Friday Five: Darlene Fredette

2230Author: Darlene Fredette
First published with Escape: December 2013
Favourite romance trope: Returning Home
Ideal hero (in three words): Strong, Charismatic, Dependable
Ideal heroine (in three words): Determined, Feisty, Independent
Latest book: Winter’s Kiss

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

In my teenage years, I read Harlequin romance novels, and I was hooked. From that point, characters came to life in my head and demanded to have their own stories told.

How did your latest book come to life? What was your eureka moment?

I’m currently stranded in a small town called Redford Falls, but loving every moment. The residents in this town make the stories real. Winter’s Kiss was created for the guy who didn’t get the girl in One Sweet Christmas. The cold and snowy theme was the perfect setting for him to get his happy-ever-after.

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

I stop and take a breath or two, or three. Doing house work always give me my ‘ah-ha’ moment. By the time the house is clean; the scene has unravelled and is as clear as the glass tabletop.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar? Do you have one already? 

I love all animals, especially dogs. So my mascot would definitely be a dog. Their strength and loyalty goes above and beyond. I have a Yellow Labrador Retriever who is my shadow. He follows me everywhere, and when I’m sitting at my desk writing, he’s close by, lying at my feet.


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

I enjoy painting, and people have said I’m good at it. I paint for the enjoyment and the escape it allows. I can’t replicate another drawing or painting because my own style needs to be released. I take the image and turn my own spin on it.


30327Return to beautiful Redford Falls: a woman who knows what she wants and a man who knows what he needs…

Nothing thaws the chill faster than a warm winter kiss…

She’s been on a flight from hell for over eight hours, lost four hours of daylight, and arrived in temperatures twenty degrees lower than accustomed to. Disliking winter for a reason she refuses to discuss, Danielle Lerato would rather be anywhere than in Redford Falls. She needs to get the job done and return home before getting caught up in the small town’s charm…and the arms of the handsome, brown-eyed restaurant owner.

Andrew Haley’s first encounter with the buttery blonde didn’t go so well, and he well-remembers the chill of the glass of water she dumped over his head. Now, two years later, a raging storm drops Danielle back into his life. She’s determined to leave, but he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her to fall in love with Redford Falls…and him.

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Christmas Earworms: We Three Girls of Orient Are

by AK Leigh

For me, Christmas conjures up images of Santa, decorated trees, sparkling lights, and much-loved carols. Like any other kid, it was my favourite time of year.

The morning involved opening presents––which may or may not have had peek holes ripped into them beforehand!––followed by a visit to church. Part of the church celebrations included a play and singing performance by the children.

One year, the organisers decided to hold a retelling of the nativity story. Being identical triplets, my sisters and I were stereotypically cast as the “three wise men”.


Nobody seemed to mind that we were little girls. Or the fact that the magi probably weren’t siblings!

One of the plays accompanying carols was “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. The children practised it so much that it lodged in my brain and became a favourite. Whenever I see this photo (I am in the middle), I am reminded of that day and that song.

As you can see, I insisted on a decent dose of bling for my costume, whereas my sisters went with a look that was probably more historically accurate! I can no longer remember what gift I bestowed upon baby (aka plastic doll) Jesus, but I think I look smashing in my cardboard crown, pink plastic jewellery, red sheet *ahem* I mean ‘robe’, and gold tinsel belt. Don’t you? 

I love this version of the carol performed by The Mediaeval Baebes:

31097 (2)They’re beautiful, accomplished, and they have identical interests…

In their spare time, identical triplets the Farris sisters work together to solve cold cases. Lizzie uses her skills as a Criminal Profiler, Nina her Scenes of Crime Officer experience, and Carrie assists through her work as a both a Forensic Scientist and Forensic Anthropologist.

Romantic and idealistic, Lizzie is picky about men. But despite the good-natured teasing of her sisters, she refuses to settle for anything less than ‘The One’. She loves her life, her job as both a profiler and a university lecturer, and her sisters, and won’t make changes for anything less. If that makes her unrealistic, then so be it.

Gabe Montcoeur has just moved across Australia from Perth to Cairns and starts a job as a journalism teacher at Cairns University: the same university where Elizabeth Farris works. On the surface, the move seems innocent, but he has an ulterior motive. Gabe wants to elicit the aid of the Farris sisters in solving the murder of his family members, and the only way to circumvent their notorious ‘no contact’ policy is to reach out to them in person.

But when Gabe meets Lizzie for the first time, the attraction is instantaneous — and mutual. The deeper they fall into each other, however, the more guilty Gabe feels about his real motivation for getting close. Lizzie wants the real deal, the one, true love — can Gabe ever offer her the future she deserves if he keeps holding on so tightly to the past?

