Reality in romance: stories tackling the tough issues

If you’re a hard core reader of romance, you’ll be aware that between the pages of a romance book you can find any and every issue, even the toughest and seemingly untouchable topics.

And I’m not talking about possible sexual scenarios with an octo-tentacled mutant.

Or even how to tell your brother you’re expecting his best friend’s baby.

I hate to bring the mood down, but romance and reality can and does blend. And yes, even with something as topical as domestic violence.

But romance books are for entertainment, I hear you say. I want to be distracted from real life, not dragged into it.

And I agree whole-heartedly. But it doesn’t mean a romance story can’t tackle the tough issues and still provide a sexy, sassy, rip-roaring read.

When I started to write Pieces of Me back in July 2014, domestic violence awareness was gathering force, unfortunately because of the horrendous number of shocking deaths suffered by women and children at the hands of their current partner, ex-partner, or parent. (I ask that you take the time to look at Rose Batty’s – 2015 Australian of the Year – foundation and personal story here: ).

As a woman, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, and mother of two boys, each time I think about the prolificacy of domestic violence in Australia, I feel a sickening knot in my belly. Domestic violence is a confronting topic, and may not be, on the surface, something expected to be found in a romance novel. But with the right approach and delicacy from the author, it can be.

In addition to providing an entertaining read, my intention with Pieces of Me is to increase domestic violence awareness, particularly within our upcoming generation of young women (18-25) who may unwittingly find themselves in that situation. And, also, show the effects on children who have grown up witnessing domestic violence in their household. I attempt to dispel some of the unjust stereotypes many of us hold about the victims. And highlight how, with the right support and opportunity, a victim can safely extricate themselves from their abuser and, in time, heal.

Pieces of Me was written to inspire HOPE by showing the happy ending we could achieve. The story is a tribute to the STRENGTH of will women have to survive, heal, and emotionally grow after experiencing horrendous adversity. And of course, between the e-pages, there’s loads of sizzling, explosive LOVE, because that’s what we read romance for, right?



A story about starting fresh, letting go, and risking it all for love…

For Hannah, Mercy Island is a refuge, a new beginning, and a place to find safety in her own skin. Here, in this peaceful, beachside place, she will rediscover all those pieces of herself her abusive ex stole away.  For Bear, Mercy Island is a prison, a backwater, a place he can’t wait to escape. Away, in the city, he’ll chase his dreams and lose the bad memories haunting him.

When Hannah’s home is damaged in an ugly storm, Bear offers his handyman services to repair it—a last job and a pretty girl to pass the time before he heads out. But Hannah is terrified to lose herself in another relationship, and Bear isn’t in it for the long haul.

However, their simmering sexual attraction refuses to be ignored, and just because love isn’t on the line doesn’t mean sex isn’t on the table. A no-strings-attached brief fling to curb the tension and take the edge off. No ties. No emotions. No pain.

But love has a way of coming in the windows, even when you’ve slammed the door, if only Hannah and Bear can stop looking to the past and find hope in their future.

Books Seeking Readers

Books seeking readersDidn’t find your perfect match yesterday? Don’t worry – there are lots of lonely books out there. Here are today’s heartthrobs:

Matched set of dark, emotional romances seek reader who loves wolves, is up for adventure, and has faith in a meaningful happily ever after. Willingness to travel and put up with occasional brotherly bonding experiences a definite plus. Strong will, especially against attractive and charming men, highly suggested.

Meet your match here.


Book of hope, strength and healing love seeks reader with fetish for medieval Scotland, curses and men in kilts. Only those addicted to a Happily Ever After need apply.

Meet your match here.

Mild-mannered, unconventional romance seeks fun-loving youth for long walks to the spice shops and back, sojourns to secret vamp caves and patience with unresolved endings.  Must love tea, chocolate chip cookies and were-kangaroos.

Meet your match here.

Sparkly, sweet story set in the showbiz world seeks reader who likes quickies. It won’t take long to enjoy me, but good things come in small packages. If you like the idea of a moondance with your soul mate, and are open to a touch of magic in your life, I am your Love Angel.

