My Favourite Reads of September 2019

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to My Favourite Reads for September 2019.

September was a month of fat books, with one over 800 pages, one at 500 and another at 450, I felt like I read seven books instead of five.

My favourite read of the month was beautiful, moving, and a wonderful, wonderful book. Stand by for some serious fangirling.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Glittering Hour by Iona GreyI couldn’t rave enough about Grey’s debut novel Letters to the Lost (my thoughts on that here). I adored that book and wondered how Grey could possibly top it, but she has.

The Glittering Hour is stunning. STUNNING!

Gorgeously written, it’s an early 20th century historical that brings to life the intervening war years, with all its social and political upheaval. Selina Lennox, the heroine, is a “Bright young thing” – basically an “it” girl. But her life changes when she meets artist and photographer Lawrence Weston, a man not of her class. What follows is a breathtaking, emotional journey that left me sobbing and wrung out and wanting to go back to the start and do it all again.

A must-read. No, seriously, get reading The Glittering Hour now. NOW.

Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz ZafonLabyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is the final instalment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series and ties together many of the mysteries of the first three novels.

At 800 pages it’s a monster, and I admit to having moments of wanting to put it down but I so adored the first two books in the series (The Shadow of the Wind was an incredible read as was The Angel’s Game) and the third book had so many loose ends that I had to see them tied up.

There are some deliciously creepy characters in Labyrinth of the Spirits and I love Ruiz Zafon’s gothic Barcelona. As with all his books, he really brings the city and era to life. It’s fascinating.

I look forward to seeing what he writes next. I hope it’s something like Marina (I talk about that here). That book is amazing.

The Ridealong by Michaelbrent CollingsThe Ridealong by Michaelbrent Collings

I am such a Michealbrent fan. His writing, storytelling and characters capture me every time. I keep wanting to pull apart his books to work out how he’s done things, but I’m always too caught up in the story to stop.

Like Terminal, my last Michaelbrent read (I rave about that here), The Ridealong was a cracking read. It’s a fast-past thriller featuring a teenage girl who goes for a ride-along with her cop dad. All pretty straightforward, except you know from the start that something is very wrong, and as the day progresses it just gets worse and worse.

So, so clever with its concluding twist. Highly recommended.

The Honourable Thief by Meaghan Wilson AnastasiosThe Honourable Thief by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios

Now, this was an interesting read. I thought The Honourable Thief was a stand-alone but it looks like it’s as series now, with another Benedict Hitchens story having just been released.

Another 20th century historical, The Honourable Thief follows the adventures of brilliant archaeologist Benedict Hitchens, a man once feted but who falls from grace in quite a spectacular way.

I enjoyed this a lot. It had some seriously cool moments, but I did find the hero difficult to like. I wonder if that’s me though, comparing Ben to Indiana Jones too much. Like Jones, Ben Hitchens is charming, sexy, brave and clever, and both have their flaws. Ben’s are a bit harder to forgive, though. For me, anyway. I’ve passed The Honourable Thief on to Jim to read and it’ll be interesting to hear his opinion.

Pilgrimage of Death by Sally SpencerPilgrimage of Death by Sally Spencer

I’ve been enjoying Spencer’s Inspector Blackstone series hugely (more on those here) so when Pilgrimage of Death came up on sale I snapped it up.

Pilgrimage of Death is narrated by Geoffrey Chaucer of The Canterbury Tales fame. I studied the tales in year 12 and loved it. Admittedly, it took some serious effort to get the hang of the language, but in the end, I found the Tales bawdy, funny, interesting and clever. Which is exactly how I found Pilgrimage of Death.

Chaucer calls this tale his “who-hath-done-it” and credits himself with creating a new genre. That’s what the book is – a historical whodunnit, featuring the pilgrims from The Canterbury Tales.

Great fun.

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What did you read in September that tickled your fancy?

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.

Did you enjoy the last few weeks of guests and giveaways? It was great fun, wasn’t it? There were some wonderful answers to Pamela Cook’s question on friendship and Anna Campbell’s celebration of swashbuckling was also a blast.

Today you have me again but keep your eyes peeled for more guests over coming weeks, some of whom write in the best genre of all – rural romance!

What’s been happening in the Hein house? Golf, that’s what. Well, calling the thing I’ve been doing golf is probably not entirely accurate, but I have been hauling a set of clubs around a golf course while hitting and chasing a little white ball.

Those who’ve been following this blog for a long time and remember Friday Feast, may also remember a little segment called “Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf”, which is saying of my dad’s. And, in his case, it’s true. The poor man is even more untalented than me.

Cathryn ready to golfAnyway, in that segment I used to talk about my golfing adventures. Like the time I gave myself a black eye or hit three balls into the water off the first tee on round three of the club championships. None of these things stopped me from playing, though. I loved the silly sport. When you spend a lot of your day parked in front of a computer it’s good to head out in the open air and get some exercise. I haven’t been able to do much of that this year but now my health is on the improve I’m making the effort to get out again.

And it’s good. The getting out, not the golf, and you have to start somewhere, don’t you?

I suppose it’s a bit like writing in that way. I’m still making careful progress on Scarlett and the Model Man but careful progress is still progress. I want this book to be the best it can be. Can’t let you lovely readers down!

As the title suggests, the heroine of Scarlett and the Model Man is Scarlett Ash. She’s an up-and-coming artist who’s gaining attention for her, er, unusual take on femininity.

Those of you who’ve read Eddie and the Show Queen will already know what I mean. For those who haven’t, here’s a small taste of Scarlett when we first meet her.

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Scarlett was as eye-popping as her artwork. Her clothes were simple – khaki camouflage-patterned cargo pants, heavy lace-up work boots, and a black, paint-splattered fine-wool jumper. But it was her hair, eyes and skin that made her spectacular. Everything seemed overdone, from the cascading dark curls to the greenness of her eyes and the porcelain beauty of her face. Dramatic and finely drawn, like her art, and probably just as complicated.

