Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series 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.

You may have noticed that Teaser Tuesday was absent last week. That’s because it was Elsa’s Stand’s release week and you scored the traditional Secret Things post on Monday instead of a Teaser Tuesday. Did you also catch Friday’s post, Sexy Songs From Elsa’s Stand? When you’ve finished here, go visit, hit ‘play’ on the video and crank the sound up. You’ll have a ball I promise.

As of last Thursday, with the release of Fiona McArthur’s Holly’s Heart, all the books in our brilliant Outback Brides continuity are out. You know what you can do now? You can binge read the whole series, in ebook or print. Rah!

But this is a Teaser Tuesday, and that means we need a juicy snippet to tempt you with. We’ve already had excerpts from Kelly Hunter’s Maggie’s Run and Victoria Purman’s Belle’s Secret, and multiple excerpts from Elsa’s Stand, so naturally today’s teaser can only be from Holly’s Heart.

Here’s Fiona to tell you more. Make sure you read to the end because there could be a GIVEAWAY!

 

Author Fiona McArthurIntroducing HOLLY’S HEART, released 12th July, and the last of the 4 Outback Brides. The series is set in Wirralong, our fabulous Aussie town created from four Aussie authors who have very vivid imaginations, namely Kelly Hunter, Victoria Purman, Cathryn Hein – yay Cathryn – and me.

The name Wirralong had something to do with a label on a wine bottle.

As you can imagine, we had the best time creating the townspeople, and the Wedding Venue, and some reappearing quirky characters.

I’ve so loved being a part of the Outback Brides world but, being me, I did feel it needed a doctor just in case somebody felt sick. 🙂 So I gave this book two doctors. This would be because I love medical drama and heroic medical heroes. And we just had twins in our family.

I hope you love the stories as much as we loved writing them. Warmest wishes for a fun four days of reading with our 4 OUTBACK BRIDES books.

 

Dr Ben Brierly twirled his wide-brimmed Akubra on one finger as he surveyed the empty consulting rooms. Wirralong Family Doctors Surgery. His!

Finally.

It felt fantastic to be home. He’d never thought the town would grow enough to sustain a general practice, but here he stood about to open his own business.

Today, his temporary and outrageously expensive secretary-cum-office-manager Mrs Burrows, hired from Melbourne with vast experience of opening general practice establishments, had completed his new world. During the organisation she’d been worth her weight in pharmacological shares, even loading the computers with the software for patient files. She’d assembled and installed all the furnishings and additional software a small practice needed, outfitting the reception area with waiting room chairs and a water cooler. She’d even hung his medical degree and his nameplate with surgical precision.

Holly's Heart by Fiona McArthurHer registered nurse helpers had set up his consulting room and the procedure room, plus the smaller nurse’s consult room, created and signed off the emergency drug kit with the pharmacist in the main street, and they’d put the rest of his equipment and paraphernalia in the silent, non-existent, partner’s room.

Thus, his appointment book would be accessible for the next week before he officially opened his doors for four days a week … keeping Wednesdays free to sort his grandmother’s rundown property with the new farm manager.

He shouldn’t have stayed away so long.

Mrs Burrows’s final task would be to interview applicants for her replacement, and the practice nurse, then the whole relocation exercise would have happened without any physical effort on his part. Mostly because he currently had more money than time.

Which was lucky. He couldn’t believe the mess Brierly Park had been in. Or the guilt that rode him like a snowy mountain brumby for leaving Gran to deal with an incompetent manager on her own after Gramps had died. But he hadn’t known, and—seriously? There were reasons he hadn’t wanted to come back here, and his grandmother was … a little difficult if he suggested she needed help. Which was why he chose to reside in town and not butt heads over the small stuff.

She’d wanted him to commute from the Park, but having a flat here in Wirralong made much more sense. Thankfully the premises came with upstairs quarters. Mrs Burrows had found Gran a saint for a housekeeper and that would help everyone.

Remembering Brierly Park and the sunset-dusted hills little more than an hour ago, when he’d turned his horse for home, made him breathe deep and let his shoulders drop.

The air had been filled with the scent of gums, the spaces so open, and the excitement of the muster had lifted his spirits higher than they’d been for months. Even bending his back with the fencing contractors on the new cattle yards earlier today had felt good.

He glanced at the hat in his hand and twirled it again. The cowboy doctor, eh? He blew a breath out between pursed lips and jammed the hat on his head. Home.

Ben turned out the office light and the door he remembered as clunky, swung silently to lock with a gentle click. Mrs Burrows had hired a handyman for the week and it was ‘the little things’ she professed to be proud of. Darn right she should be proud.

Ben slapped the rail in approval and vaulted up the stairs three at a time until he reached the landing and unlocked the door to the spacious two-bedroom apartment and tossed his hat, which obligingly landed on the hall stand hook, and surveyed his private domain with pleasure.

Freshly painted, the room’s age and character melded and his stuff didn’t look out of place, considering he was above street level of a country town, and it felt … homely. Which he wasn’t quite sure his Melbourne flat had ever been.

When he’d dropped in here on Thursday the entry had been filled with boxes. Now, the dark leather furniture from his inner-city pad lay tastefully arranged, his paintings positioned, and … he strode across to the bedroom and slid open the wardrobe door. Yep, his clothes were hung, and his drawers filled. The woman was a marvel.

After a quick shower, he stepped out onto his tiny verandah, the one perched over his office entry below, and gazed down the main street of a town he’d worked his way back to since he’d left. Since someone else’s dream had somehow become his dream and she hadn’t returned to fulfil it. Wirralong.

Shame it had taken a personal tragedy to make him see the time had come to return home.

