteen years after this before I finally got published. During those fifteen years I also did a writing degree, became a teacher, got married, had three kids and moved to the bush.

Author: Rachael Johns

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why Romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

I think romance readers rock and I love that they are as invested in the characters as me as a writer. I think the reason they’re invested and devoted is because romance characters usually experience universal emotions – love, grief, anger, loss, etc – that make them easy to relate to and barrack for. Romance, although it can take readers on a rollercoaster of highs and lows, guarantees a happy ending and in today’s often sad world, I think this feel-good escape is wonderful. Obviously all my books have a little part of me in, but I don’t feel exposed.

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Road to Hope is linked to my first book Jilted and is about nurse Lauren Simpson and Doctor Tom Lewis. Lauren featured in Jilted and I myself had nicknamed her The Nasty Nurse, never intending to use her as the heroine in a future book. However I had such great feedback from readers wanting to go back to Hope Junction that I decided to write another book set in that town. The Road to Hope is a story about overcoming life’s hurtles and making the best of what is thrown at you. It’s about giving yourself and others a second chance. It’s mostly set in a rural hospital and nursing home and so there are a whole host of elderly eccentric characters which were hugely fun to write about. And for those readers who loved Jilted, you’ll be pleased to hear The Road to Hope opens at Flynn and Ellie’s wedding.

Grab a copy of Rachael’s novel The Road to Hope here

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

Hmm… I’d like to tell you that it is but the truth is that aside from a few times a year when I hang out with writer friends at conferences and wine and dine, my life is pretty much the same as any other working mum. I get up, organise everyone for school, drop them off, come home do laundry, emails, etc and then sit at my laptop and pray for words. I’m interrupted by school carnivals, sick kids, dogs that need walking… I think you get the picture. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have a job I can do from home and, in winter, from my bed with my electric blanket on. What’s better than that?

5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

It’s very sad but I can’t think of many truly romantic moments – maybe I’m hard to please or maybe the lack of them is why I turned to writing romance. One pretty special day for me was when my husband proposed. He’d asked me (hypothetically) what I would like in an ideal proposal and I told him chocolate, champagne, fairy lights, rain and all my pets (at the time I had two guinea pigs, two budgies and a cat). Three months later it was raining and he whisked me out onto his patio. He had fairy lights strung across the awnings, chocolate, wine and all pets out there as well. He got down on bended knee and asked me to be his wife. After he went to all the trouble of getting the animals organised, of course I said yes. It may not have been everyone’s idea of romance, but I think that’s what makes a good romance novel – the romantic moments are tailored very specifically to the hero and heroine of that book. What works for one couple, would seem wrong for another.

6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?

In my books I don’t close the door but neither do I explicitly describe the sex scenes. The heat levels also vary from book to book depending on the characters. To me the emotion is the key to writing a truly fulfilling sex scene – I want to be inside the characters’ heads as much as their bodies when they are making love, to see/know how their feelings and opinions are changing and growing about their lover and also about themselves. Sex in a book shouldn’t be gratuitous, it should change things and be absolutely essential to the plot, otherwise I don’t want to read (or write) about it.

7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

1. Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding – This was the book that brought me back to reading in my early twenties and one of the few novels I’ve re-read.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – classic romance. I simply love Austen’s heroes, especially in this book.
3. Faking It by Jennifer Crusie – a book that had me laughing pretty much on every page. The sex scene stood out as being fresh and funny, not clichéd at all.
4. Northern Lights by Nora Roberts – my first ever Nora Roberts book and one of the books that got me hooked on romance.
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – the only book I read in high school and a story that stayed with me.

8. Erotic Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?

I think it’s always been hot, just before a certain book came out a few years ago and took the world by storm no one that read erotic romance admitted to it.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read and write – it’s really as simple as that. I don’t understand when I hear writers say they are not readers. To me, these passions go  hand in hand and you can learn a lot from reading other people’s work. Oh and when you are ready, submit your work to publishers. It took me a long while to realise that one of the reasons I wasn’t getting published was because I wasn’t putting my work out there.

Thanks for joining us Rachael!


The 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?

A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.

Grab a copy of The Road to Hope here

Nine Naughty Questions with… Helene Young, author of Northern Heat

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Helene Young

author of Northern Heat and more…

Nine Naughty Questions

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1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.