Meet your match here.

Charming romance seeks reader who dreams of being swept off her feet in Paris. Must love food, sensuality and dizzying heights, including the Eiffel Tower.

Meet your match here.

Hot rock star romance seeks groupie who craves the limelight.  Access all areas backstage pass supplied.  No gender discrimination – the rock star is a chick.  Bonus points for strong interest in molesting the roadies.  Put your hands in the air.

Meet your match here.

Swashbuckling historical romance seeks readers with taste for cavaliers in wide brimmed hats with sharp swords for adventurous excursions, war-time drama, and deep family secrets. Courage in the face of certain death a bonus. A certain taste for military men a must.

Meet your match here.

Naive and innocent book seeks adventure and experience – but only with the right reader, not just anyone will do. A taste for rule-bending, unlikely attraction, and steamy nights essential. Curiosity about tent-based antics a must.

Meet your match here.

Have you been fumbling through the darkness, searching countless, pointless book relationships trying to find the story, yet only know the story exists because of the aching that has been left in your heart by its absence? Do you look at super-hot lead singers of rock bands and know you’re meant to read about them? Do you often long for the angst of a love triangle? If this sounds like you, then this sexy, deeply emotive story is a perfect match for you. But don’t try and find it, because it will most definitely find you.

Meet your match here.

From February with Love

23484From Jacquie Underdown comes a new adult story about what happens when you meet the perfect guy at the worst possible time.

23479From Jenny Schwartz comes a new coastal short read: She’s escaped to a tropical paradise, but her past is going to find her.

23483From Elisabeth Rose: One honeymoon, one vanished husband, one desperate wife—and the cop who is tasked to help her, but can’t seem to keep his thoughts on the job.

23303From Carly Drake, a YA fantasy romance: In Words Once Spoken¸ we met Evelyn, the normal girl with an extraordinary secret. Now we meet the men who love her

SLAH_Emma_FinalThis housewife is bright, intelligent and loves her family, but she’s also sensitive and prone to worry. What she lacks in confidence however is made up in her artistic flair, charm and hidden sensuality. She is dedicated to her man and there is nothing she won’t try to keep the fire in her relationship burning.

All titles available now from Escape Publishing!

September springs new releases!

It’s a great month for new releases – and a great month to dip your toe into our Magic Realism sub-genre, with three titles being released under that banner today!


From best-selling, award-winning author Frances Housden comes the gripping, sensual, suspenseful follow-up to The Chieftain’s Curse...

22032Mixing romance, humour and a sparkle of magic, Juliet Madison is back with a new full-length, Magic Realism romance about a bride-to-be, a mystery and the stripper next door.

22034From Cate Ellink comes a sun-soaked, sandy, seaside erotic novel about a tropical paradise, two athletes used to getting physical, and a sex-filled, no-strings holiday fling. 

22035Magic realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems.

22033A new, quick-witted, quip-heavy romance for grown-ups from Sandra Antonelli about facing your fears — because love is the greatest risk of all.

22036Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new magic realism novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

Lost but not Forgotten – How Fromelles Inspired my Story

by Jacquie Underdown

To look at the pretty village of Fromelles, France, you wouldn’t be able see its devastating past hiding behind the abundance of ripe greenery and charm. You wouldn’t be able to tell that this village was once a torn-up wasteland littered with the murderous fragments of war and soaked in the blood of 5553 Australian soldiers either killed or wounded in a single day. And for nearly a century as the small community of Fromelles went about its daily life, they couldn’t see that buried within the fertile soil were 250 remnants of this gruesome past waiting to resurface. History wasn’t going to be laid to rest just yet.

On July 19-20, 1916, Fromelles was host to one of the bloodiest battles in Australian history. A battle, despite its gore and immense number of casualties, has stood in the shadows of its more famous World War I brothers, maybe because some have called this battle a disaster for the Allies, or because it goes down as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history.

