Exclusive Excerpt: By the Currawong’s Call

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A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

‘Who would you say my friends are in Dinbratten?’

Matthew was momentarily stumped by the apparent change of subject and it took him a second or two to dredge up a name. ‘Um. George, I suppose? Or Albie at the pub?’

‘I’m a trooper,’ Parks said, as though that fact had been somehow forgotten. ‘My presence tends to make people uncomfortable. Like they’re immediately looking for what the trouble or the danger is as soon as I walk in a room. I think I make them feel a bit guilty, even if they’ve never done a bad thing in their whole life. And I can’t help thinking,’ his voice dropped slightly, ‘that men in your line of work must have it something similar.’

For a moment, Matthew couldn’t think what to say in response. He’d never before encountered such an attempt at solidarity. ‘I think I understand you, Sergeant,’ he said evenly. He glanced down at the bottle in his hand and smiled. ‘Though I must say, I’ve never had anyone offer me a gift of, well, sex before.’

‘Eh.’ Parks took the bottle back. ‘People see the cassock and the collar and they forget there’s a man underneath ’em, I s’pose.’

‘But not you?’

At the question, Parks paused with the bottle partway to his mouth and gave Matthew a penetrating look. ‘I see ya.’

On the receiving end of that look, Matthew felt a little hot under the aforementioned collar and realised belatedly that he had managed to get slightly tipsy. He cleared his throat. ‘It’s Sunday tomorrow…’

‘Don’t be offended if half the town are too hungover to turn up.’

Matthew smiled at that. His face was still feeling warm. ‘I think I’ll be bidding you goodnight now, Sergeant.’

Parks crossed his arms over his chest, liquor bottle nestled in the crook of his left elbow. ‘You called me Jonah earlier.’

Had he? Yes, Matthew remembered, he had. ‘You still call me Father,’ he pointed out.

‘So I do.’ One side of Parks’ mouth pulled up in his quirky grin. When it didn’t seem likely that he was going to say anything else, Matthew took a shuffling step back toward the door.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘goodnight, then.’

‘Goodnight,’ Parks returned. ‘Matthew.’

Matthew fumbled the doorknob and took his leave.

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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Bi-Visibility: Highlighting Some Favourite Bi-Characters

by Welton B Marsland

(Editor’s Note: September 23, Bi-visibility Day, has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia and to help people find the bisexual community)

Writing my novel, By the Currawong’s Call, it was important to me that I show the character of Jonah Parks as quite obviously bisexual. Even after falling in love with a man, he continues to admire women and female sexuality – I was determined to avoid the bi-erasure that’s all too prevalent in popular culture. Often, the fluidity of human sexuality is ignored in favour of absolutes (television, in particular, seems most fearful of the simple little word “bi” and rarely brings itself to acknowledge it).

As September is Bi Visibility Month (with September 23rd Bi Visibility Day), I’d like to celebrate four unabashed bisexual characters from screens large and small.

Alec Scudder

Appears in: Merchant-Ivory’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel Maurice

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Played by: Rupert Graves

In both book and movie, Alec Scudder, a working class gamekeeper, is there long before we or Maurice notice him. He emerges from the narrative slowly and naturally, making us blink and wonder how we could possibly have missed him – Maurice must have felt the same way. Scudder is truly one of my favourite characters in all of literature, so brave and determined and self-accepting. The sacrifice he makes for love, for the possibility of “a happier year” is awe inspiring. D.H. Lawrence may have created a more famous gamekeeper over a decade later, but Forster’s is the one that makes my breath catch.

“First time I see’d you, I thought, I wish I had that one. And it is so.”


Saxa

Appears in: Spartacus TV series

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Played by: Ellen Hollman

Many TV shows over the years have used a bisexual female character to quickly and cleanly tick a diversity box. They just seem so much more palatable and non-threatening, don’t they? Wonderfully, there is nothing in the least bit “non-threatening” about Saxa, a slave from Germania freed by Spartacus’ growing army to become one of its most formidable warriors. Saxa approaches her love life with the same fearlessness she approaches a battlefield, and yet still retains her capacity for tender moments. She lives large, like most of the Germanic characters in Spartacus, never shrinking from anything.

“I rival any fucking man.”


the Earl of Rochester

Appears in: the movie Plunkett & Macleane

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Played by: Alan Cumming

The real Earl of Rochester wrote bawdy verse and outraged Georgian society with his hedonistic lifestyle. This Rochester doesn’t pen any poetry, but quips and puns his way through this rollicking romp, holding his own amongst highwaymen and villains, and wishing he was holding someone else’s. With an eloquent smirk and an eye as sharp as his dress sense, this Rochester believes in justice and friendship and is prepared to draw his sword on a bad guy in order to save the day.

“I swing EVERY way.”


Crowley

Appears in: long-running TV series Supernatural

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Played by: Mark A. Sheppard

King of the crossroads, the Demon King of Hell, Crowley is a slippery character. What his true sexuality is might be anyone’s guess (do demons truly even have one?), but he’s certainly an equal-opportunity flirt and takes great delight in procuring those seal-the-deal kisses from desperate souls. One of the few Supernatural characters who seems to see everything that’s going on, even the unspoken and unacknowledged, and isn’t afraid to make a pointed remark about it. Friend? Foe? Fuckbuddy? Only Crowley himself could ever know for sure.