I think a romance writer is probably born. According to my mum I was always an optimistic little soul who resolutely refused to find anything but a silver lining in every cloud. (That may well annoy those around me!) I started writing angsty poetry when I was a teenager, moved to short stories with unhappy endings, and then graduated to articles for community newsletters. When I sat down to write a book, however, the story was a romance. Since I’ve always been a lover of crime fictions as well as happy endings it’s not surprising I write romantic suspense. Two stories for the price of one!

Author: Helene Young

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of Romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

I think as a writer I definitely need to pour my heart and soul into my characters. Romance readers know authentic love when they see it and that means we as writers need to live and breathe it.  I do draw on some of my own experiences, but I don’t feel exposed by telling those stories. However recounting the experiences of people who’ve provided inspiration for my characters can be emotional…

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Set in remote Cooktown, Northern Heat is a story of redemption, but also about finding the courage to walk away from violence. As my heroine, Kristy, says, ‘Tomorrow is a new day.’

While the research into domestic violence was harrowing, I met many women who’ve lived through hardship and emerged stronger, more resilient and determined to make better choices for themselves and for their children. It takes courage to trust enough to love again and I hope I’ve done their stories justice.

Grab a copy of Helene’s novel Northern Heat here

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

Lol, nothing romantic about a full time job requiring upwards of 50 hours a week plus writing a book a year! But come July we’ll be casting off the mooring lines and heading Roobinesque, our 40ft catamaran, north into the Coral Sea – that’s going to be a whole lot more romantic than managing 260 pilots!

5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

My romantic moment was when Capt G, a mere work colleague at the time, scooped me up in his arms and carried me off a sports field after I’d badly damaged my knee in a touch footy game. He stole my heart as he whisked me away to the local hospital. That was 30 years ago :)

6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a Romance novel?

I think love scenes are very important to a romance, whether the bedroom door is closed or open! But it needs to show the emotional connection between the characters, even if they’re enjoying smokin’ hot sex. And it needs to be true to the characters. I think readers expect a sensuous element in romances and the rise of erotic romance would suggest that it’s increasingly important.

7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) Romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

1. Hungry as the Sea by Wilbur Smith, because it was the first romantic suspense I’d read. Althought I doubt Wilbur Smith thinks he writes romance!
2. Northern Lights by Nora Roberts, becaues the heroine flies a float plane!
3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, because Elizabeth was so quick witted and Mr Darcy so honourable but constrained.
4. Tai-Pan by James Clavell – just because.
5. Dune by Frank Herbert – I find something new every time I read it.

8. Paranormal Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?pride-and-prejudice

Paranormal romance offers pure escapism which lets our imaginations take off. I’m not a huge reader of Paranormal but I do love the Psy Changeling series by Nalini Singh and Kerri Arthur’s Dark Angels series.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

You can’t edit a blank page so get writing! So many people start a book and never finish it so the first big hurdle is to get your story down on the page. Also remember that all those ‘writing rules’ are for guidance. Sure you need to be concious of grammar, punctuation and spelling, but every writer has a unique process. Developing your voice and your writing process is all part of learning your craft.

Thanks for joining us Helene!


Northern Heat

by Helene Young

In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is living under an assumed name and rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown’s youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and a chance to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark.

After tragedy tore her family apart, Kristy fled to Cooktown with her feisty teenage daughter, Abby. She hoped being part of the small community would help them both heal, but Abby’s sports coach is turning out to be a compelling distraction.

When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger in Cooktown. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they’ll both lose someone they love.

Grab a copy of Northern Heat here

Winners of the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

The 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention has come and gone, but we are not sad because we are left with a great list of award winning authors and having met so many new authors, hundreds of new books to read.

See what Booktopia’s John Purcell and Andrew Cattanach got up to at the convention here.


WINNERS

Favourite Cover: the winner was Play by Kylie Scott.outback-ghost

Sexiest Hero: the winner was Adam in Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns.

Favourite New Romance Author: Alli Sinclair.

shield-of-winterFavourite Paranormal Romance for 2014: Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh.

Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2014: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews.

Favourite Short Category Romance 2014: The Honeymoon Trap by Kelly Hunter.

Favourite Historical Romance 2014: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie.