He shook his head at the loss of Tobias. One of his group from med school, Tobias had been a senior registrar with a brilliant mind and a determination to be the perfect doctor. That was the problem with perfection. A fatal medication error during a frantic resuscitation had devastated Tobias into shock, even though he hadn’t drawn the drug up. When the miscalculation had been realised too late and the patient died, his friend had tried to self-medicate himself out of his spiralling depression and, to all their horror, a week later he’d overdosed.

That incident had been the final straw for Ben, spurring him to leave the fast lane of major hospitals and make his life where he really wanted it. Home to be the support when needed for his independent-but-ageing grandmother and home to be the rural GP in a community he planned to be an intricate part of.

Of course, absolutely, he’d let go of any disappointments about Wirralong.

 

I’m reading Holly’s Heart at the moment and loving it. Satisfy your want too by ordering your own copy in either ebook or print. A swipe, tap or click will do it. Try:

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson

Personally signed print copies are also available for order direct from Fiona. Contact her via the contact page on her website for details.

GIVEAWAY!

Who doesn’t love a wedding? For your chance to win a signed print copy of Holly’s Heart, Fiona would love to hear your favourite wedding anecdote, story, golden moment, or mishap. She also says you can exaggerate.

This ought to be fun! Weddings tend to be full of adventures, from pets and children running amok, to friends and relatives misbehaving badly. They can also be incredibly romantic and moving. Get typing and share your favourite wedding story in the comments and we’ll pop you into the draw for a copy of Holly’s Heart.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time, Friday 20th July 2018. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

 

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Sexy Songs from Elsa’s Stand!

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Elsa's Stand by Cathryn HeinWhat can I say, Elsa’s Stand is simply the book that keeps on giving and today it offers up another fun gift.

Those of you who read Monday’s release day post will know from its Six Secret Things that music features heavily in the story, usually to the characters’ great amusement.

I also teased you by saying that the whole book can be summed up by “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King. A piece of feel-good earworm brilliance if ever there was one.

But there are lots of other songs mentioned in Elsa’s Stand and today I’m sharing its (somewhat eclectic) playlist. Simply hit play on the Youtube screen below and you’ll not only hear the songs but see their videos too.

This is a lot of fun so buckle up your belt, crank the volume up and enjoy!

 

Here’s the full list of tracks, complete with iTunes links. Go on, you know you need that copy of “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)”.

Boys from the Bush – Lee Kernaghan
Time to Say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
My Way – Frank Sinatra
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) – Big and Rich
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Georgy Girl – The Seekers
Ghost Riders in the Sky – Johnny Cash
I Am Woman – Helen Reddy
When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
Can You Feel the Love Tonight – from The Lion King

Match the book to the music with your own copy of Elsa’s Stand. Purchase now from these retailers.

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

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes and Noble

Booktopia | Angus&Robertson

A limited number of personally signed paperback copies are now available for direct purchase from me. The price is $20 AUD and includes delivery to your Australian postal address. Payment via Paypal. I also have other books available. International readers, email me and I’ll check out postage rates to your country.

If you’d like to order a signed paperback email me via the contact form on this website.

 

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It’s ELSA’S STAND’s Release Day!

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Elsa's Stand quote: Jack couldn’t kiss her deep enough, couldn’t touch her fast enough. She was heat and skin and vibration and gasping noises that skittered over his skin as though alive.

Break out the champagne, chocolate and whatever naughty treat takes your fancy because it’s Elsa’s Stand’s release day. Rah!

At the risk of you rolling your eyes at me for repeating myself, I’m going to yet again shout how much I ADORE this book. Really, truly-rooly adore it. Elsa’s Stand was an absolute hoot to write. Jack and Elsa sang to me from their very first words. In fact, all the characters did. Not all books do that but when it happens it’s like writing heaven, and I think that joy shows on the page. If I could cuddle this book I would.

Oh, hang on. I can!

Cathryn cuddling copies of Elsa's Stand

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who pre-ordered a copy. 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 and Noble

Booktopia | Angus&Robertson

A limited number of signed paperback copies will also be available for direct purchase from me. I’ll post details on social media and here on the blog. Newsletter subscribers will have first dibs on copies.

Now, as has become custom on release day, here are some special secret things about Elsa’s Stand.

Six Secret Things About Elsa’s Stand

1/. The working title of Elsa’s Stand was…

Gemstone Cowboy. Oh, how I LOVE that title. But Elsa’s Stand is part of the Outback Brides series, and it’s important to keep branding consistent. You’ll see that all the titles in the Brides continuity have a similar rhythm – Maggie’s Run, Belle’s Secret, Elsa’s Stand and Holly’s Heart.

Oh well, I’ll have to write another opal mining sexpot story and call that Gemstone Cowboy instead. It might take a while to come up with a hero to beat Jack, though. Such a crush on that man. Huge!

2/. Elsa’s last name is…

O’Donoghue which I pinched from a popular Irish pub in Emu Plains, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains and close to where I lived before our recent move to Newcastle.

I’ve never set foot in the place, but my lovely golf ladies were big fans and often talked about it, and I guess it stuck. Writing is weird like that.

3/. I used a photo of actor…

Ian Somerhalder as inspiration for Jack’s looks. I had no idea who he was when I picked him out. I was googling attractive men, as you do, and stumbled across his appealing visage and immediately thought “Hello, Jackie-boy!”.

It was another author who recognised Ian when I posted a photo of my big plotting whiteboard with Jack/Ian’s piccie stuck to it. I can’t help wondering if I would have chosen him had I known about Ian’s vampire past. Our gorgeous hunk of hunkiness Jack as a vampire? Never!

