Review: Northern Heat by Helene Young

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Title: Northern Heat

Author: Helene Young

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin May 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 03 to 05, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Helene Young delivers another exciting and engaging romantic suspense novel with Northern Heat, her sixth novel.

Northern Heat begins with a murder and the suspense and action continues as Connor is targeted by both police and the bad guys. Throw in a vicious assault, a frightened wife, rebellious teens and a cyclone bearing down on the town, and the story is fast paced and tension-filled. The last few chapters in particular had me frantically flipping the pages.

Readers familiar with Safe Harbour will recognise Connor as the stranger rescued from wild seas by Darcy Fletcher and Noah Moreton. A financial manager who turned over evidence against the Russian Mafia, Connor is living under an assumed named on a yacht moored at Cooktown, investigating a lead on the identity of the hitman who murdered his wife and child, while doing his best to atone for his past sins.

Connor first meets Dr Kristy Dark at the Cooktown PCYC as the coach of her daughter’s basketball team. After losing both her young son and husband in tragic circumstances, Kristy has made a home for herself and her teenage daughter, Abby, in the small community of Cooktown. She is attracted to Connor but wary of relationships given her history, and has her hands full with her concerns about her daughter’s eating habits, and with helping a friend, a victim of domestic violence.

The developing relationship between Connor and Kristy is complicated by Kristy’s unresolved feelings for her late husband, and the secret of Connor’s true identity. While Kristy is worried about maintaining her hard won equilibrium, Connor feels opening up to Kristy will put her, and Abby, at risk from the dangers that haunt him. Despite the conflict, they are inevitably drawn to each other and when faced with a cyclonic crisis are forced to trust in each other to survive.

With a dramatic storyline, strong characterisation, passion and fast paced action, Northern Heat is another stellar read from Australia’s Queen of romantic suspense.

Northern Heat is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Click the banner below to learn More about Northern Heat and how to WIN your own copy

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Blog Tour: Introducing Northern Heat by Helene Young

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I am honoured to be launching Helene Young‘s blog tour for her newest novel of romantic suspense, Northern Heat.

When Helene’s not writing novels she enjoys a busy career as the Queensland Regional Flying Manager with Australia’s largest regional airline. She’s worked in aviation for over 25 years and has 260 pilots reporting into her. She recently appeared in ‘Judith Lucy is All Woman’ in an episode showcasing women in aviation.
She has twice won the highly coveted RWA’s Romantic Book of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and was shortlisted for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Crime and Suspense. She has also been nominated in the Ned Kelly and Sisters in Crime Awards. Helene’s last novel, Safe Harbour, was voted Australia’s 2014 Favourite Romantic Suspense Novel. This is the fourth time Helene’s stories have won the award.
A motivational speaker and writing mentor, Helene lives aboard a catamaran on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef and she plans one day to sail around the world in it.

Northern Heat is Helene’s sixth novel, my review can be seen HERE but first, please read on to learn more about this great novel and find out how you can enter the draw the WIN a copy.

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In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown’s youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and the opportunity to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark. The local GP is hiding her own secrets and struggling to raise her feisty teenage daughter alone.
When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they’ll both lose someone they love.

Introducing Northern Heat

I’ll be visiting some of my favourite blogs over the next four weeks to share the experiences that have gone into writing Northern Heat, along with writing advice and some ‘behind the scenes aboard Roobinesque’ posts. At the bottom of this post is a schedule for the blog hop and details of the giveaways and how to enter. I hope you and your readers will join me for the month.

James CookNorthern Heat is a very special book for me. It started in 2012 when I ran a writing workshop in Cooktown and met some extraordinarily talented writers. The workshop was held in the Police Citizen Youth Club and the policeman in charge of the centre very generously gave me a tour of the facilities and talked about the challenges of policing in rural and regional areas. Capt G and I spent the weekend in Cooktown chatting to locals, wandering around the markets and having a yarn in a couple of the pubs. We’d been to Cooktown several times before, but always to visit friends so we hadn’t really explored the district before.

In its heyday Cooktown was the centre of one of Australia’s largest gold rushes. That rich and diverse history has left its mark side-by-side with the relics from Capt Cook’s Endeavour, which was careened there on 16th June 1770 after hitting a reef to the south. Aboriginal culture is strong in the district with the settlement of Hopetown to the north. The whole area is full of memorable characters.

