AWW Feature: The Outback, The Homestead Girls, and Fiona McArthur

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I’m delighted to welcome Fiona McArthur to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of The Homestead Girls.

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places. Her first rural fiction novel with Penguin Australia, Red Sand Sunrise, was published in 2014.

Fiona McArthur’s second novel, The Homestead Girls is a heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion in the outback.

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“Moving to the outback to join the Flying Doctors will change Billie’s life forever.
After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she  jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.
Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and has opened her homestead to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.
The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test…”

My review  will appear later today, in the meantime please read on to learn more about Fiona McArthur’s inspiration for the setting of The Homestead Girls.

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Outback Inspiration

by Fiona McArthur

Hello and thanks so much for asking me back as I launch my new novel, The Homestead Girls. And speaking of being back, I’d like to chat about background setting and how it’s such an integral part of a book. People have asked why I set a book ‘inspired by’ Broken Hill so I thought I’d mull over some of the ways I used our visits to Broken Hill and why I loved it?

I read an article once where Broken Hill was called ‘The boldest of the outback towns… pressure-cooked through the mining years.’ I wish I’d written that – but I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. It’s a unique and layered township and surrounds and my husband loved it so much he wondered if we could retire there after just two visits.

Here’s 10 things I used from Broken Hill and Outback NSW for the Homestead Girls.

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Mt Gipps Station mailbox

1/The Sky – Bluer than any you see in the city – in fact all of the colours are so vibrant it’s one of the main reasons so many artists live there. Think Pro Hart. Jack Absolom.

2/The Landscape from the air – imagine the vista the flight nurses and pilots see every day when they go to work. That great expanse of browns and golds and orange, with ribbons of empty creek beds, and then a station or tiny township coming up on the horizon. I took a fabulous one and a half hour flight with Silver City Scenic Flights and lots of notes – though notes were when I wasn’t hanging on – it was little bit bumpy!

The Landscape from the ground – the lookout at Mundi Mundi – what a view! The view from the ridge on Mt Gipps. What a place for a sunset drink! And a seduction scene.

3/The Racecourse. The Silver City Cup was first held in 1899, and is the oldest horse race in the region, and held towards the end of October every year. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of year for us but we walked outside the racecourse, peered at the stands and took photos for a scene I knew I would write there. I looked up all the photos of the racegoers after the event and they all had smiles on their faces. So did my characters when they went.

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Murals Palace Hotel

4/The Palace Hotel main street Broken Hill – had to go and visit and sit on the stairs and just look. Wow! Inside is decorated with fabulous oil-painted murals up and down the stair walls and ceiling, including a magnificently flamboyant depiction of Botticelli’s Venus above the staircase. These are the paintings famously featured in the movie Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.

5/Walking down the main street beautifully restored buildings were exactly like the apartment one of my characters would live in Mica Ridge and then there are the roses. Love the roses outside all the town buildings. ‘Billy had forgotten about the roses until she saw them again on the day she arrived back to her home town.’

6/The huge airport and the RFDS Base – all those trees surrounding the tarmac, the heat that belts off it on hot days. Rental cars parked under the trees. Though, just stating, the flying doctor base scenes are set in Mica Ridge Base, which is smaller than Broken Hill. 

7/Silverton – two of my characters visited the pub, as did my husband and I, funny that, which is stocked with memorabilia from movies made in the area such as Mad Max, A Town Like Alice, it’s a must visit place with history around every corner. A really fun atmosphere, but so spread out it reminds you how much is gone, and gives the impression of being deserted.

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Desert Sculptures

8/The Desert Sculptures – loved this hilltop, in the middle of the outback, art gallery – arranged with huge, truly inspiring sculptures. The paths, bushes, trees, and native flowers all complimented the different-themed stone carvings (stone sourced from Wilcannia) on the skyline. Loved that the artist’s interpretation was explained on discreet signage beside each artist’s work.

