Category Archive: Mills and Boon

  1. FREE online read: Masked Seduction

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    When my publisher asked if I’d like to write a story set in my Melbourne After Dark series to give to readers for free, I jumped at the chance! Any time I can give back to the readers who support my career, I’ll take it.

    This book is set at the same time as Unmasked and Hard Deal. If you’ve read Unmasked, you’ll be familiar with the Carmina Ball which is the central event for the series. In this book, we have Jason Allbrook next-in-line for his family’s architecture firm. He’s also the brother of Hard Deal’s hero, so you’ll get a little sneak peek at book #2.

    Handsome man in mask

    Masked Seduction book #1.5 in the Melbourne After Dark series

    When Jason Allbrook gets an email from a “secret admirer,” he laughs it off. Then he receives a package containing a masquerade mask and a request to meet at the Carmina Ball.

    Dedicated to the family business, Jason has been working twelve-hour days without any thought to his own wants…or needs.

    Maybe he should meet this masked seductress. After all, how could anyone dare resist such an enticing offer?



    To: Jason.Allbrook

    From: YourSecretAdmirer

    Subject: Something missing from your life…

    Dear Jason,

    I know something is missing from your life. As someone who cares about you, I’m concerned.

    So I’ve taken it upon myself to help you out. Think of me as a Good Samaritan. You need a little more excitement in your life and I’m prepared to give it to you. Keep your eyes open—something will be coming your way very soon.

    Signed, Your Secret Admirer.

    Read the first instalment of Masked Seduction on the Harlequin website.

  2. Cover reveal! Unmasked is coming in 2018…

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    After the closure of Harlequin’s Blaze imprint (sob!) I was thrilled to be asked to write two stories for their brand new, soon-to-be-launched Dare imprint. Dare stories are super sexy, contemporary reads with an international flavour. My duet, Melbourne After Dark, features two best friends who sneak into a high-society masquerade ball to capture their targets in disguise. One girls gets the right guy, and one gets the wrong guy!

    Book #1 Unmasked will be out in April 2018 and I am so excited to share the cover with you. Dun dun duuuuuuuuun!

    9781488082443 600px

    Cinderella is about to get wicked… But can a naughty fantasy have a happily-ever-after?

    Lainey Kline has one goal before she leaves Melbourne forever: transform herself into a sexy siren, sneak into the season’s most glamorous masquerade ball and seduce Damian McKnight. Only there’s a teeny little problem—one deliciously hot night isn’t nearly enough. Now Lainey wants more. But while getting naked is one thing, taking off their masks is quite another…

    “Dare is Harlequin’s hottest line yet. Every book should come with a free fan. I dare you to try them!” —Tiffany Reisz, international bestselling author

    The details…

    The cover above is the North American cover, and this will only be available in digital. In the UK and Australia Dare books will be available in print as well as digital, and will have their own Mills & Boon branded covers. The UK edition is the one with pink writing and the Aussie cover is the one with blue writing.



    If you’re in the US or Canada and you want a print copy, Book Depository is your friend. Unmasked is already up for pre-order and they offer free international shipping.

    I’m so excited for these books to be out in the wild. The Dare line will feature a variety of stories with everything from bikers to CEOs to royalty. My books will have the same laugh-out-loud rom com vibe as the rest of my stories, but will be a little higher on the heat spectrum (if you’ve read and enjoyed my Blaze books, you can expect a similar heat-level.)

  3. A Dangerously Sexy Christmas | Sneak Peek

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    Writing every book is a unique experience. Sometimes the words flow and the characters speak loudly, other times it can be like pulling teeth. Writing A Dangerously Sexy Christmas was one of those flowing books, a huge welcome after I’d spent a few months working on another book that was giving my trouble. I was thrilled when I got the news that Harlequin Blaze wanted Rose and Max’s story and I could not be more excited about joining the Blaze line. Even better, the love the security company featured in this book so much that I got the go-ahead to write more stories in this world!

    So here’s a first look at A Dangerously Sexy Christmas, out in November 2015. Pre-order links are available here.

    Assignment:9780373798742 (2) A Hot Holiday Affair! 