On the six-hour drive back to Cairns the story started to take shape, but it would be another two years before I finally sat down to write it. The main character, Conor, was a man in need of redemption. He’d made some mistakes, paid a terrible price and now deserved to move on with his life, wiser, more circumspect but still grieving.

Dr Kristy and her daughter, Abby, came as a family. I’ve watched girls in our circle of family and friends struggle with the surge of hormones as they enter their teens. Abby was sweet but feisty from the very start. Dealing with her family tragedy whilst trying to match-make on her mother’s behalf made her beguiling. I loved telling her story. I’ve have friends who are single mums struggle to be all things to their children, and still having to pursue careers to pay the bills. It was important to me to show the very human side of Kristy as she anguishes about her weight, her parenting ability, her single mum status, all the while she’s recovering from her own tragic loss and the fallout of domestic violence.

Cooktown WharfFreya, a character Kristy is trying to help, is trapped in a violent marriage. The research into domestic violence was heartbreaking. So many women shared their experiences and the thing that struck me most was that, even if they’d rebuilt their lives, in many cases guilt still held them back. I hope I’ve done their stories justice.

I hope you enjoy Northern Heat and maybe find time to visit North Queensland on your next holiday (I can’t resist a little bit of tourism marketing!)

Do you have a favourite place you loved to revisit in stories? We’d love to hear about it! Comment to go into the draw for the giveaways and thanks for dropping by.

Blog Tour Giveaway

To celebrate the release of my sixth book I have six prize packs to give away. Four of them are duos of SAFE HARBOUR and NORTHERN HEAT and one major prize is a complete set of my six books. For international readers there is a duo of e-books to be won.
To enter leave a comment here or share the post and/or the trailer on social media sites and I’ll double your chances!

Hope to see you through May at the following blogs.

5th May: https://bookdout.wordpress.com
7th May: http://auslit.net
10th May: http://deannasworld1.blogspot.com.au
12th May: http://www.jennjmcleod.com
14th May: http://ausromtoday.com
17th May: https://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com
19th May: http://writenotereviews.com
21st May: https://australianbookshelf.wordpress.com
24th May: https://nevendbookshelf.wordpress.com/category/reviews/
26th May: http://teddyree-theeclecticreader.blogspot.com.au
28th May: http://australianruralromance.com
31st May: http://talkingbooksblog.net
2nd June: Wrap up and announce the winner on my blog-
http://www.heleneyoung.com

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Northern Heat is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Review: Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod

 

Title: Season of Shadow and Light

Author: Jenn J McLeod

Published: Simon & Schuster May 2015

Status: Read from April 28 to 30, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

“Light can illuminate truth, let us see things we might otherwise unknowingly pass by in the dark. It can also illuminate the signs that will allow each of us to find the road to forgiveness, to trust, to hope, to belief and to the future.”

An engaging story of secrets and lies, of trust and betrayal, of family, friendship and forgiveness, Season of Shadow and Light is Jenn J McLeod’s third novel of contemporary fiction set in rural New South Wales.

Unhappy and frustrated after a difficult few years, Paige Turner decides to take her six year old daughter, Matilda, and mother, Alice, and spend two weeks in country New South Wales. Their destination, Saddleton, is determined by signage visible in an old photograph of Paige’s mother in her youth, but rising floodwater results in the trio becoming stranded in the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully. Though Paige is content to enjoy the hospitality of the generous locals who offer the family a place to stay, Alice is increasingly anxious. Coolabah Tree Gully is home to a secret Alice has kept for decades and, should it come to light, has the potential to destroy everything she holds dear.

The story of Season of Shadow and Light unfolds primarily from the perspectives of Paige and Alice, two richly drawn, complex characters confronted with a legacy of secrets.

Paige has had an extraordinarily difficult time recently. A late term miscarriage was followed by a postpartum stroke, leaving her with physical deficits and destroying her career as a food critic. Learning of her husband’s infidelity pushes Paige to the breaking point, motivating her to escape to the country with her daughter and Alice. Paige choose Saddleton as a destination with the vague notion of tracing the origins of a photo of her mother, Nancy, unwittingly ending up in the town her mother fled in the dead of night almost forty years earlier. Paige of course has no idea about her mother’s past, but nevertheless feels incomplete.

