Tag Archives: Cathleen Ross

High Tea and High Fun at the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

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It was a gala day last Saturday with the Australian Romance Readers Association‘s A Romantic High Tea event and the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards, both held in Sydney at Cello’s Restaurant in the Castlereagh Hotel. And what a brilliant time was had!

Stuck in front of our computers, deep in imaginary worlds, writers tend to live comparatively solitary lives, which makes it huge fun to get out, frock up, and meet with passionate readers and writing buddies. Events like these are also terrific for the romance genre. They’re where we get to show off what enthusiastic readers and talented writers we have in Australia. We’ve known for years how special and important the genre is but many others have no idea. The message is getting through though, as was demonstrated by the industry representatives present at the awards and their generous sponsorship.

Here are a few photos from the High Tea and 2015 ARR Awards dinner. If you’d like the full list of awards and winners, you’ll find them all on the ARRA blog.

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On Friday night before the High Tea, I caught up with Rachael Johns and Emily Madden at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in Sydney. Naturally, there was fizz!

Rachael Johns, Cathryn Hein, Emily Madden at dinner

Hot Chocolate the Blow-Up Wonder Horse has been coming to events with me since last year’s Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra. Admittedly, he doesn’t get a lot of care, being thrown around in suitcases and the occasional bar, but I had hoped he’d last a bit longer than a year. Sadly, with only a few hours until the High Tea, Hot Choc sprang a leak. As you can see, it left feeling him very deflated…

A saggy and flat feeling Hot Chocoalate

Guests on my High Tea table received April’s Rainbow mugs filled with Chupa Chups and decorated with ‘love’ butterflies. Cos we’re all about the luuuurve at Chez Hein and ARRA!

High Tea guest gift

Here are my gorgeous High Tea people! We had such fun. I can’t thank them enough for coming along and being such great company. As you’d expect there was LOTS of book talk. Cello’s Restaurant is a lovely venue too, full of light and pretty architecture. Perfect for A Romantic High Tea.

L-R: Malvina, Amy, Belinda, Me, Veronica, Suzanne, Jo (who came all the way from Edenhope, Victoria!).

High Tea guests

Some of the scrumptious treats on offer.

High Tea treats

Amy, me and Belinda.

Amy, me and Belinda at High Tea

Me and Suzanne.

Suzanne and me at High Tea

ARR Awards MC and Favourite Paranormal Romance winner Shannon Curtis doing her stuff. And do it very well she did!

ARR Awards MC - Shannon Curtis

Guest speaker Kat Mayo. Her speech “There’s never been a more exciting time to be a romance reader” was excellent. You can find the transcript on her Bookthingo Blog. Well worth a visit and read.

ARR Awards guest speaker Kat Mayo

Rachael Johns with one of her two ARR Awards. Way to go, buddy! Rachael won awards for Favourite Short or Category Romance and Favourite Contemporary Romance.

Rachael Johns with one of her ARR Awards

Me and special person Len Klumpp who’s a great supporter of Australian romance and ARRA, and who, along with his wife Carolyn, travelled all the way from Tamworth for the event. Len also presented Helene Young with the award for Favourite Australian Romantic Suspense (great stuff, Helene!).

Great fan and ARRA supporter Len and Cathryn at the ARR Awards

We had a lovely lady named Linda on our table. Linda had come all the way over from Western Australia, and was absolutely delightful company. I was so thrilled to have met her. The photo-bomber is Amy Andrews who just can’t help herself!

Cathryn and Linda at the ARR Awards

Me trying to pinch Shannon Curtis’s and Cathleen Ross’s ARR Awards. They really should share… Cathleen won her award for Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance.

Cathryn, Shannon Curtis and Cathleen Ross at the ARR Awards

And finally, but not in the least bit last – in fact she was first, first, first! – Anne Gracie, who took out three awards on the night: Favourite Historical Romance, Favourite Continuing Romance Series and the big gong, Favourite Australian Romance Author. Well done, Anne!