4/. The main street of Wirralong was inspired by…

that of Gulgong, a small town near Mudgee in NSW. Besides being a beautifully preserved gold rush town, Gulgong is famous for once featuring on the Australian $10 note with poet Henry Lawson, who lived there briefly as a child.

5/. I originally based Elsa’s looks on…

actress Karen Gillan in character as Amy Pond from Doctor Who, but from the moment I saw Elsa’s Stand’s cover model she became Elsa. Honestly, that model couldn’t be more perfect. That’s something that rarely happens!

6/. Music features heavily in Elsa’s Stand.

I’m not going to share its playlist now – we’ll save that gem for later in the week – but I think the whole book can be summed up by “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King.

I suffered this earworm for aaaaages afterward. So now I’m passing it on to you. You’re welcome!

I hope you enjoyed this latest instalment of Secret Things! Here are those buy links for Elsa’s Stand again.

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

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes and Noble

Booktopia | Angus&Robertson

While you’re there, why not grab all the books in the Outback Brides series and enjoy an extended romantic wallow in Wirralong. You’ll have a ball, I promise.

Each book in the Outback Brides series 2018

My special thanks to the Outback Brides girls, Kelly Hunter (Maggie’s Run), Victoria Purman (Belle’s Secret) and Fiona McArthur (Holly’s Heart). Also to the Tule Publishing team who helped make Elsa’s Stand such a gorgeous book and one I’m very proud of.

Big thanks too to my writing buddies. You are the best. And, of course, to my Jim. He’s the super best!

 

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My Favourite Reads of June 2018

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to the bookish joy that is My Favourite Reads. I didn’t get much reading done in June. We had visitors and lots of stuff going on, and that left little time for couch-potatoing or bed-lazing with a book.

The books I did complete were all beauties and, as is so often the case, choosing a favourite proved tricky. In the end, it was the old master who came out on top.

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider by Stephen KingThe Outsider is one of the best King books I’ve read for a while, and that’s saying something because I pretty much enjoy all his books (except Duma Key – that one didn’t do it for me).

The suspense of the opening made my heart race, only for a shock plot twist to stop it completely and leave me wondering how the hell he was going to make the book work.

He did, of course. King’s a master storyteller.

Great premise, wonderful characters, plenty of tension and mystery, and a nice amount of icky horror. The pages (and there were a lot) flew by. Loved it.

 

Defy the Worlds by Claudia GrayDefy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

I adored Defy the Stars (which I talked about here) and have been hanging out for the second in the series. Defy the Worlds didn’t disappoint.

I love how Gray keeps raising the stakes. Just when you think our plucky heroine Noemi might catch a break, she’s put in even more peril. And Abel is so cleverly written. I’m amazed I believe in these two when one is basically a robot, but I can’t help it.

Ends on a doozy of a cliffhanger but I kind of expected that. Bring on book three!

 

Maggie's Run by Kelly HunterMaggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter, Belle’s Secret by Victoria Purman

Of course I’m going to be hugely biased about my Outback Brides buddies’ books, but it’s no lie to say these were terrific reads and you should all go buy the entire series right now.

Maggie’s Run proved a wonderful start to the series. It had all the emotion and snappy dialogue I expect from a Kelly Hunter book and don’t get me Belle's Secret by Victoria Purmanstarted on how sexy our hero Max is. My fingers are still itching to smooth his hair. I’m a terrible sucker for a hero who’s known the heroine for years and always shown protectiveness. It’s so romantic and Kelly pulls this off perfectly. Sighworthy.

Which is what Belle’s Secret was too. I loved the premise of this one – a runaway bride. But not any old runaway bride. Our Isabella just happens to be a marriage celebrant and skipping out on your new husband is not a good look. She has her reasons though. Except she married a special man, and Harry isn’t one to let go easily.

Yep, I have a vested interest but these books have all the feels. Grab your copies today!

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally host excellent author buddies.

First up, THANK YOU! The Outback Brides books are rocketing up the charts and it’s all thanks to you lovelies supporting them. The reviews for the opening two releases – Maggie’s Run and Belle’s Secret – have been amazing too. There’s a whole lot of love out there for our Wirralong girls. Long may it continue!

But back to the real reason we’re here: entertain and tempt you with a book teaser.

As you can guess, Teaser Tuesday is on an Outback Bride roll at the moment. With four books in the series, that’s a month’s worth of bridely goodness. Last week we had Kelly Hunter teasing us with Maggie’s Run. This week it’s Victoria Purman’s turn with Belle’s Secret.

I finished Belle’s Secret over the weekend and it was wonderful, and I know you’re going to think so too. Here’s Victoria to talk more about her Outback Bride.

 

Victoria Purman authorWho watched the Royal Wedding? Who cried?

Me! Buckets! Which, when you come to think of it, is probably not a huge surprise for a romance writer. But come on – who doesn’t love a love story that ends with a wedding, in which two people pledge themselves to each other, to promise to stand by each through thick and thin?

That sentiment was the inspiration behind the Outback Brides series. Put four romance authors together, create a town – Wirralong, population 5,790 and counting – and give them the licence for their imaginations to run riot. And, oh boy, did we have so much fun.

In the first book – Maggie’s Run – author Kelly Hunter introduces us to Wirralong and her heroine, Maggie’s Wirra Station, which she turns into a high-end wedding venue, only after finding her happy ever after with the hunky Max.

In my book, Belle’s Secret, Isabella Martenson has become Wirra Station’s resident marriage celebrant. Funny thing is, she believes in weddings for everyone else, just not for herself.