Favourite Contemporary Romance 2014: Play by Kylie Scott.lick

The Favourite Erotic Romance 2014: Down and Dirty by Rhian Cahill, Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee and Sami Lee.

Favourite Romantic Suspense 2014: Safe Harbour by Helene Young.

Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2014: Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott.

The Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014: Kylie Scott.


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GUEST BLOG: What I’ve been reading by Fleur McDonald; author of Emerald Springs

Fleur McDonald is one of Australia’s leading female rural lit authors, with her books becoming best sellers almost as quickly as they hit the shelves. She shares the books she’s been reading, in the lead up to April release of her new novel Emerald Springs.


9780522866483The Dangerous Bride by Lee Kofman

I heard Lee Kofman interviewed on Richard Fidler’s Conversations and was immediately intrigued.

Lee, to put it mildly was a rebel. She rejected any type of conformist traditions when it came to love and sex. To be frank, she didn’t believe in monogamy. After her first open marriage broke down, overseas, she decided she wanted a move and try again. Over the months and years in Australia, she talked to swingers, polamorists, cross dressers, suburban families and everyone who had basically been in an unconventional relationship. This led her on a journey of self discovery and an exploration of our own desire for security and need to be loved. The Dangerous Bride also touches on Lee’s experiences as a migrant.

The outcome of this book, surprised me more than a little!

Grab a copy of A Dangerous Bride here


milat-inside-australia-s-biggest-manhuntMilat by Clive Small, Tom Gilling

Once again, I heard of this book through Richard Fidler and his ABC Radio program, Conversations.

I can remember following the Backpack Murders as a late teenager through to my early twenties. As much as they were frightening, I had a morbid fascination with the case, watching all TV reports and reading everything I could on it.

And that’s still the case today.

Milat is written by the lead detective, Clive Small. He takes us through the case, step by step, through the evidence and how they put Milat into jail.

It’s a tough read, in parts, but one that is confronting and interesting at the same time.

Grab a copy of Milat here


the-maxwell-sistersThe Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill

I have always loved Loretta Hill’s writing. She’s funny, quirky and I know that I’m going to love her books from the minute I open the pages.

The Maxwell Sisters is a departure from her previous three novels, which were all based on mining sites. This one is set in the Margaret River area (in WA and one of my favourite places in the whole world. Especially with the wineries that are there!)

I would liken The Maxwell Sisters to a novel by Monica McInerney. There are complex relationships, family dramas and at the heart, three sisters who love each, even though they are at war.

Grab a copy of The Maxwell Sisters here


evergreen-fallsEvergreen Falls by Kimberly Freeman

Kimberly Freeman is one of my all time favourite writers and Evergreen Falls is no exception.

With it’s parallel story lines – one set in 1926 and the other in 2014, it is a rich and beautiful tale of two different women and secrets. Kimberley weaves an intricate storyline linking the two time frames, all through one place… Evergreen Spa Hotel. Interestingly enough this story is inspired by elements of Kimberley’s grandmother’s life. I haven’t finished it yet, but am chafing at the bit to get back to it!

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here


Fleur McDonald sml2_ Credit Chelsea from Proof of Life.jpgAbout Fleur McDonald

Fleur McDonald has also been touted as one of Australia’s favourite storytellers. Her stories are set in rural Australia and feature strong female characters and solid, no nonsense, countrymen. Fleur’s characters are inspired by the tough, complex and genuine people she’s met during a lifetime living in remote Australia.

With sales well over 130,000 copies she is one of the highest-selling authors in Australia’s ever-popular rural romance genre.

Fleur is the author of the bestselling novels Red Dust, Crimson DawnSilver Clouds, Blue Skies and Purple Roads.

9781743315323Emerald Springs

by Fleur McDonald

When suspicions are wrongly aimed at Amelia following the theft of proceeds from the local rodeo after a crash and grab, she must work with a skeptical rural detective to clear her name – and that of the man she loves. Mystery and romance abound in the new novel from the bestselling author of Crimson Dawn.

After finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to Jervois and promptly falls in love with the wonderful – if broke and slightly stubborn – Paul Barnes. Now she’s determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty and unreliable by proving herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee and making the forthcoming rodeo a huge success.

Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town’s history, Amelia is driving the record proceeds into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying crash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she’s even more devastated when she later finds out that she and Paul are the objects of gossip and suspicion in town.

To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical rural detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits…

With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.

Grab a copy of Emerald Springs 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

GUEST BLOG: My Romantic Achilles Heel – by bestselling author Kate Belle

Bestselling author Kate Belle on the expectation of a HEA

I have an affliction as a ‘romance’ writer. I’m not good at happy endings. Actually, it’s more of a curse than an affliction, because romance readers expect their Happy Ever After (HEA) fix, it’s why they read the genre. For God’s sake, in romance HEA’s are mandatory! It’s part of the genre’s promise.

Believe me, I’ve tried, God knows I’ve tried, but to no avail. My story’s endings are always tinged with bitter-sweet. My questionable romantic history probably has a lot to answer for here. My bent out of shape, battered heart looks more like a returned WWII soldier than a thing of worthy of loving. I’m not doing a poor-me act here, I know I’m not alone in the ‘I stuffed it up’ stakes. But for some reason, perhaps the way my psyche is built, instead of hungering for inspiring stories where true love ultimately finds a way like everyone else, I hunger for truth. I want to know how to survive a broken heart, humiliating mistakes and choosing the wrong guy. I want to understand how to come out of those experiences wiser and stronger.

Which isn’t, on the whole, what a romance writer is supposed to do. Most romance authors offer their characters bright, sunny futures as couples. I offer mine tough choices and the opportunity to seek a deeper truth about themselves in love. Which leads me to wonder, can I call truly myself a romance writer? Am I failing reader’s expectations by classifying my books as ‘romance’? Am I just upsetting people by not delivering on the widely accepted promise of a HEA?

Kate BelleThe truth is I can only write the stories that grow within me. Everything I write comes from a deep and honest place. I draw it up from the murky subconscious and half the time I don’t know what’s coming until I start typing. If I try for a neatly-tied-up-in-a-bow HEA ending, all sweet and romantic and perfect, I feel I’m betraying the origins of my story in some way. If I force it I fear I’ll be outed as a fake. So best I be honest, ‘woman-up’ and admit it.

I’m crap at romantic Happy Ever After.

The uncomfortable ramification of this revelation is realising I’m a black sheep in Australia’s golden stables of pedigree romance writers (we have so many of them, just look at Booktopia’s Romance posts for July). What right do I have, with my subversive stories, to even lay claim to being a romance writer? Am I traitor to the cause? The ultimate wanna-be?

My answer arrived recently in a timely email from a reader who’d received The Yearning as a birthday gift. This is what some of she said:

I have to say, the book resonated with me in a way that no other book has. … I like that it didn’t deliver the cliche ending, it kept things real but also left you hanging somewhat – yearning almost – giving the reader the opportunity to draw their own conclusions about some of the story. … I cannot stop raving about the impact that this book had on me.  (Reprinted with permission)

Thankfully books find their natural habitat once they are released into the wild. People read them and either allow their expectations to be shifted, or push the book aside because it doesn’t give them what they were looking for. As it turns out, Happy Ever After doesn’t always have to be about neat bows. It can be about wisdom, strength and the confidence to step into a new future with a clearer vision of what we want. While my stories may not fit romance in the purest sense, they are about love. The journey’s my characters take are inspired by what I’ve learned from the School of Romantic Failures and my endings, while not always neat, contain the most important ingredient in a HEA – hope.

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Kate is a multi-published author who writes dark, sensual contemporary women’s fiction. She lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter and a menagerie of neurotic pets.

Kate holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Head over to Kate’s website http://www.ecstasyfiles.com, like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/katebelle.x, and don’t forget to follow her on twitter at @ecstasyfiles

THE BOOKTOPIA TOP TENS: Top Ten Most Romantic Novels Ever

HeartCurious about which rogue is most full of rascal, which heroine the sharpest, which love scene the steamiest?

Booktopia’s romance guru Haylee Nash rates the Top Ten Most Romantic Novels ever written.

From Mr. Darcy to Noah Calhoun, our Top Ten covers unmissable classics and contemporary hits.

Think the list is spot on? Or did we miss a crucial novel (too few Scottish highlanders)? Let us know what you think and your Top Tens in the comments bellow!

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