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

by |December 7, 2014

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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  • December 7, 2014 at 10:57 am

    What a great list, Cathryn. I’ve read the Honeymoon Trap and am reading No More Mr Nice Guy at the moment.

    I so love the cover of The French Prize. The premise sounds fantastic. A nice one to add to my Xmas present list!

    • December 8, 2014 at 7:12 am

      The Honeymoon Trap was fabulous, Jenn, and I bet you’re having a ball with No More Mr Nice Guy. Love a vet hero.
      Thanks for The French Prize lurve!

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