    Aspiring jewelry designer Rose Lawson doesn’t want a bodyguard. Especially the hot, muscle-y one her father hires after a break-in at the jewelry shop where she works. It’s only when her home is also ransacked that Rose realizes the sexy (but infuriating) bodyguard might come in handy…especially on a cold winter’s night.

    Max Ridgeway is a former Aussie cop who’s got something to prove in New York. He’s convinced that someone dangerous is behind the robberies and that Rose needs protection. His protection. But what’s even more dangerous is the sexy tension between them—because a hot little fling could compromise their lives…and his heart


    Here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter! I hope you enjoy it <3


    PERSONAL SECURITY DETAIL was a lot like baby-sitting. All Max Ridgeway had to determine was whether the person under his protection would be the model child or the toddler from hell.

    “Do you always disregard your personal safety, Miss Lawson?” he asked.

    Two cat-like eyes glowered at him. But if he was going to protect her, he needed to know if she would throw herself into harm’s way. Or run. Or walk down a dark alley in the middle of the night.

    “You say you don’t want my protection. Tell me if I’ve misunderstood you.” He leaned back in his chair and laced his hands behind his head.

    She squared her shoulders against his visitor’s chair and displayed what he imagined was her most dazzling smile. Rose Lawson’s eyes were almond-shaped and a most unusual shade of yellow-green. She had thick curling lashes, a heart-shaped face and glossy pouted lips made for sin. The whole sexy package probably turned other men to goo. But her appearance—while thoroughly enjoyable—would not distract him.

    “You’ll have to excuse the mix-up,” she said in a smooth voice that sent a shot of heat through him. Her accent was strange. Definitely American, but the gentle lilt of her words suggested extensive time overseas. London, according to his research. “My father hired you, but he can be a little…overprotective. I won’t be needing your services.”

    Her insistence on refusing his protection meant she would be a royal pain in the butt to have as a client. Only she wasn’t the client; her father was. She stood up and raked a hand through her chin-length brown hair, the artfully curled lengths falling back into place as she released them. Her eyes flicked over him, lingering on his face before she checked her phone.

    “Sorry to waste your time,” she said in a tone that didn’t sound sorry at all.
    The wall clock of his office ticked loudly in the silence. Each second was another he couldn’t have back.

    Rose walked toward the door, her heels clicking against the office floor. Skin-tight black jeans accentuated her legs, and a loose top in black silk acted as a canvas to the ornate red, gold and yellow necklace that hung down to her navel. Her file indicated she was a jewelry designer. Perhaps she’d made the necklace herself.
    He let her get to the door of his office before stopping her. “I didn’t say you could leave.”

    Her shoulders stiffened and she spun to face him. The charming smile slipped and she regarded him coolly. “I wasn’t aware I required your permission.”
    She pulled on a heavy black coat. Jewel-studded gold bracelets clinked, making her movements seem musical.

    “As of now you’re in my charge.” Max stood, walked over to her and leaned his back against the wall. “Your father hired me to look after you until we can figure out who broke into your store.”

    At the mention of her father Rose became wary, distant. “Probably a bunch of kids. I work in a jewelry store. It’s not hard to believe it was a crime of opportunity. Besides, it’s not even my store. The owner doesn’t seem to think she needs protection, so why should I?”

    “Your father obviously thinks you need it.” Max tossed the comment out to see what reaction he’d get.

    “He doesn’t know what’s best for me.” She gritted her teeth. “Besides, this happened two whole days ago. If someone was after me, wouldn’t they have done something about it by now?”

    “Not necessarily. And as for your ‘kids’ theory, the store was broken into, but the perp didn’t take anything.” He cocked his brow. “That doesn’t sound much like a crime of opportunity to me.”

    “All the jewelry is locked in a safe, as are the stones in the workshop.” She tilted up her face to his, exasperation clear in her eyes. “They’re high-grade safes, not something that can be pried open with a crowbar. And I lock the safes whenever I close up. We also have a security system, cameras and a duress button.”

    Max couldn’t help but notice the way the colored beads around her neck sparkled like fire…the same fire that lit up her eyes. She was feisty, all right. He’d have his hands full keeping her safe, especially if her father’s suspicions turned out to be true.