9/Mt Gipps Station and the Sturt’s Desert Pea – inspiration for Blue Hills Station in the book – and the best farm stay ever.

10/And of course the people. The wonderful, laconic, incredibly tough people in town and on the land. Then there are the flight nurses, doctors, pilots and everyone else who makes saving lives in the outback, happen with a minimum of fuss.

I really hope everyone enjoys The Homestead Girls and… so my answer is why wouldn’t I draw inspiration from Broken Hill?

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Highway Signs

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Review: Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon

 

Title: Chasing Chris Campbell

Author: Genevieve Gannon

Publisher: HarperCollins June 2015

Status: Read from June 15 to 17, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Chasing Chris Campbell is Genevieve Gannon’s second novel, a contemporary story of love, travel and the adventure of finding one’s self.

When Violet Mason’s partner of nearly six years buys her a motorcycle instead of an engagement ring, she decides she has been waiting for her life to start for long enough, and when an email arrives from Chris Campbell, ‘the one that got away’, inviting her to ‘come to Asia’ she impulsively books a one way ticket to Hong Kong, hoping to reconnect with her lost love. Armed with an out of date tourist guide and plenty of hand steriliser, Violet plans to surprise Chris with her arrival, only to learn he has already moved on. Determined not to give up, Violet chases Chris through India to Nepal, back to Hong Kong and then to Vietnam, it is an adventure of a lifetime, but is it true love she finds?

Told in the first person, Violet, a sensible scientist with a mild phobia of germs, is completely out of her element as she travels through Asia. I thought Violet generally was a well developed and believable character. Though there are moments when she feels lost and lonely, with encouragement from her twin sister Cassandra, Violet slowly opens herself up to adventure. She makes friends with fellow travelers like the rather delicious Harry Potter (no, not that Harry Potter)and eventually learns a thing or two about herself. While I would never chase a guy half way around the world based on a few vaguely worded emails, I admired the fact that Violet took the chance and I vicariously enjoyed her adventures.

The author’s descriptions of the various places Violet visits are well written. I particularly enjoyed the journey through India, from Goa, to Delhi, to Varanasi.

Though there are flashes of humour, I have to admit I was expecting more given the novel is promoted as a romantic comedy. I found the writing tended to be a little stiff at times and the tone more often no-nonsense than lighthearted. The pace is good though and I appreciated the epilogue, which provided a satisfying ending.

For more information about Genevieve Gannon and  Chasing Chris Carson please CLICK HERE to read Genevieve’s guest post ‘Long Distance Love’.

 

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AWW Feature: Long Distance Love, Chasing Chris Campbell and Genevieve Gannon

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I’m happy to introduce you to Genevieve Gannon today who is celebrating the publication of her latest novel, Chasing Chris Campbell.

Genevieve Gannon is a Melbourne-based journalist and author. Her writing was first published in the St Monica’s Primary School newspaper, The Monical, in the form of a mince pie recipe she completely made up. She lifted her standards of journalistic integrity and wrote stories for music and fashion street press magazines while at university before moving to Canberra to do a journalism cadetship. In 2011 she joined the national news wire, Australian Associated Press, where she covered crime, politics and entertainment. Her work has appeared in most major Australian newspapers including The Age, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph. She currently lives in Melbourne where she is a court reporter. At night time she writes romantic comedies.

Genevieve’s debut novel, Husband Hunters, was published in 2014. Chasing Chris Campbell is her second novel.

Violet is saving money: living on rice and beans and denying herself chocolate eclairs all in the name of saving for a home deposit. Once they save enough, she and Michael can buy a house, settle down and live happily ever after. But when Michael does the unthinkable, Violet is forced to rethink her life choices.