Eddie & the Show Queen coverAlice also suspected she was more than a little drunk. A cosy-covered teapot sat on a bench, along with a sugar bowl and a half-empty bottle of gin. Having greeted Mrs Wallace with undisguised mistrust and Alice with strange interest, Scarlett now paced the studio, sipping from a delicate teacup and sliding narrow glances at Mrs Wallace as the older lady flicked through canvases.

‘I don’t do free, as you well know, Audrey.’

Alice had no idea what the relationship between these two was, but the use of Mrs Wallace’s first name suggested a long association. She hoped that was a good sign.

‘This would be a favour.’ Mrs Wallace smiled in a way that reminded Alice of a politician. ‘To me.’

Scarlett’s gaze sharpened even further. ‘Calling one in, are you?’

Mrs Wallace’s expression remained benign.

Scarlett’s attention switched to Alice. She gave her the same up and down that she had on arrival. It didn’t seem critical, more curious. ‘Are you expecting to model for it?’

‘Model?’ Alice couldn’t help her glance at one of the more revealing canvases. ‘No. Not at all.’ Not those bits anyway.

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Watch out for more of Scarlett in the future as I start to share snippets from Scarlett and the Model Man to whet your appetite!

Eddie and the Show Queen is available now in ebook and print from these retailers:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

I have a limited number of Eddie and the Show Queen paperbacks available for direct purchase. If you’d like one of these personally signed editions, order now using this form. Orders also include a special Eddie and the Show Queen bookmark.

If you’d like to know more about Eddie and the Show Queen and how I came to write the story in Country Shows and Title Woes, the story behind Eddie and the Show Queen. You can also discover Five Secret Things about Eddie and the Show Queen in its release day blog post.

Never want to miss out on a new release? Join my newsletter team. It’s where all the cool people are!

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress and occasionally cajole author buddies into doing the same.

Like last week, we have another guest on Teaser Tuesday. A much-loved and highly entertaining guest too, but more on this special author in a minute.

First, news from the Hein house.

I’ve had more lovely feedback on Eddie and the Show Queen, which is incredibly heart-warming. If you’re after a personally signed copy, I have a few copies left in stock. They’re only $22AUD and that includes delivery to your Australian postal address and a super sparkly bookmark. Simply fill out this form and I’ll shoot you an invoice.

Scarlett and the Model Man is moving steadily along. Not as fast as I’d like but we’re getting there. I think I mentioned last week that I was considering changing the hero’s name because it clashed with a previous minor character’s. Well, I’ve decided it’s too embedded in my idea of him and I’m going to keep it. For now, anyway. These things are never set in concrete!

Now to our guest.

Please give a very warm welcome back to Teaser Tuesday favourite, historical romance author Anna Campbell. Rah! We love having Anna on. Her posts are always fun and interesting and her snippets super tantalising, and she usually generously offers a giveaway. Will she this time? You’ll have to read to the end to find out.

Here’s Anna to tell you about her new release and share a juicy excerpt of her sparkling new release, The Highlander’s Defiant Captive.

Anna Campbell author - thumbnailHi Cathryn!

Thank you for having me as your guest today. I’m so excited to be here to tell you and your readers all about my latest release, The Highlander’s Defiant Captive, Book 4 in my Lairds Most Likely series.

I’m playing in a different era with this romance set in the late 17th century. No Regency polish on this one, but a full-blooded tale of feuding clans and abducted maidens and a gallant, if arrogant hero who finds a spirited lassie has put a spanner in the works when it comes to his plans for establishing peace in the glens. As you read the excerpt, which takes place just after Callum Mackinnon, the Laird of Achnasheen, snatches Bonny Mhairi Drummond away from her home, imagine Maureen O’Hara and Jason Momoa as my two protagonists. It’s such a pity that there’s no time travel – those two would really strike sparks off each other. Sparks that promise to turn into a might conflagration of passion before my story is over!

And make sure you read to the end because there’s a great giveaway and a chance to talk old-time Hollywood swashbucklers!

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The door to the tower room opened silently, and Callum stepped inside. From the corner of his vision, something large and dark swung toward him. He had a second to release a grunt of shock, as he staggered under the blow to his head.

Pain shuddered through him. He’d barely registered what happened when another blow struck his temple. Seeing stars, he slumped back against the door.

“What the devil?” he grated out, instinctively reaching for his assailant.

Through reeling confusion, his hands closed on soft female flesh. Over the ringing in his ears, he heard a furious exhalation. When the girl wriggled to escape him, it was too much for his precarious balance. He tumbled to the floor, dragging his captive with him.

Something thudded to the ground near his pounding head as a slender body collapsed on top of him with another oof of furious breath.

The Highlander’s Defiant Captive by Anna CampbellHis grip tightened as he forced his eyes open. “Lie still, plague take ye.”

She wrenched far enough away for him to see brilliant blue eyes promising him injury. “Let me go.”

Even in his extremity, Callum noticed how perfectly Mhairi Drummond’s body fitted against his. Without thinking, he ran his hand down her back. For one vibrant second, she remained still under his touch. Then she gave a disgusted exclamation and twisted to bring her knee up.

He gave a surprised exhalation and wrenched out from under her before she made his hopes of children an impossibility.

“My God, you’re a wildcat.” Admiration rang in his voice.

“Ye patronizing pig,” she snarled, scrambling out of his hold.

She was panting for breath. His clearing vision settled on that heaving bosom. By heaven, Mhairi Drummond was a lot of woman, and his stirring interest firmed into a determination to win her and keep her and turn all that passion and spirit to his causes.

