Maddy02BCongratulations to RWA member Madeline Ash who has been nominated for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) 2017 RITA Awards for the second year in a  row. Madeline is a finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short category for Breaking Good (Tule Publishing).

We’d also like to give a shout out to Kara Isaac, one of our New Zealand neighbours, who is a finalist in two categories for her debut Close to You (Howard Books): Best First Book and Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.

The winners will be announced on July 27 at the 2017 RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida. For the full list of finalists, including the Golden Heart nominees, visit the RWA website here. Have you read any?

Best First Book

  • Alterations by Stephanie Scott, Bloomsbury, Spark (Meredith Rich, editor)
  • Before Goodbye by Mimi Cross, Amazon, Skyscape (Miriam Juskowicz, editor)
  • Close to You by Kara Isaac, Howard Books (Beth Adams, editor)
  • The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt, HarperTeen (Annie Berger, editor)
  • Once and For All: An American Valor Novel by Cheryl Etchison, Avon, Impulse (Priyanka Krishnan and Rebecca Lucash, editors)
  • Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods, Penguin Random House, Crown BFYR (Emily Easton, editor)

Contemporary Romance: Long

  • Always a Bridesmaid by Lizzie Shane, Self-published (Kristan Andrews, editor)
  • Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Anne Long, Avon Books (May Chen, editor)
  • Make Me Sin by J. T. Geissinger, Montlake Publishing (Maria Gomez, editor)
  • Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan, Harlequin, HQN (Flo Nicoll, editor)
  • Pansies by Alexis Hall, Riptide Publishing (Sarah Lyons, editor)
  • Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne, Harlequin, HQN (Gail Chasan, editor)
  • Tender Is the Night by Barbara Freethy, Hyde Street Press

Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length

  • Back in the Saddle by Karen Templeton, Harlequin, Special Edition (Gail Chasan, editor)
  • Barefoot at Midnight by Roxanne St. Claire, Self-published (Kristi Yanta, editor)
  • Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra, Berkley Publishing Group (Cindy Hwang, editor)
  • Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, Self-published
  • Lone Heart Pass by Jodi Thomas, Harlequin, HQN (Brittany Lawery and Susan Swinwood, editors)
  • Off the Hook by Laura Drewry, Penguin Random House, Loveswept (Junessa Viloria, editor)
  • Once and For All: An American Valor Novel by Cheryl Etchison, Avon, Impulse (Priyanka Krishnan and Rebecca Lucash, editors)
  • Tell Me How This Ends by Victoria De La O, St. Martin’s Press, Swerve (Eileen Rothschild, editor)
  • The Turning Point by Marie Meyer, Grand Central Publishing, Forever Yours (Megha Parekh, editor)
  • Wanderlust by Roni Loren, Penguin Random House, Berkley (Kate Seaver, editor)

Contemporary Romance: Short

  • APB: Baby by Julie Miller, Harlequin, Intrigue (Allison Lyons, editor)
  • Breaking Good by Madeline Ash, Tule Publishing, Holiday, (Sinclair SawBreakingGood-medium-200x300hney, editor)
  • Christmas on Crimson Mountain by Michelle Major, Harlequin, Special Edition (Gail Chasan, editor)
  • Falling for the Rancher by Tanya Michaels, Harlequin, American Romance (Johanna Raisanen, editor)
  • Far from Home by Lorelie Brown, Riptide Publishing (Gwen Hayes and Sarah Lyons, editors)
  • His Stolen Bride by Barbara Dunlop, Harlequin, Desire (Kathryn Lye, editor)
  • A Malibu Kind of Romance by Synithia Williams, Harlequin, Kimani (Shannon Criss, editor)
  • Overwhelming Force by Janie Crouch, Harlequin, Intrigue (Allison Lyons, editor)
  • Searching for Disaster by Jennifer Probst, Pocket Books, Pocket Star (Lauren McKenna, editor)
  • Two Doctors & a Baby by Brenda Harlen, Harlequin, Special Edition (Susan Litman)

Erotic Romance

  • The Dirty Secret by Kira A. Gold, Carina Press (Libby Murphy, editor)
  • The Master by Tara Sue Me, New American Library (Claire Zion, editor)
  • Off the Clock by Roni Loren, Penguin Random House, Berkley ( Kate Seaver, editor)
  • Ravenous by M. S. Force, HTJB, Inc. (Linda Ingmanson, editor)
  • Three Sweet Nothings by Nikki Sloane, Self-published (Lori Whitwam, editor)