Anne Gracie collecting one of her ARR Awards

I would like to thank the hard-working and dedicated members of ARRA for making the High Tea and ARR Awards such brilliant events. It was a very special weekend that I’ll remember very fondly. I, and everyone I spoke to, had a ball. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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FRIDAY FEAST with Cathleen Ross

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Happy Friday, Feasters! And what a grand day it is too because this week Friday Feast  is getting Scottish. Which is perfect for me seeing as I’ve just spent this week gutsing episodes of Outlander. That Jamie… sigh.

Speaking of Scottish things, let’s move on to golf. In Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I only lost one ball in a dam last week. Only ONE! Rather excited about that. And because I didn’t play completely disastrously, I won a ball. Which means I had a net loss of zero. Bonus!

I’m also rather excited to have multi-published erotic romance author Cathleen Ross on Friday Feast today. Yes, we’re not only getting Scottish, we’re getting steamy too! Plus Cathleen has a special treat for you – a free read.

Take a look…

HIGHLANDER

Highlander by Cathleen RossHighlander is the first of the Forbidden Fantasy stories by best-selling erotic writer, Cathleen Ross. It is a 10,000 word erotic romance set in Scotland. When Sir James Bruce conquers enemy territory, his reward is the hand of beautiful virgin, Lady Isobel McLaird. Although Isobel has no intention of marrying Sir James, he is determined to change her mind by taming her to his touch. Only James has the power to save her imprisoned brother and the stubborn tenacity to win her heart.

 

You can download Highlander for free right now from Amazon, Kobo, or Barnes & Noble. And if you want more, the entire boxed set is available for purchase from these same stores – Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

Now, please welcome Cathleen!

Scottish Passion

Seeing as I am obsessed with all things Scottish, I should be giving you a recipe for Haggis but instead of inflicting this on you, I’m going to give you the first of my historical Highlander Romance series books, titled Highlander, FREE, plus an interesting and easy recipe.

Cathleen flirting with a Hot Scot

Cathleen flirting with a Hot Scot

Set in the 1300s, Scotland, Highlander tells the story of James Bruce, the mythical cousin of King Robert the Bruce. James is the oldest knight who has been in love with Lady Isobel McLaird, the only daughter of an enemy family.

The boxed set titled Highlander Romance continues the story introducing Isobel’s handsome brother David who falls in love with James’ sister.

Dining on the Royal Yacht

Dining on the Royal Yacht

The series takes place within the Scottish wars of independence where Scottish families fought to the death to maintain their allegiance to the English crown or the Scottish one. I went to Scotland on an Alison Weir historical tour in order to get both the facts and feel for my historical novels. Highlights included dining on the Royal Yacht, meeting the last Stuart monarch in waiting and spotting Hot Scots. When you interact with the Scots it’s easy to imagine the passion and pride they have for their beautiful country. Alas, the closest I came to the highlands where my story is set is Stirling, but I did get a good view of Stirling Bridge one of the seats of a major battle that won the day for Robert the Bruce.

Here’s taste of Highlander

Lady Isobel McLaird spun on her heels at the thunderous noise of metal and hooves approaching the marketplace. Her maid, peasants and livestock scattered as the phalanx of knights drew to a halt, but Isobel stood her ground. At their head was Sir James Bruce, the man who’d once held her and made her yearn for his caresses. Now she hated him. With her heart in her throat, she gathered her skirts to confront him. “Murderer!” she shouted.

Sir James’s enormous black steed reared at the sound of her sharp cry. Hooves flailed near her head as the fearsome knight fought to keep in his horse in check.

Fear chilled her blood and she stepped back.

After climbing down from his horse and throwing the reins to his page, Sir James took off his helm revealing dark blue eyes, which fixed upon her. “You’re as beautiful and foolish as you were on the riverbank three years ago, Isobel McLaird.”

When he pushed back his chain mail, she saw his raven hair was cropped shoulder length and his lips were as sensual as ever under his noble nose.

Wet from the river, her shift sticking to her skin, he’d held her. She’d turned her lips up to his to be kissed.

“I was foolish not to have reported your trespass on my father’s lands three years ago. You’re a traitor to King John Balliol and my brother’s murderer.”

He strode towards her, his hand on the hilt of his sword.

Stirling Bridge

Stirling Bridge

Fear rooted her feet to the damp earth of the marketplace. Though the rain had passed and the sun shone, for her, everyday was gloomy because of this knight.

