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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The French Prize
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.