Historical Romance: Long

  • Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase, Avon Books (May Chen, editor)
  • How I Married a Marquess by Anna Harrington, Grand Central Publishing, Forever (Michele Bidelspach, editor)
  • No Mistress of Mine by Laura Lee Guhrke, Avon Books (Erika Tsang, editor)
  • Susana and the Scot by Sabrina York, St. Martin’s Press (Monique Patterson, editor)

Historical Romance: Short

  • Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare, Avon Books (Tessa Woodward, editor)
  • Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt, Grand Central Publishing (Amy Pierpont, editor)
  • A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen, Grand Central Publishing, Forever (Alex Logan, editor)
  • Left at the Altar by Margaret Brownley, Sourcebooks, Casablanca (Mary Altman, editor)
  • The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries, Pocket Books (Micki Nuding, editor)
  • Taming the Highlander by May McGoldrick, St. Martin’s Press, Swerve (Elizabeth Poteet, editor)

Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance

  • The Color of a Promise by Julianne MacLean , Self-published (Pat Thomas, editor)
  • The Depth of Beauty by A. B. Michaels, Red Trumpet Press (Rachel Daven Skinner, editor)
  • The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel, Sourcebooks, Landmark (Shana Drehs and Anna Michels, editors)
  • Now That It’s You by Tawna Fenske, Montlake Publishing (Krista Stroever and Christopher Werner, editors)

Paranormal Romance

  • Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert, Harlequin, Nocturne (Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor)
  • The Beast by J R Ward, New American Library (Kara Welsh, editor)
  • The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant, Self-published (Mary Moran, editor)
  • Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood, Harlequin, Nocturne (Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor)
  • Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella, Montlake Publishing (Alison Dasho, editor)
  • The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre, Self-published (Sasha Knight, editor)
  • The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy, Kensington Publishing Corp. (Peter Senftleben, editor)
  • Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper, Pocket Books (Abby Zidle, editor)

Romance Novella

  • Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan, Self-published (Lindsey Faber, editor)
  • “The Husband Maneuver” by Karen Witemeyer in With This Ring, Baker Publishing, Bethany House (Charlene Patterson, editor)
  • Let It Snow by Jeanette Grey, Grand Central Publishing, Forever Yours (Megha Parekh and Lexi Smail, editors)
  • “Let Us Dream” by Alyssa Cole in Daughters of a Nation, Self-published (Nina S. Gooden, editor)
  • Searching for Mine by Jennifer Probst, Evil Eye Concepts (Liz Berry and M J Rose, editors)
  • Tycoon by Joanna Shupe, Kensington Publishing Corp. (Peter Senftleben, editor)
  • Wild in Rioby Lyssa Kay Adams, Self-published (Elaine Kulhanek, editor)

Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

  • Close to You by Kara Isaac, Howard Books (Beth Adams, editor)
  • Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher, Thomas Nelson, Inc. (Ami McConnell and Leslie Peterson, editors)
  • My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray, Amazon, Waterfall Press (Amy Hosford, editor)
  • Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post, Amazon, Waterfall Press (Erin Calligan Mooney, editor)

Romantic Suspense

  • All the Dead Girls by Rita Herron, Montlake Publishing (Alison Dasho, editor)
  • Atone by Beth Yarnall, Penguin Random House, Loveswept (Sue Grimshaw, editor)
  • Field of Graves by J. T. Ellison, Harlequin, MIRA Books (Nicole Brebner, editor)
  • Killer Countdown by Amelia Autin, Harlequin, Romantic Suspense (Carly Silver, editor)
  • and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon, Penguin Random House, Loveswept (Shauna Summers, editor)
  • One Minute to Midnight by Nico Rosso Carina Press (Rhonda Stapleton, editor)
  • Repressed by Elisabeth Naughton, Montlake Publishing (Charlotte Herscher and Christopher Werner, editors)
  • Tall, Dark and Damaged by Sarah Andre, Self-published (Anya Kagan, Touchstone Publishing, editor)

Young Adult Romance

  • Affective Needs by Rebecca Taylor, Ophelia House (Maya Packard, editor)
  • The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt, HarperTeen (Annie Berger, editor)
  • The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Harlequin, HQN Teen (Margo Lipschultz, editor)
  • Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods, Penguin Random House, Crown BFYR (Emily Easton, editor)

RITA winners announced

Ahead of the announcement of the Romance Writers of Australia’s RUBY and Emerald award winners at our 2016 conference in Adelaide, we share the winners of RWAmerica’s RITA and Golden Heart winners. The RITA and Golden Heart awards are for published books and unpublished manuscripts respectively. It is interesting to note that when publishing the shortlist, RWAmerica pays tribute to authors, publishers and editors.