“I lost the things that made me who I am, the things that made me feel complete as a person. You know that jigsaw puzzle Mati has – the one with the missing pieces we searched high and low for that day? That puzzle is me. There are pieces missing, and I don’t mean my sense of smell and taste. The fact I can’t explain what I feel frustrates the hell out of me.'”

Alice has been Paige’s sole parent since the death of Nancy, her partner and lover, when Paige was ten. Aware of Nancy’s hidden past, Alice had promised never to reveal the truth of it to Paige, but stranded in Coolabah Tree Gully it becomes harder for her to determine exactly who she is protecting, especially when she is confronted with the consequences of keeping it to herself. Alice really struggles with the thought of not only betraying Nancy, but being held accountable by Paige.

“An improbable set of circumstances.
An impossible situation.
How long could she hold on to the truth? Should she hold on?….Was she obligated to protect the deceptions of the dead when the truth might somehow help the living?”

A low key element of romance is introduced by Aiden, a local man recently returned from Sydney, ‘cheffing’ in the local pub, his own future in tatters after being betrayed by his ex-girlfriend. He is attracted to Paige, who appreciates the attention given the state of her shaky marriage, and eventually proves to be a link between Paige and her mother’s secret but to be honest I thought Aiden’s point of view, shared in brief chapters throughout the novel, wasn’t really necessary.

Through her characters McLeod explores issues such as miscarriage, stroke recovery, infidelity, identity, same sex partnerships, and organ transplantation. The larger themes of the novel examine the nature of loyalty, trust, deception and betrayal. Suspense stems from the nature of the secret that Alice is keeping and the anticipation of Paige learning it. McLeod skillfully teases out the details of Nancy’s hidden past but I did feel there were times when the narrative stalled briefly, repeating Alice’s angst and Aiden’s upset a little too often.

“Love is about connection.” says Alice, and Season of Shadow and Light is a story about connections – between partners and lovers, between parents and their children, and between siblings – tested, sometimes frayed and weakened, but strengthened by forgiveness, trust and love.

Learn more about Season of Shadow Light by reading Jenn J McLeod’s guest post, Fiction with an Order of Food

Season of Shadow and Light is available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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Blog Tour: Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod

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I’m delighted to host Jenn J McLeod on Book’d Out today to celebrate the publication of her third novel, Season of Shadow and Light.

When Jenn J. McLeod quit Sydney’s corporate communications chaos, she bought a little café in a small town and ran a unique, dog-friendly B&B in country NSW. Home now is a caravan, her days spent writing heart-warming tales of Australian country life while traveling the land she loves. Readers and reviewers alike enthusiastically received Jenn’s debut, House for all Seasons, and her second novel, Simmering Season.
Please read on to learn more about Season of Shadow and Light

Fiction with a side order of food!

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food all my life. I love it. Sadly, my hips do not.

Kicking off my sea change in 2004, I gave up my city job to buy a café in a small town and ran it for four years. The work almost killed me (I now have the greatest respect for hospitality workers) but the experience changed my life and irrevocably changed the way I viewed food. (You may get a ‘taste’ of this in certain parts of the story! “A plate of hardened arteries, anyone?”) After the café I ran a B&B where I provided restaurant-quality evening meals. To me, every meal—morning, lunch or dinner—is an event one plans and looks forward to.

But let’s talk about my version of fiction with a side order of food.

Whenever you walk into a café there’s generally a main menu featuring all the usual dishes diners love. Often there’s also a specials board, meant to tempt you away from the everyday, to try something new. How the plot and the characters in Season of Shadow and Light evolved was a little like that—founded on convention with a little side order of fun. I had my traditional characters and conflict planned out—or so I thought: a mother (Paige) who is on a personal mission and needing time away from her cheating husband, a her daughter (Matilda) who keeps her grounded and responsible. Stranded by floodwaters in the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige and her entourage find a publican with an uncanny resemblance to Mr Magoo, a cranky cook battling a broken heart, and someone who knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but the question is…
Are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?

