Koru Award 2017 – Maddie Jane

We are so thrilled to announce that Maddie Jane was awarded not one, but two Koru awards at last weekend’s Romance Writers of New Zealand conference.

Maddie’s book, Backpack and a Red Dresswon not only the Best Short, Sweet Romance Koru, but was also the Overall Winner of the night.

The Koru Awards are a readers’ choice award, presented by the Romance Writers of New Zealand, honouring excellence in romance writing.

Congratulations, Maddie! We’re so proud to be publishing your charming, beautiful novels!


A fresh contemporary romance about a lonely girl looking for love, family and the perfect dress.

Managing a flailing second-hand clothes shop in an English village is not part of Cally Kirkwood’s life plan. But she’s travelled across the world to meet her birth father and she won’t leave until he acknowledges her.

But life happens when you’re busy making plans, and Cally soon finds herself completely invested in converting the grungy shop into a beautiful vintage clothing store, despite the opposition of her new employer’s son, Sam Hunter.

Sam is instantly attracted to Cally but can’t figure her out. There’s something she isn’t telling him and he doesn’t know whether to trust her—yet he can’t stay away.

An unexpected discovery means Cally must decide whether her true loyalty lies with her father or Sam. She thought she’d do anything to find love; but choosing between her past and her future may leave her with no love at all.

“the perfect blend of sweet, cute, and heartwarming” – Bette, Goodreads

“an easy-to-read book full of romance, personal development and a touch of vintage style” – Lilly, Goodreads

“a fresh, light well-written read” – J, Goodreads

Available now!

Do You Believe in Fate? – Frances Housden

I have to confess to regularly reading my horoscope. My husband laughs, ‘How can it be true for everyone in the world born in the same month?’ I don’t care. I do believe in fate—that there is something guiding us but we have the option to follow the advice or not. Right now my horoscope says the next 12 months will be the best period for my career in decades. Who wouldn’t want to believe that, but it’s what we do about it that counts.

Going back to fate, Euan the hero of THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE came to me in a dream. He was yelling, ‘Will this bluidy curse never end?’ Now tell me, what red-blooded author wouldn’t want to find out more?

Discovering Euan took me on a journey into my past, into the history of Scotland, my homeland. It was exciting using a lot of what I learned at my grandfather’s knee, but more than that, many places and characters simply popped into my head, especially Nhaimeth the dwarf—a favourite with readers—and this, long before A Game of Thrones reached our screens. I gave a detailed description of the clan castle in my book and discovered it really existed—fate or latent memories from my childhood? I don’t care, why should I? Everything worked to drive the plot of the very first book in my ‘Chieftain’ series.

This is where I accept that we need to give fate a hand. I went to a clairvoyant shortly after I finished ‘Chieftain’. She told me I had a book that would do really well and since the publishers weren’t liable to coming knocking on my door, I left it to my agent to find one who loved the book as much as I did. Years past, editors did love the book, but didn’t know where to place it—yes it’s a wonderful romance but I like to think it is more. I have to admit the wait was disheartening. Then at the annual Harlequin dinner in 2012, I was sitting near Haylee Nash who told us all about Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s new digital imprint. I asked if I could email a book to her and, when she agreed, I sent it off that very night as well as a lot of good vibes.

The rest as they say is history—Scottish History. Without any reviews THE CHIEFTAIN’S CURSE hit #3 overall on iBooks, stayed #1 in Historical Romance for weeks and was an Amazon bestseller, which led to a print edition being published by Harlequin MIRA Australia. Two weeks ago Chieftain was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards and two days ago, it won RWNZ’s Koru Award. How’s that for fate?

I don’t remember the speech I gave, though I’m told it was good. I do know I thanked Kate Cuthbert and Harlequin Australia for having the guts to publish Chieftain, enough said.

8883Nominated for the 2014 RITA Award for Best Historical Romance
Winner RWNZ inaugural Koru Award for Outstanding Long Romance

Euan McArthur is a chieftain in need of an heir.

While still a young a warrior, Euan incites the fury of a witch. She retaliates with a curse that no wife will ever bear him an heir. As he buries his third wife and yet another bonnie stillborn son, Euan can no longer cast her words aside.

Morag Farquhar is a woman in need of sanctuary.Pronounced barren by a midwife, Morag is of little value to her family, but a Godsend to Euan, a lover he can’t kill by getting with child.

Years ago, chance drew them together, and tangled their lives in ways they could never have imagined. This time their destiny lies in their own hands, but it will take courage and strong hearts to see it through to the end.

Available Now!

22037From the bestselling, RITA nominated author Frances Housden comes the gripping, sensual, suspenseful follow-up to The Chieftain’s Curse…

Gavyn Farquhar’s marriage is forged with a double-edged blade. Along with the Comlyn clan’s lands, a reward from the King, he is blessed with an unwilling bride, Kathryn Comlyn, and an ancient fort with few defences that desperately needs to be fortified before it can act as a sufficient buffer between Scotland and the Norsemen on its northern borders.

Gavyn needs wealth to meet his king’s demands, and he knows of only one way to get it — with his sword. Leaving his prickly bride behind in the hands of trusted advisors, he makes his way to the battlegrounds of France and the money that can be made there.

Two years married and Kathryn is still a virgin. A resentful virgin, certain that, like her father before her, she is perfectly capable of leading the Comlyn clan. In her usurper husband’s absence, she meets the clan’s needs, advising and ruling as well as any man.

But she is an intelligent woman, and she knows the only respect and power she will ever hold will be through her husband. And to wield it, she needs to make him love her. An easy task to set, but impossible to complete, when said husband has been gone for two years, and there is no word of his return. But Kathryn is undeterred. After all, a faint heart never won a Chieftain.

Frances’ next Chieftain book, Chieftain by Command is available for pre-order now, and releases September 1.

Recognition For Writers Across the Pond

We are so thrilled and delighted to announce the Escape nominees for the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s inaugural Koru Award!

According to the website, The Koru, Māori for loop, is a spiral shape based on the shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace. It’s also known as a symbol of creation.

RWNZ LogoThe Koru is a reader’s choice award, and will be awarded in four categories, for the first time at this year’s RWNZ conference.

We are so pleased to announce that three Escape Artists have been nominated:

8883From Frances:

The last time I was nominated for an RWNZ Award was when I won the Clendon Award and began my career as a published writer, so win or not I’m looking forward to the experience of sitting with like minded friends while the winners are announced.  Anything shared with friends has an added piquance,  and romance writers are the best.

8902From Julie:

I think the absolute best feeling in the world that a writer can experience is the knowledge that someone likes what we’ve written. (It’s even better than the warm, wonderful feeling we get when we type, The End.)

That someone else enjoys our story and gets tied up with the characters’ emotions is the reward that makes those hours at the keyboard so worthwhile. So I’m very happy and humbled to be a finalist in the Romance Writers of NZ’s Koru Award. Thank you to the judges and organisers, and of course, to Escape Publishing.

18889From Mary:

Finalling in the RWNZ 2014 Koru Award is particularly special as it is the first time RWNZ has run a competition to recognise published NZ romance writers. There are so many amazing NZ romance writers selling all over the world, but we are generally little known or recognised within NZ. The Koru changes that! Being told by your own people that what you are doing is good and being included among such a list of talented writers  – it doesn’t really get much better.