Feed Your Reader: Gallantry, Mistaken Identity, and Beautiful Gowns…

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All’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?

“I loved every minute of this fun story!” – Leah, Goodreads

“The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight was a creative and hilarious romance taking place in an incredibly unique setting.” – Nicki, Goodreads

“A very sweet and original romance set in the faux medieval landscape of a renaissance fair.” – Laura, Goodreads

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available now!

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Friday Five: Carla Caruso

Carla Caruso (2)Author: Carla Caruso
First published with Escape: May 25, 2017
Favourite romance trope: Opposites attract
Ideal hero: Tall/dark/handsome (that counts as one word, right?), brooding, kind
Ideal heroine: Imperfect, spirited, funny
Latest book: Run for the Hills! A runaway bride scarpers to the Adelaide Hills … and meets a handsome triplet, who also happens to be a wedding photographer. 

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I was actually more of a chick-lit writer (and reader) originally, devouring books by Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding and co. But when I went to write in that genre, chick-lit was deemed ‘dead’.

However, I’d sent a chick-lit style manuscript to a publisher and they asked if I could increase the romance component and they’d consider taking it on for a new digital imprint of theirs. I did and scored my first publishing contract. Now I can’t write a story without a strong romance focus. I’m hooked on the genre, and can’t go back!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?
I’m currently writing a novel surrounding a heroine who’s a witch for something different! I’m so glad my local library now has self-serve and I can just duck to the reserve shelf to grab weird and wonderful titles like A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food (among the picture books I’m borrowing for my kids!) Who knows what the librarians think I’m cooking up? I also hate to think what my online search history must look like to the staff at Google; I’m always looking up something strange!

Which book written by someone else do you wish you had written?
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta was a fave as a teen—as a fellow Italian-Australian (à la the heroine), caught between two worlds, the book really spoke to me. Oh, and I also have a special spot for The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Maybe because I’m also quite the un-Italian wife (coincidentally, I also have a foodie blog by that name, www.theunitalianwife.com – plug, plug!)

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Or any cute quirks in general?
I don’t know if it’s cute, per se, but I am one of those writers who carries around a mini notepad and jots down story ideas and notes whenever I’m ‘on the go’. (Okay, sometimes I use OneNote on my phone for future story ideas too to be a bit with the technological times!)

When I sit down at my PC, I always have to type up these notes first or apply the story tweaks I’ve dreamt up before I can get down to the business of writing anything new. It can be a good way to waste an hour of writing time, argh! But it does save on editing later.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?
I’ve recently got into renovating vintage furniture! I’m a runner and would habitually spot quirky roadside finds while out pounding the pavement. Now I also scroll Gumtree for such items.

Carla Caruso (3)

The poor hubby is quite handy and helps with all the painting, staining etc. (in between whinging about it, haha). I put all my nerdy home and garden stuff on my Instagram page, ‘adelaidepickers’, to separate it from my authorly gear.

Recently, I’ve also got back into making costume jewellery, which is something I used to do (and sell) many moons ago as a young fashion-junkie. 


Carla Caruso (1)The Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever.

One-click for wedding fun!

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Feed Your Reader: Sexy, Affirming Contemporary Romance

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Before 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?

“An emotionally unique novel that was a delight to read” – Wit & Wonder Books

“This book was full of such amazing people and the way that the author made such a connection was beautiful.”- Laurie, Goodreads

“I loved this book! It’s a great story of healing and love.” – Gina B, NetGalley

Exposed is now available from your favourite e-tailer!

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: Exposed

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

Eden dropped to the dew-dampened grass, tugging her long sleeves down to cover her frigid fingers.

Dan clicked away at the camera, the only sound disturbing the rural tranquillity. After a while, she forgot he was there, and she embraced the majesty of the view. When was the last time she’d simply sat and been mindful? Grateful that she hadn’t died that day, when others hadn’t been so fortunate? She pulled crisp, earthy air into her lungs, exhaling as she allowed her gaze to trace the jagged horizon, which was backlit by a sky streaked with orange and pink.

The movement of Dan repositioning the tripod for a different shot drew her back to a different kind of view, no less spectacular. Syrupy warmth spread through her veins, heating her limbs from the inside.

Lightweight cargo pants hugged his taut backside as he stooped over the tripod, and his wide shoulders bunched under his t-shirt as he lifted his hand to manually focus the lens. Who knew cameras like that still existed? The breeze lifted his hair, revealing the grey at his temples and the lines fanning out from the eye he scrunched closed while he concentrated.

He pressed a few buttons, turned a few dials and then joined her on the grass as the first rays of the day’s sun rose above the mountains.

She hesitated to break the silence she’d found. ‘Won’t you miss it?’ A whisper.