“Have you not noticed that you’ve not an army to defend you now?” A half smile formed on his lips.

“You jest about my people’s destruction, brave men all, led by my brother. Your cruelty does you no merit, Sir.” Tears pricked the corners of her eyes. David and his men would have gone down fighting the stronger Bruce army until the end, determined to give everything for the cause of John Balliol, the true king.

At her accusation, the smile slipped from his face and his eyes held sympathy. “It is a bad day for Scotland when Scotsmen spill the blood of their own. I’ve news for you, my lady, but it comes at a cost. Your brother lives.”

“What?” For a moment, Isobel thought the ground had shifted under her feet. Owen, David’s best friend had seen her brother killed by this knight’s very hand.

“You play with me, Sir.”

“Nay, my lady. I do not jest about a cause so dear to your heart. Take this proof of my words.” He took a piece of parchment from his page and handed it to her.

A buzz of voices swarmed as the villagers gathered around her but Isobel paid them no heed. With trembling fingers she saw the parchment contained her brother’s fine hand.

Her gaze flicked up to meet Sir James’s. “David says the Bruce will no accept ransom.”

“Aye, my cousin, the king will brook no opposition to his claim and your brother is a formidable knight. I warrant my cousin will keep him prisoner. And now I’ll take my price for giving the message.”

Isobel reached for the purse that hung at her waist.

Sir James stepped forward, wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground. “Would that I had done this those three years ago by the river. I can’t get you out of my mind.”

She opened her lips to protest, but he planted his mouth hard on hers. Surprise, hotly followed by indignation rose within her. She slapped her hands on his chest and kicked with her feet, but her toes met body armor. A sharp pain zinged through her foot and she opened her lips further to cry out. The knight taking full advantage, put his lips to hers, moving them in a rhythm. His action was bold.  Her blood pumped wildly and sensations she had no name for, rushed through her.

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini

Fry garlic in olive oil in pan until golden. Put in zucchini flowers and turn slowly until brown. Cook until soft but not falling apart so that the zucchini flower remains on the plant and is crunchy. Add a sprinkle of breadcrumbs.

Thanks, Cathleen. Tasty on all fronts! A delicious recipe and that excerpt ought to get Feasters clickety-clicking on your free Highlander ebook. If you missed it, the links are above, just below the cover. Go on. You’ll have fun!

So what’s your favourite book setting? Do you prefer home grown or somewhere exotic? Or, like Cathleen, do you harbour a passion for all things Scottish? Perhaps Africa does it for you? Or France or Italy?

Share away. Curious minds wish to know. Plus you could be the inspiration for a book!

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

THIS WRITING LIFE: Riding a Post RWA Conference High!

I’m home and back on the writing job after a week away in Western Australia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia Riding the Waves conference. What a ball was had! Romance writers are the kindest, friendliest and most generous people out there which makes conferences a hoot. They’re also hugely inspirational, loaded with wonderful craft and business information, and a fantastic way to connect with people who understand exactly how crazy this writing affliction can be. I always return from conferences more than a little bit excited and ready for action, which is just as well considering I have edits coming and a new book to write. This lark can’t all be flitting around Australia, hanging with glamorous authors…

I had hoped to share a pile of glossy, vibrant photos with you, but some numpty managed to upset the camera settings and half of them came out blurred. Sigh. Fortunately a few survived that I can present for your viewing pleasure.

Oh, and so you’re warned, this post is LONG!

Opening night on Thursday was Destiny Romance’s first birthday and, boy, was it loud. Plonk a hundred or so romance writers in a room, feed them cupcakes and bubbly, and you have a racket on your hands. But what a fun night, and what a delight to receive a fabulous Classic Penguin goodie bag at the end of it. Mine contained Anna Cowan’s much lauded Untamed and Peta Crake’s Harbinger, both of which I was thrilled to collect. Afterwards, Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia authors were treated to dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and more chatter.