    “The security system was disarmed and the cameras turned off. And yet they left without touching the safe or stealing anything. You don’t find that strange?”

    “No, I don’t. Perhaps they were interrupted, or it was just a random act of vandalism.” She stepped toward the door. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

    If it had been the act of a bunch of kids trying to vandalize the neighborhood, then why had they stopped at her store in particular? A store with a high degree of security. Why not bust up a few windows of the shops next door?

    Rose Lawson was definitely in danger. Max pressed a palm to the door frame next to her head, blocking her exit.
    “We haven’t finished.”

    Her cheeks flushed deep pink, making her fair skin seem even lighter and her yellow-green eyes even more vivid. “Who do you think you are?”

    “I’m the guy who’s going to protect you, Rose.” For some reason his heart was beating a little too fast, his blood pumping a little too hard. “And I take that seriously.”

    “Look,” she said, jabbing a finger into his chest. “I don’t need anyone to protect me, least of all some beefed-up GI Joe wannabe.”

    Ouch. The lady had an acid tongue. That shouldn’t have surprised him. Women as beautiful as she was often had the world at their feet and they didn’t appreciate it one bit. He resisted the urge to tell her just how wrong her assessment of him was, how totally off base and ignorant and narrow-minded—

    “Hit a nerve, did I?” She smirked, the pale pink shine of her lip gloss catching the light.

    “Sticks and stones.” Max leaned forward, bringing his face closer to hers. “I’ve endured a lot worse in my life. So you can throw those petty little insults around as much as you like, because they won’t change the fact that from now on I’m going to be your shadow.”

    In the silence that followed the raggedness of her breath amplified. Her fingers danced at the edge of her necklace, tracing the beads and counting them as if it were a rosary.

    “Now,” he said, stepping back and dropping his arm. “I’m taking you home.”

    “The hell you are.” Rose glared up at him. “I don’t want a bodyguard, or whatever you’re called.”

    “Security consultant,” Max corrected, inwardly laughing as she rolled her eyes.

    “I don’t need one of those, either. I’m fine. It was just a one-off incident.” She pushed a stray tendril of hair from her face.

    “I’ll see you home anyway, just to be sure.”

    He’d been hired to protect Rose, and he’d do just that. Max’s gig with Cobalt & Dane Security might not be the career he’d dreamed of as a young lad in Australia, but the job had come when he’d needed it most. It was all he had. His old career was in tatters, his fiancée was a distant memory and his best friend…

    Max swallowed. He would succeed at this, and if that meant following Rose home against her wishes, then so be it.

  4. 1 Year Anniversary or is it happy birthday?

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    ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET cover medThis day last year, my very first book came out. I’d gotten the call about 7-8 months earlier and the time had flown with more revisions, copy edits and milestone after milestone. By the time the book hit shelves I had already quit my job, moved out of my home and mu husband and I were doing a short stint living with my parents before the big move to Canada.

    So much can change in only a year. I’m incredibly grateful to the people who’ve supported me along the way. My husband and family who’ve supported me through it all, the first writing group I ever had at the MRWG, both of the RWAs, my crit partner, Lauren, and all the friends I’ve made along the way. Everyone who’s bought, read and/or reviewed my book.

    Thank you. To all those people who took a chance on me and my book, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support is everything to me.

    Being a new author is exciting but it isn’t easy. You’re an unknown, a risk. Many readers stick to their old faithfuls, their auto-buy authors, the choice they are certain will deliver value for their hard-earned money.Quote2

    Now, what’s going on for the next year? So. Many. Things.

    • The first book in my new small-town romance series, A Kiss in Kite Harbor, comes out this month. Pre-order details can be found here.
    • I’m already working on the next book in this series!
    • The second book in my Behind the Bar series, Let’s Pretend it’s Love, will be coming out (this is the follow up to The Rules According to Gracie).
    • My first book with Harlequin Blaze, A Dangerously Sexy Christmas, will be out in November, this one features a mystery surrounding a missing diamond, a hot Aussie ex-cop and a jewellery designer.
    • The Blaze book had turned into a miniseries and I’m working on the second book for this one too! Watch out for the secondary characters in the first one to see who’s getting their HEA next ;)

    Personally, I hope the next year is filled with travel, writing, family, friends and love….and Netflix. Girl’s gotta relax at some
    point, right?