The 2016 winners are:


  • Romance Novella Nice Girls Don’t Ride by Roni Loren
  • Contemporary Romance: Long Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates
  • Young Adult Romance The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
  • Historical Romance: Long Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
  • Romantic Suspense Flash Fire by Dana Marton
  • Paranormal Romance Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles
  • Erotic Romance For Real: A Spires Story by Alexis Hall
  • Historical Romance: Short It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long
  • Inspirational Romance A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
  • Contemporary Romance: Short The Nanny Plan by Sarah M. Anderson
  • Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
  • Best First Book Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn


  • Contemporary Romance Shelter Me by Gabrielle Luthy
  • Young Adult Romance The Beekeeper by Meg Kassel
  • Historical Romance The Earl and the Pussycat by Elizabeth King
  • Romantic Suspense In the Wrong Sights by Tracy Brody
  • Paranormal Romance Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets
  • Inspirational Romance For the Love of Termites by Kimberly MacCarron
  • Short Contemporary Romance Rescuing Riley by Carrie Nichols

For further information and links to the books and authors go to the announcement on the RWAmerica website page.


This week, Emily Bitto was announced as the winner of the $50,000 Stella Prize for her debut novel The Strays while Murray Middleton won the Vogel Literary Award, a publication prize from Allen & Unwin worth $20,000, for his short story collection When There Is Nowhere Else To Run.

These two wins cap a ten-day flurry of award announcements, including the Aurealis Awards for Australian speculative fiction, and the shortlists for the ABIAS (Australian Book Industry Awards), the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards shortlist and Bailey Prize for Women’s Fiction.

Women dominated in the Aurealis Awards winning seven of the eight Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marilliermajor prizes on offer:

  • Juliet Marillier for Dreamer’s Pool (Best Fantasy Novel)
  • Marianne de Pierres for Peacemaker (Best Science Fiction Novel)
  • Justine Larbalestier for Razorhurst (Best Horror Novel)
  • Jaclyn Moriarty for The Cracks in the Kingdom (Best Young Adult Novel)
  • Carole Wilkinson for Shadow Sister, Dragon Keeper #5 (Best Children’s Fiction)
  • Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter for The Female Factory (Best Collection)
  • Editors Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios for Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Fiction and Fantasy Stories (Best Anthology), and
  • Tim Molloy for Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye (Best Graphic Novel).

I am hoping that Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye is also up for a Best Book Title award somewhere! Isn’t it great?!

The Rosie Effect by Graeme SimpsionIt is wonderful to see a novel with romantic elements get a nod in the ABIAS. Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Effect is shortlisted for Best General Fiction Book of the Year.

Two Australians are shortlisted for the IMPAC – Hannah Kent for Burial Rites and Richard Flanagan for The Deep Road to the North. Both books are brilliant if you’re looking for a compelling and challenging read.

I have a particular fondness for the IMPAC prize because it’s an award voted on by librarians around the world that makes it more real and inclusive to me. The Irish have always punched above their weight in the world of letters and the creation and administration of this award for novels written or translated into English- by a city council with global vision – only emphasises their contribution. The prize is worth €100,000 euro – now there’s a reason to put butt in chair and keep those fingers flying over the keyboard.

Five women are shortlisted for the Bailey Prize for Women’s Fiction: Rachel Cusk (Outline), Laline Paull (The Bees), Kamila Shamsie (A God in Every Stone), Ali Smith (How To Be Both), Anne Tyler (A Spool of Blue Thread) and Sarah Waters (The Paying Guests).

Bailey Prize shortlist 2014



Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for this year’s RITA® awards yesterday and we were delighted to see four Australians on the awards shortlists. Congratulations to Beck Nicholas, Bec McMaster, Louisa George and Sarah Mayberry.   *Late correction*  Apparently, the lovely Louisa George is not actually Australian.  She’s English by origin and lives in NZ.  But since she IS a proud member of RWA, we will happily claim her as our own, for the purposes of congratulations!  Happily, they are all shortlisted in different categories. The winners will be announced at a black tie dinner on 25 July, so fingers crossed until then please everyone. (Oh, all right, if you have to edit or write your own book, you can use one hand!)