Callum lay where he was on the priceless carpet as he took stock of what had just happened. A careful turn of his aching head revealed the assault weapon. The metal bucket that had held peat to feed the fire blazing behind her.

Another careful turn of his head, and he encountered Mhairi’s glower. She’d staggered to her feet and stood glaring at him with an expression that told him his admiration wasn’t reciprocated. In fact, she looked like she wanted to carve out his gizzards and feed them to the crows.

The last thing he noticed – sign enough of how this extraordinary lassie turned his brain to porridge – was the small dirk clutched in her hand. It was familiar. He didn’t need to check that his knife was missing from his belt.

“The devil, that was quick.” She had clever hands. He hadn’t even felt her steal it. He forced his imagination away from just what such clever hands could to do to his body. “Give me back my dirk before ye do someone a mischief.”

“I ken how to use this.”

Watching her confidence burgeon, he sat up slowly. “I’m sure ye do.”

As he worked out how best to deal with her insurrection, he studied her. He should have expected something like this. He’d allowed his optimism to lull him into a false sense of security when she responded so calmly, if negatively, to his plans for her. And Jean had told him she’d accepted the servants’ help with cold politeness, but without causing trouble.

When he knew trouble was the very blood that flowed through her veins.

“Get up.”

Callum didn’t obey, but continued to regard her steadily from where he sat with his back against the door. When he’d brought her to Achnasheen, she’d look tired and worn, despite her best efforts with his comb. Tired and worn, but unbowed.

A bath, a few hours of rest, and some hot food had restored her fire. She was dressed as befitted the lady of his lands, too, in a blue silk gown that belonged to his sister who was around her size. The vivid color made her skin look like rich cream.

He took in that imperious pointed chin. Great Jehovah, she was indomitable. The rich red hair was arranged away from her face and neck, revealing the pure line of her jaw. A jaw set with stalwart determination.

“I said get up.” Her voice was hard and steady.

He arched his eyebrows. “Or what?”

“I am armed.”

“Och, Blind Freddy can see that.”

“You’re going to come downstairs with me and escort me to the stables. You’ll give me the swiftest horse ye have, and you’ll tell your foul minions to open the gates to let me out.”

“Will I indeed?”

When he didn’t immediately leap to obey her, uncertainty flashed in her eyes. “Aye.”

“That’s a gey powerful influence ye lend to yon wee bodkin, mistress.”

“It might be wee, but it’s sharp enough to do ye damage, Black Callum.”

“Nae doubt.”

She took a step closer. “Move.”

Callum raised one knee and rested his good arm on it. All the bumping and battling made the arm she’d already cut ache like hell. If this wooing went on too long, he’d be a physical wreck by the time he got this lass into bed.

He let himself smile, although his head still rang like a peal of bells. “Och, Mhairi, you’re going to make a braw lady for Achnasheen.”

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What a hoot!!! I bet that has whetted your appetite. It certainly has mine. Don’t let this Scot get away. Order your copy of The Highlander’s Defiant Captive today from any of these retailers.

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Want more of the Laird of Achnasheen and his bonny lass? You’ll find a longer excerpt on Anna’s website.

Has Anna come through with a giveaway for you? Indeedy, she has! Here’s Anna again to tell you about it.

GIVEAWAY!

As you can probably tell, I’ve taken every opportunity for my hero to buckle The Highlander’s Defiant Captive by Anna Campbellhis swash. I’m a huge fan of old-style Hollywood historical adventures like The Adventures of Robin Hood or Ben-Hur. Are you an Errol Flynn fan? Or is Charlton Heston at his steely-jawed best your pick? Do you have a favourite historical movie? Both of those would be among mine!

I’ve got a Kindle download of The Highlander’s Defiant Captive for someone who comments today. No geographical restrictions.

Good luck in the draw!

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Ooh (or should that be och?), I do love a bit of swashbuckling! My favourite is “The Musketeers” television series starring Tom Burke and others. Not old-style Hollywood and, I admit, silly sometimes, but highly watchable. All that metal and leather

What about you? What’s your favourite bit of swashbuckling? Is it “The Musketeers” like me or maybe your darling hubby, when he playfights in his pyjamas? Swashbuckling can have many forms!

Share your favourite in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a Kindle ebook of The Highlander’s Defiant Captive.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time, 4th October 2019. Open internationally.

If you’d like to learn more about Anna and her wonderful novels, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @AnnaCampbelloz.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.

As is the case today!

But more on our lovely guest in a moment.

Eddie and the Show Queen appears to be giving lots of people the warm-fuzzies which is wonderful to hear and gives me even bigger warm fuzzies in return.

For those who have already savoured the delights of Eddie and are hankering for the next instalment, I can assure you I’m working hard on Scarlett and the Model Man. This week I had the horrible realisation that I might need to change the hero’s name so it doesn’t clash with a previous character. I hate that. I love the name I’ve chosen for him. But we shall see. There yet might be a way to make fun of the similarity and save it. Wish me luck.

Ah, this writing biz throws up some conundrums sometimes. Half the fun!

Speaking of fun

If you’re a rural romance fan (and who isn’t?), then you’ll be thrilled with our guest today. Pamela Cook galloped into the genre with her debut novel Blackwattle Lake and continued her success with Essie’s Way, Close to Home, and The Crossroads.

Pamela is now branching out into the women’s fiction market with her gorgeous new release Cross My Heart, hitting online stores in just a few days on September 26th. Never fear, country lovers, there’s still plenty of rural and small-town (and horsey!) goodness to be had, and today Pamela is on hand to tell you more about it, tease you with a lovely excerpt and maybe, if you’re good little Vegemites, offer a GIVEAWAY!

Please give Pamela a hearty Teaser Tuesday welcome.