    So thank you again to those who’ve supported me. It means the world to me.

    Does anyone else find it frightening that a year can fly by in the blink of an eye?  I hope this past twelve months has brought you much happiness.

  5. Writing a continuity

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    My latest book with Harlequin Mills & Boon, The Tycoon’s Stowaway, is out now in Australia and the UK*!

    I’ll be honest, sometimes I struggle with what to write about on release day. I want to talk about my books (obvs, they’re my babies!) but at the same time I want to share little bits of my life with my readers and ensure that what I’m writing about is of interest. I also don’t want to be that author that only posts links to her books on Amazon (’cause I hate that style of ‘marketing’ too).

    So…that leaves me with today’s post.

    The Tycoon’s Stowaway was my first experience participating in a continuity with Harlequin. If you haven’t heard this term before a continuity is basically a series of books with connected characters usually set around a common theme or setting. Harlequin LOVES a good continuity, they appear in many of their series lines. You might have seen The Chatsfield continuity which is from the Presents line or one of my personal favourites, The Wedding Season from Harlequin’s KISS series.

    Continuities are great because you often get a sneak peek at the heroes and heroines of previous books after their HEA, which is always fun.

    Here’s a little about the Sydney’s Most Eligible continuity:

    her-boss-by-day- the-millionaire-s-proposition9780263248524the-hotel-magnate-s-demand

















    Book #1 – Her boss by day – Joss Wood
    Book #2 – The Millionaire’s Proposition – Avril Tremayne
    Book #3 – The Tycoon’s Stowaway – Stefanie London
    Book #4 – The Hotel Magnate’s Demand – Jennifer Rae

    The set up for these stories is a group of friends who all met whilst working in the beautiful Whitsundays Weeping Reef resort. Friendships and relationships were forged until one night it all came to a head and the group was torn apart. Now, eight years later, it’s reunion time. Let the fireworks begin!

    Writing in a continuity world

    Easily the best thing about writing in this continuity was the opportunity to collaborate with authors that I admire and respect. I adore Joss Wood’s books and reading her early work for KISS was what made me want to write for that line. Avril and I received ‘The Call’ on the same day and our first two books came out together as duos, so we’ve been on this crazy journey together. I remember seeing when Jen Rae got her call and watching with awe as her first book came out, hoping that one day that would be me.

    Writing a continuity book isn’t easy, there are a lot of things to consider that when you’re writing a stand alone book you don’t have to take into consideration. Here are a few examples:

    • We were each writing to our own schedules meaning the first two books were being written ahead of when I was writing mine, but any appearances of my characters in the first two books still needed my attention. I had to know what they looked/sounded/talked/acted like before I’d even finished the other book I was working on
    • Keeping the facts straight can be hard enough with one book, but across multiple books with multiple authors it can be tough. There were a lot of conversations around the regular places the characters would go and what hair and eye colours they had etc.
    • Funny coincidences can pop up – in the first version of The Tycoon’s Stowaway my heroine, Chantal, had a different surname…which just so happened to be the exact surname Joss had chosen for one of her characters. Total coincidence.
    • We vetted scenes featuring one another’s characters to make sure the dialogue and actions were consistent across boooks

    My tips for anyone who’s thinking about writing connected books with other authors would be communication, communication, communication! We had a Yahoo loop set up so we could share conversations, pintrest links, character charts and chat about our books. It was a great help when it came for me to write the third book in the continuity.

    On the whole it was so much fun and I think it pushed me to improve my skills and attention to detail. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

    Have your ever read a Harlequin continuity before? Do you like to read all the books in order or do you just pick out your favourites/the ones that interest you?

    * The Tycoon’s Stowaway will be out in the USA and Canada in May 2015.