And why? You’ll have to read it to find out – and to discover what Belle’s secret really is. Here’s a sneak peek!

 

It was suddenly quiet.

Isabella Martenson put her leather folder on the table and slipped out a large envelope. She carefully slid the marriage certificate inside, sealed it for safekeeping, then tucked it back inside her folder. She looked around Maggie’s property with a warm sense of satisfaction.

She’d taken a huge leap of faith when she’d moved to Wirra Station almost twelve months before. She’d had a thriving business in Melbourne, was busy Saturdays and Sundays all year round, and had good friends she loved spending time with. Of course, she’d missed Maggie when she’d inherited the property and left Melbourne, but her own life was busy. She’d had chances to settle down. She met lots of men. So many she’d lost track.

Cover of Belle's Secret by Victoria PurmanOh, who was she kidding?

They were inevitably fiancés. Fathers of the bride. Fathers of the groom. Brothers. Creepy uncles. Nervous groomsmen. Bored husbands. Extremely annoying sixteen-year-old boys who thought it was fun to flirt incompetently with the “old lady” conducting the wedding ceremony.

Truth was, Isabella hadn’t met a decent prospect in a while. And truthfully? She liked it that way. Of course she believed in marriage and happy ever afters. For other people, you understand. Not for herself. Absolutely, definitely not for herself. Guaranteed happy ever afters only happened in books and movies, right? She knew that happy ever afters had a bad habit of turning into miserable ever afters. Her own childhood had taught her that firsthand. No matter how much she’d wished for it, her parents had proved to her that happy ever afters only last until someone is bored or angry or unfaithful.

To do her job well, she let herself believe that bitterness and acrimony didn’t exist.

No, marriage wasn’t for her. She was perfectly content with her single life. It was precisely that single life that had given her the freedom to pack up her Melbourne life and her business almost twelve months before and move to Wirra Station.

And on days like this, when she was able to breathe the country air instead of city fumes, look around at the gums and the big sky, and sniff eucalypts, freshly mown grass and flowers in the garden beds in front of the cottage, and then drive the two minutes across the property to her own grace-and-favour cottage, she decided the risk had been worth it.

Isabella gathered together all the items on the table and took out a basket from underneath, loading it up. Her work for the day was done. She’d had another wedding that morning—two second-chancers who’d met playing bingo in the local pub—and she was now free for the rest of the day and the evening. Amanda and Simon had invited her to stay for the reception, but she always politely declined those invitations. She didn’t want to mix work and play, and marrying people was definitely work. She really needed a coffee. Perhaps two. And then a night on the sofa with a good movie. Perhaps she was due for another screening of Notting Hill. Perfect.

“Excuse me?”

Isabella looked up. A man was walking across the lawn to her, strides long on the soft grass, a glass of white wine in his hand. All the guests had moved off to the marquee for drinks. Had he dropped his phone or wallet or something?

Isabella held a hand above her eyes to block out the afternoon sun flashing bright in her face. She couldn’t quite make out the man’s features. He had a tall silhouette. “If you’re looking for a wedding guest, I’m afraid they’ve all moved over to the marquee.”

“I’m looking for someone.” Broad-shouldered, taller the closer he got, he wore a stylish navy suit with a crisp white shirt and a paisley tie. His dark hair was swept back from his forehead in a thick wave. His eyes were hidden behind sunglasses. Isabella heard an American accent and decided he must be one of the wedding guests from the groom’s side. There was something about his voice that prickled the hair at the back of her neck.

“Is there something I can help you with?” she asked politely.

“Mrs Harrison?” His voice was deep and it carried in the distance between them, and it reverberated in her chest like the throb of techno music.

“I’m sorry,” Isabella managed, clutching her folder to her chest. “I’m not sure of the names of all the wedding guests. You might want to go and check the tables list at The Woolshed.”

Isabella was on the verandah and when he reached her, they were at eye level. He lifted his sunglasses from his face. His dark eyes flashed.

She swallowed hard and her mouth was all of a sudden filled with cotton balls. Oh no.

“I think I’ve found who I’m looking for.” He chuckled but there was an edge to it, a mean edge. “Mrs Harrison. As I live and breathe.”

A shiver scratched at the base of Isabella’s neck. Sweat beaded on her top lip even though she suddenly felt cold. Something clenched at her insides and she swallowed a wave of nausea.

“What did you say your name was again?” she stammered, trying to buy a few seconds to think, to stop herself from going into shock.

“You mean you’ve forgotten already? It’s Harry. Harry Harrison.”

Oh no. Oh please God no.

“Your husband.”

A year ago. This man. Her biggest mistake.

A year ago, she’d run all the way from Las Vegas with more regrets than she could stomach.

And the cause of that regret was now right here at Wirra Station.

This was one hell of a gotcha moment.

 

He he. Gotcha indeed!

Find out how Isabella wriggles out of this mess with your very own copy of Belle’s Secret. Buy now in print or ebook from:

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

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes&Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson

Personally signed print books are also available for direct purchase from Victoria. For details, contact Victoria via the contact page on her website.

If you’d like to learn more about Victoria and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via @VictoriaPurman.

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to another super-special edition of Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and invite author buddies to do the same.

Ooh, it’s been an exciting week in the Hein house!

Book one in the stunning Outback Brides series, Maggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter, has hit retailers and is FLYING along. With good reason too. I finished Maggie’s Run last Friday and it was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. You are going to love this one. There is so much emotion and romance and OMG Max! Max of that body. Max of that hair. Max of that voice. Me waaaaaaant.

Eh hem.

