The Romance Reader’s Survival Guide to the Apocalypse

by Annabelle McInnes

Congratulations! While you were tucked up in bed reading, you managed to survived the apocalypse. Nuclear war has wiped out humanity or maybe it was a resurgence of the bubonic plague. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population has been wiped out, infrastructure has collapsed, as well as any capable and cohesive government. Somewhere, somebody is trying to resurrect the world, but right now, that’s not your concern. Survival is.

You’re a romance reader, you know the deal, your dashing hero or heroine are on their way. But you’re also a woman of the modern age, so you don’t need anyone to save you. But your survivalist skills are a little rusty. How are you going to survive? Or more importantly, what are you going require from day one? I’ve provided a list of the top ten requirements for romance readers to survive the apocalypse.

  1. Water

Water is your number one priority; you won’t live long without it. It’s a nuclear wasteland out there and luckily for you, you’re immune to the radiation poisoning. You can’t drink the water and you’re thirsty from wandering degraded highways. You want a filtration system that is easy to use and lasts a long, long time. There are “straws” on the market that filter waterborne bacteria and protozoa from liquid. You might have to deal with skin irritation from the radiation burn, but at least you won’t have parasites.

  1. Keeping warm

Next you’re going to need to keep warm, until you can snuggle with your honey to share body heat. A tent is good, but heavy to carry and time consuming to put up. Staying warm is key, no matter what time of year it is. An emergency bivy, otherwise known as an ultra-light sleeping bag, reflects your body heat back towards you and will keep you toasty and warm. They can be rolled up into a compact bag, are waterproof, windproof and made to completely protect you from the elements.


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  1. Food

So you have water, you’re warm, now you’re hungry. A gun might seem like the go-to weapon, but once ammunition begins to run dry with all the outlaw gangs hoarding it, you are going to need to think outside the box. But you don’t have the upper body strength to lug around a crowbar or an enormous cross bow like Daryl from the Walking Dead. A strategic scavenger hunt can get you a Sling Bow that is compact enough to fit into a hip bag. That’s right, a quick-fire Sling Bow that is small, mean and able to take out local wildlife for your dinner. You might be a hard-core mean survivalist of the apocalypse, but that does not mean you need to fall into clichés.


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  1. Fire

You have caught a rabbit. You’re also a badass, so you have gutted and skinned it too. Now how are you going to cook it? You need a fire starter. The best thing about fire starters is that you don’t need to break the bank (as money is no longer required). All you will need to find is a rod and striker made from flint and you can have up to 25,000 strikes. That’s a lot of fire, and a lot of cooked rabbits.

  1. Protection

Just when you thought you had yourself sorted, everyone begins to rise from the dead. And you’ve only just cooked your rabbit! You don’t want to waste those precious rubber bands and “deathballs” that came with your Sling Bow to kill them. The solution needs to be lightweight, durable, easy to use in confined spaces, and effective. What about a multifunctional hatchet blade? Sounds impressive? It is. This baby can chop wood to keep you warm and has several other functions including a can opener, folding saw, glass breaker, strap cutter, pry bar, hammer, hex wrench, spanner and wire twist. Plus, it’s great at killing zombies. This thing is so handsome and versatile, who needs a lover in combat boots and dark fatigues when you can do it all yourself? In fact, you should probably get one for the home right now!

  1. Medical Kit

You have beaten off the zombie. High five! But you’re sprained your ankle from that Karate move you haven’t performed since primary school (it was really cool though). You need a first aid kit. There are a plethora of options out there, but what you want to look for when you’re raiding that pharmacy is a wound management module. These kits are ideal for high risk environments (zombie apocalypse anyone?) and focus on wounds and breaks. They’re compact, lightweight and relevant to your current circumstances.

  1. Entertainment

Look at you go! Only a few months ago you were spending your free time reading romance novels, now you’re hunting and killing your own food and fighting off zombies off like a pro. You’re so competent that you now have a bit of free time, and the lover of your story still hasn’t shown up yet (but will!). So what do you do to while away the time? You’ve hoarded a few paperbacks, but they’ve become repetitive. You will need a pack of cards. Snap might not be an option, but solitaire? Remember the hours you wasted in the early days of Microsoft? You can have that again! In physical form! You’re welcome.


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  1. Hygiene

Your true love is going to turn up any day now, you can feel it. You’re going to impress with your new skill set, naturally, and together, you’re going to be an awesome pair of survivalist. But, you still want your hair to be brushed, and maybe have clean teeth. Personal hygiene is an important element of staying alive. If you get an abscess in your mouth, it won’t matter how good you are at killing rabbits if you can’t eat them because of the pain. A toothbrush and comb set is an easy and light option to carry around.


  1. Backpack

You have all this stuff now, and you’re only going to have more. On your next food raid, you will find that elusive can of peaches, you just know it. You’ll need something to put it all in so a backpack will be essential. It needs to be water resistant with multiple compartments for keeping all your belongings separate in case of an emergency. You don’t want to mistake your hairbrush for your bladed hatchet when that zombie surprises you. It will also need an internal frame, a padded hip belt, shoulder straps and lumber support. Don’t be fooled by the big ones either (pun intended), loot a bag that is proportional to your body.