250 Allied soldiers (173 were Australian) killed on that fateful day were buried by the Germans shortly after the battle in mass graves. These pits remained untouched, their whereabouts unknown, and their content lost to all until nearly a century later.

Guided by an amateur Australian historian, the Australian Government instigated geological surveys in 2007 to find the lost soldiers. By 2009 exhumations were taking place to recover the bodies and DNA samples were extracted from their bones in an attempt to identify each. The soldiers were then finally laid to rest, with full honours, in a new memorial cemetery located 120 metres from the original mass grave site.

So why did I want to write about this tragic slice of history? Reflecting on it now, I don’t believe I had a choice. When I first heard the reports about the discovery of the mass graves, I realised that despite the decades the soldiers were lost, their voices were still strong enough to demand we acknowledge them and demand we remember them. No author hearing these whispers from the past would be able to ignore them — myself included.

Though I anticipated many tears during the research of this aptly titled novel (and I’ll admit, I cried a river for these brave men and their families), I didn’t anticipate the coincidences that would occur.

My fictional character, Fredrick, reappears as a ghost 90 years after his death on the battlefield of Fromelles. He wants a name on his headstone so he will not be forgotten, and he needs Lucy to help him achieve this final wish by searching for his descendants.

I’ve never had to find descendants before, so some of my research for this novel was in this area. At first I didn’t even know where to start. So I began where most of my searches do and that was with Google. I entered the name of my soldier (whose name I plucked from thin air, a complete fabrication) and didn’t anticipate that the name I chose was the exact name of an actual Australian soldier of the Great War (though the real soldier was fortunate enough to make it home and live to a ripe old age). Through him alone, I learned the exact path to trace descendants of soldiers.

This was the first of many coincidences that occurred while writing Beyond Coincidence and it may merely be that — a coincidence. But I like to think it’s more. I like to think that if we listen closely enough, we just may hear whispers from the past, in our present, guiding us, teaching us, and making sure we remember those who should not be forgotten.

He … was numbered amongst those who, at the call of the King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of sight of men by path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others may live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name not be forgotten.  (King George V)

He … was numbered amongst those who, at the call of the King and Country,
left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally
passed out of sight of men by path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up
their own lives that others may live in freedom. Let those who come after
see to it that his name not be forgotten. (King George V)

22036Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing wounds of war so deep it scarred his soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.

When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.

This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.

Beyond Coincidence is available for pre-order now.

Magic Realism – the authors

18883From Juliet Madison:

Magic Realism rocks because it makes the ordinary extraordinary, and allows us to experience unlimited possibilities within the context of the world that we know.


9689From Sarah Belle:

A world without magic, like a world without love, is a world without hope for a brighter tomorrow and all the beauty a new day brings.

21186From Jennifer Brassel:

Magic Realism is a perfect marriage for romance because…any person who has truly been in love knows that there is a reality beyond the everyday. It is higher, deeper, more colourful and more enticing. When that reality is discovered through a relationship it is so uplifting the lovers can believe anything is possible.


19225From Jacquie Underdown:

I write magic realism romance because I can take those most wished about wishes, most dreamed about fancies, and plant them in reality, seamlessly, until I can no longer tell where reality ends and the magic begins.

19228From Katherine Givens:

Every romantic believes in a bit of magic. It’s what kindles fantasy and inspires dreams. Magic Realism Romance is simply a genre able to capture the essence of a romantic’s heart.


21765From Robyn Neeley:

Faith, hope, and destiny themes tend to influence my books. Magical realism became a new tool for me to continue to explore these themes in an entertaining way!

Inspiration Behind the Story – Jacquie Underdown


8880You may ask how an idea for a romance novel can spring from gloom? Well, let me tell you.

When you become a mother or father, I believe you enter a special kind of club. A club for people who have learned how deep love can be—where you implicitly, unequivocally love another person so much that you alter your entire existence just to protect and nourish them. You would kill for this other person and know that your soul would endlessly bleed if they were to die. Having children gives one an expanse of empathy unlike any ever experienced before, because you know now what you have to lose.