However, something happened as I started stirring a little conflict into the plot—a dash of Aiden, a splash of Alice and a sprinkling of Rory. Soon Aiden was really spicing things up. The once sought after executive chef was now executive chip fryer at his uncle’s small town pub and a little side order of Aiden (gotta love a damaged man) was just what the plot needed—and what Paige needed, tempting her away from her everyday life to try something new.

And, boy, didn’t I have fun bringing Aiden to life. I guess you could call him Paige’s love interest in the story, and although far from Mr Perfect, the thing I enjoyed most about Aiden was creating the perfect chef. (Can’t say I met many of those in my time as a café owner!) As Paige says at one point . . . (a little excerpt about a tiny tiff . . . )

Most chefs she’d known were highly- strung, with short fuses.
‘You know what?’ she fired back, fully prepared to tell this guy where to shove his platters, only to see a smile creep across Aiden’s face.
So totally unexpected—so absolutely gorgeous—her brain felt suddenly sous-vide, with every expletive instantly and silently sucked out, the bag then sealed tight. Although why she worried about offending this guy, she didn’t know. So far she’d witnessed him cursing into his mobile, throwing phones, happy to leave cows stranded, issuing orders and generally being a prattish, mulish, moronic chef. Typical, in other words, and Paige had met very few in the business who weren’t precious. Yes, he’d had cause to hit the roof about traipsing manure through a clean kitchen—any kitchen—minutes before service, but now here he was smiling.

Foodies will definitely enjoy what I call ‘the fun bits’: the cooking analogies, the kitchen antics and my favourite peanut jokes (which I still can’t believe my editor let me keep). I even get to include the best morning toast combo ever—vegemite and peanut butter. So, yes, there is quite a bit of me and my passion for food in this novel.

The truth is, not until I was asked to write a piece for you with a food theme, did I realise how many references there are. That got me thinking. I usually provide a ‘Tissue Rating’ for my novels (yes, sorry, you may need one of two for this one) but maybe Season of Shadow and Light should have come with a kilojoules count. I think I may have added two kilos to these hips of mine just thinking about all the food references in this book. Speaking of food . . .

Now for a side order of book blurb . . .

SEASON OF SHADOW AND LIGHT
Sometime this season…
The secret keeper must tell.
The betrayed must trust.
The hurt must heal.

When it seems everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with six year old Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow.
But stranded amid rising floodwaters, on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.
Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but…
Are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?

With early reader reviews already in, I am so excited about this story of secrets and love, of family loyalty, and of trust—the kind that takes years to build but only seconds to wash away—that I could hug a carrot.

carrotYou can read my review of Season of Shadow and Light by clicking HERE

Season of Shadow and Light is available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Jenn J McLeod

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Blog Tour: An Excerpt from All That Sparkles by Claire Boston

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An excerpt from All That Sparkles {Book 2 of the Texan Quartet} by Claire Boston

Imogen has led a sheltered upbringing. When Christian asks her what she wants to do on their date, she chooses a local theme park as she’s never been to one. This scene starts as they arrive.