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Author Pamela CookHi Cathryn and All,

Thanks so much for having me as a guest on Teaser Tuesday. I love reading the excerpts on the blog and getting a taste of so many great books. This week I’m celebrating the release of my fifth novel, a women’s fiction title called Cross My Heart. It’s the story of Tessa De Santis, a thirty-something career woman who becomes foster-mother to her oldest friend’s daughter, and is haunted by a promise she should never have kept. This one is similar-but-different to my previous rural fiction titles in that it still has a gorgeous country setting, a smattering of horses but focuses very much on the main character’s journey without any romantic elements (although there could be a teensy hint of things to come).

Cross My Heart is available on all major online retailers and signed copies via my website. To celebrate the release I’m giving away a copy to one lucky Teaser Tuesday reader who will be selected randomly from the comments. So be in it and please share the chance to win with your friends.

I hope you enjoy reading this excerpt.

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Something crinkled under the sole of her foot as she swung her legs over the edge of the bed: the mail she’d been too tired to deal with last night. She gathered it up and shuffled through the envelopes. As predicted most were bank statements addressed to them both, one was an electricity bill— overdue—and a few were for TDS. A thrill tripped through her veins. It was the same whenever she saw the acronym, especially in logo-form, the letters entwined with a rough sketch of a heart: Team-Driven Solutions. A play on her own initials joined by the heart of her own human resources consultancy, which just happened to be going gangbusters. Not bad for a thirty-five-year-old. Even if it was Plan B. One last envelope fell from her lap as she stood. This one addressed to Ms T. De Santis, her full name, and while it looked official, it didn’t seem to be a bill. She slid her finger under the seal and ripped, unfolding the single-page document.

     FACS, Department of Family and Community Services.

Cross My Heart by Pamela Cook     Why would they be writing to her? Her stomach hollowed as she skimmed over the first few lines, and she dropped back onto the bed. She needed to read from the beginning, but each word sucked her a little further out of her own skin, so by the time she reached the end of the letter she was watching herself from somewhere outside her body. She stared down at the signature and the department-speak at the bottom of the page, the muscles in her chest tightening as if a too-small elastic band had been wrapped too many times around her heart.

     This could not be happening.

     No.

     It was not happening.

     She folded the paper back into the torn envelope and placed it deliberately on the bedside table, pinching the points of her elbows tightly as she crossed her arms, holding herself together.

     ‘Tess?’ Josh’s voice came to her through a cotton-wool fog.

     ‘What’s wrong?’

     Somehow he was right there, standing by her side, already showered, the brown waves of his hair wet and towel-ruffled.

     ‘It’s …’ She tried to pick up the letter, but it fell from her grasp like a hot coal. Her hand flew to her mouth. If she didn’t say the words then they wouldn’t be true, would they?

     ‘Tess … what is it?’

     As much as she didn’t want it to be real it was right there at her feet, black print blurring into a haze of grey. She pressed her fingers against her palms, scoring the soft pads of flesh with her nails.

     ‘It’s Skye.’ The name was foreign on her tongue after all these years, like a rare fruit she’d tasted long ago, in another lifetime, and then forgotten. But it wasn’t as strange as the answer to Josh’s question. It came out quickly in a strangled cough, a bitter seed she couldn’t stand to swallow. ‘She’s dead.’

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Hooly-dooly, what a teaser! I bet that itchy buy finger is a-twitching right now. Cross My Heart releases September 26th but why not secure your copy today with a pre-order? Simple to do with any of these retailers:

Booktopia | Bookdepository | Angus & Robertson

Amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Now, as mentioned above and because Pamela is lovely and generous, and because we adore them, we’re having a

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Cross My Heart, simply share with us in the comments a favourite memory of a friend and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Easy!

One of my favourite memories is playing mud baths in the backyard with my girlfriend Megan and then being rinsed off in the old concrete laundry sink. There’s a great photo of us somewhere, grinning naughtily in our pink bikinis and covered in mud. Must dig that one out.

We’re still great friends, even though we haven’t seen each other for over 20 years. Special friends are like that though, aren’t they?

What cool memories do you have of friendship? Share for your chance to win a copy of Cross My Heart.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday, 27th September 2019. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Pamela and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @PamelaCookAU.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally con author buddies into doing the same.

What a week in the Hein house! The release of a new book is always a blast and it was great to have Eddie and the Show Queen out in the wild. As I mentioned in its Secret Things blog post, this book was a long time coming and it was both a relief and a thrill to see it finally published and being read.

Thank you so much to all who have already read Eddie and said lovely things about it. It’s been heart-warming and humbling and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Eddie and Alice have brought you smiles. Making you feel good is my writerly aim!

Speaking of writerly aims, I have my fingers to the keyboard grindstone with Scarlett and the Model Man, the next Levenham Love Story. Watch out for more news on that one over coming months. And watch out for some faaaaaabulous upcoming guests on Teaser Tuesday. You won’t want to be missing these authors and books.

Today you have me again and Eddie. Because I love him. He’s gorgeous and kind and funny and so mad for Alice he’ll do anything to win her back. Totally sighworthy.

A little snippet today. I don’t want to spoil things for those who have yet to read him!

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Eddie stared at her, feeling stupidly dopey, and his smile stuck at high beam. She smiled back, blue eyes luminous.

Eddie & the Show Queen coverProud. She was proud of him. He wanted to yell it to the room, but all he could do was grin while his heart ping-ponged around his chest and his belly tightened with want.

The moment clung. With each ticking second anticipation surged. Alice was flush-cheeked and glowing and looking at him like she used to, in the days when she loved him and he could do no wrong.

This was his chance, he was sure of it.

‘Alice,’ he said softly, reaching out to touch her.

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You want Eddie, oh yes you do! Grab your copy today from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

I have a limited number of Eddie and the Show Queen paperbacks available for direct purchase. If you’d like one of these personally signed editions, order now using this form. Orders also include a special Eddie and the Show Queen bookmark.

