December Gift Guide: Adventure Readers!

by Kate Loveday

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Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

For me, this book has everything – suspense, action, intrigue, emotion and romance. Nick Lawson is the man we can all sigh over, handsome, sexy, tough as nails and soft as butter. Elly Wilding is lovely, smart, independent, but vulnerable.

Put them together and you have an excellent book as a gift for the cousin who travels a lot and likes to read in the plane.


28837If you, too, are looking for intrigue and romance, may we suggest Kate’s novel, Black Mountain, which features a botanist heroine who has discovered a plant with miraculous properties – and the people who will do anything to steal it from her…

December Gift Guide: Books!

by Kate

Last year, the Escape Artists came together to provide you with tried and true recipes guaranteed to satisfy any holiday celebration.

This year, we’ve come together to help you with your gift buying needs. And, being readers, we are naturally offering up our best books for anyone on your list – even the sticky, tricky recipients.

Let’s begin!

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For every girl on your list, between the ages of about 8 and 18, I can’t recommend Lumberjanes enough. It’s fun, it’s smart, it’s quirky, it’s about friendship and sticking together, it’s inclusive, it’s diverse, and best of all, it’s a graphic novel and very few people think to buy a girl a graphic novel, so it’s guaranteed to be a novelty as well!

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I picked this book up for my dad last year, and I really recommend it for the non-fiction readers on your list, especially if they (like my dad) were big fans of the Freakonomics books (side note: Freakonomics is a great choice as well!). Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner is a fresh look at economics and history and finance; it’s beautifully written and seriously engaging.

 

Fantastic Four Years

Four years ago, Escape launched with a gala party on the beautiful Sydney Harbour, attended by authors, readers, booksellers, friends, and family.

Since that time, our family has grown exponentially, and we’re so proud to have more than 100 Escape Artists writing across 14 subgenres, but all adhering to that so important happy-ever-after ending.

To celebrate, I revisited the five books that kicked it all off for us:

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A romance about changing the game, finding the truth, and fancy footwork.

Reviewers said:

“Their journey is a really sweet and romantic one with a lot of depth and a great supporting cast, too” – USA Today – Happily Ever After Blog

“Keeper. New auto-buy author. Need I say more?” – BookThingo

“There’s a lot of great stuff in the book about the female/male dynamic; about the double standard; and about men respecting women. I appreciated seeing that addressed in a contemporary romance.  To complete the role reversal, the mates ask Alex what her intentions are toward Dan.  Mostly I loved watching Dan and Alex truly fall for each other. No insta lust. No wondering why these two belong together. By the end of the book, you know.” – Dear Author

Ainslie has since written seven novels for Escape, as well as self-publishing. Her latest novel is Incapable


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A dark, violent, and devastatingly sensual erotic fantasy about the binding force of love.

Reviewers said:

“Erotic romance readers who are weary of porny positions and situations may find this book a refreshing change. Hill writes some hot scenes without trying to do to much. The focus is always on Lissa and Devadas rather than which body parts are participating in the action.” – Bookthingo

“The chain harness was a nice erotic touch, but one of the things that stood out for me was how much I liked Lissa. She grew and matured and changed quite a bit, rising to a new challenge and coming to realise that, much like in a democratic system, a leader is nothing without healthy, happy people to lead…” – Giraffe Days

“I love this sort of story and it was great in novella form.” – Sahara Hoshi

Keziah Hill also writes as DB Tait and has been focused on her crime novels since Escape’s launch.


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A fresh and exciting debut novel introducing the Chronicles from the Applecross.

Reviewers said:

“Fast-paced and imaginative I really enjoyed this novel, I am already looking forward to the next installment and I urge fans of the paranormal fantasy genre to give Chaos Born a try.” – Book’d Out

Chaos Born was one of those books that, when finished, I was really happy I found it and read it.” – Vampire Book Club

“A fast-paced, well-written urban fantasy with a flawed but charming heroine. There isn’t much romance in this book, but if you like a lot of action and aren’t put off by a high body count—usually by decapitation—then it’s a promising start to a new series.” – BookThingo

Rebekah has rounded off the Chronicles of the Applecross series, and started a new series about Werewolf Bikers in Tasmania. She also has a YA novel, Threader, out with Harlequin Teen.