  6. Best books of 2014


    As I mentioned in my 2014/15 Reading Goals Wrap Up I read a total of 61 books this year. I’m pretty darn happy with that! Because I really enjoy sharing the books I adore with you I wanted to do a “Best Books of the year” post where hopefully you’ll find a new book or a new author to love out of this list! (I also did one of these in 2013.)

    Note: These are books I READ in 2014 but they were not necessarily published in 2014.

    Gone Girl (2012) & Sharp Objects (2005) by Gillian Flynn – While Gone Girl is by far the better known of these two books, Sharp Objects is what started my love for Gillian Flynn. It was also her debut novel, which is pretty damn amazing considering it’s a hell of a book. If you like twisted people doing twisted things to one another, then this is just what you need to read.

    Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (2011) – An unconventional, charming romance. I’d heard great things about Rainbow’s writing and I devoured this book in two days while on a trip to Sydney right before the RWA conference. Told totally from the male POV, this book is funny and focuses mostly on the growth of the protagonist. But there is a hefty sprinkling of romance. I loved it.8909152

    Lick by Kylie Scott (2013) – This was one of the books in my RWA goodie bag. I had major ear problems through the conference and I started reading this because I was trying to distract myself from the pain. I hadn’t intended on it being anything but a distraction, but Kylie’s writing drew me in and this passionate rockstar romance totally captured me. Funny, a little angst-y and a whole lotta sexy.

    Tampa by Alissa Nutting (2011) – This was a tough book to read and yet I also couldn’t drag myself away. It’s a taboo topic, which definitely won’t be for everyone, and I can’t say I ‘liked’ the story given the subject matter. But it was utterly gripping, very well written and totally unique.

    Uncovered by Love by Madeline Ash (2012) – This book was nominated for a RBY the first year I attended the RWA conference in 2013. It’s a brilliant book. The writing is beautiful, the characters real and emotional, it’s clever and utterly romantic. The very best of what a category romance should be.

    A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011) – This book SLAYED me. I was sobbing at the end and it is easily one of the best books I’ve read. EVER. It’s sad but so beautiful at the same time. A work of art.

    Not Until You by Roni Loren (2014) – This had everything that I look for in an erotic romance. High emotion, playfulness, hot sex, well-motivated characters, great writing. This was the latest in a series, so now I’m going back to the start.

    Honorable mentions go to:

    What were your best books of 2014? Let me know so I can add them to my list of books to read this year <3

  7. Release Information – Breaking the Bro Code

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    My second book with Harlequin Mills and Boon is due out in two short weeks!


     GIF source

    BREAKING THE BRO CODE is out on October 1st and and you can get a sneak peek at the first scene here. If you’ve read Only The Brave Try Ballet then you’ll recognise the heroine, Elise Johnson. If you haven’t read Only The Brave Try Ballet, don’t worry! These books can be read as stand alone books and in any order.

    You can now add it to your Good Reads ‘Want To Read’ list.

    It will be available as an ebook from Amazon (AU | US | UK  | CA ) Book Depository, Google Play, Harlequin, Mills & Boon UK, Mills & Boon Aus, Barnes & Noble, and Booktopia.

    Here are the GORGEOUS international covers (US, UK and Australia)

    Cover KISS med Cover small

    9781488713422 (1)









    In the UK it will also be available in print (under the M&B Modern Tempted brand, same as the UK cover above) In Australia it will also be available in a 2-in-1 print volume (under the M&B Sexy brand – cover below) with another story from Target, Big W and Kmart. The great news about the 2-in-1 is that you also get to read TURNING THE GOOD GIRL BAD by Avril Tremayne who is fast becoming one of my favourite category romance authors!

    9781743559871_1014_SX_Turning The Good Girl Bad _FINAL (1)

    I will also be hosting a few give-aways during October, so stay tuned for more information on how you could win a signed print copy.


    Off limits…and oh-so-tempting!

    Elise Johnson has more important things to concentrate on than men…saving her struggling ballet studio for starters! So when gorgeous Col Hillam—her brother’s best friend—saunters back into her life, she’s none too keen.

    He might be proposing a purely professional arrangement, but the last time they got carried away by their crazy attraction it ended in disaster! Col knows Elise is off-limits, but it only makes her more tempting…. With chemistry this hot, surely that bro code is now null and void…?