If you missed last week’s Secret Things release day blog post, you can check that out here. Want another excerpt? Visit its book page. Discover how I came to write the story in Country Shows and Title Woes, the story behind Eddie and the Show Queen.

Mark your diaries for next week, when Teaser Tuesday will host a special guest!

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My Favourite Reads of August 2019

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to My Favourite Reads for August 2019.

Between the Romance Writers of Australia conference (check out my piccies here), a road trip to South Australia and Eddie and the Show Queen’s release, I didn’t have a lot of reading time in August.

What I did manage was good though, with my favourite being…

Terminal by Michaelbrent Collings

Terminal by Michaelbrent Collings coverRegular readers know how much I love a good horror story and Michaelbrent Collings produces beauties. I really enjoyed The Deep (my thoughts on that here) and Darkbound (my thoughts here) but Terminal was a ripper.

Fantastically gory, Terminal focuses on a group of strangers who find themselves suddenly (and suspiciously) fog-bound in a bus terminal. Their night goes from average to weird, to downright terrifying in quite innovative ways.

I loved the characterisations in this. They were vivid and compelling, and every single person was carrying a secret that could play a major role in their survival.

Clever, thrilling and icky. What’s not to love?

As an aside, Michaelbrent Collings has a TED talk called Confessions of a Supervillain: The Psychosis of Lies. I found it entertaining, heartfelt and uplifting. Worth a look.

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Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer coverMatters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer

If you love rural romance and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice then Matters of the Heart is is for you!

The Bennets are a hard-working Western Australian farming family. Daughter Lizzie, our heroine, runs the farm with enthusiasm and expertise. When Charles Bingley lands at Netherfield Park, the property next door, the district is abuzz. He and his friend Will Darcy certainly turn heads at the local dance but finding Will particularly unfriendly, Lizzie remains unimpressed.

How these two find their way to happiness is cleverly done. Fiona has reimagined Austen’s plot for a contemporary audience, flavouring it with her own voice and freshening it further with lots of the authentic rural life that her fans love.

Watch this sell its socks off!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox coverThe Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

This was an enjoyable American-set historical novel with a nice Gothic atmosphere.

Hammered by scandal, the Montrose family flee their comfortable lives in Boston for their summer mansion. Despite its amenities, Willow hall is a far from happy place. It has secrets, as do the three Montrose girls, Catherine, Lydia and little Emmeline. As time passes, those secrets begin to emerge, threatening them all.

Besides the interesting story and lovely writing, The Witch of Willow Hall also featured a sweet romantic thread for extra goodness.

The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey coverThe Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey

I have author buddy and regular Teaser Tuesday guest Anna Campbell to thank for putting me on to this one, and I’m glad she did because it was an easy, fun book perfect for reading while on the road.

The Gilded Shroud is the first in the Regency-era Lady Fan Mystery series and it’s an entertaining introduction. Ottilia Draycott has just started as companion to Dowager Lady Polbrook when the mistress of the house is found murdered. A strong woman, with excellent observation skills, Ottilia soon makes herself invaluable in the investigation, endearing herself to the family and the rather delicious Lord Francis Fanshawe.

One for cosy mystery fans!

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What have you enjoyed reading lately?

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It’s EDDIE AND THE SHOW QUEEN’s Release Day!

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Are you ready for Eddie meme 2

Crack that French champagne and break open the good chocolate because it’s Eddie and the Show Queen’s release day. Rah!

Oh, I hope you fall in love with Eddie and Alice the way I have. These two are adorable and deserve to be happy. Not so easy to achieve given their painful past and made even harder by them being in competition for the inaugural Levenham Wine Show Crown, but Eddie is determined to win Eddie & the Show Queen coverback the heart of the girl he never stopped loving.

Nothing like a man on a mission!

Anyway, who wants an easy to achieve happy-ever-after? All the reading fun comes from watching characters struggle and suffer. ‘Tis one of the great joys of romance.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who pre-ordered a copy of Eddie and the Show Queen. For those who love the thrill of the release day one-click, it’s time for you to exercise your finger. Click-swipe-tap now to secure your copy from any of these retailers.

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

I have a limited number of Eddie and the Show Queen paperbacks available for direct purchase. If you’d like one of these personally signed editions, order now using this form. Strictly first in, first served. Orders also include a special Eddie and the Show Queen bookmark.

Now, as has come tradition on release day, here are some secret things about the book.

Five Secret Things About Eddie and the Show Queen

1/. Eddie was originally…

an Edward but we had a plumber come to our house who was an Edmond. He was such a lovely (and rather dishy) country lad that I decided to pinch his name.

2/. Regular ‘Secret Things’ followers will know…

that most of my books have a theme song, sometimes several theme songs. Eddie and the Show Queen’s is ‘I’m Not Over’ by Swedish-American alternative rock band Carolina Liar.

It fits Eddie’s feelings perfectly.

Also on the playlist was ‘Wildest Dreams’ by Taylor Swift, ‘Still Loving You’ by the Scorpions, ‘Just Give Me a Reason (featuring Nate Ruess)’ by Pink, ‘Keep Me Coming Back’ by Casey Barnes, and ‘Never Ever (featuring Sarah)’ by the Rubens (explicit lyrics). Oh, and the German version of ‘Mamy Blue’ by Ricky Shayne for no other reason than I love it.

3/. This book holds the record for…

taking the longest amount of time to write. I should have had the first draft done in six weeks, instead it took me thirteen months. There were two main reasons for this. One, it was meant to be a novella but the story took more words to tell than I anticipated and, two, 2018 (and most of 2019) turned out to be a total annus horribilis. I spent a fair whack of it in hospital sorting out a serious medical issue, and writing proved a major challenge. On the road to recovery now, so all good!