After I became a mother for the first time, with all my new-found emotion and perspective, I watched a graphic show about Chinese orphanages and Dying Rooms—rooms where babies are placed in cots in dark, empty rooms and left alone for the sole purpose of dying. This show told of so many orphaned babies (mainly girls) who were dumped in underfunded orphanages. Children were not given any physical or emotional nourishment, no love, no hope. Instead, they were placed beside each other, in long wooden seats, a horizontal timber bar to support their back and a timber bar across their lap to lock them in. Lacking any mental stimulation or physical contact, the babies just rocked back and forth in these seats for hours on end, every single day. The children were so used to having no one come to them and offer comfort or motherly affection that they no longer even cried. They just rocked and rocked.

After watching this I sobbed until I could barely breathe. I couldn’t even tell my husband why I was upset because each time I tried, I would cry again. I have never forgotten these images and I never will.

So, as tragic as this reality is, this is where my inspiration for my first novel, The Paler Shade of Autumn, sprouted. Story lines were threaded; compassionate characters, who experience the darkness of life so they can love even harder, were spun. And from this gloom sprang forth a beautiful, happy ever after.


Autumn Leone travels to India to find answers about her unique ability to see into other’s minds. But instead of answers she finds love. It takes one night of passion to fall for Jet Stark, whom fate had sent her half way around the world to meet. But, too soon, Autumn is to fly back to Australia and out of his life.

When Autumn bumps into Jet back in Australia after five long years apart, it’s difficult to dispute fate’s intention in crossing their paths not only once, but twice. Autumn knows it is a risk to fall for an old fling, especially because Jet now happens to be rich, her new boss, and involved with another woman.

But a connection like theirs proves impossible to sever.

Reunited with the only man she has ever truly loved, Autumn thinks their relationship is flawless. But she fails to see that Jet is hiding secrets from his past. Secrets, which threaten to fracture not only their love for one another, and her career, but also her relationship with her family.

Will the truth about her gift and their unbelievable history be revealed in time before Autumn loses all she cares about? And will the truth be enough to mend old wounds?  

We need help! Win some books!

9689There were many reasons for starting Escape Publishing, but one of the most compelling was the stories that we were reading that were fantastic, breath-takingly romantic stories that just didn’t fit into any of the traditional categories.

Since then, we’ve gloried in diversity, publishing titles that we loved across a number of different sub-genres (and even invented some of our own!)

In the next few months, the Escape Publishing website is being updated, and we get the opportunity to update our categories at the same time. We’re very excited to be able to better signpost to readers where they can find the book they really want to read. But some of our titles are easier to categorise than others.

19225Which leads to our current dilemma.

We have a group of stories that have a similar theme, but no current category that adequately describes them.

Behind the scenes, we call them our ‘woo-woo’ romances – those stories that recognise that there may be more to our world than what we can see and hear and touch, more to our world than can be adequately explained by science.

They are grounded in reality, but see more possibilities to our life.

They’re not paranormals; they’re not fantasy. They’re just…more.

19228The Contest

Come up with a category for our website and marketing that describes this very special group of stories.

We’re looking for something short and snappy, something that we can use in our marketing and descriptions with e-tailers, something that readers will understand (or at least suggest enough that they want to look into it more!)

Enter in the comments; enter as often as you like. With each entry, please include your email address, so we can notify the winner. We’ll be running the competition from now through the month of May, so check back often to see if anything sparks your imagination.

18883The Winner

The entrant who comes up with the category title that we like the best will win one (1) copy of a book from each of the authors in our backlist that will end up in the new category. These books include:

I Dream of JohnnyJuliet Madison

Hindsight – Sarah Belle

Beautiful Illusion – Jacquie Underdown

Secret Reflection – Jennifer Brassel

In Her Dreams – Katherine Givens

You will also win bragging rights, and the undying gratitude of our digital marketing manager, who just can’t wrap his head around what ‘woo-woo’ means.
9087(she looks like she knows).
Save us, romance readers! You’re our only hope!