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Women to Watch

The Women of W.A.R. series is set in a fictional universe, so our teams and characters – though they feel real – don’t really exist. But Women’s AFL is very much real, and the players and their teams on the field are playing their hearts out and inspiring girls and women all over the country.

So while we hope that you enjoy the stories of Angelica, Cress, and Darcy, we thought that we should also pay homage to those players who inspired them.

daisy pearce

Daisy Pearce

Already a stellar player in VFL Women’s league, Daisy set the AFLW league on fire in the inaugural season, winning the inaugural Melbourne best-and-fairest winner, the AFLW Player’s best captain award, AND captained the inaugural AFL Women’s All-Australian team.


Moana Hope

Moana is born on Valentine’s Day (which as romance readers, you know we love), but more importantly, she is an incredible goal kicker: the first player to ever kick more than 100 goals in the VFL Women’s, and winner of her AFLW team’s inaugural leading goalkicker award.


Kirby Bentley

Kirby won’t be playing in 2018 due to an injury, but she hasn’t let that slow her down: she has created the Kirby Bentley Cup to provide young indigenous girls aged between 13-17 the opportunity to put their footie skills on display. Also, just when she couldn’t get cooler, off field, Kirby works in mines as an explosives expert.


Erin Phillips

Not content with dominating on the basketball court (where she’s an Olympic silver medalist and a player in the US WNBA), Erin also co-captained the Adelaide AFLW team and won the AFLW best and fairest medal and the AFLW Player’s Most Valuable Player award.


Brianna Davey

Another over-achiever, Brianna played international soccer with the Matildas before becoming co-vice-captain of Carlton and being listed in the 2017 All-Australian team.

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Meg Hutchins

Meg not only plays for Collingwood, but she is involved in the management team as well, in her role as Women’s Football Operations Manager, where her experience benefits the Collingwood board.


Ally Anderson

Part of the Brisbane Lions team that made it to the Grand Final, Ally is also a coach for the AFL KickStart program and mentors the Queensland under-15 women’s Indigenous side. She’s also training to be a paramedic, and has swapped her boots for a microphone, commenting on the NEAFL for NITV.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in Indigenous players in the AFL/AFLW, there is a great map here  with information about players and their identified language and cultural groups.

hannah mouncey

Hannah Mouncey

Hannah isn’t an AFLW player – yet – but we wanted to include her on our list as she fights to be the first transgender player in the AFLW. Hannah was excluded from the draft, due to concerns that her physical disparity would give her unfair advantage. Mouncey’s testosterone levels fall between those required by the International Olympic Committee, the same guidelines followed by the AFL.

There are so many other inspiring athletes, and you can check them out for yourself here

And, for a fictional account of the lives and loves of Women’s Aussie Rules players – on and off the field – remember to check out the Women of W.A.R. series. Pre-order now!


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All Women of W.A.R. titles are available for pre-order now!

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Christmas Earworms: In The Bleak Midwinter

In the lead-up to Christmas this year, the Escape authors take some time out to share their favourite Christmas earworms…

by Elisabeth Rose

I’m not a churchgoer but years ago my favourite thing at Christmas was Carols From Kings on ABC TV. Sometimes it was on on Christmas morning other times Christmas Eve. I’d turn the volume up and have those glorious choristers from King’s College Cambridge belting out the beautiful traditional Christmas hymns and songs. My husband put up with it but as the kids grew older I had to tone it down although my son did and still does, appreciate the singing, which is what I love about it. It’s hard to pick a favourite but In the Bleak Midwinter is beautiful with those angelic boy soprano voices soaring to the top of the church. I’d love to hear this choir in a big resonant space!

but I loved the big chorus sing-a-long favourites like ‘The First Nowell’

Then disaster struck and the ABC stopped broadcasting it. I went off and bought myself a double CD of traditional Christmas songs but it’s not the most popular CD when the kids turn up for Christmas. They’ve developed their own tradition. My daughter and her cousin email each other to remind themselves to drag out Chris Rea’s Drivin’ Home For Christmas for the Sydney/Canberra trip and now we listen to all sorts of music interspersed with as many King’s College carols as I can sneak in.

31266 (1)A 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.

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Feed Your Reader: Hot New Adult Fantasy!

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The next book in the best-selling Forever Evermore series as Caro goes where no spirit elemental has gone before…

When Philip Masterson sends Caro back in time, he doesn’t expect to set off a series of events that will see her return stronger and more powerful than ever before. But her time spent with the Prodigies, Kings, and Elders in the nineties has long-reaching consequences that no one could have foreseen, consequences that increase tensions between the Mystical leadership when peace is needed.