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny's fabulous first year

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny’s fabulous first year

Fab bag and even more fab reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Gorgeous bag and even more gorgeous reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Friday saw dedicated delegates attend either the Venus On The Half Shell workshop presented by Kim Hudson, or the Elizabeth Jolley Conference – Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century. Me? I snuck off and played golf at Joondalup Resort. What can I say? A girl has to wear off cupcakes, fizz and spaghetti vongole somehow, and the course was brilliant!

But I was back in time for the all-important Harlequin Nautical or Nice cocktail party. At my first RWA conference, back in 2007(?), hardly anyone dressed up. A feather boa here, a quirky outfit there, but mostly normal cocktail-conference dress. Now everyone’s into it and the atmosphere is fantastically silly.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

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Ondine series author Ebony McKenna. You can show me to my berth anytime, Ebs!

Paula Roe as the world's most glittery desert island!

Paula Roe as the world’s most glittery desert island!

Rural romance author and good buddy looking super cute in her onesie!

Rural romance author and good buddy Rachael Johns looking super cute in her onesie!

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Saturday morning saw the conference proper begin. Julia Quinn’s keynote address of her top 4 list of top 4 lists was wonderful and if there’s one thing I’ll forever remember from Riding the Waves it’s her saying: You will never hurt your career by helping another author. Yeah.

Harlequin’s sponsor address followed with Margaret Marbury (Vice President, Harlequin Single Title – HQN, Mira, Luna) and Sheila Hodgson (Harlequin Mills and Boon, London) talking enthusiastically about eHarlequin, their range of imprints, and what Harlequin can offer authors.

Paths to Third Party Publication saw Abby Zidle (Simon & Schuster, New York), Nina Bruhns (Entangled Publishing), Sheila Hodgson, Bernadette Foley (Hachette Australia), Kate Cuthbert (Escape Publishing), Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press), and moderator Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing Services) take the stage to discuss how to submit to publishers and what they’re looking for. My impression was that they were all hungry for your work. Really hungry, and throughout the panel I kept thinking what a great time it was to be an author. We are wanted, no longer beholden and we have options. A lot of options.

Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

L to R: Alex Adsett (moderating), Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

Morning tea: bacon and egg muffins and pastries. Enough said!

For my first breakout session I did Nina Bruhns’s session on Save the Cat! which I loved. She talked about the 10 types of movies (fascinating stuff), loglines and why you need them, and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheets for plotting. Really useful stuff and some of the worksheets are available on Blake’s website under the Tools tab. Quite a few writers I know swear by his Save the Cat! book and after the amount I got out of this session I’ve decided to join the crowd and have just ordered it.

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

I loved Nina’s “when you’re stuck” tip, which I’ve heard a few times before but it never hurts to hear these things again. If you’ve come to a standstill, make a list of 10, 20 or more different things that could happen in your book. Be outrageous, take the editor off your shoulder and just brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if they’re clichéd or unrealistic, write them down. The more you list the more likely you are to come up with something fresh and unexpected to brighten and intrigue your reader. I’m testing this right now as I broaden the plot outline of my next rural romance and have already come up with a couple of good ideas.

For breakout session two I moderated the Shark In Your Story panel (which for some daft reason I couldn’t stop thinking of as the Jump The Shark panel) with Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and Bronwyn Parry. As you’d expect from ladies so highly acclaimed for their romantic suspense novels, the panel was full of fascinating titbits, especially when it came to crafting great villains (Shannon likes to get her freak on; Bronwyn tends to get her ideas for villains from the news). I wish it had gone on longer but there was lunch and more chattering to be had!

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

For breakout three, I joined best-selling historical romance author Anne Gracie and a round table of published authors to discuss business. Again, I wish we had longer because I feel like we barely skimmed the surface, especially when it came to rights and contracts. These are issues authors can never know enough about. Maybe next year in Sydney, when author day returns, we’ll get to talk about the business side of writing a bit more.

Thanks to the Australian Romance Readers Association we had another authorfest on Saturday afternoon with an ARRA booksigning event. 50+ authors seated in the one room with their books for sale and pens poised for signings.  Not quite as loud as the Destiny Party, but close! I sat between paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin and best-selling author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots (and others) Loretta Hill. Kylie’s books sold like crazy which was delightful to see, and I was seriously chuffed to do a few signings myself. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that thrill. It’s something very special.

