These shoes were made for walking…

by JC Harroway

Five Of The World’s Best Hiking Trails

My newest book, Exposed, features an endurance hike for injured servicemen and women in Nevada’s stunning Ruby Mountains. While researching a suitable location for the hike Dan and Eden undertake, I came across some of the world’s most stunning places to roam. It was difficult, but here are my favourite five.

  1. Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand.

 photo credit: all-free-download.com

Living in New Zealand, a country abundant with exquisite scenery and off-the-beaten-track hiking spots, number one had to be Marlborough’s Queen Charlotte Track, which spans 45 miles of historic sites, secluded bays and coastal bush.

  1. Pacific Crest Trail, USA.

Photo Dangerous-dan on Flickr

This trail stretches from Mexico to Canada and hosts it all—deserts, mountains, lakes and forests—and spans over 2,600 miles.

  1. Lake Louise Tea House Challenge, Albert, Canada.

Photo Andrew Bowden on Flickr

A 14km loop that visits both Canadian Pacific Railway historic Tea Houses, that offers stunning views of the mountains and glaciers surrounding Lake Louise.

  1. Blue Mountains, Australia.

Photo Pascal Vuylsteker on Flickr.

Stunning rock formations, native wildlife and ancient rain forests, this hike has it all—waterfalls, a Grand Canyon and the impressive rocky Ruined Castle.

  1. Snowdon, Wales, UK.

Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon sports many tracks to the peak, Yr Wyddfa in the native language. Glorious views on a clear day, sometimeas all the way to Ireland.

If you had to choose a stunning backdrop to not only push yourself, physically, but perhaps find love, where would it be?


32235Before you can heal, you must accept that you’ve been broken…

When an accident leaves her with severe burns, Captain Eden Archer has one goal — to get back to full fitness and her duties at her United Nations job. Eden is not a joiner, but the Ruby Challenge — a four-day hike across Nevada’s Ruby Mountains — seems like a great way to boost her rehabilitation, and to prove herself ready and able to move on. She just has to get through the pre-challenge medical.

As a doctor in Accident and Emergency, Dan Barbour is used to dealing with people in pain, people in denial, and people who don’t much like doctors, but the prickly servicewoman who dismisses his medical skills awakens an interest that has long been dormant.

The Ruby Mountain hike is as much about the emotional challenge as the physical, and as Eden and Dan find themselves getting closer and closer, they both face enormous obstacles. Eden protects her heart with distance and reserve; Dan keeps everyone at bay by being wholly unavailable. But if they stay true to their old course, they will lose the one chance at a real connection, the one chance to really find someone to love.

A broken-hearted doctor and a reluctant patient should be a match made in heaven, but are Eden and Dan strong enough to find courage outside of their respective battlefields and expose their hearts?

Exposed is available for pre-order now!

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Friday Five: Marilyn Forsyth

2585Author: Marilyn Forsyth
First Published with Escape: April 2017
Favourite Romance Trope: Lovers Reunited
Ideal Hero: Tall, red-headed, Scot
Ideal Heroine: outwardly strong, inwardly vulnerable (4 words, I know. Hope that’s ok.)
Latest Book: Falling In Love Again

What began your romance writing career?
Having had over a dozen short stories published in magazines, I wanted to try my hand at writing a full-length novel and, because I love to read romance, it seemed a natural progression to try to write it. I joined RWAus and a writing group (Breathless in the Bush), and from there everything fell into place. I won The First Kiss competition in 2012 and that entry became The Farmer’s Perfect Match, published by Harlequin MIRA Australia in 2016.

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Why do you write romance?
As a reader of romance, I want to experience every emotion, every high and low, every fascinating sensation that comes with falling in love. As a writer of romance, that is exactly what I want to bring to my readers. All that, and a happy ending, of course!

How did your latest book come to life? What was your eureka moment?
The starting point for Falling in Love Again came with reading an article on Eric, the opalised pliosaur, one of the exhibits at the Australian Museum in Sydney. My vivid imagination went crazy at the thought of discovering such a unique find, but I was quickly brought back to Earth upon learning that such discoveries are often not disclosed because the opal is worth more than the fossil. What a great external conflict—two characters fighting over the future of a buried treasure! From there, Gemma and Jamie emerged, with all the emotional inner conflict that reunited lovers face.

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What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?
Scream, swear, tear my hair out. Just kidding! Although there are times…

Mostly, I resort to writing what I want from the scene by hand; there’s something about pen and paper that helps me to focus and get my ideas down quickly. From those notes, I choose a couple of scenarios, list the pros and cons of each, and make a decision of which idea to go with.