Then Caro discovers something that changes the entire trajectory of her life, and finds herself torn: between the man she loves and the man who could mean everything, and the life that she’s chosen and the life that she was born to lead.

Chosen One is available today!

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Find that Christmas Spirit!

Check out these holiday-themed romance novels from Escape, on sale for $0.99!


Sometimes Santa doesn’t give you what you want — he gives you what you need. Three sexy-sweet novellas for that Christmas spirit!

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A beautiful, uplifting holiday story from bestselling author Juliet Madison about a lonely writer, her grandmother’s ghost, a road trip, and twelve different Daves.

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What began as an impersonal-but-cheerful holiday gift for a soldier far from home becomes so much more…

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It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candice Cane has a whole shop full…

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For a man called Chris Kringle, Christmas is the most magical time of the year.  But this year, there’s something about a certain elf that’s grabbed his attention in the best of ways. 

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The Stuff of Fantasy

by Nicola Marsh

If you follow AFL you’ll know there’s a thing called Fantasy Teams, where anyone can choose their favourite players and create their dream team. Each week players are assigned points according to performance and your score is tallied so you can see how your fantasy team performed, with mega prizes involved.

But as I’m a romance author and totally shallow when it comes to eye candy, here are a few players who could make the cut of ‘Fantasy Team’ of a different kind…(as voted by Herald Sun readers in 2015, Who is the AFL’s sexiest player?)


Andrew Swallow (past captain of my football club, the North Melbourne Kangaroos, who’s gorgeous inside and out, a true gentleman of the game.)


Lance Franklin


Travis Boak


Alex Rance

Now it’s over to you.

Who would you choose to be in your Fantasy Team?

Any sport, any player, let’s see who would make the grade in your dream team.

32509 (1)Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

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Get more information about this title on Nicola’s blog!

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The Love of a Tortured Hero

by Alyssa J Montgomery

Most of us admire those who’ve endured some form of physical, emotional or psychological trauma and used those negative experiences to propel themselves into a stronger future. We generally have even greater respect for those who go on to use their experiences to help others.


As readers, this translates into our empathy for the tortured hero or the imperfect heroine. There’s something satisfying about journeying alongside a character who is deeply emotionally scarred—sharing their fears and insecurities through their healing process, and ultimately sharing their happiness as they overcome their adversities or emotional angst.

I particularly enjoy complex back stories where there is a dangerous secret or an element of intrigue involved. I think this adds greater dimension to the character, and can provide more profound internal conflict for the character to have to overcome. I want the character to move on from the loss they’ve faced and I’m satisfied when they find the strength to ensure that their lives soar instead of spiralling downwards.

In The Formidable King, both Gabriel and India are outwardly strong but have deeply scarred psyches due to tragedy and trauma they’ve endured. Be warned, this story touches on some sensitive subject matters. The discovery of one dark secret will probe the boundaries of reader compassion as it tests the depth of Gabriel’s and India’s love.


Compassion and sensitivity in a volatile and dangerous situation prove the depth of unconditional love in Gabriel and India’s relationship when serious imperfections are revealed. The stakes are high and huge obstacles mount against seemingly impossible odds as demons from the past resurface.

Gabriel’s world is thrown into chaos as he realises circumstances may force him to choose between the woman he loves and the one responsibility that has always been central to his existence—the throne of Santaliana.

Against the odds, and through the magic of romance and love, both Gabriel and India are the key to releasing each other’s burdens and the salve to heal emotional scars. As their love triumphs, they forgive each other and learn to forgive themselves.


We all face challenges in our lives, and some of us face trauma. It’s how we respond to those challenges that causes us to grow—or causes us to lose our way. As the saying goes ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ There are so many people in our world who’ve experienced trauma and become an inspiration to others. Who are some of your favourite tortured heroes and heroines in the world of fiction and can you pinpoint just what it is that’s been so appealing and memorable to you?

32513 (1)A chance meeting, a misunderstanding, and a second chance for a royal love affair…

Once, King Gabriel was bewitched by a violet-eyed beauty at a masquerade ball, but she left the function without a trace…not even a slipper. Now, Cinderella has a name. Fate has thrown India Hamilton right in Gabriel’s path, and he’s determined to expose her as the gold-digger he knows her to be.

But Gabriel’s attempt at revenge soon loses its appeal as he spends more time with India. Her generous actions and smart control of his sister’s foundation suggest a strong, kind woman, undeserving of his scorn and anger. It soon becomes clear that this is not a Cinderella story at all: India is a beauty, and Gabriel has been behaving like a beast.