It’s also very exciting to be hosting Kelly on the blog today. It’s her first visit and she’s clearly determined to arrive with a bang. Not only do we have a wonderful snippet from Maggie’s Run, Kelly is offering a super-generous giveaway that you will NOT want to miss.

For those of you who don’t know Kelly, she’s a USA Today bestselling author, a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist, Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year (Ruby) winner, and multi Australian Romance Reader Award winner. She’s also author of the Jackson Family series, which you should all read after Outback Brides because it’s brilliant.

Enough of me fangirling. We’re here to talk brides. Outback Brides, the best kind.

This is a biggie, my lovelies, so buckle up and read on!

 

Kelly Hunter authorI vividly remember reading Cathryn’s wonderful opening scene to Elsa’s Stand for the first time and thinking, ‘Aw, hell. That’s so good! I’ve gotta lift my game.’. These stories are part of the Outback Brides series set in small-town Wirralong, and I for one had performance anxiety. On the upside, there was this world we were building and I loved it and the flavours we were bringing to the project. I need Elsa’s Hair Affair hairdressing salon in my life.  I needed a heritage grazing property in my life for a while too, and Maggie’s Wirra Station was born. I spent a small imaginary fortune setting it to rights after decades of neglect. Very cathartic! Surprisingly economical.

Cathryn’s Teaser Tuesday requires story words, and, this being Cathryn’s blog, I’ve chosen a snippet with my heroine, Maggie, and Cathryn’s heroine, Elsa, in it. They’re in Elsa’s salon and Elsa is with customer Max, who she’s known since childhood. Maggie and Max have history. It’s from Max’s point of view.

 

“I need a haircut,” said Max.

“You certainly do.” Elsa O’Donoghue ran a practised hand through his mop and studied him in the salon mirror. For kicks, she attempted to twist it into a bun and thankfully failed. It wasn’t that bad. Yet. “How short?” she asked.

Max shrugged.

“Okay, let’s aim for bedhead. You can pull that off. Do you have time for a wash?”

“Washed it this morning.”

“One of these days you’re going to let me wash it,” she told him. “And you’re going to enjoy it.”

Maggie's Run by Kelly Hunter - coverBut not today. She sprayed his head with a water squirter, attacked it with a comb and then picked up her scissors. Like him, Elsa was Wirralong born and bred and felt no inclination whatsoever to apologise for it. He knew her family and she knew his. Give him a minute and he could probably remember her middle name, date of birth and the name of the first boy she’d ever kissed. It wasn’t him.

“I hear you and Maggie are working miracles out at Wirra Station,” Elsa said and started cutting. “Stay still.”

A snort and a flash of pink alerted him to the presence of someone else in the salon. He turned his head a fraction and got Elsa grabbing both sides of his skull and setting him straight again.

“I have toddlers in this chair who can stay stiller than you.”

“Did you give him the booster seat?”

The voice clued him in. “Hey, Maggie. Elsa was just trying to gossip about you. I gave her nothing.”

“Sweet pea, I already know all about the kiss,” said Elsa smugly. “I made her run through the lead-up three times. In vivid detail.”

“Maggie, did you kiss and tell?” he rumbled, unapologetically delighted.

“O’Connor, if you don’t keep your head straight so I can cut properly, I’m going to get the clippers out and run stripes through your hair for the hell of it,” chided Elsa.

“What else did she say about my kisses?” Max asked, sitting very, very still. “Have they ruined her for all other men? Because that was the underlying intention.”

“She’s right there. Ask her yourself.”

“I’m not answering that,” said Maggie and came into view in the mirror. She wore sand-coloured trousers and a pink top with a picture of a cartoon grasshopper on it. Her hair was tied back in a messy bun and her oversized sunglasses perched on her head. She wore no make-up, as far as he could tell, and she still managed to look more appealing than any woman he’d ever met. “Elsa, I need your signature on a release form for the photos we took the other day. These are the ones I want to use.”

Elsa stopped snipping as Maggie held up two pics. All Max saw was the back of them in the mirror, and he was determined not to be curious, but then Maggie showed them to him next. “You can look too seeing as I’m interrupting your hair cut,” she said.

“Pretty.” Elsa was a beauty and Maggie had been the client in the chair and whether they’d been posing for the pic or not, the warmth between the women showed through. “Where’s it going?”

“On the Wirralong Homestead website under ‘Services’.”

“That’s me. At your service,” said Elsa cheerfully.

“You could be at my service a little more solidly,” offered Max, and wore their looks of disbelief and amusement with equanimity. Elsa might have been holding a really sharp pair of scissors but she wasn’t a mean one … was she?

“Don’t you know to be nice to your hairdresser?” Maggie said.

Was that a thing? God help him.

 

Ha! I remember that scene from reading Maggie’s Run, and it was one that gave me lots of smiles. But this is a book full of smiles, which means you need a copy, oh yes you do!

Purchase Maggie’s Run today from these retailers.

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk
Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | Barnes&Noble

All set? Excellent. Now here’s Kelly with more goodness.

GIVEAWAY!

I love the names of all our Outback Brides. They felt right to me from the beginning. I could see them, work with them, and the covers brought them to life in the best way possible. For a chance to win all four ebooks in the series, tell us what name you would have chosen for your Outback Bride.

Outback Brides series with covers and short blurbs

Great question, Kelly! Obviously, the answer for me is Elsa but what about you? Perhaps an Annie would be your girl, or maybe a Nicola or Zoe. Comment below and you’ll go into the draw to win ALL FOUR Outback Brides ebooks, in your preferred format (for Kindle, Kobo etc). That’s Maggie’s Run, Belle’s Secret, Elsa’s Stand and Holly’s Heart. What a prize!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight, Friday 29th June 2018, Australian Eastern Standard Time. Open internationally!