4/. I originally wanted to…

call the story Eddie and the Showgirl because it was to be about a fierce battle for the country showgirl title at the Levenham Agricultural and Horticultural Society annual show. I had to bin it though. The definition of showgirl varies around the world, and I didn’t want readers thinking Alice was an adult dancer when what I was aiming for was a representative for the local A&H Society.

5/. Eddie and the Show Queen features…

several favourite characters such as Granny B (who somehow manages to push her way into most Levenham Love Story releases), Chrissy James (Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy), Eddie’s brother Harry (Summer and the Groomsman, Wayward Heart) and Danny and Nick Burroughs (Santa and the Saddler, Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy).

It also introduces some lovely new characters for at least three of whom I have story ideas – Paige, Tiffany and Scarlett. Yep, the Levenham Love Story series has more to come, starting with Scarlett and the Model Man which I’m working on right now. Keep an eye out for that on in 2020.

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I hope you enjoyed these insights into Eddie and the Show Queen. Remember, you can discover even more about how I came to write Alice and Eddie’s romance in Country Shows and Title Woes – The Story Behind Eddie and the Show Queen.

If you’d like to read an excerpt, you’ll find one on Eddie and the Show Queen’s book page. For a longer sample, grab a preview from your favourite ebook retailer.

Here are those buy links again:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

Or purchase a personally signed print copy direct from me via this form.

Thanks to everyone who has helped get Eddie and the Show Queen onto virtual shelves and your hot little hands, including my editor Alex Nahlous from Alexandra Nahlous Editing Services, cover designer Kellie at Book Cover By Design, and the good buddies who make this writing life such a joy, in particular Annie West, Michelle Douglas and Jaye Ford (aka Janette Paul) who were a huge support during my health woes. Friends who bring picnics and big smiles to your hospital bed are special. Last but never, ever least, my darling Jim. The man who is my rock.

Happy reading everyone!

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress and sometimes twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.

This time next week it’ll be Eddie and the Show Queen’s release day. Wahoo!!! Yes, my lovelies, there are now only SEVEN sleeps until Eddie hits the world. I can’t wait. This book is so sweet and funny (if I do say so myself) and I think you’ll fall in love with Eddie and Alice as much as I have.

It should come as no surprise, with the book’s release so close, that today’s Teaser Tuesday will be Eddie-centric but before we move onto Eddie gorgeousness, did you catch Sunday’s This Writing Life post on the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference? There are loads of piccies and some thoughts from me about the conference. If you want to peek at what romance authors get up to when they get together, check out the post here.

Did you know that Summer and the Groomsman is Apple Books Free Book of the Week in the Australian store? Yup, freeeeeee!

APPLE BOOKS REVIEW

“Each week, we feature a free and entertaining Book of the Week. What Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn Heinimmediately sets this rural romance apart is Cathryn Hein’s commitment to detail. In the fictional South Australian town of Levenham, around the budding connection between burly local Harry Argyle and blow-in beautician Summer Taylor, Hein builds relationships and connections in a way that may lull you into thinking you’re a resident. You’ll pick up a fair bit of local knowledge on looking after horses, repairing fences and what happens when a male customer gets too excited during a spa treatment. If you haven’t read Hein’s other Levenham-set romances, this is the perfect welcome. And if you have, welcome back.”

Summer and the Groomsman features Eddie’s older (and slightly taller – a fact the irks Eddie no end) brother Harry. Unlike Eddie, who could charm the socks off anyone, Harry is desperately shy when it comes to women. How he finds happiness with Summer is a hoot.

If you don’t already have Summer and the Groomsman, why not grab a freebie while you can? Be quick though. Offer ends September 7th.

Back to Eddie

With next Tuesday being release day for Eddie and the Show Queen, there will be no Teaser Tuesday for that day. Instead, as has become tradition with my releases, you’ll get a Secret Things post, revealing lots of little titbits about the writing of the book, including its fabulous (and very apt) theme song.

Now for our juicy snippet. In this scene, Eddie is quizzed by the Wine Show Crown committee about his latest fundraising dare.

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‘Eddie,’ said Tiffany, stepping forward with her tablet. ‘We just need to check your next dare. You’ve called it …’ Colour flooded Eddie & the Show Queen coverher cheeks as she paused to read the screen. ‘Wax Me Happy?’

‘Yeah. Although I’m not sure about the happy bit. More like miserable after a full body wax.’

Mrs Wallace, who until then had been looking bored, perked up.

‘Full?’ asked Sarah in a high-toned voice.

‘Uh-huh. I was hoping I could get away with just my chest, but the boys insisted on full and the money on offer was too good to knock back.’

Stunned silence fell.

Eddie’s grin faded as he registered everyone’s faces. ‘What?’

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He he. I love this scene and I think you will too. Find out what happens next by ordering your own copy of Eddie and the Show Queen. Out September 10th and available in paperback and ebook from these stores:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

If you’d like to learn more about Eddie and the Show Queen and how I came to write this story, check out Country Shows and Title Woes, The Story Behind Eddie and the Show Queen. For another snippet, check out its book page here.

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This Writing Life: RWA Melbourne 2019

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It’s taken a bit longer than I anticipated, but the promised This Writing Life post on the recent Romance Writers of Australia annual conference is now here.

I do have a good excuse, and it goes by the name of Eddie and the Show Queen which releases in only… *takes a deep breath* nine days. I am so excited and can’t wait for you to read about Eddie and Alice’s race for the Show Queen crown, and their absolutely gorgeous romance.

Before we get into some lovely piccies, I’d also like to remind you that, in a super special promo, Summer and the Groomsman is this week’s Apple Books Free Book of the Week. Yep, you can pick up the Eddie’s brother’s story for free on  Apple Books. How cool is that?