******

Imogen was ridiculously excited by the time they arrived at the boardwalk. She had to laugh. Her father would be absolutely horrified. The boardwalk represented everything he hated: crowds, cheesy souvenirs and mass-produced food.
Christian took hold of her hand. “Where do you want to begin?”
“The rollercoaster.” She’d seen it from a distance as they drove in and was worried she’d chicken out if she didn’t do it right away.
Christian laughed. “All right. Let’s get some tickets.”
They wandered along a path. There was a mixture of families with small children, teenagers on their own and young adults. Imogen glanced up at a ride proclaiming itself the Iron Eagle Zipline as the chair at the top of the line came rushing back to earth. Her heart thumped at the screams issuing from the chair. “We need to do that as well,” she said.
“Whatever you want,” Christian said. “Come on, the ticket booth is over there.”
While Christian bought the tickets she scanned the park, deciding what else she wanted to do.
“Here.” He handed her a ticket. “It’s a day pass.”
Imogen hadn’t offered to pay. “How much do I owe you?”
He gave her a look. “You’re my date; I’m paying today.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but he interrupted, “Unless you want me to pay for my ticket from Friday night.”
She closed her mouth again. He was right. If he wanted to pay for her she should let him. It was weird because she usually paid when she went on dates. “All right,” she said. “But I should warn you that I’m expecting both donuts and cotton candy.”
He grinned. “I can manage that.”
They lined up for the rollercoaster, the Boardwalk Bullet. It was huge, and as Imogen watched a carriage plummet down the first drop, she squeezed Christian’s hand. She was going to do this. She was going to ride this wooden rollercoaster. She was going to take this risk.
It wasn’t long before it was their turn. The front seat was free and Christian pulled her in.
“It’s the best spot.”
Imogen wasn’t so sure she wanted to be right at the front, but she went with him and waited for the safety bar to lock in to place. She glanced at it dubiously. It wasn’t a whole lot to keep her from falling out.
The carriage moved and Imogen clutched Christian’s hand. This was it! Nerves and excitement clattered queasily around in her stomach. The carriage was dragged up an incline and Imogen could see across the parking lot and marina to one side and the Texas Gulf on the other. Then, before she could catch her breath, the ride was going around a bend and dropping straight down.
“Hands up,” Christian shouted, putting his hands up in the air, and hers went with him. Her stomach dropped along with the ride and she shrieked as they twisted and turned. It was insane. Her body was thrown violently around and she had no control over what she was doing, where she was going.
It was terrifying and it was thrilling.
She didn’t breathe properly until they came to a slow stop.
“Oh my gosh,” she said, her skin tingling.
“What did you think?” Christian asked as they exited the ride.
She couldn’t think straight. Adrenalin was racing around her body and she couldn’t stand still. What a buzz. “That was so much fun.” She tapped her hands on her thighs. “Can we go again?”
“Sure thing.”
She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Thanks.” She grabbed his hand before he could kiss her again. “Come on.” She dragged him back to the line.

Published by Momentum, April 2015

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Review: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods

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Title: Love at First Flight

Author: Tess Woods

Published: HarperCollins Au April 2015

Status: Read from April 15 to 16, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Told from the first person perspectives of Mel and Matt, Love at First Flight is an unconventional love story which explores the motives for an illicit affair, and the damage left in its wake.

When Mel meets Matt during an interstate flight they recognise each other as soul mates. The problem is Mel is a married mother of two who lives in Perth, and Matt, who lives in Melbourne, is engaged to be married. Despite saying goodbye at the airport, they are both unable to forget their brief time together, and embark on a passionate affair that threatens to destroy them both.

Relationships are complicated things and Woods intelligently and compassionately explores the evolution of Matt and Mel’s affair from their first meeting, through their consuming affair, and to the messy, bitter end. It’s an emotional journey that draws the reader in with complex characterisation and a compelling narrative.

I was surprised to find I could relate to Mel in some ways, I found it difficult to blame her for reveling in the attention Matt gave her during the flight, but she definitely crossed the line for me when she chose to meet with him later. Her spiral into obsession was unsettling but I believed in it, as I did in her growing self awareness.

I particularly admired the way Mel eventually took responsibility for her failings with her husband. Mel’s shame and guilt, and Adam’s hurt and anger, in the aftermath is visceral. I’ve witnessed a similar situation among friends and feel that Woods portrayal of their struggle towards forgiveness and redemption is very well drawn.

Woods convinced me of the overwhelming chemistry between Mel and Matt, no mean feat considering I’m not sure I really believe in the idea of love at first sight. I wasn’t a fan of Matt, despite his sympathetic background he struck me as a weak man, but I thought he was a well rounded character.

Love at First Flight is a surprisingly thought provoking story about love, marriage, intimacy and honesty. An impressive debut from a new Australian author.

 

Learn more about Love at First Flight, Tess Woods and her road to publication in her guest post published earlier today

Love at First Flight is available to purchase from

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AWW Feature: Tess Woods, Love at First Flight and the road to publication

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I’m delighted to introduce Tess Woods to you today to celebrate the publication of her debut novel, Love at First Flight.

Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

Love at First Flight is her first novel, published by HarperCollins Australia

LoveAtFirstFlighteCover‘Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.”

My review of Love at First Flight can be seen HERE, in the meantime please read on to learn more about Tess Woods and her road to publication…

My road to publication was long with speed humps and detours!