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

 

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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.

I’m thrilled to say that today is one of those days, and even more thrilled to announce that our guest is Helene Young!

Romantic suspense fans will be very familiar with Helene’s work. She’s a multiple award winner, including winning the Romance Writers of Australia prestigious Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) not once but twice, and winning the Australian Romance Readers Association Favourite Romantic Suspense award multiple times.

Photography and sailing fans will know Helene from her adventures aboard her catamaran the Roo Bin Esque. If that isn’t enough, Helene has also had a long career as a pilot.

I know, I know, TOTAL overachiever, but we love her anyway cos she’s awesome.

Best of all Helene has a new book coming out. Return to Roseglen releases 2nd July, 2018 and it looks brilliant. One read of this excerpt and you’ll be click-swipe-tapping your fingers like crazy pre-ordering a copy.

Because we’re the blog with the most-est, there may also be a chance to win a Return to Roseglen paperback. So give a big welcome to Helene, and read on.

 

Helene Young - AuthorCathryn, it’s lovely to be visiting your blog again and thanks for the opportunity to share a sneak peek inside the covers of Return to Roseglen. It’s a story that’s been 3 years in the writing and I think the issues of elder abuse and the ‘sandwich’ generation of women who juggle careers, children, parents, menopause and mid-life melt downs have never been more important!

This excerpt is the opening chapter where we meet fiercely independent Ivy Dunmore, who at 93, is battling to remain at home on her sprawling cattle property in North Queensland. Growing old is the least of her problems as she realises jealousy and greed are tearing her family apart.  She’s always known that the truth would come out in the end, but that doesn’t make it any easier to tell.

 

Ivy’s hand trembled as she drew the brush over her lips, in dan­ger of smudging the bright colour. Who would have thought at ninety-three she’d feel the need for war paint to stare down her son? Her Aunt Leonie always maintained that the devil caught most souls in a golden net. After last night’s conversation with Ken she finally understood what her aunt meant.

‘They’re going to foreclose on me,’ her son had said. ‘There’s only one option, one way to save both properties. You’ll need to sign them. No one needs to know.’

Her whole body had gone rigid. How could this be? But, in her heart, she’d seen it coming.

Return to Roseglen by Helene YoungShe pressed her lips together, smoothing the lipstick, then tilted her head to find a clear reflection in the mirror. The silver back­ing had starting to fall away around the edges. Another repair that would never be done now.

She peered at the face in the mirror. ‘Hello, Ivy Dunmore,’ she murmured, feeling like she was meeting an old friend for the first time in years. Wispy white hair was brushed back from a high forehead, the pale skin surprisingly unlined despite the years in the sun. Those summer blue eyes had paled to a frosty winter hue, framed by gold-rimmed glasses. There were creases in the cheeks, lines carved around the eyes – from laughter, she told herself – eyelashes that clump together, short and sparse. No point in batting them at a good-looking young digger anymore.

She tried a smile and examined her teeth. At least they were all her own, even if they wouldn’t be advertising toothpaste any time soon. She caught a glimpse of a feisty girl with her skirts flying as she whirled around the old Methodist Hall, bright eyes sliding towards the tall rangy cattleman who, dressed in his army uniform, lounged against the doorframe.

Wex and Lady interrupted the memory, their barks as creaky as her joints. The kelpies were the only survivors of the pack that helped Charlie rule sprawling Roseglen with benevolent care.

At the sound of a car speeding up the dusty track to the homestead Ivy sat taller on her wheeled walker. She looked to the faded photo of her husband beside their bed. Charlie’s battered felt hat was tilted back, his laughing eyes framed by a deep web of lines. There was strength in the chords of his neck and muscles of his shoulders. Behind him was Roseglen’s whitewashed chapel with the family graveyard and beyond that the ridgeline with the silhouette of towering gums. He was seventy that year, a man still vigorous and alive. That was the way he’d always be in her memory.

Hurried footsteps sounded up the stairs and across the verandah. She heard the front door swing open.

‘Mum? Mum? Where are you?’ Ken called.

No rush. I’m still alive, dear. She bit back the retort. Even at sixty-three he could be so needy.

‘I’m here, son. I’ll be out in a moment.’

‘Right.’ Ken stopped outside the door. ‘I’ve got the papers.’

Well, of course you’ve got the papers. Why else would you be here? She swallowed a laugh and hiccupped. ‘Put the kettle on, there’s a dear,’ she said, hoping her voice sounded bright.

‘I’m on a tight schedule, Mum.’

‘Yes, I know, but there’s time for a cuppa. I’ll just be a moment.’

His heels thudded on the hall runner as he strode back across to the kitchen. Why could he not remember to take his boots off outside? The drought had sucked the moisture from the dirt in the front yard and he’d be leaving a trail of dust behind him on the old Persian carpet.

She sighed and glanced around the room, taking comfort from the pressed metal ceilings, the painting of the homestead surrounded by lush pastures and sleek cattle, and the solid oak furniture, gleaming with beeswax.

It had been her home for sixty years, ever since they moved from the tiny manager’s cottage to care for Old Mrs Dunmore. She loved every plank, every French door, every polished floorboard. The memories were as thick and rich as the chocolate topping she used to make for Charlie’s favourite pudding. She fingered a linen and lace doily on the dressing table. One wet season, when Lissie was just a toddler and the road was cut by floodwaters for a month, she’d grown bored with baking. That had resulted in a collection of doilies and tablecloths. Not too shabby an effort if she said so herself.

