Feed Your Reader: Our Most Anticipated Title of the Year

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A 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…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.” – Australian author Kim Kelly

‘What a lovely book! 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 Brown, NetGalley

‘a great love story in a historical setting ‘ —Sophie Wittlinger , NetGalley

‘I loved this book. Amazingly moving, so very realistic.’ —Jeannie Zelos, NetGalley

‘This was beautifully written and full of love and hope.’ —Ashley Broome, NetGalley

‘The book is beautifully written and Matthew and Jonah’s developing love has been depicted in a warm and very compelling way’ —Louise Faldon, NetGalley

‘The author gives rich descriptions of the environment and the time period.’ —Melissa Reuter, NetGalley

‘If you like Aussies and a forbidden love trope, this book is for you.’ —Book Reviews, NetGalley

‘I thought the story was really beautifully written. It is very evocative in the way that it transports the reader to life in the outback town.’ —Ije Books, NetGalley

By the Currawong’s Call is available now! 

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Friday Five: Welton B Marsland

2836First Published with Escape: November 2017
Favourite Romance Trope: friends-to-lovers
Ideal Hero: smart, quick-witted, brave
Ideal Heroine: smart, quick-witted, brave
Latest Book: By the Currawong’s Call

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

I set out just to tell the sort of stories I’d like to read, but it happens that I’ve always been fascinated with human relationships and how different people interact with and respond to one another, so those tend to be a focus in my stories. I spent important formative time (from a writing point of view) in slash fandoms and learned a lot – about writing, but also about drilling down into what my areas of focus are and what things push my buttons.

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

Generally, I’ll take a break from it and write a different one for a while. Also, I can’t underestimate how effective it can be, just sitting or lying somewhere quiet and “daydreaming” the scene to try and get into the guts of it.

3. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

On “Currawong” I lost an afternoon to the surprisingly interesting history of petroleum jelly.

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But the strangest research jaunt ever was for a short, niche fandom fic I wrote called “The Novikov Self-Consistency Principle“. Just for the first ten pages alone I had to research electromagnetism, heavy hardcover books on electromagnetism, strong German liquor, ethnic histories of two different surnames, alcohol laws in Massachusetts and Illinois, the Episcopalians, the chemical makeup of Ecstasy, entactogens and neurotransmitters, the Balkan states, time travel, time dilation, Stephen Hawking, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the Heckler & Koch MP5 rifle, and the statistical occurrence of supernumerary nipples (oh and the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle itself, naturally).

4. Out of all your protagonists, who do you relate to the most?

I relate pretty strongly to my two main characters in Currawong, Matthew and Jonah, even though their personalities are quite different. Weirdly, while writing, even though the whole book is from Matthew’s point of view and it was important I stuck with that, whenever I tried “daydreaming” scenes, I’d always find myself slipping into Jonah’s point of view. My brain, apparently, just found his voice easier to slide into, even while my intellect was trying to tell it “No, no, the other guy!”.

5. Snacks while writing, yes or no? What kind of snacks?

When I’m writing at home (where most of my work is done), no. Lots of tea though. And I mean LOTS OF TEA.

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I do also enjoy writing in pubs and salty snacks might well make an appearance on those occasions.


32275

A 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?

“Such a beautifully written, powerful love story” – Cupcakes and Bookshelves

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

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: By the Currawong’s Call

32275

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

‘You kissed her.’ Matthew was surprised to let the words out. They’d been searing little troughs of ugliness into his mind for at least the past hour, as time ticked longer into the evening, but he hadn’t planned on giving actual voice to them.

Jonah looked up at him as he removed his shirt and flung it on top of his jacket. ‘Well, technically,’ he said, ‘she kissed me.’ For a moment, it looked like he was about to grin, but the expression died before any of his features could commit to it.

Matthew swallowed and tried to keep his breathing calm. His memory flashed back to the kerfuffle in the main road that afternoon, how firmly Jonah took control of the situation, soothing the giant horse and catching Miss McMillan in his arms as she swooned. How obviously and understandably impressed she must have been with the gallant policeman who’d come to her aid. Of course she kissed him.

Jonah swore softly at his boots as he fumbled with them. He unbuckled his holster and laid the gun and baton on the table. Onto his trousers next, he swiftly unbuttoned them and slid them down his legs and off, letting them fall over the back of the chair with the rest of his uniform. He steadied himself against the table and lifted first one foot and then the other, removing his thick woollen socks and haphazardly stuffing them into the tops of his empty boots.

‘You were her dashing hero today,’ Matthew said softly, his words coming out on a shallow sigh. ‘Just like you were my dashing hero during the fire.’ He looked at Jonah standing before him in nothing but his union suit. ‘I of course understand her compulsion in wanting to kiss you for it.’ He tried to say it as dispassionately as he could muster.

Jonah squared his shoulders, standing his ground there beside the table as he took in Matthew’s words. ‘I hope you remember,’ he said, ‘when you kissed me in yer sacristy that day, how when you went to pull away, I grabbed at ya and dragged ya back in for more?’ Matthew stayed silent, so Jonah went on. ‘Just want you to know, alright? When she pulled away? I let her.’ And with that, Jonah turned his back and walked over to the washstand.