I wrote the first draft in three days. I had a flash of inspiration, grabbed pen and paper, locked myself away and pumped out a novel. As I wrote, I imagined publishers tripping over themselves to get their hands on it. I pictured bidding wars and movie rights. Then I read over it. It was drivel.

It took me a month of writing every evening to get to draft two. It was still drivel. I called in back-up. I sent the manuscript to an assessment agency. The editor reported back after six weeks saying it was drivel. I already knew that! What I wanted was some help to point me in the right direction.

So I tried a different manuscript assessor. This time I struck gold. Meredith Whitford from Between Us was clever, insightful and she cut to the chase.
“It’s got X-factor,” she said. “But it needs lots of polish. You’ll get it published. It’s one of the best manuscripts I’ve seen.”
Along with her comments, Meredith had a forty point list of things to work on. I spent six months writing draft three and re-submitted it. “Getting there but not quite,” was her response so I spent the next six months working on draft four. Then I had Meredith’s tick of approval.

But what if she liked it and nobody else did? I decided to get a third opinion and sent the manuscript to Nikki Davies. She came up with four pages of suggestions. Three months later I had draft five and three months after that I had draft six. I felt ready to take on the literary world. Again I imagined bidding wars and movie deals.

Over the next two years I was rejected by all twenty-two literary agents in Australia who represented commercial fiction writers. Every last one of them. Some of them wrote ‘return to sender’ on the envelope without opening it, some read it and hated it, several of them read it and said they loved it but it would be impossible to find a publisher because I had no resume to speak of.

After opening the front door to find my manuscript sitting on the porch from the last remaining agent, I slid it under the spare bed, dusted myself off and forgot I had written a book. The submission process to agents had been exhausting and soul destroying. I couldn’t face beginning again with publishers. I figured I had no chance with publishers anyway if none of the agents wanted it. I was done.

“I’ll self publish it one day,” I thought. “One day but not now. I need to forget about it now and get on with my life.”

Then along came an email. It was from literary agent Jacinta Di Mase. Jacinta had considered Love at First Flight nearly two years earlier before deciding she didn’t want it. In her rejection letter, she’d said how hard it was to reject it because it was one of the best unsolicited works she’d seen. I was particularly devastated when Jacinta had initially turned it down, because I was convinced she would take it. It was just a strong gut feeling I had that she would be my agent. Always trust your gut!

Jacinta’s email now went something like this, “Hey, I still have that book of yours in my mind even though it’s been a couple of years since I read it. So, did you sell it yet? And if not, are you prepared to make the changes I want done? If you are, I’ll go in and bat for you with publishers.”

Excuse me, what? YES I would be prepared to make changes! I was prepared to sell her my next child if it meant she would go in to bat for me!

So I wrote draft seven. A year later, I resubmitted it to Jacinta. I hit send on the email and the next day headed off to Europe for the trip of a life-time with hubby and kids in tow and tried to put it out of my mind. If Jacinta wanted it, great, if not, I would self-publish it one day and sign the inside cover for my mum.

Four weeks later, we were in Cornwall on our “book tour of the UK”. We were visiting places based on books we loved. Cornwall was my choice because of my love of The Shellseekers by Rosamunde Pilcher which was set there. We had arrived the night before from London (where we did all things Harry Potter). I checked emails from home and wow! Jacinta loved the new version and she had already started the rounds of publishers. That this happened the day I was living out a long held dream to go shell-seeking just like a favourite character from a book was pure magic.

Fast forward eight months of nail-biting, finger crossing, acquisitions meetings after acquisitions meetings where it was rejected at the last minute, editors loving it and emailing us about just how much they loved it but then failing to convince the rest of their teams to love it. It was torture. And then along came an editor who was passionate enough to stand by the story until it had full approval from everyone in her publishing team. And that was Anna Valdinger at HarperCollins. Oh how I love her! Once I signed with HarperCollins, there were two more huge edits to do. But nine re-writes and almost six years from the day I first put pen to paper, I got there.

I had never written any fiction before this book. In fact I’d never planned on writing a book at all. But when this story came to me, I had to write it and keep writing it until others believed in it too. I’m so lucky that they did.