  1. Love

Your true love is here! And just as handsome as you imagined. Though you don’t need help (because you’re awesome) it’s nice to have company. Unsurprisingly, their intentions turn heated, and you have the same ideas. But before jump in your makeshift bed together, remember, don’t just fall for rugged good looks, chiselled abs and strong biceps. Your love interest has to respect you, care for you when you need it and be suitably awed at all of your amazing new skills. Don’t let them talk you down or push you around. That attitude was pre-plague.

You might be the last people on Earth, but doesn’t mean you have to settle.

That’s it! Remember to keep smiling and look after yourself out there!


  1. Lifestraw
  2. SOL Emergency Bivy
  3. Chief AJs Survival Fanny Pack
  4. Fire Starter
  5. Liltucker
  6. Major Wound Management Module
  7. Hygiene Kit
  8. How to Choose a Backpack: Expert Tips for Finding the Right Size, Fit, and Features

32434 (1)They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

The second book in the Refuge Trilogy.

Fractured Refuge releases 12 November: iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Nook, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

True Refuge is available now: iBooksBooktopiaGoogleNookKoboAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Feed Your Reader: Love Brings Light to the Darkest Places

32049 (1)
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

“an amazing dystopian read” – Deborah, Goodreads

Read Annabelle’s moving story about her inspiration behind this trilogy.

True Refuge is available now!
Fractured Refuge, Book 2 of the trilogy, is available for pre-order.

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


Exclusive Excerpt 2: True Refuge

32049 (1)

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

‘Come here,’ he ordered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

Pre-order now: iBooksBooktopiaGoogleNookKoboAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Exclusive Excerpt 1: True Refuge

32049 (1)

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

The area was devoid of life as Euan ascended the hill to the dilapidated farmhouse. Its high-pitched tin roof and slatted, rotting wooden exterior, shattered window panes and waterlogged gutters was a stark contrast against the dew-covered pasture that grew long without domesticated animals or machinery to consume it. He took the Glock from the waistband of his pants and palmed the grip as he climbed the sun-bleached steps up to the front door.

All was silent. Not even the faint morning breeze could be heard from the small porch. The quiet was deafening, it screamed a thousand warnings and the stillness spoke its own language, one Euan could understand.

Nobody was here.

They’d all gone. Euan could only hope they’d left Nick’s body behind.

He took a deep breath, maybe the last he’d take with his heart intact, and pushed open the rotting door with his free hand. He inwardly cringed as the loud squeak wrought havoc on his already shot nerves.

Euan stepped straight into a living room. The weak morning light filtered through the gaps in the tin sheeting where the roof panels had fallen to the floor from the weather. Dust moats glinted gold in the sunlight, the stink of decay and fear stung his nose. In the shadows it was cold, but he didn’t think of that, he couldn’t.

Battered furniture had been pushed to the walls to give space for a macabre performance. A play where cruelty was its drawcard and pain was its allure. Boot-prints of black and brown, blood and earth was evidence of an audience. A destroyed dining table, torn carpet and scorched floorboards were proof they stayed for a show.

In the centre of the amateur stage, the star of the entertainment lay motionless.

Nick was as still as death, a lifeless participant surrounded by destruction.

Euan’s nightmares were confirmed.

The bile in his stomach rose up to burn his throat. He scrunched his eyes closed in devastation at what was before him. It took everything he had not to cover his face with his shaking hands and cry into the silence.

The man who had given his life meaning, given him a sense of purpose, of worth. A man who held Euan’s heart in his hands and likely didn’t even know it.

A man who now lay in a lifeless ball on the floor before him.

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

Pre-order now: iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Nook, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Finding Refuge

Annabelle McInnes - alternative profile pictureAnnabelle McInnes is the author of True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy. This is the tale of where she derives her inspiration.

It is hard to articulate poverty and desperation without sounding morose. There is a constant cramp in your stomach, a twisting snake that feeds on hunger, anxiety and fear. It reached minus two degrees celsius that first winter I was by myself. I was cold, I was hungry, and I was often very afraid. After three months in limbo without a dollar to my name and not much more than my school uniform to wear, I was offered basic assistance from the government so I could continue my education without having to leave school. The first cheque I received I bought a coat. It was made of wool and viscose and it required all of the money not tied up on essentials to purchase. It reached my knees and had three black buttons down the front. It was grey, and it was warm. I often wore it to bed, not for heat it offered, but for the comfort it brought me, the safety it provided. I could wrap myself in that wool and hide under bedcovers that smelt of stale cigarette smoke and cheap washing powder.

It was there, under those blankets that I dreamed. Entire worlds would rise and fall, dependent upon my will. I would lie with my back to the wall, my headphones on, a tape-player reciting audio books borrowed from the library. I ignored and chaos, the anarchy and the terrors that surrounded me at night while I lived in a youth refuge that housed both boys and girls from 12 to 18. It is not hard to imagine the events that go on there, in the middle of the night, when youth workers are tired, and children have learned to become very adept in evading adults. 