Beneath his crossed arms, Matthew’s heart banged a tremulous staccato, letting Jonah’s quietly defiant statement sink in. He watched, in the dim light, as Jonah bent at his washstand, brushing his teeth. Such a mundane act, yet it was an action Matthew had never before seen him perform. The casual intimacy of the moment, of the fact Matthew was sitting here in Jonah’s cottage, on Jonah’s bed, the knowledge that the two of them were actually about to sleep in the same room together for the entire night, even wake up in one another’s company – it all suddenly felt momentous.

‘I thought you might’ve slept with her,’ he said toward the fire.

‘I might’ve done,’ came the gruff response. ‘Hell, six months ago, I would’ve done. But with the way things are now…’

Marsland’s pen is playful but there are some serious questions asked. What is a hero? What does courage really look like? What are the shapes of true love? It’s refreshing, too, to read an erotically charged romance that’s not all about the sex.”
– Kim Kelly, Historical Fiction Author

 

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

MarkSheppard

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.

Persuasion

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

30777

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!

ARRC2017 – A Wrap Up!

Renee Dahlia attended her first Australian Romance Readers Convention this weekend, and she wrote up a recap for us!

The romance community celebrated and discussed our best-selling genre at the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention. Romance readers welcomed me into the group, and made my debut experience one of easy acceptance. This sense of community is special to romance. The shared camaraderie over books is delightfully refreshing in the current climate of cynicism that has invaded world politics.

Being the geek that I am, I took notes on every session I attended. Here are a few personal highlights (you can get all the details at my website).

In the “publisher” session, readers had their chance to speak directly to publishers. The panel asked questions to the audience about how they read, where they find new authors, and importantly, what type of heroines do they want to read about but can’t find.

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Female sports stars got the biggest cheer.

The session Feminism and Romance created plenty of discussion between panel and audience. Everyone agreed that in a genre written by women, for women, there is no conflict. On wider societal issues, Erica Hayes spoke about how romance is a safe place to write about issues that affect women, because the reader knows it will work out. Any other time these issues are discussed in literature, the women end up abused and dead. Romance readers want to see heroines who get on with their lives, and heroes who respect their choices.

The Dukes Need Not Apply session descended into giggles (and super fandom) when Courtney Milan read from her current work in progress. It will be part of an anthology inspired by the popular Broadway show Hamilton. Kat Mayo (Book Thingo) kept the fan moment alive by asking Milan how to say ‘suffragette!’ (From: The Suffragette Scandal).

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Back to the theme of what readers want, someone asked the panel if they knew any books that turned the wealthy Duke trope upside down. I mentioned Alisha Rai’s A Gentleman in the Street where the heroine is a billionaire, and enjoyed an “OMG, I love that book” moment with someone. Instant book buddies. Once again, welcomed into this community.

Another questioner said “I’ve never read an historical novel, because I don’t care for the damsel in distress trope. How do you get beyond real history and create strong women?”

Milan answered for all us.

“History has lied to you.”

She went on to say that we aren’t damsels in distress. We’ve always been strong. We just get erased from history because it’s been told by men. Milan bases her characters on these strong women that she finds when looking deeper into history.


30778-1She wants to be one of the world’s first female doctors; romance is not in her plans.

1887: Too tall, too shy and too bookish for England, Lady Josephine moves to Holland to become one of the world’s first female doctors. With only one semester left, she has all but completed her studies when a power-hungry professor, intent on marrying her for her political connections, threatens to prevent her graduation. Together with the other Bluestockings, female comrades-in-study, she comes up with a daring, if somewhat unorthodox plan: acquire a fake fiancé to provide the protection and serenity she needs to pass her final exams.

But when her father sends her Lord Nicholas St. George, he is too much of everything: too handsome, too charming, too tall and too broad and too distracting for Josephine’s peace of mind. She needed someone to keep her professor at bay, not keep her from her work with temptations of long walks, laughing, and languorous kisses.

Just as it seems that Josephine might be able to have it all: a career as a pioneering female doctor and a true love match, everything falls apart and Josephine will find herself in danger of becoming a casualty in the battle between ambition and love.

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…

Australian Historical Bundle!

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Two thrilling stories about Australia’s convict past and the path to true love.


Billionaire Bundle!

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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.


A Bundle to Treasure!

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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!


The Next Season of Outlander is still months away Bundle!

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May we humbly suggest Allison Butler’s Sexy Scots as a more than suitable stand-in?


The I Really Only Read For The Heroes Bundle!

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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.

Feed Your Reader – January Releases

25825

A sexy new adult duology about falling in love with completely the wrong person. Best friends do everything together—including falling in love …


 

Now available, two new bundles at fantastic prices…

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From the passionate, pacy pen of Alyssa J Montgomery comes a three-book bundle about the most powerful men in the world – and the women who bring them to their knees…


25827

From Lena Dowling comes two emotional, heart-wrenching, heart-warming stories about second chances at life – and love. 

December Recipes – Passionfruit Cordial

by Tea Cooper

Tea’s Christmas Favourite

  • 20 passionfruit
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • Optional 4 teaspoons of citric acid (If you want to keep it for more than a couple of days).

Scoop out the pulp from the passionfruit, (stir in citric acid if using). Put sugar in the saucepan and add boiling water and bring back to the boil. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add passionfruit pulp. Allow to cool and bottle. Keep in the fridge.

Serve with soda or mineral water…or champagne, or vodka, if you would like something with a little more pop.


25329

An Australian Historical romance about the first Melbourne Cup. Can she save her family’s horse stud and reputation?