Here’s a quick look at the four fabulous finalists and their books:

Her Kind of Trouble Louisa George Enemies with Benefits 

Finalist: Contemporary Romance (Short)

Publisher: HMB Modern Tempted/ KISS

Poppy Spencer has discovered that there’s one thing worse than Christmas alone in her flat – and that’s spending it with Isaac Blair, her sworn-enemy-turned-reluctant-flatmate! And it is not just because he knows all her secrets – his sexy-as-sin smile and taut physique are making her all hot and flustered despite the icy cold outside!

Unless a casual hook-up is just the thing she needs…? It’ll certainly break the simmering tension between them. The trouble is, with their history, it will be anything but casual!

Her-Kind-Of-TroubleSarah Mayberry Her Kind of Trouble

Finalist: Contemporary Romance (mid-length)

Publisher: Harlequin Superromance

It takes one to know one … the moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they are a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And they both agree their one night together is all about fun, not forever. Now, years later, Seth remains a favourite memory. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because he’s still sinfully attractive, and she likes the man he is. When he suddenly becomes a full-time dad to his newborn daughter, Vivian falls hard. Yet despite the responsibilities, he’s not a good bet for commitment. And she needs to guard her heart before she gets into trouble!

ForgedByDesireBec McMaster Forged by Desire

Finalist: Paranormal Romance

Publishers: Sourcebooks, Casablanca

Captain Garrett Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner Perry in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap.

Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship—especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped…

FakeBec Nicholas Fake 

Finalist: Best First Book

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Seventeen-year-old Kath McKenny has a date to the end-of-term party with her since-forever crush. He publicly messaged her to confirm, but there’s been a recent status update: he’s taking the new girl — giggly, pretty, well-developed Lana Elliot — instead.

After being thoroughly humiliated in front of half the school, best friend Chay talks Kath into revenge: a scheme to create the perfect — and very fake — online guy for Lana. Once she falls for him, they’ll show her what it’s like to get brutally dumped.

Everything is going to plan until Kath starts spending more-than-just-friends time with the other new kid in town — Lana’s dreamy older brother, Sebastian. Kath finds herself getting in deep — in love and drowning in guilt, she tries to put an end to her prank, but it’s taken on an unstoppable momentum of its own, with very real consequences.

You can read the full list of finalists here – it makes a great reading list.


Struck coverIn breaking news, Struck by Joss Stirling (Oxford University Press) has become the first YA novel to win Romantic Novel of the Year in the UK. Stirling was presented with the £5000 (A$9676) prize at the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) ceremony in London on 16 March. Struck also won the award for Young Adult Romantic Novel of the Year.

Struck takes place at an exclusive British boarding school and follows an investigation into the school’s affairs by US student Raven Stone and the ‘enigmatic’ Kieran Storm. Joss Stirling is a multi-award winning writer for children and young adults who also writes under the pen names Julia Goulding and Eve Edwards.

RNA chair Pia Fenton said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled that a Young Adult book has won the overall award of Romantic Novel of the Year. It’s such an exciting sub-genre which has been embraced by both teenage and adult readers during the last few years.’

Struck is available worldwide from Amazon and other booksellers.

The week’s quirkiest news story also came out of the UK. Dr Brooke Magnanti, aka Belle du Jour, is suing her ex-boyfriend for saying she was not a prostitute. No, that is not a typo. You can read the full story about this London call girl’s umbrage at having her honour defended on the Booktopia Blog. There has to be a novel in that somewhere … just not sure it will be romance.

In other news, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) announced that a survey of 1209 publishers found that net revenue increased in 2014 by 4.9% to US$15.72 billion. Overall revenue for ebooks also increased, by 4.7% to US$1.58 billion. LONG LIVE THE BOOK in all its formats! Catch all the stats at Publisher’s Weekly.


Bookmarks: Fifty Shades of Grey court case and other news

Fans of Fifty Shades of Grey will be delighted to know that despite the vocal ferocity of its detractors, their favourite book is still dominating the bestseller lists. In the Australian market*, Fifty Shades editions are currently positioned at #3 (the film tie-in) and at #8 (Fifty Shades Darker). In the US**, the book takes up three of the top ten spots, featuring at #5 (Fifty Shades Darker), #8 (Book 1 of the trilogy) and #10 (Fifty Shades Freed). There is no disputing the popularity and financial success of the series.