“Your choice. You can cling to six decades of deep-seated homophobia or, just give it up.”


32275A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

Victoria, Australia, 1891

Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.

A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.

Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?

“Told with an old-fashioned, authentically Australian wink and a smile – including even a couple of laugh-out-loud japes – By the Currawong’s Call is also a tale with a very timely message: people in love will marry whether it’s legal or not.” – Kim Kelly

“By the Currawong’s Call is warm and sweet and sympathetic and respectful, with skilled and lovingly descriptive prose. A really satisfying read for a rainy day when you want to feel like there is love and hope even through trying times.” – Plain B, NetGalley

“Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.” – Jeannie Z, Reviewer

“This was beautifully written and full of love and hope.” – Ashley B, NetGalley

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now.

iBooks, Booktopia, Nook, Google, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

 

Friday Five: Lena Dowling

Author: Lena Dowling
First Published with Escape: March, 2013
Favourite Romance Trope: Marriage of Convenience
Ideal Hero: The only non-negotiable qualification is that he loves the heroine more than life itself (even if he doesn’t know it yet).
Ideal Heroine: Determined, resourceful, feisty, and fiercely loyal. She doesn’t need a drop dead gorgeous hero but she sure deserves one.
Latest Book: Convict Heart (Book 3 in the Convict Series)

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

Inspiration came reading  a Mills and Boon romance set in the South Island of  New Zealand (on the wild and rugged Otago Peninsula in Dunedin) when I was a teenager. Up until then all the books I’d ever read were written about impossibly far away places by American and British authors. That book made the setting and characters hyper-real. Writing suddenly seemed like something someone living at the end of the world could do. And it is truly the end of the world – there’s not a whole heck of a lot of land between Dunedin and the Antarctic. Sadly I can’t recall the name of the author or the title of the book. It would have been written in the nineteen eighties and if any reader recognises it, I’d love to know who I owe my writing career to.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

Be mean to your characters, put them through the wringer and then build them up so they can pull themselves out of it.  Agonising to do when you care about your characters, but it makes for the best stories.

Which book written by someone else do you wish you had written?

Any of Jane Austen’s books but particularly Persuasion.  Some say it’s semi-autobiographical and its the thought that perhaps Jane was giving herself the HEA that she never got in life that makes it so poignant.

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If you could cast anyone for the movie/stage adaption of your book and characters who would they be?

Clare Bowen – who plays Scarlett on the television drama “Nashville” to play Nellie in Convict Heart the third book in my Convict series. Clare is Australian, but she is also brilliant with accents so she could do Nellie’s Irish accent beautifully, plus she has a wonderful singing voice and when she wears her hair long she’s Nellie to a “T”. And then there’s the fact she works on “Nashville” – love it, love it, love it. 

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Snacks while writing, yes or no?

There are people who don’t eat snacks while writing? Who are these people and what sorcery do they use to fuel their muse with thin air? Potato crisps, salted peanuts, salted cashews, milk chocolate, white chocolate… during the day… segueing to evening… which includes all of the above plus wine.


30777 (2)An Australian historical romance about a woman with a past who is fighting with everything she has for her future.

All of Sydney knows she was a convict and a prostitute, but Nellie Malone is now the manager of the ‘Tullamore’ Inn, a respectable businesswoman who makes her living on her brains and hard work – no longer on her back.

But when gentleman Harry Chester, fresh to the colonies, shows up at the Tullamore with papers of ownership and plans to collect rent, Nellie’s carefully controlled world is sent into a tailspin. She has barely enough money to keep her doors open, let alone pay an owner the rent he is demanding.

The Tullamore is Nellie’s home, her hope, and her freedom all tied up into one, and she will do anything to save it. Now, she has to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to hold on to the dreams for a future she’s only just beginning to realise.

Convict Heart is available now!

 

Feed Your Reader: Next in a Best-selling Australian Historical Trilogy

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An Australian historical romance about a woman with a past who is fighting with everything she has for her future.

All of Sydney knows she was a convict and a prostitute, but Nellie Malone is now the manager of the ‘Tullamore’ Inn, a respectable businesswoman who makes her living on her brains and hard work – no longer on her back.

But when gentleman Harry Chester, fresh to the colonies, shows up at the Tullamore with papers of ownership and plans to collect rent, Nellie’s carefully controlled world is sent into a tailspin. She has barely enough money to keep her doors open, let alone pay an owner the rent he is demanding.

The Tullamore is Nellie’s home, her hope, and her freedom all tied up into one, and she will do anything to save it. Now, she has to decide what she is willing to sacrifice to hold on to the dreams for a future she’s only just beginning to realise.

Buy links here!

Bundles of Joy!

Do you like big books and you cannot lie?

So do we.

So. Do. We.

So we put together some bundles, just for readers who won’t deny…

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From the passionate, pacy pen of Alyssa J Montgomery comes a trilogy about powerful men, and the women who own their hearts.


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For the first time in one place, award-winning Kendall Talbot’s fresh new Treasured series is available in one convenient box-set!


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From the critically acclaimed Ainslie Paton comes three men you’ll never forget – in one convenient package.


We Want More Billionaires Bundle!

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Look, we get it. We can’t get enough of the high stakes romance of billionaires either. So we put together three of our top authors for a billionaire sample pack – satisfaction guaranteed.