This offer ends September 7th, so grab it now if you don’t have a copy or share the freebie love by telling your romance lovin’ friends.

Right. The conference.

In one word: brilliant.

Lanyard and program RWA 19

Lanyard and program RWA 19

I loved it. Now, I usually say that about Romance Writers of Australia conferences because I adore catching up with writing buddies. I also always come home with some writing or business gem that I can use going forward. But, like everything, some conferences are better than others and this one was a good ‘un.

There were three highlights for me (other than the partying with friends). Nalini Singh’s Polish and Shine Beyond the First Draft was full of great tips for making books sing. It was so good I wish I’d done her session on Writing Novellas too, but I was very glad I did Melissa Storm’s workshop on Winning Ad Strategies, which was on at the same time. That was my second highlight, even though I’m still trying to get my head around the information. The final highlight was Amy Andrews’ hilarious and uplifting Closing Keynote. She had the room in stitches and earned a well-deserved ovation at the end.

My biggest takeaway was to do with advertising. It seems a ‘must’ now, rather than a ‘would like’ item for my to-do list. It’s not easy for readers to find books these days because there are simply so many. Not all of us subscribe to our favourite author’s newsletter or blog, and social media is hard when Facebook gives our page posts little reach, unless we pay to have it extended.

To be honest, the thought of advertising makes me want to curl up in a ball. I’ve dabbled a few times with Facebook and Amazon ads and not enjoyed the process, but life’s full of things we suffer rather than enjoy. Sit-ups come immediately to mind. Pap smears another.

My gripe with advertising is that it distracts me from writing. And I have to do maths. Simple maths, admittedly, but maths all the same. Yuck.

This from a girl with a science degree and a post-grad in business management.

There are three solutions. One, ignore the whole thing and just write and rely on other strategies and word-of-mouth. Two, contract it out. Three, train the man of the house, an engineer who is very good at maths and for whom spreadsheets hold no fear.

Methinks he’d rather play golf, though. So would I.

One to ponder

My sincerest thanks to the conference co-ordinator Tanya Kean and her team Donna Munro, Joanne Dannon, Kristine Charles, Nardia Sheriff, Eliza Renton, Di Inglis, Wendy Davis, Savannah Blaize, Melanie Coles, Rachael Howlett and Alison Stuart. An excellent job done by all.

Now for the bit you’ve been hankering for: piccies!

The Cocktail Party

As always, the cocktail party was a hoot. This year’s theme was Twisted Fairy Tales. As you can see, there were some very twisted costumes indeed!

Author Paula Roe at the cocktail party, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Paula Roe

Harlequin publisher Rachael Donovan with author Alison Stuart, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Harlequin publisher Rachael Donovan with author Alison Stuart

Authors Amanda Knight and Emily Madden, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Authors Amanda Knight and Emily Madden

Young adult author Bec Nicholas, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Young adult author Bec Nicholas

Elizabeth Duffield and Ebony McKenna, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Authors Elizabeth Duffield and Ebony McKenna

Leisl Leighton, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Leisl Leighton

Lisa Ireland and Rachael Johns, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Authors Lisa Ireland and Rachael Johns

Author Michelle Douglas, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Michelle Douglas

Author Sara Hartland, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Sara Hartland

Author Shannon Curtis, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Shannon Curtis

Author Amy Andrews, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Amy Andrews

Breakout Sessions

Emily Roach's breakout session on Standing Out on Social Media, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Emily Roach’s breakout session on Standing Out on Social Media

Melissa Storm's breakout session on Winning Ad Strategies, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Melissa Storm’s breakout session on Winning Ad Strategies

Nalini Singh's talk on writing series, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Nalini Singh’s talk on writing series.

Gala Dinner and Miscellaneous

Cathryn Hein at the RWA Gala Dinner, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Me at the Gala Dinner. Those late nights were catching up…

DB Tait, Trish Morey and Marion Lennox, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

DB Tait, Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Amy Andrews receiving her life membership, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Amy Andrews receiving her life membership

Gatecrashing Rachael Johns' book club live broadcast, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Gatecrashing Rachael Johns’ book club live broadcast

Conference goodie bag contents, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Conference goodie bag contents

Amy Andrews delivering her hilarious closing keynote speech, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Amy Andrews delivering her hilarious closing keynote speech

Cathryn Hein, the Monday after the conference

Me, the Monday after the conference, looking a tad red-eyed.

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I hope you enjoyed that brief behind the scenes peek at the RWA Conference. Remember, if you’re an aspiring writer, Romance Writers of Australia conferences are the jam. Learn more about this fabulous organisation and all it offers here.

Before I go, please allow me this gratuitous plug for Eddie and the Show Queen.

Here’s what fellow author Michelle Douglas had to say about the book:

I finished this on Friday night and it was an utter dream of a story. I loved Eddie so hard, wanted to be best friends with Alice (and Paige), the opening made me laugh, and the ending made me swoon. Just…perfect. Highly recommended!

Eddie and the Show Queen releases September 10th. Pre-order your copy today from your favourite online bookstore or these retailers.

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

And if you’re shopping on iBooks, remember to pick up your free copy of Summer and the Groomsman, which features Eddie’s shy brother Harry.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and sometimes sweet-talk author friends into doing the same.

Which is what I’ve done today, but more on our delightful guest and her faaaaabulous book shortly. There is news to be shared.

Tension is rising in the Hein house!

There are now only FOURTEEN sleeps until Eddie and the Show Queen releases. I can’t wait. This story is adorable, if I do say so myself, with lots of laughs, a great sense of community, and lovely lashings of romance. Eddie’s fundraising “dares” still make me smile whenever I think of them.