If I’m having real difficulty, I seek advice from my fabulous crit partners. They know me and my writing almost as well as I do and their advice is always invaluable.

If you could cast anyone as the main characters for the movie/stage adaptation of your book, who would they be (and why are they perfect for the role)?

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My perfect Jamie would be Aussie actor James Stewart. He has that larrikin adventurer look about him that I envisaged for Jamie as I was writing him, plus a sadness to his eyes that Jamie has. I find that very appealing.

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My perfect Gemma would be Aussie actress, Teresa Palmer. Though beautiful, she doesn’t believe it herself, and she has the right combination of strength and vulnerability to portray a woman recovering from an abusive relationship.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

I love drawing and painting. Always have. I’m not sure that I’m really good at it, but I do get compliments (and not just from the family!). I’ve worked in both oils and watercolours, and they both have their own particular appeal. I love the immense depth of colour that oils can bring to a traditional still life, but I also love the crazy unpredictability of creating in watercolour. I guess that reflects the two sides to my personality—basically logical with a bit of the frivolous thrown in.


31095 (3)A charming adventurer. A pragmatic paleontologist. A hundred-million-year-old treasure buried in the Australian outback.

The last person Gemma Stephens expects to meet in the tiny, remote, opal-mining town of Rainbow Cliffs is Jamie Coltrane, her university boyfriend who chose his past over their potential future. Now, seven years later, he is the only obstacle between her and the goal she has been pursuing tirelessly since he left. The goal that means everything for her future and that of her six-year-old son, the son Jamie doesn’t know is his.

Jamie has long outgrown the wanderlust that caused him to leave Gemma, and he and his father have settled into Rainbow Cliffs, making a living out of opal mining and running the only accommodation in town. But now a big find — a once-in-a-lifetime find — has opened up opportunities that Jamie never thought possible. Opportunities that mean everything for his father and himself.

Fate may have thrown them back together, but this is no happy reunion. There is only one fossil, and there can be only one winner in this battle between preservation and prosperity. Gemma and Jamie may have the chance to find true love — or be torn apart, this time forever.

Exclusive Excerpt 1: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight

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All’s Faire in love and war…

I’m all right,’ she tried to reassure him, wishing her voice would stop sounding so tremulous. ‘You saved my life.’

I think I might have done. Thank god I decided to take Cleopatra out before the tourney.’ With his free hand, he tried to unclasp the visor that covered his face. ‘Dammit, it’s stuck again,’ he muttered, sounding slightly muffled through the visor of his full-face helmet.

They both looked downhill—the empty horse float’s rapid descent had come to a stop at the bottom of the hill with an enormous crash, but with no one in the way. Faire officials were running from the far side of the jousting lists to look at the horse float. Another group had run down from the top of the hill. Several of them were shouting and pointing at Connie and her rescuer. The knight waved and flashed them a thumb-up sign to indicate they were all right.

I probably better go,’ he said, jerking his gauntleted fist towards the understandably panicked faire staff. ‘They’ll need some help sorting this out. Some rank amateur must have been trying to park in the wrong place.’

Thank you so much,’ Connie said, barely taking in what was going on around her. Her heart was still hammering from the fright. ‘I looked up, and that thing was falling, and I couldn’t even think. I tripped over this bloody dress—too many damn petticoats—my boots caught. I feel like a total twit.’

The knight shook his head, as much as he was able to in the restrictive enclosed helmet. ‘Don’t. You aren’t. I don’t think that dress was made for making quick escapes from runaway vehicles in, lovely though it is.’

Seeing as I made it, I can tell you for a fact ‘quick escapes’ weren’t anything I thought about having to do while wearing this dress.’

You made it? That’s awesome—I mean,’ he amended, ‘my lady is most talented. And I’ve gone and ripped it like an uncouth knave.’

You saved my life, sir. I can fix the dress. My pride, however, is pretty badly bruised. Us damsels are expected to be self-rescuing these days.’

A laugh echoed inside the knight’s helm. ‘Don’t feel bad, my lady, we have a yearly quota of damsel saving we must meet, else they revoke our right to ride in the joust, and also our right to say ‘forsooth’ and ‘verily’. In truth, it is you who have helped me.’

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available for pre-order now, and will release 20 October 2017. One-click now!

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Feed Your Reader: Workplace romance featuring a unique conflict

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From one-night-stand to new boss…

Ambitious management consultant Ellen Kennedy is going places. But when last year’s one-night-stand shows up in her office as her new manager, it threatens everything she’s worked so hard for. Even worse, she’s not quite sure that one night was enough.