A chance encounter with Chris Campbell (first love, boy-next-door, The One That Got Away) spurs her into travelling to exotic locations she never dreamed she’d explore – Hong Kong, Vietnam, Varanasi – on a quest to catch up with Chris and lead a life of adventure. Armed with hand sanitiser and the encouraging texts of her twin sister Cassandra, will Violet find true love before it’s too late? Or will the nerve-wracking experience of travelling send her back to Melbourne in search of safety and stability? Can she work out what she really wants before she is left with nothing?”

My review of Chasing Chris Campbell can be seen HERE, but first please read on to learn more about Chasing Chris Campbell.

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The Tyranny of Long Distance Love

by Genevieve Gannon

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? When I take a look around my group of friends, most of them have endured interstate or international love at one stage or another. With people travelling for work so frequently, or taking a year off to see the world, the number of opportunities for meeting people who don’t live where you live is great. I’ve had three long distance adult relationships and one transnational teen romance. They can be frustrating, stressful things. Even if you manage to strike some sort of balance with regular phone calls and visits, the inevitability of the situation looms over everything you do. At some point, one person will have to rip up the roots of their life and move, or the relationship will come to an end.
Distance can insert itself into relationships in ways other than those described above. In Australia, parts of the country have huge fi-fo sectors made up of fly-in, fly-out workers who spend a period of time away from their homes working in a regional area. They then fly home to spend time with their families. One partner is left behind to hold the fort while they’re gone. In the US and Canada, where young people travel far and wide to attend university, long-distance love is common. A 2013 Canadian study found that more than 40 per cent of university students were in long distance relationships.
Despite the fact it seems long-range love is all around, there’s not much written on the subject. Researching the topic, I found only one comprehensive study on the long distance love. In an interview, the psychologist behind the research said she was drawn to the subject because she was in a long distance relationship and found there was very little information or advice for couples grappling with the issues that come with conducting a romance from afar.
My first relationship, which bloomed when I was about 16, became a long distance romance when my family moved to the US for six months. At the time, it felt like an eternity. Looking back on it, six short months away from a boy I hardly knew doesn’t seem like a big deal. But my 16-year-old self keenly felt the sense of isolation, uneasiness, and uncertainty that became familiar feelings when I later found myself in relationships that straddled Melbourne and Hobart, Melbourne and Canberra and Melbourne and Sydney.
Because of this experience, I’ve always known a long distance romance was something I wanted to write about. But of course, writing about racing from the office to catch flights on a Friday evening and sending longing emails would make for a boring book. So I tried to investigate the themes in a different way with Chasing Chris Campbell.
For my naïve heroine Violet and her one-that-got-away Chris Campbell it is an interstate move that breaks up their relationship in the first place. Years later when they reunite, she decides she will travel to where he is to see if the one-time spark still burns. It’s an extreme example of something that is very common. But the core issues remain the same: the pressure and distortion distance can bring to a relationship. The fear of regret, the fear of making a the wrong choice. When I discuss what their long distance relationships meant to my friends, they speak of compromise, sacrifice and a need above all a need to communicate with the other partner.
Surprisingly, that one study I mentioned, from Queens University in Ontario, found that, if you can achieve these things, there is no reason a long distance relationship can’t work. While there were individual variations, broadly speaking, there were few differences between long-distance relationships and geographically close relationships.
The study found long distance relationships are not at an intrinsic disadvantage.
Its acknowledgement that this knowledge could help couples in long distances relationships seems to indicate those differences and challenges that do exist, are ones that can be soothed by reassurance and information. That is why my girlfriends and I used to love to talk and talk and talk about how we dealt with distance, and why I wanted to explore it in Chasing Chris Campbell.

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Review: If You’re Not the One by Jemma Forte

Title: If You’re Not the One

Author: Jemma Forte

Published: Sourcebooks Landmark June 2015

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Status: Read from June 04 to 06, 2015 — I own a copy   {courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Jennifer Wright has a comfortable life – a hard working, if inattentive husband, Max, two lovely young daughters, and a comfortable home in the suburbs, but she is restless. In the throes of a mid life crisis she is wondering, ‘What if?’. One evening, after a bitter argument with her husband, Jennifer runs from the house and is hit by car. Comatose, Jennifer’s subconcious gives her the opportunity to explore what her life may have been like had she made different choices, what if she had runaway with Aiden? Or married Tim, or stayed with Steve? What could’ve been?