  8. #RWAus14 & Breaking the Bro Code


    Early tomorrow morning I’ll be hopping on a flight to Sydney. The Romance Writers of Australia conference is on at the end of the week and I’m taking the opportunity to spend a few extra days in Sydney(Hello Zumbo cake train!) with my mum.

    There are so many things I’m looking forward to at conference:

    • Fangirling over my fave authors at the ARRA signing
    • Meeting the wonderful Flo Nicoll of the M&B UK office (aka the amazing person who called me last year and offered to publish my book!)
    • Taking Romance Llama around to meet everyone (llama selfies are going to be come a thing!)
    • Attending all the fantastic workshops and cramming my brain with as much information as possible

    So. Much. Goodness.

    In addition to all the excitement over conference, my second book for Harlequin KISS/M&B Modern Tempted is going to be released in eight weeks! How did that come around so quickly??

    Here are the GORGEOUS UK and US covers:

    UK Cover med 

    Cover KISS med

    I’m so happy with the cover! For those who’ve read Only The Brave Try Ballet this is Elise’s story (you’ll remember her as the plucky BFF of former ballerina Jasmine Bell.) Anyway, since I love you guys so much I’ve put up an excerpt from Chapter One nice and early:


    Chapter One

    The numbers didn’t make sense. Well, that wasn’t entirely true – they made sense, but they didn’t tell the story Elise Johnson had hoped for. They didn’t tell her that she ran a successful, thriving ballet studio. They didn’t tell her that she’d be able to live off anything other than baked beans and toast this week. More concerning, they didn’t tell her that things were going to get better any time soon.

    She rested her chin in her hand and frowned as the grid of looping cursive swam in front of her. Maybe she’d skip the baked beans and head straight for a bottle of wine instead.

    “You’ll go cross-eyed,” Jasmine Bell, Elise’s best friend and employee, chirped as she changed out of her legwarmers. “I always thought number crunching was best left to the professionals.”

    “What are you trying to say?” She looked up from her paperwork, feigning indignity as Jasmine smirked.

    “Oh nothing…only I remember a young girl once faking a panic attack to get out of a maths exam.”

    “There wasn’t anything fake about it.” Elise closed the folder containing the evidence of her dire financial situation and tucked it away in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. “That panic was real.”

    “And the time you tried to con your math tutor into doing your homework for you by flashing him?”

    “That was less about the math homework and more about him – he was seriously cute. Unfortunately for me a tiny bust was not enough to persuade him…” She frowned, looking down at her boyish frame. “Not much has changed.”

    “It’s the curse of the ballerina.” Jasmine slipped her feet into a pair of flats and bundled her legwarmers into her workout bag. “Anyway, that’s why God invented push up bras.”

    “Amen to that.”

    A flat chest was the trade-off for the sculpted legs and washboard stomachs that ballerinas were known for. Elise’s years of formal training and her short-lived career with the Australian Ballet had given her just that. It was a good body, but not one designed to win men over with flashing.

    You can read the rest of the excerpt here.

  9. Release Information - Only The Brave Try Ballet

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    My debut with Harlequin Mills and Boon is due out in six short weeks! *cue Kermit flailing/Jonah Hill gif-ing/ insert your form of contagious excitement here*

    I’ve had a few people asking for information on where to buy, when it’s out, what format it’s available in etc. So I thought one post with all my release information might be handy.

    ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET is out on July 1st (or July 4th depending on which website you look at) and will be available digitally and in print in Australia, UK and USA.

    You can now add it to your Good Reads ‘Want To Read’ list.

    It will be available online from Amazon (US | UK | CA), Barnes & NobleBook DepositoryGoogle PlayBooktopia and Harlequin

    In Australia it will also be available in a 2-in-1 print volume (under the M&B Sexy brand – different cover to the below) with another story from Target, Big W and Kmart. In the UK it will also be available in print (under the M&B Modern Tempted brand).

    I will also be hosting a few give-aways during July, so stay tuned for more information on how you could win a signed print copy.

    Here are the GORGEOUS international covers (US, UK and Australia)

    ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET cover med    Only the Brave Try Ballet    ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET cover AUS small

    Which one is your favourite?