Pre-order now! The Formidable King releases on 12 December 2017

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Friday Five: Sandra Antonelli

antonelli-pink-sweaterAuthor: Sandra Antonelli
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Honestly, I don’t have one, but I do hate secret babies.
Ideal hero (in three words): Funny, moody (like Mr Rochester), intelligent.
Ideal heroine (in three words): Smart, smartassed, experienced
Latest book: Next to You

What began your romance writing career?

I went looking for romance heroine who were older than twenty-whatever. I want to read about heroines out of their 30s, but couldn’t find them. I was tired of how the silver fox hero was paired with twenty-something heroine. I wanted heroes who were the same age as the heroines, but couldn’t find them. Since I couldn’t find them, I began to write them.

Why do you write romance?

Love is a basic human need, a biological imperative far beyond procreation, and yet stories about this need are so often ridiculed as frivolous, trite fantasy. My aim is to kill that ridicule by portraying love as is it, in all its forms, by including diverse stories with diverse characters. Romance fiction speaks to the biological imperative and shows readers that we are human.

What kind of characters do you like reading about the most? What about the ones you enjoy writing?

What I like to read and write are characters over 40, particularly women, with baggage and life experience, and all those delicious complications that come with being older, but not exactly wiser, when falling in love is “supposed to” be in your past, but isn’t.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

Write the book you’d want to read.

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!)

I’d choose Neal McDonough to play William Murphy in Next to You: Will is albino. Neal is fair skinned and has arresting eyes, almost the kind of arresting eyes Will has. Plus, Neal can wear the hell out of a suit, the kind Will has a taste for, and Neal would be able to portray Will’s tenderness and hidden quiet menace when his new friend is stalked by her ex, Alex.


For Caroline, the heroine of Next to You, I’d pick Naomi Watts. Not only is she a gorgeous forty-something woman, she does determined-to-grab-an ordinary-life-by-the-balls well and would beautifully pull off the nuance necessary to portray the effect of Caroline’s tragic past and the struggle she has with the idea of deserving more than just an ordinary future with the extraordinary man next door.


For Alex, I’d have to go with Eric Stoltz because Stoltz rocks the long red hair and a beard that Alex has. Really, I pick Stoltz based on that flowing red hair and beard—Okay , there’s also the way he can cry. He’s a good cryer.


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

Ahem, housework. I knock housework out of the park. I wear aprons and everything.

29048A witty, quirky and unexpectedly moving story about cinema, secrets and a complicated love affair.

A love of ‘70s bubblegum pop music isn’t the only unusual thing about William Murphy — being a six-foot-three albino also makes a guy stand out. Will’s life is simple and he likes it that way. But when he meets his new next-door neighbour, complicated begins to look rather attractive.

Caroline’s trying to put her past behind her and grab life by the balls, which means finding new friends besides her dog, Batman. Will offers her neighbourly friendship, and as they bond over old movies, Caroline regains her confidence and unexpected love blooms.
But real life’s not like the movies, and their cute romantic comedy goes all Fatal Attraction when her vengeful ex shows up. Will learns that nothing about Caroline is quite the way it looks, and his simple life turns more complicated than he could ever imagine.

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Exclusive Excerpt: My Lady Governess

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One knight, one runaway heiress, one rollicking romance:  A breath of fresh air in Regency romance!

Marina was flung into the carriage so fast she had no chance to carry out her plan of clawing his eyes, for before she could bounce up off the floor he had yelled at the coachman to drive on, and the next moment his travelling chaise shot away at such a speed that flinging herself from it was an impossibility. That being the case, she flung herself at him instead, nails at the ready, but he grabbed her hands with ease and ordered her in vain once more to shut up.

 You can’t take me with you! You can’t! What will I do? I’m wearing my nightdress!”

 You brought it on yourself, woman. You need a lesson, and if that lesson means walking five miles back in your hideous nightdress then so be it.”

 You bastard,” Marina howled, once again failing to claw him, although this time she got one hand free, flailing it around to line up for the best hit, the two of them on the seat fighting to his outrage.

He barked, “Damn it, how dare you? You ought to know your place!”

You miserable, stuck-up snob!” she screamed, then seeing an opening appear by his left eye, struck at him. She missed again, yanking her hand backwards to avoid its capture, only this time de Waare, snatching at it, missed in his turn.

Instead he grabbed her nightcap, pulling it before he realized, and it came off in his hand because he pulled quite hard. So, to his gin-soaked obvious astonishment, did her hair. Well, it didn’t come right off. It just slipped over to one side in the most comical manner, and revealed itself to be, unmistakably…

wig?” he asked.

My Lady Governess is available for pre-order now!

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