‘What If?’ is a game many of us have played, especially when things aren’t going well, even if it’s something we rarely admit to. We can only imagine how differently things might have turned out had we made a different decision, could we have been happier? Richer? Poorer? Sadder? In If You’re Not the One, author Jemma Forte explores the possibilities for her protagonist had she chosen a life with one of three ex suitors.

The premise is not really original (think Sliding Doors) but I was interested in how Jennifer’s alternate lives unfolded. I was surprised, even pleased by the ending, which is not as tidy as I expected, but it may frustrate readers who prefer closure.

The structure of the novel is a little tricky involving not only Jennifer’s actual present and past, but also the past and future revelations of her ‘alternate’ lives. Though the narrative shifts are titled, it still takes a bit of effort to keep track of who and when, and can feel a little disjointed at times.

Challenging readers to consider their own ‘What if’s?’, If You’re Not the One is an engaging read. I think it’s a book that would particularly generate interesting discussion among book club members.

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Review: Limbo by Amy Andrews

 

Title: Limbo {Joy Valentine Mysteries #1}

Author: Amy Andrews

Read an Excerpt

Published: Escape Publishing May 2015

Status: Read on May 31, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Amy Andrews is an award-winning, best-selling Australian author who has written more than forty contemporary and medical romances. Limbo, with its blend of romance, suspense, humour and touch of the paranormal is quite a departure from her usual fare.

When the ghost of a murdered mother begs for her help to save her kidnapped daughter, Joy Valentine, country singer and funeral home makeup artist, knows the police won’t take her seriously so she reluctantly turns to the one person who might believe her, disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent. The police think baby Isabelle is probably dead but Joy and Dash are convinced Joy’s ghostly vision was genuine and set out to find the missing infant.

Though still a romance novel at its core, Andrews establishes an intriguing mystery surrounding the disappearance of the murdered woman, and her missing daughter. Dash and Joy slowly piece together the scant evidence available to determine exactly what happened on the day Hailey and Isabelle went missing, and where the pair have been for the six months prior to the discovery of Hailey’s body.

The characterisation is wonderful, I really liked both Dash and Joy, who are well rounded protagonists with interesting back stories. I loved their chemistry, the sexual tension between the mismatched pair is palpable and there are a couple of intimate scenes that really sizzle.
The cast of quirky supporting characters including an unconventional clergyman, a brothel madam and two horny goldfish, are equally delightful.

There is lots of humour, often found in unexpected places and while there is a little in the way of action, there is plenty of tension and suspense. The inner city setting gives the story a modern urban feel.

I finished the book in one sitting and I’m hoping Amy Andrews will follow up Limbo with another soon. Loved it!

 

Limbo is available to purchase from

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Review: The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

 

Title: The Confectioner’s Tale

Author: Laura Madeleine

Published: Black Swan Publishing May 2015

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Status: Read from May 19 to 21, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Unfolding through dual timelines, The Confectioners Tale by Laura Madeleine is a pleasant blend of history, romance and light mystery.

In the present (well, 1988), Cambridge PhD candidate Petra Stevenson is desperate to protect her adored late grandfather’s reputation from being sullied by a biographer promising to reveal his role in an old scandal. Anxious to deflect any dishonour, and hoping to discover a more benign truth, Petra doggedly works to piece together events that took place in Paris nearly 70 years ago.

The alternating narrative is set during 1909 in Paris and slowly reveals the story of Guillaume (Gui) Du Frere, a railway labourer from Bordeaux, his forbidden romance with Mademoiselle Jeanne Clermont, the daughter of a famous Parisienne confectioner, and ultimately the scandal involving Petra’s grandfather.