Love at First Light is available to purchase from

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Review: Missing You by Kylie Kaden

 

Title: Missing You

Author: Kylie Kaden

Published: Random House Au April 2015

Status: Read from April 05 to 07, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

“At what point did this become my fate? Did I ever control it? And if I’d chosen differently, would all the good parts dissolve along with the bad? Even if this is the end, I have no regrets. For giving into that magnetic pull we had, despite wanting different things….I didn’t think it was possible to love another human more…”

Aisha and Ryan fell in love the moment they met, and were certain would make it work, despite the differences between them. Five years later, struggling with the reality of their compromises and the relentless demands of parenting their autistic spectrum son, they fight and Ryan walks away.
A day later, Aisha receives a late night phone call, and promising to return in an hour or so, leaves her son, Eli, in her father’s care. Three days later Aisha has still not come home, Ryan can’t be reached, and while the police seem inclined to dismiss Patrick’s fears, he is certain something is wrong.

From the first page the reader is aware that wherever Aisha is, she is in trouble. The tension builds as the reader wonders why she is missing, has Aisha simply had enough, snapping under the strain, or is there a more sinister reason for her absence?

“I calmly wonder is this is how it feels to die: This strange lightness, drifting in zero gravity. I feel no pain, but I have no control. I command my brain to charge my limbs, to pry open my eyes, but it’s no use.”

Missing You unfolds through the perspectives of Aisha, Ryan and Patrick, shifting from the present, through the past, until the two timelines merge.

Over a period of seven days, Patrick worries about his missing daughter while caring for his grandson. Eli’s behaviour is a challenge for Patrick and Kaden explores the difficulties of catering to his needs.

“Seventy years I’ve made it, and never seen a boy like him.”

Aisha and Ryan’s narratives reveal their life together – their passionate romance, their feelings about marriage and parenthood, – and why the cracks had begun to appear, leading to the fight that separates them the day before Aisha goes missing. Kaden does a wonderful job of creating two interesting, well rounded characters and mapping a fairytale relationship complicated by reality.

“My life isn’t perfect, Gabe. We’re broke, tired, antisocial. The highlight of my week is more than four hours’ consecutive sleep. But we love each other. I love my son.”

Missing You held me in its thrall from the first page, and while I confess to being a little disappointed in one element of the ending, I found it to be a layered, absorbing tale of love and suspense.

 

 Learn more about Kyle Kaden and Missing You by clicking HERE

Missing You is available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Kylie Kaden

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AWW Feature: Kylie Kaden and Book Nerds Anonymous

Kaden, Kylie

 

I’m excited to welcome Kylie Kaden to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of her second novel, Missing You.

Kylie graduated with an honours degree in psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000, she shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids. Raised in Queensland, she lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons. Kylie knew writing was in her blood from a young age, using her brother’s Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Her debut novel, Losing Kate, was published in 2014 (Random House).

Missing You is a tantalising love story and a seductive suspense novel.

‘Our lives were built around the strength of a kiss between strangers. Yet seven years on, look where it led us . . .’
When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn’t want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them. But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility. Until Ryan can’t take it anymore.
Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick – and doesn’t come back. As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear. Particularly when blood is found in Aisha’s abandoned car . . .

My review of Missing You will be published later today, in the meantime please enjoy this guest post from Kyle Kaden.

Book Nerds Anonymous

Since I gouged teeth marks through The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I don’t think I’ve gone a day without a book. They’ve been a constant. Just like my husband can recite who won the footy final each year for the last dozen or so and where he was for each, I can tell you that I bought Lovely Bones on Kamari Beach on Santorini (as it was one of the few books I could find in English). That I read Wuthering Heights in a converted barn in Tuscany (out loud). Like fire leaves its mark between growth rings of a tree, you can read my life by the books I’ve read, infer what stage of a relationship I was in, the life-phase, the mood – by the titles I chose. Like people we meet, some books are quickly forgotten, while others stay with us always. I’m a self-confessed book nerd, and here’s why.

I love movies, live music, theatre. But books – they are so approachable. Perennially available, they are ready when you are with no ad-breaks, no intermission. You can turn them down in bed one night, and they’ll wait patiently beside you ‘til you’re in the mood. The story unfolds at the pace you set, the characters look exactly like they should (with perfect accents). You can devour them on a train, on a beach, in a line. And there is a book for every taste. They offer a whole lot more than entertainment.