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This Christmas, Santa is granting wishes these two friends never knew they had.

Reviewers said:

A quick Christmas read that pushes all the right buttons and won’t leave you looking puffy and red-eyed on the train.” – BookThingo

“Talli and Dean are fun characters with plenty of chemistry and I enjoyed how the sexual tension amplified throughout their day working together.” – Australian Bookshelf

“This one made me laugh out loud and sigh with happiness.” – The Smutty Kitty

Rhian has published several holiday themed romances with Escape, as well as participating in two Escape continuity series and pursuing other publishing opportunities.


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She thinks she needs him, but she doesn’t know the secrets he keeps…

Reviewers said:

“This is a fabulous debut novel, expertly thought out and skilfully written with a passionate pair of main characters that both have hidden depths.” – 1 Girl 2 Many Books

“This is a great suspense romance with intelligent characters.” – Novels On The Run

“A seamless read and as close to a keeper as I’ve got with romantic suspense in the last few years.” – BookThingo

Lee Christine published two more Grace & Poole books, and has kicked off a new romantic suspense series, Dangerous Arrangements.

Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)

The Story of My Book: Haunted Ever After

by Juliet Madison

I Dedicated My Novel To A Ghost…

 I’ve always loved ghost stories, and as I’ve often experienced strong gut instincts about certain things and have learned to listen to my intuition, it’s no wonder I like writing stories with a few elements of the supernatural thrown in.

 When I started writing one of my magical romantic comedies, HAUNTED EVER AFTER, I was trying to come up with a name for my main character; a bride-to-be who becomes haunted by the wacky ghost of her fiance’s ex-girlfriend. A name popped into my mind. I liked the first name but the surname didn’t feel completely right, so I asked myself, ‘What would be a better surname?’ and instantly another one came to me.

 I Googled it and found a news article about a woman with the same name who had been murdered. Her terrifying ordeal brought tears to my eyes, and then I gasped as the article mentioned a street name close to where she was found – it was the same name as the original surname that had popped into my mind.

I decided to give my character the first name of this woman (Sally), but use a different surname than the two I had thought of. I like to think that somehow, I could give her a symbolic second chance at a happy ever after, if only through fiction. And I decided to not only name my character after her but dedicate the book to her as well, and others who have been taken abruptly and unfairly from this world.


22032Mixing romance, humour and a sparkle of magic, Juliet Madison is back with a new full-length novel about a bride-to-be, a mystery and the stripper next door.

When bride-to-be Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids, the last thing she expects is an uninvited guest: the ghost of her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend.

Red is quirky, loud and distracting, and Sally is soon desperate to find the reason behind her presence, so she can rid herself of her embarrassing shadow before the wedding day. Unfortunately, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her existence, but very enthusiastic about Ty, the surprise hen’s night stripper who keeps showing up at awkward moments.

Time is running out for Sally, but it’s also running out for Red. By the time all is revealed, Sally will be tested to the limits, and go above and beyond everything she’s ever believed in order to ensure not only her own happy-ever-after – but Red’s as well.

Horse of a Different Colour

It’s Melbourne Cup day, but not everyone gets in on the Spring Carnival.

If you’d like to celebrate horses, may we humbly suggest taking your day off and enjoying a good rural story?

Here are some of our favourites with equine secondary characters.

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From Escape Publishing’s Queen of historical Australian romance comes a new story about a privileged member of Australian’s colonial squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.


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For readers of Jenny Downham, John Greene and Maureen McCarthy, a poignant young adult romance about following your dreams and realising what really matters.


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A book about the first Melbourne Cup race! Can she save her family’s horse stud and reputation?


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Shirley Wine takes us back to Darkhaven, where secrets and scandals can’t stay hidden for long…

Hallowe’en Story: The Silk Road

by Jenny Brigalow

The sky was bright with diamante light and a silvery moon.  A sly breeze slid through a gap in the warped window frame.  A curtain flicked and brushed across Jack’s face. He sat bolt upright in bed, senses on red alert. A cry of dismay slipped through his teeth as blackness spread over the window pane. 

Inside his chest, his heart raced like a hot-rod. It was back! His teeth clenched at the sound of the moth’s frantic, desperate tap, tap, tap, tapping. On and on it went as the beast gyrated up and down. He felt as if its wings were in his head brushing across his brain. It drove him mental. Completely crackers. Then his mind conjured up his father’s gun. A flush of relief rippled through him. Of course. He would shoot the shite.