The phenomenon that is Fifty Shades is not without controversy, however, and I am not talking about the sex scenes. Tales featuring financial disputes are almost always more sordid than sex stories and this is no exception. Last week Reuters reported that a US jury ruled that Australian Amanda Hayward defrauded American Jennifer Lynn Pedroza over royalty rights to the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

Hayward and Pedroza were two of the four original partners in The Writer’s Coffee Shop (TWCS), the independent publisher that first published the series as ebooks. TWCS then sold the publishing rights to Random House and the books became a worldwide phenomenon. The jury found that Hayward and TWCS had committed fraud when they ‘induced Ms. Pedroza into a Service Agreement’ that cut Pedroza out of her share of royalties. Damages will be assessed at a later court hearing after an audit determines Pedroza’s share of royalties. She sued for 25% of the profits. To date, the series of Fifty Shades of Grey titles have sold more than 100 million copies. One wonders whether the court ruling will encourage the other original partners to follow suit in seeking a share of the profits.

Covers of Fireborn and Rock Hard

In happier news, Melbournian Keri Arthur has been shortlisted for a prestigious Aurealis Award. Fireborn (Souls of Fire series) is in the running for Fantasy Novel of 2014. Good luck Keri; we’re crossing our fingers and toes on your behalf!

To close, Nalini Singh’s March release Rock Hard received a must-read romance review from Lea Franczek on USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog. Lea says, ‘In a way, Rock Hard is a Cinderella story. There is no evil stepmother, but there is a monster in Charlotte’s past, and she is imprisoned by her fears. Gabriel is the Prince Charming who helps her heal and enjoy life again. Rock Hard is emotional, sensual and packed full of witty dialogue, making for darn good fun! (and the chapter titles are a hoot!)’. You can read the full review at Happy Ever After.

For more reviews of Australian romance authors, follow AusRomToday and/or sign up with the Australian Romance Readers Association.


* WBN / Nielsen Bookscan

** Publishers’ Weekly



Romance plays a starring role, as do THREE Australian authors (all RWA members!)

I am always fascinated by the huge variation in best-selling and most-applauded books that occurs across the three primary English-language book markets: America, Great Britain and Australia. While there is usually an overlap between the UK and the Australian markets, the American market is quite often so different that I am left metaphorically scratching my neurons and wondering why I am not familiar with titles many of their readers love. You would think that a great book would be a bestseller in all the markets given the language and cultural similarities. Yes, I do know there are differences, but let’s face it, they’re not that challenging. If you were the victim of a time-travel experiment gone wrong that landed you on the set of a contemporary American reality TV show, and you were asked to change a baby’s diaper while riding the elevator, you’d know instantaneously what the task involved!

The differences in reader preferences are front-of-mind for me at the moment because I just downloaded Publishers Weekly’s Best Books 2014. In the general fiction section, I only identified one title I was familiar with – All the Light We Cannot See – before I skipped over to the romance section where I am happy to say I did recognise more titles even although there were still more that I did not know. I spent a happy few hours compiling reading lists and visiting author websites, fortifying myself against life’s daily grind.

Did you know that every year PW receives over 9,000 books to review including self-published titles? Last year, their reviewers gave starred reviews to 1,011 of those books. It sounds like a lot, but it is actually just over 10% of the total, which makes the stars a precious gift for publishers, authors and readers.

Their Best Books 2014 contains all 1,011 starred reviews. It is a whopping 238 pages long. Books are divided by genre and subject matter. Best of all, it’s free! You can download your copy of the full book here or pick up my shortened version starring romance and erotica titles only here.

Overall, seventy-eight romance and erotica titles received a starred review; six of these titles also made PW’s cross-genre Top 100 List – proof, if needed, of the high quality of the writing in our genre.

Aaaaand, ta-da, DRUM ROLLL PLEASE, two Australians (and RWA members!) feature in the starred reviews! Kylie Scott for Lead in trade paperback and Kelly Hunter, whose ebook The Honeymoon Trap not only received a starred review but also made the Top 100 List. (I’ve extracted the reviews of Lead and The Honeymoon Trap at the end of this blog).

OOH: UPDATE! Just realised (thanks to Keziah Hill) that another RWA member, Bec McMaster, is also among the starred reviews with the fourth in her ‘London Steampunk’ series, Forged by Desire.  I’ve reproduced her review at the bottom of this post as well.