Sinbad, her Siamese, lounged on the handmade patchwork quilt, his gaze unwavering.

‘Yes, lovely boy. You stay here.’ The tip of his tail flicked. Ken had no love for cats.

In the kitchen the kettle screamed. Ivy could picture Ken on his phone, trying to ignore it. If he wasn’t poking at the screen, then he was talking, like a disembodied head holding a conversation with a ghost. Bluetooth, he’d told her one day when she’d chipped him about it. Sounds like a reason to visit the dentist, she’d retorted.

The whistle shut off abruptly.

‘Mum!’ He was imperious this time.

All right, all right. I’m not one of the dogs rounding up cattle. She’d a mind to make him wait, but instead she stood and turned, straightened the skirt of her favourite blue dress, the fabric rippling over her legs, then gripped the handles of her walker and released the brakes. Let’s get this over and done with, Ivy Dunmore.

Doesn’t that sound fab? I adore this line: “Bluetooth, he’d told her one day when she’d chipped him about it. Sounds like a reason to visit the dentist, she’d retorted.” Made me laugh out loud and I suspect Ivy will give us plenty more of those in Return to Roseglen.

Return to Roseglen releases 2nd July 2018. Order your copy today from:

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson |Bookdepository | Dymocks
Amazon.com | Amazon.com.au | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Now, as mentioned in the introduction, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Ivy Dunmore is a demon Scrabble player who at 93 still likes to reign supreme. ‘No such thing as a free ride in this family,’ she tells her children. What board games do you and your family play? Do you have a favourite? One you played growing up perhaps?

Return to Roseglen by Helene YoungShare in the comments and you’ll go into a draw to win a paperback copy of Return to Roseglen.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday, Australian Eastern Time, 22nd June 2018. Australian postal addresses only.

Ooooh, so many board games to choose from. We played a lot of cards too (I was a crafty canasta player and there was another we called ‘spit’ which was sort of like snap but more violent), however I used to love Chinese Checkers when I was little – it was the coloured marbles I think – then when I was older we had some epic Monopoly battles. That game is the best.

What’s your favourite family board game? Or, if you didn’t play board games, what other game kept you amused? Reveal all and we’ll pop you into the draw for a copy of Return to Roseglen.

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

EVENTS!

Join in the conversation as Jaye Ford interviews three of Australia’s favourite authors of stories for women

When:  Saturday, 14 July, 1.30pm

Where: Cardiff Library, Cardiff Marketplace, Cnr Main and Macquarie Road, Cardiff NSW 2285

Cost: Free

Be enthralled by Helene Young, Christine Wells and Cathryn Hein, as they discuss their writing careers, writing stories that resonate with their female audience and the inspiration behind their latest books; Return to Roseglen, The Juliet Code, and The Country Girl.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. Bookings are essential. To find out more call Cardiff Library on 4921 0775 or book online here.

Writing Popular Fiction That Sells Workshop

With over thirty published novels in romance, historical fiction, mystery, suspense and women’s fiction, Helene, Christine and Cathryn know what it takes to write a cracking yarn that publishers will buy and readers will love.

When:  Saturday, 14 July, 9.00 am – 12.00 pm

Where: Toronto Library, Brighton Ave & Pemell Street, Toronto, NSW 2283

In this workshop, you will learn how to get ideas and turn them into a working premise for a novel, how to write characters who leap off the page, and how to sell or self-publish your story once it’s finished.

Perfect for beginners and experienced writers alike, this fun, interactive workshop will both inform and inspire.

Bookings essential. For further information contract Toronto Library on 49210641 or secure your spot today here.

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My Favourite Reads of May 2018

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to the latest edition of My Favourite Reads. A tad late again, but regular blog readers will know from recent Teaser Tuesdays that we had to take a short-notice journey to north Queensland and that has put me a bit off schedule. Not to worry, I’m home and making amends!

I am not, however, enjoying the cold weather. I’ve been donning a thick beanie for my morning walks, and it was so bitter when I was out running chores on Tuesday I had to pull my fleecy hoody over my head. Neither is a good look, but at least beanies and hoodies keep my ears from freezing.

Enough of my cold weather woes. Let’s get on to my favourite reads of May.

I’ve been thinking quite hard on my favourite and the truth is I can’t really choose. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cop-out but all the books were enjoyable, suited my mood at the time and made me happy. Given what was occurring around me, that’s exactly what I needed.

Here they are.

The Alchemist’s Secret by Scott MarianiThe Alchemist’s Secret by Scott Mariani

I’ve had this book on my e-reader for at least four years now and could never get into it. That happens, as I’m sure you understand. It doesn’t matter how good a book is, sometimes you’re just not in the mood.

This time round I had no trouble and found The Alchemist’s Secret a great ride. If you love a Dan Brown style action-adventure-mystery-thriller, then this is smack in your zone.

The first in Mariani’s long-running Ben Hope series that so far tallies 17 books. Clearly he’s doing something right!

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book has been a blockbuster seller of late so naturally I had to see what all the fuss was about.

It’s a wonderful story about a damaged but strong – if socially clumsy – woman making her way in a world she doesn’t quite relate to. Eleanor is a great character, but I adored Raymond. He’s my kind of hero.

A read to make you feel good and smile at the joy of friendship.

 

Extinct by RR HaywardExtinct by RR Hayward

I’ve raved about this totally bonkers series before in previous Favourite Reads (Extracted here and Executed here).

Extinct is the last in the trilogy and it didn’t let me down. The plot is funny, action-packed, potty-mouthed, violent, sort-of sexy, and completely over the top. The characters no different. They are so cool! But old-fashioned, decent and ridiculously brave Harry is my favourite.