For me the strength of the novel lay in the historical timeline, I liked the characters of Gui and Jeanne, delighted in their meeting, their secret romance, and despaired when scandal threatened to destroy them. I also thought the author’s depiction of early twentieth century Paris was evocative, and I enjoyed being behind the scenes of the Clermont Patisserie.

An easy, simply plotted story with a satisfyingly sweet conclusion, The Confectioner’s Tale is a novel with general appeal.

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Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

 

Title: Love and Miss Communication

Author: Elyssa Friedland

Published: William Morrow May 2015

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Status: Read on May 14, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Edelwiess}

My Thoughts:

“No more stalking ­people on Google.
No more Facebooking exes.
No more reading twits on Twitter.
No more posting pictures and waiting for “likes.”
No more refreshing Gmail every thirty seconds.
No more hashtagging meaningless combinations of words.
No more Instagramming every instant.
No more Foursquaring her whereabouts.
No more bidding on eBay for the thrill of competition.
No more pretend job hunting on Monster.
No more blogs. (She was slandered on one, for God’s sake!)
No more watching two-­year-­olds boogie to Beyoncé on YouTube.
No more playing Scrabble against house-­bound Aspergians.
No more Candy Crush, that time-­sucking psychedelic mess of sugar balls. And, best of all, no more OkCupid, JDate, eHarmony, and Match.”

A modern story about life and love in the digital age, when Evie Rosen’s addiction to email derails her promising law career and a Facebook post breaks her heart, she impulsively decides to disconnect from the world wide web and reclaim her life.

I didn’t particularly relate to Evie, whose behaviour more closely resembles that of my eighteen year old daughter than a woman, who at nearly thirty five, is closer to my age. She is, for the most part, self involved and superficial, and that is something that is very slow to change over the course of the novel. She’s horribly neglectful of her friendships, complaining because of missed e-vites and texts, but never makes much of an attempt to reach out. She pines over her ex-boyfriend, and whines endlessly about being single, without ever examining her own behaviour or attitude.

I did like the way in which Friedland developed Evie’s relationship with Dr Gold. He proves to be a great guy, though not perfect, and also a really patient man, given Evie’s neuroses.

The most charming aspect of the novel involved Evie’s relationship with her grandmother, a stereotypical Jewish Bubbe desperate to see Evie get married and have children.

Even though this is chick-lit, I thought there were missed opportunities to really explore what its like to be ‘unplugged’ in this day and age. Evie isn’t really challenged to live in the real world while ‘unplugged’, her generous severance payment gives her a lot of freedom, not that she really does much with it.

I am left with mixed feelings about Love and Miss Communication, the premise is great but Evie wasn’t a character I could root for and I felt the story was somewhat underdeveloped.

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Review: Only We Know by Victoria Purman

 

Title: Only We Know

Author: Victoria Purman

Published: Harlequin MIRA Aus May 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 08 to 10, 2015   – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Full review to come

A rugged island. Two people. Family secrets.
When Calla Maloney steps on the boat to Kangaroo Island, she’s filled with dread. Part of it is simple seasickness but the other part is pure trepidation. She’s not on a holiday but a mission: to track down her estranged brother, who she hasn’t seen since her family splintered two years before.
Firefighter Sam Hunter left the island twenty years ago and has made a habit out of staying as far away as he can get. But when his father’s illness forces him home, he finds himself playing bad cop to his dad and reluctant tour guide to a redhead with no sense of direction.
As Sam and Calla dig deeper into their long-buried family secrets, they discover that no one is an island and that opening up their hearts to love again might be the most dangerous thing they will ever do.

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Also by Victoria Purman on Book’d Out

 

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Review: Northern Heat by Helene Young

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Title: Northern Heat

Author: Helene Young

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin May 2015

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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.

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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

9780143799740

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.

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