He shrugged, his eyes never leaving the display Mother Nature put on for them. ‘I don’t want to miss seeing it in person. He flashed her grin, ‘And I’ve set the automatic timer.’ He draped his arms over his bent knees, his hands clasped between them. ‘Shh, Archer. Just watch.’

She surprised herself by doing as she was told, although had it been an exam she’d have failed. For her, the splendour of the view was surpassed by the vision of Dan watching the sunrise with rapt attention. She couldn’t tear her eyes away.

Exposed is available for pre-order and releases October 4.

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Exclusive Excerpt 1: Exposed

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

Look, Eden—’

Eden masked a sigh and pointed to the surname embroidered above the pocket of her sweatshirt. ‘I prefer Archer.’ She kept her gaze averted as she located the earphone jack and fumbled it into her phone, a tricky manoeuver hindered by her left hand being concealed within the sleeve of her sweater.

Dan shifted in his seat, turning to face her. ‘Since I’m not going to be your doctor, I thought we could get to know each other.’

She made eye contact, refusing to blink away the burn from the sincerity that shone from his open face.

His smile widened. ‘You know, as we live near each other and will be spending quite a bit of time together over the next month.’ He shrugged, a move that made him seem boyish for a split second. ‘We could train together, support each other …’

At last her silence infected him, halting his pleasant and reasonable speech, every word of which scored her eardrums until she contemplated hurling herself from the moving bus. She was tempted. After all, what he offered made sense, and the army had taught her team building played a massive part in the success of challenges such as the one they’d undertaken. If Dan had been less appealing, perhaps she’d have jumped at the chance. But the stirring of her attraction to him meant she couldn’t go there.

 ‘Thank you. But I’m happy to train alone. I’m afraid I’m not really good company these days.’ The words tasted poisonous. The familiar rush of shame washed through her, purging any residual chemistry she felt towards this man. It was for the best.

She wasn’t strong enough to make new friends. Didn’t dare contemplate anything beyond friends. And Dan, she could tell, embodied exactly the kind of man she’d once coveted. She ignored the slight droop of his warm friendly smile and the dulling of his eyes.

Okay.’ His gaze flitted to the window of the now moving minibus, and he took another sip of coffee. She’d just reached for the second earbud when he said, ‘So what prompted you to volunteer for the challenge?’

Clearly she’d have to be more direct. ‘I’m on sick leave from my post. I hate being idle, and this is a great way to rebuild my fitness. Look, I’m not great with superficial conversation. I’m really only doing this to complete the challenge and resume my career.’ A moment’s hesitation gripped her, paralysing her vocal cords. He was simply being polite, friendly.

But she was determined to keep her objective simple. Complete the challenge, take her certificate from Scale and resume active service as soon as possible.

No distractions.

No complications.

No sexy doctor friends.

Exposed is available for pre-order and releases October 4.

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight

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All’s Faire in Love and War…

Sir Justin rode onto the field, his armour managing to gleam even in the overcast light. Connie applauded thunderously, pride and possessiveness welling up inside her.

Ouch, Foxingwood, I think thou hast ruptured mine ear drum, I can but hope that Sir Justin is not stunned after that boisterous welcome,’ the Maestro said. ‘Mayhap he is, he seems to be going the wrong way—wait a moment, what’s this? It seems our knight is stopping for a meet and greet!’

The Maestro was right. Sir Justin rode up to the barrier instead of trotting alongside it; he was walking his horse purposefully, scanning the crowd, as if he were …

It seems Sir Justin is looking for someone! Is that a rose in his hand?’

Connie’s heart skipped a beat.

Then, suddenly, Justin was in front of Connie, the smell of horse and leather and steel filling her nose. Her heart pounded as she looked up.

Lady Constance,’ Sir Justin said, his voice once again muffled behind the locked visor of his closed face helm. ‘I give you this rose as a token of my affection.’

Connie found herself grinning madly as she accepted the rose. ‘I thank my most valiant lord. But wait, sir, one moment before you go—’ Connie fumbled with the knot that held the specially made handkerchief onto her belt.

Speak up!’ someone behind her shouted.

Sir Justin, will you accept this token of my favour to carry with you today?’ Connie asked. Was the entire crowd looking at them?

I would be honoured, Lady Constance,’ Sir Justin replied as he took the handkerchief, which looked little more than a scrap in his large gauntlets. She could not see his face, but she felt like he might be grinning too. Thunderous applause and cheers broke out as he gently twitched the reins and Cleopatra moved off to take their place at the top of the lists. Maestro Contarini burst into rhapsodic commentary.

… never have we seen such gallantry, such chivalry, such perfect pageantry! Sir Justin rides like the knights of old with the token of his lady! Nowhere in the twenty-first century is there such romance as this!’

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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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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