Alex Broadhurst has private reasons for moving to Melbourne, and he has no intention of sharing them with anyone, including the woman he never forgot. But business and pleasure can’t mix, not ever, no matter the temptation.

Workplace romances always end in disaster, so Ellen and Alex strike a deal: one night in the past won’t affect their present or influence their future. But sometimes even the best deals are made to be broken…

“This story might have the most original obstacle to the couple’s HEA that I’ve ever read in romance novels” – Maria, NetGalley

“How much I enjoyed it: 5/5” – Coral, Goodreads

 

Deal Breaker is available from your favourite e-tailer now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: In Pursuit of a Bluestocking

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When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Spring 1888

Marie sat, head bowed, in the tiny red-brick church on the edge of the small village of Kleindorp. Her carefully constructed life plan lay in ruins. In only two days, the grandiose wedding ceremony that she’d spent two years helping her mother plan should have taken place. Instead, she sat at her fiancé’s funeral, unable to believe that Bertrand was dead. How could a simple accident take away all her dreams? Light shone at an angle through the side windows in the church, sending scattered streams across the aisle, creating shadows on the wooden pews. Dust motes danced in the light breeze that swirled in the empty space, much like the vacancy inside her. The Aanspreker droned on, and his voice echoed around the empty room. His words muffled in Marie’s ears against the clamour inside.

The final preparations for her extravagant wedding had been well underway when that fateful note had arrived from his sister, Loretta. Her dear Bertrand had been crushed by a wagon carrying fruit to market two days prior, and the funeral would be today. Guilt rose in her throat, and she rubbed her palm against her neck as she thought about how she’d spent more time with her mother on the wedding preparations than with him in the last week. Now the news of his demise seemed to appear out of nowhere. She’d left her mother and her two best friends—Josephine, now Lady St. George, and Claire—at her parent’s house in Amsterdam, surrounded by happy wedding clutter. Flowers and gowns and the like filled the room with the happy scent of love.

In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is available for pre-order now!

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Friday Five: Elisabeth Rose

Author: Elisabeth Rose1526
First published with Escape
: April 2013
Favourite romance trope: Fish out of water
Ideal hero (in three words): Dark, quiet, confident
Ideal heroine (in three words): Strong, independent, caring
Latest book: Find Her

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I read an article about someone who collected romance books and thought ‘I could write one of those’. I’d always enjoyed reading romances and always liked writing but never seriously sat down to write a book. As I went along I discovered I really liked the psychological aspect of two people working their way through a thicket of problems to find each other. The happy ending is the prize and for me the most fun to write.

How do you write? What is your process like?

I start with the germ of an idea and I make it up as I go. No plotting, or the bare minimum, for me. I write chronologically and learn things about my characters along the way. I can’t write scenes from different parts of the book then stick them together because future events and actions are created by what the characters are doing at the time. I do begin to have an idea of what I want certain scenes to be like though.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

Every page should have some question or some little surprise for the reader, to make them keep reading. I pick a page at random in my work as I go, and check.

If you could cast anyone for the movie/stage adaption of your book and characters, who would they be? (I would love to know why they are perfect for the role! Please include pictures!)

Elizabeth Rose (1)

Chinese actress Gong Li would be perfect for the role of my heroine Jacqueline Xue—Jax, an Australian of Chinese descent. Jax is a mature woman with a strong character.

Elizabeth Rose (2)

Sam Worthington has the large build and rugged outdoorsy look for hero, Connor.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?

I did a performance degree on clarinet when I left school many years ago, and played in the Australian Youth Orchestra back in the seventies. I still play and teach the instrument. Thirty years ago I began learning tai chi and moved into instructing so I’m pretty good at that, too.

Tai Chi by the Orange River Namibia Elisabeth Rose


31266A chance sighting leads to second chances – for hope, for family, and for love.

Five years ago, teenager Antonia disappeared. With no compelling evidence, the police eventually called her a run-away, and dropped the case. Her teacher, Jax, has always regretted not speaking up about the rumours she heard circling the school that day, but a random sighting at a train station raises the possibility that Antonia is still alive – and not too far away.

Antonia’s father, Connor has never given up hope that his daughter will be found and returned to her family. When her old teacher, Jax, calls him with a small spark of a lead, he seizes it with both hands, determined to chase it down.

But there’s more at play than simple teenage rebellion and the path Jax and Connor travel rapidly becomes more dangerous than either could have imagined, and opens up new possibilities that neither could have expected.