If you haven’t already, pre-order your copy in ebook and print from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

Also, the bargain ebook price for Wayward Heart ends this week (1st September). Make sure you grab your copy before the promo runs out. You’ll find all the buy links here.

On the work-in-progress front, Scarlett and the Model Man had a bit of a setback last week when I realised I’d taken a wrong turn, but we’re back on track now. Writing can be funny like that for me. Except for nutting out the black moment (aka the climax), I’m not much of a plotter. I do some plotting but often I just write away and let the characters take me where they want. As long as they end up at the black moment then it’s fine. Sometimes, though, they go places they shouldn’t and I have to rein them in. Something Scarlett doesn’t appreciate. She’s very headstrong!

Enough of writing, let’s get on to the best bit and why we’re here.

Today on Teaser Tuesday, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Mel A Rowe. I’ll let Mel tell you a little about herself but I’m going to give a big wahoo to an author who has Aussie Rules footballers in her books (check out The Football Whisperer here). Sexiest sportsmen evah. In particular if they wear the red and white of my beloved Sydney Swans.

But I digress

Mel has a beautiful new rural romance out called The Art of Dust. Isn’t that a fabulous title? You’d buy it for that alone, but the book itself sounds wonderful too. It’s a sweet second-chance small-town romance – just what we love.

The Art of Dust is book one in Mel’s new Elsie Creek series, in which you’ll discover the essence of the rugged and romantic outback of Australia’s Northern Territory.

Did you hear that? Rugged. Romantic. Outback. That’s book-lovin’ hook central and that’s without mentioning small-town setting or the second-chance romance. You are going to want this, oh yes you are!

So read on and let Mel tell you more about The Art of Dust. There’s a wonderful excerpt for you to enjoy and, if you read right through to the end, you might even find a giveaway.

Here’s Mel!

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Mel A Rowe authorIt’s a place where they say there are more cattle and crocodiles than people. Filled with over two thirds of Australia’s tropical bird life, with air is so fresh and free of any man-made toxins your sinuses would think they’re in heaven. Just down the track from Kakadu National Park, which interestingly enough, I rarely ever visit.

Hi there, I’m Mel A ROWE, and I live in the Top End region of the Northern Territory (NT). It’s a unique part of Australia that very few people seem to know about. Although I’ve worked and travelled intimately throughout the north’s remote outback regions, it’d take another ten lifetimes to discover all of her secrets. Just check out my Instagram feed, it’s practically all about my backyard

Oh, wait, we’re here to talk about one of my books, not me! Oops.

Don’t leave just yet—coz the good bits just about to begin.

(*clears throat)

Thank you, Cathryn (I’m a huge, HUGE, fan) and to you, dear reader for making it this far down the page!

Please allow to me introduce you to

(*drumroll….)

THE ART OF DUST

The Art of Dust by Me A Rowe collage of reviews

Where you’ll discover the essence of the rugged and romantic outback of Australia’s Northern Territory in this small-town romance series of Elsie Creek.

 

Kat drove their hire car through the cattle herd and continued along the open highway that stretched like a never-ending black carpet. It sliced through the centre of red dirt scrublands, with the railway line running alongside. All heading for the tiny Northern Territory town, dead ahead.

They passed rolling fields of drying grass waving in the breeze like a huge green sea. Tall gum trees crested hills that kissed the cerulean skyline where wallabies lazed in their shade, hiding from the late afternoon sun. The familiar countryside generated an electrical hum beneath Kat’s skin. She was glad this long drive was almost over.

The Art of Dust by Mel A Rowe coverThen the hard part would begin.

Again, the weight of dread slammed heavily across her shoulder blades.

‘Can’t wait to go bushwalking with you, Mummy.’ Kaytlyn stared out the passenger window as she clicked the heels of her new hiking boots, peeking out from the edge of her tutu.

Kat hadn’t hiked in years. ‘Tell me again, please, what are the rules of walking anywhere out here?’

‘Always take a hat, a water bottle, sunscreen, snacks for the trail, and tell someone where you’re going. Carry a big stick to smack the ground to scare snakes and goannas getting suntans across the tracks. Don’t use the stick to poke down holes, coz the scorpions and spiders can kill you. Don’t climb trees that don’t have green ants on ‘em coz they’ll have white ants that eat trees inside out, so they’ll break. Don’t play near fruit bats coz they can make you very, very sick. Don’t pat the cattle coz of their horns…um, am I missing something?’

‘Water. What did I tell you about the water? It’s the most important,’—and terrifying— ‘part.’

‘Oh, I’m never ever allowed to go swimming in any of the water holes, billabongs, rivers, lakes, streams or seas, and I have to stay back from the water’s edge coz the man-eating crocodiles like to eat children for lunch.’

The place didn’t sound like fun at all. ‘Are you okay with all that?’ Kat wasn’t.

‘I can’t wait.’

Can you?

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I bet they can’t, Mel. In which case, lovely readers, you’ll need to be clickety-clicking!

Purchase your copy of The Art of Dust today from:

Amazon.comamazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Other Online Bookstores

As was hinted at in the introduction, we have a

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an ebook copy of Mel’s gorgeous outback romance The Art of Dust, tell us what animal roams the top end region of Northern Territory that Mel might’ve have missed in the teaser.

Ooh, tricky. There were lots of animals mentioned in the excerpt so what’s left… hmm

Get your thinking caps on and when you’ve decided on an animal share it in the comments and we’ll pop you into the draw to win an ebook copy of The Art of Dust.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday, 30th August 2019 AEST. Open internationally. Ebook only.

Dare to learn more about Mel and her books? You can visit her website at MelAROWE.com. And, if she isn’t on some random outback road trip, fumbling with her camera while annoying her family with her bad singing, you can also connect with Mel on Instagram –  be sure to say ‘Hi.’ She’d love to meet you.

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