All action at the ARRA booksigning

All action at the ARRA booksigning

Amy Andrews came prepared...

Amy Andrews came prepared…

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona MacArthur only needed her charming self.

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona McArthur only needed her charming self.

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Me!

Me!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Oof, those romantic suspense types... Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Oof, those romantic suspense types… Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin.

Kylie Griffin. There weren’t many of those books left by the end.

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener. I was thrilled to score Michelle Diener’s kindly donated raffle prize, complete with pretty bookmarks, and look forward to sinking my nose into her stories.

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Then it was out for dinner and a frock up before returning to the Esplanade Hotel for dessert and the RWA’s Awards Gala, where there was much applauding and cheering for our contest and RuBY winners, and where I was delighted to see Bronwyn Jameson awarded life membership of the RWA. So well deserved. Then we had… dancing! I tell you, these romance girls (and boys) know how to rock on.

A glamorous night awaits!

A glamorous night awaits…

...with desserts. Lots of desserts!

…with desserts. Lots of desserts!

The rural romance girls!

The rural romance girls.

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Harlequin Sexy author and hot sheik expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Harlequin Sexy and Presents author and hot sheikh expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Me and Fiona McArthur

Me and Fiona McArthur

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel's bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel’s bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews…

...Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

…Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

Sunday morning. Ahh, yes, a few bleary eyes can be seen, but all in good cause: ie fun. Harlequin’s second sponsor address followed and my heart was all a-flutter at Kate Cuthbert’s news that Escape’s Australian-set rural romances are doing well in the US. Could this be the start of an Aussie invasion? I hope so!

Then the scary Submission Island panel with Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency), Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum (PanMacmillan/Momentum) and Alex Adsett. Manuscript openings were read out and the panel held up STOP signs when they’d heard enough. Wow. Just… wow. If you ever needed a show of how hard it is to hook an editor or agent then this is it. But what also sank in for me was how subjective opinions are when it comes to manuscripts. Some panellists dropped out early, others hung on to the last. Sometimes there was a point where a few would be put off by the same sentence or paragraph and cards would flip up all at once. Overall, it was a insightful demonstration of how authors not only have to have thick skins, but tenacity too. Keep trying. Just because one or two agents or editors don’t like your work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who’d love it.

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

I did Anne Gracie’s The Power of Detail for my first Sunday breakout session and enjoyed it immensely. Anne is a passionate speaker, with a real knack for getting information across in a way that resonates, and I walked away with excellent tips on how to bring the particular and every person together in my writing.

For the post lunch breakout I attended the self publishing panel with Cathleen Ross, Nina Bruhns and Kandy Shepherd. As with all the other panels, this contained more gems of insight from highly experienced authors, from the importance of meta-data, to advertising, to making sure that your books look as professional as traditionally published editions, and beyond. Given the attendance and range of questions, I suspect there’ll be even more on self-publishing at next year’s conference.

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

My last session was a free-for-all chat with Julia Quinn where delegates could ask her anything. I was so pleased to hear she was an edit-as-you-go writer too, because that’s how I work and I can’t help feeling that it somehow lets me down productivity wise. Doesn’t look like it’s hurt Julia!

Those that attended the Navigating the Choppy Waters of Online Reviews panel with Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), Kat Mayo (Bookthingo and Booktopia) and Kate Cuthbert said that was worth attending too, offering plenty of cautionary advice about social networking and online communities.

We closed the conference with plenary addresses from Kim Hudson and Sarah Wendell, more raffles (I won something, rah!), the announcement of next year’s conference venue (Romance Rocks at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, double rah!) and Anne Gracie’s now traditional stand-ups where we celebrate all our achievements for the year (rah, rah, rah!).

After that, it was back to the bar for more chatter, a few drinks and farewells.

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

To the Riding the Waves conference committee and the RWA, I say thank you and bravo. Wonderful, wonderful conference and I can’t wait to do it again next year. So much so I’ve even put my hand up to help.

So now I’m home, furiously plotting when all I really want to do is soak up the glorious weather we’re having and snuggle down on the patio with a book from my RWA haul. But where-oh-where is a girl to start when she has all these beauties on offer?

Books