The other Top 100 romance titles are:

  • Bitter Spirits written by Jenn Bennett and published in paperback by Berkley Sensations (historical, roaring twenties);
  • Craving Temptation written by Deborah Fletcher Mello and published in paperback by Kensington/Dafina (contemporary, cultural and political conflict);
  • Somebody Like You written by Beth K. Vogt and published in paperback by S&S/Howard (contemporary, inspirational);
  • The Submission Gift written by Solance Ames and published as an ebook by Carina Press (contemporary, erotica); and
  • Sweet Disorder written by Rose Lerner and published as an ebook by Samhain (historical, Regency romance).

Do you like discovering new authors, or do you prefer to stick to old favourites?

PW Review of Lead by Kylie Scott

Scott’s third Stage Dive contemporary far outclasses the other two with a surprisingly delicate look at the underbelly of American rock and roll. Jimmy Ferris is the lead singer of a rock band; his brother, David, was the protagonist in Lick. Throughout the series, Jimmy has been a source of worry as he battles substance abuse. Lena Morrissey was quietly introduced in Play as a tough-as-nails lady with the thankless full-time job of keeping Jimmy sober. Scott has hinted that the answer to Jimmy’s trouble would come

through love, and here she delivers on that tantalizing promise. Instead of avoiding the tedious and heartbreaking work of sobriety, she goes deep into the isolation and private pain, showing how the cruel kindness of firm-handed love can save a life. While retaining her mischievous and wisecracking signature style, Scott has also brought a tenderness and honesty to the material that is truly delightful.

PW review of The Honeymoon Trap by Kelly Hunter

Hunter tells this tiny jewel of a tale with an unabashed gusto that matches her heroine’s sparkling panache. One of Eli Jackson’s best friends is Fuzzy, a fellow gamer he hangs out with online on Friday afternoons for an hour of role-playing games and light chatter. When Fuzzy, also known as Zoey Daniels, shows up in the irrepressible flesh (and a delectable purple gown) at a gamers’ convention on Australia’s Gold Coast, Eli is shocked by their instantaneous sexual connection. But the obstacles to romance are significant: Eli still isn’t over the death of his previous girlfriend, and Zoey has a few issues about which she’s being uncharacteristically discreet. The emphasis is on startlingly direct communication and the headlong rush of impulse, leading to a marvelous, funny whirlwind of a romance.

PW review of Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster

McMaster’s fourth Steampunk London novel (after My Lady Quicksilver) once again captivates readers with evocative and sensual imagery with exquisite descriptions of life in a lush and intoxicating alternate Victorian London. Perry Lowell was once a thrall, a human blood slave to a member of the vampiric aristocracy known as the Echelon. She escaped her captor and found safety in employment as a Nighthawk guard. A female Nighthawk is rare, but Perry insists that everyone ignore her gender. Nonetheless, Garrett Reed, her partner, finds her staggeringly attractive. When two of the Echelon’s debutantes are murdered, Perry is struck by strange recollections of her past. As more macabre discoveries are made, Perry starts to wonder whether they are connected to the horrors she suffered. McMaster outdoes herself with this strong installment. The heady romance and dark suspense keep the pages turning, and a cliffhanger finale sets the stage for book five.

Australian Romance Reader Awards

The finalists for the Australian Romance Reader Awards have been announced. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors. We are especially delighted to see the various categories sprinkled with the names of RWA members.

The shortlist for Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014 is:

  • Alissa Callen
  • Amy Andrews
  • Anna Campbell
  • Anne Gracie
  • Annie West
  • Cathryn Hein
  • Donna Gallagher
  • Kelly Hunter
  • Kylie Scott
  • Rachael Johns

The other awards categories include Favourite Paranormal Romance; Favourite Sci Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance; Favourite Short Category Romance; Favourite Historical Romance; Favourite Contemporary Romance; Favourite Erotic Romance; Favourite Continuing Romance Series; and the Members’ Choice Awards: Favourite Cover from a romance published in 2014, The Sexiest Hero from a romance published in 2014 and Favourite New Romance Author for 2014.

The latter features more RWA members. The full shortlist for Favourite New Romance Author 2014 is:

  • Alli Sinclair
  • Beck Nicholas
  • Cassandra Samuels
  • Chris Taylor
  • Claire Boston
  • Kylie Kaden
  • Leesa Bow
  • Lisa Ireland
  • Sarina Bowen
  • Stefanie London

You can see the full list of nominees on the ARRA site: http://www.australianromancereaders.com.au/awards.html. The awards will be announced on 7 March at the ARRA conference in Canberra. The award winners make a great reading list – although your TBR pile might become even more out of control than it already is!


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