A rollicking ride. Loved it.

 

The Convent’s Secret by CJ ArcherThe Convent’s Secret by CJ Archer

This series is so comforting. I know when I grab a new Glass and Steele book that I’m in for a hugely entertaining read, filled with mystery, romance and characters I fell in love with from first meeting.

Things have really moved along for Matt, India and the gang but I suspect there’ll be several backward steps in future books. I hope so. Journeying with this group as they tackle all the many obstacles thrown at them is what makes it fun.

Yeah, I’m a total fangirl, but I can’t recommend this series enough.

 

Deadly Secrets by Robert BryndzaDeadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

Another comfort read that hit the spot. Deadly Secrets was a cracking addition to the Detective Erika Foster series. Maybe even my favourite.

The mystery in Deadly Secrets was very tangled – so many suspects to choose from – and Erika’s life took a few interesting turns too.

I’ll be auto-buying the next when it comes out.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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

After a couple of weeks in the tropics I’m home, where it is lovely but, sadly, not tropical. This is not necessarily a bad thing, mind. If I had weather like that all the time I’d never get any writing done.

A couple of housekeeping items. If you’re in Western Australia or are planning a trip over there later in the year, make sure you mark your diaries for the West Coast Fiction Festival on November 3rd, 2018 at the Rendezvous Hotel, Scarborough. This is going to be a terrific event, chockers with fab authors from Australia and overseas. The full list of attending authors and anything else you’d like to know is available on the West Coast Fiction Festival website. Tickets go on sale now and selling fast, with all ticket profits going to Share the Dignity.

I will have a limited number of my books for sale but you can guarantee your copies with a pre-order. Simply read the instructions and fill out the form here and you’ll be set.

The second housekeeping item is this website’s new privacy policy. Maintaining your trust is important to me, so please take a moment to read it.

Right. Back to booky goodness!

There is now less than a month until Elsa’s Stand releases. Rah! I am so excited about this book. It’s one of my favourites and I love the characters to bits, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

Newsflash! YES, there will be print copies. They’re currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com, Amazon.com.au, Amazon.co.uk and Booktopia, and I should have signed copies available for direct purchase from me. As soon as I have an idea of prices, I’ll let you know. Please note that newsletter subscribers will get first dibs on these. Sign up here if you don’t want to miss out.

Here’s a little teaser to show what you’re in for with Elsa and Jack. You will love them, oh yes you will!!

 

‘Excellent. I’ll give you a call. See if we can’t arrange it for next week.’ Suddenly Angus’s attention was taken by something behind Jack. A smile broke across his face. Elsa's Stand by Cathryn Hein‘Here’s trouble.’

Jack checked over his shoulder. Elsa was in the middle of the road, hopping foot to foot as she waited for a couple of cars to pass. Being the country, they were slow, the driver in front waving to someone on the cake stall as they crawled past. Elsa had pulled up her hair into a sort-of bun with wispy dangly bits loose around the sides of her face. Her thigh-high, off-the-shoulder dress was white and frilly, and paired with matching heeled sandals. Against the dark bitumen, she glowed.

Jack breathed in and slowly out. Skin. Pale skin, freckly skin. Lots of skin. And a smile that lit the entire street. Elsa was gorgeous normally but this … this was going to take serious control.

 

He he. Poor Jack. Elsa is awesome at scrambling his brain. Such fun!

Make sure you don’t miss out on this gorgeous tale by pre-ordering today from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk
iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes and Noble | Booktopia

Newsletter subscribers will have first dibs on personally signed print copies, so please make sure you’re signed up. Not only will you get all the news first, you’ll also receive access to a couple of bonus short stories to read over a cuppa.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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

Greetings from tropical north Queensland! I’m in Townsville right now, where the winter weather is gorgeous and the streets are busy with backpackers and southerners escaping the cold. I was up here this time last year for the Bowen River Campdraft and Rodeo (photos and more from that here) but I won’t be attending this year. I will, however, be visiting my favourite rural clothing outfitters Donohues. Love that place. They have the best jeans. And boots. And belts. And tops. And hats. And…

Eh hem.

Enough of my shopping obsessions. We’re here to talk books!

Can you believe it’s only five weeks until Elsa’s Stand releases? And even less until the first of the Outback Brides books – Maggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter – hits e-readers around the world. But what about print versions, you ask? I’ll have news on that soon and I think it’ll make you veeeery happy.

Also something to make you happy, a taste of sexy, silent Jack, the hero of Elsa’s Stand. Sigh. Love this man. LOVE HIM.

 

Jack was so furious and flat out getting organised that it was hours into his journey before reality sank in. A wave of grief slammed into his chest so hard he had to pull over and breathe through it while the semi-trailers and caravans he’d overtaken earlier whooshed past, their slipstreams rocking his car and camping trailer.

Elsa's Stand by Cathryn HeinHis mum, gone.

It didn’t seem real. It couldn’t be real.

Yet it was.

Jack rubbed his face and stared at his palms. They were rough, covered in nicks and abrasions and calluses from years of digging for opal. Hands that had been forged by his mother’s side, as she took him fossicking and regaled him with stories about miraculous finds. About gold fever and opal curses, and sapphires that lay buried somewhere in the overburden and beds of Strathroy’s ancient creeks.

 

Be ready to comfort Jack on his July 9th release day with a pre-order of Elsa’s Stand from these stores:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk
iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes and Noble

For another excerpt visit the book page for Elsa’s Stand. You can also read the first chapter on the Tule Publishing website. While you’re there, check out all the books in the Outback Brides series and get your pre-orders in.

 

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