 

 

Six Terribly Unromantic Fashion Trends

by Anna Klein

Wearing crinolines and corsets and enormous silk dresses just seems so much more romantic than jeans, a t-shirt, and a cardie. On the other hand, history also has a few peculiar historical trends that are distinctly unromantic and un-swoonworthy. I’ve put together a list of the worst offenders;

  • Forehead plucking

Roughly in the time of Shakespeare, high foreheads on ladies were considered terribly sexy, so noblewomen would pluck the front of their hair to raise their hairline for a few inches. That suddenly puts eyebrow tweezing into some harsh perspective.

Rogier_van_der_Weyden_-_Portrait_of_a_Lady_-_Google_Art_Project

Portrait of a Lady, Rogier van der Weyden

  • Dress Lacing

The front-lacing dress medieval dress that we all know as ‘the sexy wench look’ were actually for the many women not lucky enough to have a maid to dress them – and who needed to be able to unlace themselves in a hurry to nurse their baby. Rich women had back-lacing dresses, maids to lace them into it, and a dedicated ‘wet nurse’ to feed their babies.

  • No Knickers

It turns out the earliest ancestor of lady’s knickers didn’t become commonplace until the early 19th century. Before then, most women just went breezy under their skirts. In fact, it wasn’t even until the 1920s that knickers gained a centre seam – up until then, it was split up the middle! There are historical examples from around the world of things like knickers being worn by very rich women, or courtesans, but it was considered very unladylike and inappropriate…because they were thought to be trousers, and those were only for men!

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Edwardian undergarments. Image source.

  • Underpants Shirt

Men didn’t get off easy in the historical underpants arena either. They had very long shirts they tucked in between their legs before putting on their hose and that was underpants.

  • Padded Bellies

These days it feels like everything is about eating less and getting smaller, while historically, men showed off their wealth by wearing doublets with a built-in belly to make themselves look larger and therefore obviously capable of affording lots of food.

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    Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Image Source

    The Codpiece

Men’s hose was originally just the two legs tied at the waist, with no centre bit. This was fine when tunics were down to the knee but as the hemlines for the tunic rose higher and higher, pretty quickly the crotch area was left covered with nothing but a flimsy piece of linen from the underpants shirt. That’s when they invented the codpiece, originally a triangle of fabric they laced in between the two legs of hose, before it turned into elaborate fabric representations of the goods underneath. Fun fact: They also used to keep their coin purse inside the codpiece to try and put off pickpockets!

So here’s to zippers, knickers, and non-crotch based cash storage. Maybe that t-shirt and jeans lacks a certain romance, but I’m glad for clothes I can dress myself in! Well, most days – I can’t be the only woman that’s been excited about a smart new office dress only to spend twenty minutes doing contortions trying to do the zip up in the back. No? Just me?


32237All’s Faire in love and war…

Connie leads a double life. During the week, she is an up-and-coming designer and dressmaker, creating sleek, elegant gowns for the wealthy elite. But come the weekend, Connie becomes Lady Constance, a member of the House Felicitous at the local Renaissance Faire, creating beautiful historical garments for herself and her friends and teaching dancing to fair attendees. Fearing loss of business should her stylish clientèle discover her extracurricular activities, Connie keeps her professional life and her faire life carefully separate. However, everything changes when she’s saved from certain death by Sir Justin: a rising star in the joust and an actual knight in shining armour.

Behind his mask as Sir Justin, Dominic is confident and charismatic, but out of his armour, his courage fails him, and to his own horror he finds himself accidentally pretending to be his own best friend. Suddenly, he is in Connie’s life as two different men: the elusive Sir Justin who courts her over the internet and from behind a suit of armour and Justin’s ‘best friend’ Dominic who hangs out at her apartment and helps her move. The lie only grows bigger and Sir Justin finds himself faced with the most frightening challenge he can imagine: extricating himself from his lie and winning Connie’s heart as his true self.

But there’s something rotten afoot at the Faire, something that threatens its future, the community that has grown there, and even Sir Justin’s life. Will Lady Constance find the courage to step up and risk everything to defend her friends, save the Faire, and rescue her knight?

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available for pre-order now!

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: True Refuge

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Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

‘Come here,’ he ordered.

Kira jerked like a startled rabbit. A tiny kit suddenly aware that the wolf was in her burrow. This time, she did attempt to take that step back, only to find herself boxed in by Nick’s finely muscled frame.

At Euan’s tone, he had moved in behind her. The need for a second serving less imperative to meeting their desires. His blond hair waywardly fell over his brow, his green eyes glittered with comprehension and sympathy. Nick still battled the demons that seared his soul with hot iron brands, but he’d set that internal torture aside, as well as his bowl of food, to meet Euan halfway to protect and nurture the woman caught between them.