    And the blurb:

    Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!

    Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!

    But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!

  10. Top Books of 2013

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    Of the 57 books I read this year there were some I enjoyed, some I hated and some that I cuddled when I closed the back cover…seriously. Here are my favourite books of the year (read in 2013, though not necessarily published in 2013) in no particular order.

    The Bloody Chamber and other stories by Angela Carter (1979) 

    This collection of short fairytale re-tellings is superbly written with an eerie and ethereal tone. One of my favourite quotes from a book comes from the story for which this collection is named:

    “And I saw myself, suddenly, as he saw me… And, for the first time in my innocent and confined life, I sensed in myself a potentiality for corruption that took my breath away.”

     It’s not a book for the faint of heart, but if you love unique, dark stories and lyrical writing then you have to read this.

    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009)

    The follow up to The Hunger Games, which I read in 2012, was as gripping as I’d hoped it would be. I enjoyed the ‘slower’ part of Catching Fire, where the politics of Panem were explored, and the ‘games’ part of the book which was somewhat similar to THG. Sadly, Mockingjay didn’t live up to the first two books in the series, however this is the first series of books I’ve ever completed so that’s saying something about Suzanne Collins’s writing and storytelling abilities. I know this series is old news, but I highly recommend it…even with the let down of an ending.

     photo The-Hunger-Games-Catching-Fire-Book-Cover.jpg


    Divergent by Veronica Roth (2012)

    This fast-paced, dystopian YA novel that set the internet abuzz in 2012 and it was one of my first reads from the year. It was all to easy to devour Divergent because the story flowed and the ‘world’ was intriguing. With the moving coming out soon you might want to read this before you see it – there are plenty of twists and turns, and I personally prefer reading them than watching them first.

    Imprisoned by a Vow by Annie West (2013)

    Obviously, I love romance novels and have to include a few in my list. Things I look for in this genre are: intelligent writing, uniquely flawed characters and a unique twist on popular tropes. This book has it all; a traditional marriage of convenience storyline with one of the most interesting heroine’s I’ve ever read, told in a sharply intelligent, yet warm voice. As far as category romance novels go, this is exactly what I want.

    Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet (1984)

    This book stayed with me in the most unsettling way. It’s a horrible story, when you strip it down to its bones – about a person doing horrible things. But it’s so gripping. The story arrests your attention in that shouldn’t-look-but-can’t-look-away feeling, and though I predicted the ‘twist’ well ahead of time, Tarantula still shocked me at every turn. I loved it in a sickening kind-of way.

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    The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)

    Another unsettling book, with a tortured, evil protagonist that you can’t tears your eyes from. I adored the movie of this novel when I saw it years ago, and I loved the book even more. It’s a crime novel that follows the criminal rather than the investigator or victim, set in Manhatten and Italy in the 1950’s. Fabulously written, chilling to the bone. I definitely want to read more Patricia Highsmith.

    A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh (2009)

    I don’t read a lot of historical romance novels, though I do enjoy them when I’m in the mood. Mary Balogh’s writing is lovely, peppered with detail that doesn’t overwhelm and draws you in like a warm embrace. This novella was a short read and again the ‘twist’ wasn’t a surprise, but I got that delicious ‘happy ever after’ glow when I finished this book and it made me want to read more historicals.

    The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter (2013)

    This was the book that made me want to write for Harlequin KISS. Part of the launch for this line, Hunter’s story is a lot darker than the cover and title would suggest. I loved the unique relationship between the characters in this book, it was certainly something out of the ordinary for a category romance novel. Though it was a bit less steamy than I like (so sue me, I like my books spicy), what it hid from the reader in the sex scenes it more than doubled in emotion depth.

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    Wish by Kelly Hunter (2012)

    This one was nominated for a RBY at the Romance Writers of Australia conference that I attended back in August, and rightly so. While short, Wish was packed full of subtle character development, slow burn romance and vivid outback settings. While rural romance is not usually my bag, I adored this story and wanted to read it again the second I finished. Kelly’s writing is realistic, engaging and a delight to read.

    What were your favourite books for 2013?