From the age of sixteen I lived in that refuge in Canberra. For those first three months, most of my meals came from school, where they offered me sandwiches from the canteen. I would hoard them and, as they grew stale, I would simply remove the mould from the crusts. Why waste the entire meal when only small sections were tainted? I still fight this need today. I’ve read that Youth homelessness effects 11 out of 1000 children in Australia. But I suspect there are many more. You likely won’t see those invisible children on the streets. They’re in hostel, youth refuges, or living in the spare rooms of friends whose parents are brave enough to shelter fugitives from the storms of life.

For two years I lived amongst the poor, the drug addicted, the traumatised and the mentally ill. I navigated a world completely foreign to most, a world that I hope you will never see. A world of destitution, desperation and despair. Where laughter comes with a sardonic edge, and no favour is ever given without consequence.

There is both abundant hope and wretched futility in those places. Girls as young as fourteen, pregnant, destitute, kept me up all night with their coughing and their stories of a better life for their babies. They dreamt of houses, of safety, of simple things like education and shoes. They knew nothing except their own tiny, singular world. There was a fruit bowl in the communal kitchen, laden with exotic offerings. It would often rot without being eaten, not for lack of hunger, but because most didn’t even know that such things were edible. 

True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy draws from these experiences. I work with my memories of boys yet to be moulded into men of muscle and power. Young souls desperate for love and guidance, yearning for a hand to hold, but often too bitter and hurt to reach out. The worlds I create are cruel and cold and barren. A reflection of my memories of that time, but I also write stories of love, of beauty, of people that overcome adversity, that push past their hurt and pain to become champions, heroes for humanity. I write about the wonderful things that men and women can accomplish because I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, I’ve endured and prevailed.

My experiences colour my writing, they influence both the darkness and the light. I strive to write characters that are more. About men and women who overcome societal constructs, their own histories and demand more from their worlds, more from the people that surround them, more from their leaders and their government. I have learnt that heroes do not ride down from castles on horses that glimmer in moonlight to save maidens with long hair. They come from within. Only a hero born from within yourself can pull you from the mire of poverty. Only heroes that are created by our own bravery, resolve and grit, merged to our hearts, and become intrinsic to our natures can truly guide us to freedom. They drive us, motivate us, and inspire us. They demand that we keep going, get up and try again. Until one day, you are the hero, you are the champion. You are the one shaking your principal’s hand to receive your Year Twelve Certificate, you are walking down the aisle to marry the love of your life, you are holding your beautiful baby boy in your arms. You eat bread without mould and you write stories about love and triumphing over adversity, about men who defy society and women who challenge those men without fear. That is the beauty of this one, wild and precious life. Take it, embrace the hero inside yourself and demand more from everything around you. Then love it, and maybe, when you can, write about it too.

32049 (1)

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

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —


But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

Pre-order now! iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Kobo, Nook, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Feed Your Reader: It’s Time to Meet Fate’s Vultures


In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…

Read an Excerpt here

Available now!  Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon, Google, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Booktopia

Feed Your Reader: New Releases Available Today!



Sometimes the only way to forgiveness is through love…from the ground-breaking pen of Ainslie Paton comes a homeless guy, a government chick, and a cave on the edge of paradise.


The Lawmen of the Republic: fierce, honourable, soldiers, men. But what happens when all that they’ve been told turns out to be lies?

To Bare or Not To Bare: A Cover, A Question, and A Sneak Peek

by Kate

They say never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real: we all do it. It’s one of the first things that either attract – or repel! – us from a book, and, boy, can covers cause controversy.

One of the biggest divisions in cover decisions lies in the bare necessities: how much skin is in?

Take this cover, for example – the full-length novel kick-off for a new dystopian series that comes out in August:

HonorBound-Harlequin1920_1920x3022Now everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we think that this might be just the right amount of skin.

Do you agree?

Love dystopia? Get ready for August and the first full-length Lawmen of the Republic novel with the kick-off prequel, Lace and Lead, available now.

Or you can just stare at the Honour Bound cover until then. We won’t judge. 

19569Breathtaking action, startling originality and polished story-telling combine in this futuristic Sci-Fi novella about a rough mercenary, a pampered daughter, and the lies they both believe.

Blue-blood Emmaline Gregson survived one of the most brutal mining accidents ever recorded in the Republic, but she’s never been in a firefight. So when unknown assailants circle the family estate, the only man she can rely on is Peirce Taggart. A former Lawman turned mercenary, Peirce has a simple job: protect Emmaline until her father can collect her and sell her to sex trafficker Richard Stone to pay off his debts. But when Arthur Gregson tries to cheat his way out of the contract, Emmaline seizes the opportunity to hire Peirce for herself, regardless of how crude, dangerous, or appealing he may be. Given the chance for redemption, he promises to help her escape both her father and Stone. But Peirce soon realises that hiding her in his apartment until the storm has passed may be more dangerous than looking down the barrel of a gun…