Over Kira’s head, their gazes connected, clashed, tangled in an almost visceral melding of minds and understanding. After everything they’d suffered. Because of everything they’d suffered. On this, they were in agreement.

‘Both of you,’ Euan continued. ‘Come here.’

Nick nudged Kira in Euan’s direction. They moved as one until she was pressed between the two of them. Nick’s defined arms banded around her waist, while Euan’s heavily muscled limbs wrapped around both of them. It was an embrace of solidarity, one of hope, to herald the start of a relationship that, at that point, only two parties were aware of.

Euan bent and rubbed his nose, lips and chin back and forth over the crown of Kira’s head. The delicate strands of her hair caught in the bristles of his beard. Under his palms, Nick’s shoulder blades rose and fell. The mixed scent of intoxicating feminine essence and masculine exertions flooded his senses. Kira’s soft puffs of breath fluttered against the cloth of his shirt at his chest.

He wanted to protect them, shield them both from the horrors of the world they now resided in. A reality that was terribly close to their door. He’d become their safeguard, the impenetrable wall that buffered them from the truth and sheltered them from their enemies. He inhaled slowly. His eyes drifted closed while he comprehended the beauty he held in his arms. He began to unravel the thoughts that twisted in circles inside his mind ever since he’d first seen the little sprite appear out of the trees. He was old enough to know himself, to know what he wanted. He wasn’t a man who got hung up on the direction of the moral compass of a defunct society. So he knew without hesitancy, that he wanted them both.

Together. Forever. Or for as long as this life allowed.

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

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Feed Your Reader: Country spices up the City

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A country boy meets a city girl in this sexy opposites attract story from best-selling author Mandy Magro.

Blake Wellstone is a cowboy through and through, his wealth and status obtained by years of hard work on his cattle stations spread out across Australia. But this farmer isn’t looking for a wife — his first love ended in tragedy, and he will never put his heart on the line again. The land is his love, and he’s happy that way.

Sasha Hepworth has goals and ambitions and she has worked very hard for her success. She’s just forgotten how to enjoy herself. So a weekend fling with a gorgeous cowboy is just what she needs  after all, it can’t go any further. She’d never leave the conveniences and beauty of the city for a dusty outback town.

But a weekend of fine dining and spectacular sights isn’t enough for Blake and Sasha, and the growing feelings that neither can deny make them question everything about their lives. When a city girl meets a country boy, will they find middle ground?

“I highly recommend Mandy’s books to anybody who likes to read Australian rural romance” – Goodreads

The Billionaire Cattle Baron is now available from your favourite e-tailer.

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Exclusive Excerpt: Deal Breaker

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From one-night-stand to new boss…

Alex Broadhurst. She’d known that was the new boss’s name, but she hadn’t realised he was the same Alex she’d … met all those months ago.

Maybe he didn’t remember.

Please don’t let him remember.

Ellen perched on the edge of her seat, not even remotely able to keep from studying the man in front of her. A sweep of cheekbones, long face with a straight nose, strong jaw. Crisp blue cotton shirt, red silk tie. Even from this angle, anyone could see he was gorgeous. So clean-cut, masculine and handsome, he could sell cologne for Armani.

Yes. The man was indisputably gorgeous.

Her shoulders dropped and the tightness in her chest eased just a fraction. An attractive guy with success written all over him—chances were, he went home with many, many women. And it was a while ago, their fling. Even if he recognised her, he probably couldn’t pinpoint the where and the when.

The how.

God, the how.

Not helpful, Ellen.

She tore her gaze away, searching for something apart from Alex to hold her attention, but apart from his train wreck of a desk, which held a laptop and various piles of papers dripping in red scribble, the office was bare. No photos, nothing personal.

Maybe it was because he had no personality, like everyone was saying.

When Jeremy had been boss, this office had been full to the brink—photos of Jeremy shaking hands with various important people, framed degrees, posters with witty quotes, novelty gifts. But then again, given the way Jeremy had left, that was nothing to aspire to.

And it wasn’t true that Alex had no personality. He did—and a wicked, sneaky sense of humour. He was also very … generous. She had reason to know.

The pen came to rest. ‘Right. Ellen Kennedy.’ Alex extracted a page from one of the piles—her CV, no red, thank God—and scanned it, nodding occasionally. ‘Okay.’

He dropped it on the table and looked at her. Her stomach clenched. Those eyes. Intense hazel, bright against his dark hair and olive skin. Swarthy almost, as described in the historical romance novels she liked way too much. She had no trouble recalling exactly why she’d said yes that night. At least she could credit herself with having good taste.

Heat flushed her neck and cheeks.

He must remember. No?

Deal Breaker will release 12 September 2017. One-click pre-order below:

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