Books are like an update for your brain. They can enrich your soul, allow you to walk in the shoes of another human – all from the safety of your doona (and for the cost of a library card). Books are a friend for the lonely kid who’d rather fight dragons in dungeons during lunchbreaks than kick goals. They are a companion through post-divorce celibacy, a time-waster after a hysterectomy, a date on a Saturday night. For those that are believers, you shall never be bored. They can guide you through a diagnosis, a game of 500, a quilt project. Books are a tardis: there is always a book about to be released to transport you to another time and place. All you have to do is let it.

So I am humbled when the powers that be decided I was worthy to add the product of some of my mixed-up musings to the great big party of imaginary friends that literature has to offer the world. And everyone’s invited.

My latest romantic thriller Missing You, is about relationships tested by adversity and introduces Aisha: an offbeat-beauty struggling to be the mum she never had, Ryan – an opportunistic charmer coming to terms with being the dad he never knew he wanted to be, and Pat – a grumble-bum Grandpa lumbered with the care of a difficult four year old – Eli, who sees the world differently to the rest of us. When Aisha leaves her beloved son in the care of her elderly father and doesn’t come back, the family’s concern quickly turns to fear when a bloodstain is found in Aisha’s abandoned car…

Missing You is available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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Review & Giveaway: She’s Having Her Baby by Lauren Sams

Title: She’s Having Her Baby

Author: Lauren Sams

Published: Nero: Black Inc Books March 2015

Status: Read on March 11, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

She’s Having Her Baby is a funny and bittersweet debut chick lit novel from Lauren Sams.

“This is it. She’s going to ask me to be her surrogate. No, she won’t. Surely she won’t. That only happens in Katherine Heigl movies, Jesus f** Christ, what if she asks? What am I going to say? There’s only one answer, right? Jesus f**”

Thirty something magazine editor, Georgie Henderson, has never wanted kids but her best friend, Nina Doherty, wants nothing more than to be a mother and when her latest IVF attempt fails, she asks Georgie for the ultimate favour. Reluctantly Georgie agrees to become Nina’s surrogate, willing to help Nina’s dream come true, but Georgie is wholly unprepared for what comes next…

Life doesn’t always go to plan and in She’s Having Her Baby the plot doesn’t quite develop as the reader may expect. Sharply observed, the author explores the themes of infertility, surrogacy, motherhood and friendship in a manner that is funny, poignant and compassionate.

I found Georgie to be an interesting character, she definitely has her flaws, being somewhat inflexible and self absorbed, but she is amusing, feisty and loyal in her own way. I admired Georgia for deciding to help Nina, though I think choosing not to have children for whatever reason is a perfectly valid decision, and though Georgia doesn’t cope particularly well when things don’t work out as expected, including with her relationship and career, she eventually pulls it together.

I’ve witnessed the toll infertility can take on the soul, and relationships, and I really felt for Nina, her desperation is authentic and moving. I laughed out loud at the passages describing the parenting styles of Ellie and the mothers at the playground. Those type of ‘helicopter’, holier than thou parents drove me crazy when my children were babies so I agreed . It’s not like I let mine play with knives or fed them a steady diet of McDonalds but they watched ABC Kids, ate jarred baby foods and wore disposable nappies, and let me assure you they are all bright, healthy and happy children.

The writing is of a good standard, the dialogue is natural, and humour is used to good effect, without undermining the more serious issues. The pacing works well with some surprises in the plot and a conclusion that is satisfying but not too neat.

I enjoyed She’s Having Her Baby, I found it to be both an entertaining and touching novel tackling issues relevant to the modern woman. Lauren Sams is a debut author with promise.

Learn more about Lauren Sams and her writing process in he guest post published earlier today at Book’d Out

She’s Having Her Baby is available to purchase from

Nero Books Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

 Amazon US I BookDepository

and all good bookstores.

*****

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Nero Books

I have 5 print editions of

She’s Having Her Baby by Lauren Sams

to giveaway.

*Sorry,  only Australian residents may enter*

Congratulations to the winners of She’s Having Her Baby:

Linda H; Jan O; Amanda N; Tash B; Kirsty A

Entries close March 22nd 2015

****

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