The moth froze. Jack observed it nervously. Was it his imagination or was it bigger? His eyes swept over the thick furry body, the groping, slender feelers and wide wings.  The brilliant pink tip of its abdomen scraped over the glass, swollen, glistening and pulsating.  Gross.  It was bigger; the velvety wings extended past the glass and beat their crazy tattoo on the wooden frames.

And then it was gone.

Jack let out his breath and sagged down onto the bed. His whole body quivered like a spot lit wallaby.  Then his spine stiffened as the moonlight blotted out. Like a cannon ball, the moth came back. It hit the window like a missile. The pane cracked.

Shit!”  Jack shot back and slithered over the edge of his bed.  For one mad moment he considered waking his dad. But he swallowed the idea like an undissolved aspirin. That would be an embarrassing conversation. “Hey, Dad, will you just come and kill this scary moth for me please?” A man had his pride. No. He’d just have to sort this himself.

Before he lost his nerve he slid out the bedroom door, padded barefoot down the creaking boards and onto the back veranda. There he paused, senses probing the familiar landscape. All seemed quiet. Gum trees slumbered and cast long moon shadows.  The only sound was his breath rasping in and out of his lips. A pulse hammered in his neck and Jack slapped a hand over the spot, scared the moth would hear. He nearly pissed himself when a soulful howl slapped the silence.  Dingo.  He forced his feet down the steps, leapt across the gravel path and flew inside the shed door. Too scared to switch on the light, he fumbled and stumbled until his fingers found the smooth comforting length of the rifle. He lifted it, broke it down, and peered down the sights. Loaded.

Jack stepped back outside and raced down the long length of the house. At the corner he paused, suddenly unsure. Maybe he’d just sneak back in and kip on the sofa. But then his ears caught the familiar sound of wings buffeting his window. Frustration and fury ignited in his belly and he set off with newfound determination. Rifle ready, he moved swiftly, circling around. With luck it’d never see him and he would blast it with both barrels.

And, for one deeply satisfying minute, Jack felt a wave of victory. The moth seemed insensible to all but its own frenzied quest. Smoothly, carefully, he lifted the rifle and took aim. But, as his finger squeezed the trigger, the moth dropped away and took flight. Jack swore violently. He lost sight of it. And then he spotted it silhouetted against the sky. He took off, racing across the garden and the paddock. At the boundary fence he paused.  He peered into the forest. It was dark. The moth, if it was there, was hidden.  As Jack turned to go, his eye caught a glistening thread of light upon the forest floor. Curious, he wiggled through the sagging strands of barbed wire and crouched down to see. It was a silk road.  A long string of caterpillars moved sinuously along the silk strand away into the trees. Without hesitation he followed.

On and on it wondered, through clumps of lantana, down dry creek beds and across dusty dirt roads. A burned out shell of a house loomed like a cluster of broken teeth. The MacDonald’s old place. The old ruin was a long way from home. Maybe he should turn back. It was then that he realised that he no longer had the gun.   He continued on.  Finally, behind the ruined homestead, the trail ended. Jack looked up at the ghost gum that gleamed softly in the moon light. His eyes roved up its smooth skin and into the gnarled and ancient head, adorned with mistletoe and stag horns.  Cicadas strummed a ghostly serenade and the wind whispered secrets into the ears of leaves. He looked down at the forest floor. At his feet the ground dappled. Half hidden in shadow, a shimmering metallic mound hugged the bole of the tree. Jack sucked in a lungful of eucalyptus air and stepped back, sweat bursting from his pores as the mound split apart.

His mouth opened wide as a dark shadow emerged from the cocoon. He waited, taut as high tensile wire.  She stretched, and her feelers unfurled. Beneath the dark, downy skin her sinews flexed and rippled. On thin, bony feet she came. Jack could smell her. Like fruit and honey.

Sharp fingers flickered across his chest. Jack held his breath. Shadow fell across his face as her wings unfolded and wrapped him in a velveteen embrace. Jack looked up into eyes that glittered like wet coal. And he waited to see if this was heaven or if it was hell.

The End?