Monday, 18 March 2019

Seasoned Romance: The Way It Really Is.

By Sandra Antonelli

Maybe you haven’t noticed. People over the age of 40 fall in love. Middle age and beyond does not, despite what you see (or don’t see) portrayed in film and fiction, spell the end to love or sex, or the need for love or sex or fun or adventure. That’s why some of us are writing what we like to call ‘Seasoned Romance’.

Culture creates content, and content creates culture. The books you read, the movies you watch, the advertising you see everywhere matters, it shapes our identities, colours our view of the world. As studies indicate, from childhood we are susceptible to the influence of entertainment’s content, and through the content we consume we have developed inaccurate views about age and ageing that persist throughout our lives. Without noticing, we have become comfortable with a society that subtly stigmatises ageing, treats it as a disease to be fought, and derides human beings—particularly women—for getting older.

In fact, we accept the roles older women are assigned to—you know, granny, harpy, cougar, cat lady, menopausal loon—as accurate, often without realising because, as Naomi MacDougall Jones says about Hollywood’s ageist and sexist presentations, “That’s just the way it is.” I’ll go further to say that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve always got. Age is often overlooked as an issue of diversity, but in the discussion about diversity and inclusion, ageism and sexism matter. And it’s time to change what ‘we’ve always got’ with Seasoned Romance.

What’s Seasoned Romance? Easy. A central love story where couples (m/m, f/f, m/f) of ‘a certain age’ are front and centre, and by front and centre I mean as lead characters in a story that comes with all the hallmarks you love and expect in a romance, novel, right down to sexy times and the all-important Happily Ever After. I write Seasoned Romance with an emphasis on the portrayal of women over 40 as romance heroines, and I always have, long before Seasoned Romance had a name. In fact, my latest release At Your Service and upcoming release Forever in Your Service feature a middle-aged female butler and the slightly younger spy who loves her.

If you said ‘ewww’ to the idea of a 50-year-old woman falling in love and getting it on with a 46-year-old ‘silver fox’ spy hero, then have another look at how you think about yourself as you get older. If you’re a woman, do you honestly think that, once you hit 40, you’re all washed up in life, that your better days are behind you, that love and sex dry up because peri-menopause, menopause or incontinence or whatever anti-wrinkle product you’ve been told you need to reclaim youth because youth was so fantastic, and getting older is dead?

Again, the images you see, the books you read shape our identity and older people, and older women are not tokens, comic foils, secondary characters, or stereotypes. Men have had the advantage of being silver foxes, but now, women of a certain age are finally being positioned as protagonists who challenge ageism, rather than as a stereotype or joke. A female audience is beginning to see themselves as intelligent, interesting, confident, powerful, sensual, sexual, whole human beings who just happen to be older.

Isn’t this what we want in our lives, in our romance, to see ourselves represented? Seasoned Romance is going to be huge. If you’re looking to read (or write) Seasoned Romance check out our Facebook group for books & authors! Here's the link:
Seasoned Romance Facebook Group

How you feel about romance fiction with older characters as the leads?

I love to love coffee.

I love to laugh and I laugh a lot—usually at the most inappropriate times.

I love to learn and this is evident by how I wound up with a BA, MA and PhD, the former focused on the overlooked audience of romance readers wanting romance featuring older leads, and the latter on the portrayal of older women as romance heroines.

Teaser: Forever in Your Service: A heartbroken butler. A dead spy. A randy little dog. Can true love survive a game of cowboys & charlatans?

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Monday, 11 March 2019

The Art of Rejection

by Jayne Kingsley

Rejection is hard to take. You spend hours, blood, sweat and tears, pouring words out of your soul to create your masterful romantic manuscript, only to send it off and after waiting patiently, (or if you’re like me, not so patiently!) to receive a thank you, but no thank you. 

Image courtesy of

It’s hard.

I’ve been writing now for about three years, and I’ve spoken to many published and unpublished authors, all who have said rejection is part of the business. And no mistaking it – becoming a published author is a business and should be treated like one. Last year I took the plunge and finally pitched a manuscript at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, I received a request for the full manuscript and dutifully sent it off a few days later. 

I waited and waited. I followed up, and then about 8 weeks later I received a very pleasant, and encouraging, No. I won’t lie, at the time I was upset, and allowed myself to wallow for about five minutes, (ok, internally I maybe wallowed longer than that) then I got on my treadmill and I sweated my way into a more positive mood. I decided this was to be a stepping stone for me on my road to publication. Which is what it is. 

Image courtesy of

Very few authors gain a publishing contract on their first submission. What is important, is how you view the rejection and what you learn from it. Writing romance is a creative craft, and the best authors I know have all said it’s a continuous journey, one where learning is constant and necessary. 

For my part, I set aside the rejected MS and decided to work on a smaller project. A friend had shared an anthology call out – themed Kissing in the Rain – Springtime in America. I love the idea of kissing in the rain, running in the rain; really, I just love rain, so this was a perfect theme for getting those creative juices running. 

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And I’m happy to say that project has received a more positive response. 

So: I’ve gone out and done a little digging on what others think about rejection – I’ve found this quite interesting and hope you do too. (Please note I have included only constructive comments here – I figured ‘drink copious amounts of wine and eat chocolate for three days’ was a given, right?) 

-      Take it as a learning
-      Were there specific comments? Are they true to your voice and your branding?
-      Persistence is key. Writing is a long journey, multi published authors all say this, the first deal does not mean instant success for life. It may do for a select few, but for most of us, turning writing into a profession means a lot of work. And persistence. Did I mention persistence?
-      Accept the fact that though you love your work, it may not be suitable for a particular publisher, and that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. Publishers reject manuscripts for a multitude of reasons that are outside your writing control:
o  Their publishing calendar is full
o  They’ve just signed something very similar
o  The sales dept has said sales in that genre have tanked
o  The timing was just plain wrong. 
-      Just keep writing. Write something new but keep writing. 

How about you? Have you any fabulous suggestions on how to handle rejections in the world of romance writing? 

I love to love... 
starting a new story idea.
I love to laugh... at myself. Yes, I do this quite often.
I love to learn... how many rejections other amazing authors had before they became multi-published. Really, go Google – it’ll make any rejection feel loads better.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Romance Across Time: Prehistory

by Sharon Bryant

Love in the Stone Age

I’ve always been fascinated by books set in prehistoric times. The world they describe is one of action, adventure and discovery. It was a time when Homo sapiens and Neanderthals coexisted, leading to a potential clash of civilisations. What was romance like during these times? Here are some details of my favourite prehistoric romance novels.

The Valley of Horses by Jean Auel

I discovered the Earth’s Children series when I was in my early 20s. The romance between Jondalar and Alya, and the fascinating historical information, kept me turning the pages through all six books. Alya, an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl is found and raised by Neanderthals. Eventually, she is exiled by the tribe, and travels in search of her own people known as the Others. Jondalar, one of the Others, is on a great journey. They meet when he is attacked by a cave lion, and Alya saves then heals him. Watching their relationship grow as Jondular battles his prejudice against Neanderthals whom Alya has the greatest respect for makes this book a fascinating read.

Transcendence by Shay Savage

Ehd is a strong, intelligent caveman living alone in the wilderness, when he discovers a young woman caught in a pit trap. It is simple logic as far as he is concerned that she should become his mate. She is wearing strange clothes, and she makes a lot of noise, but she is beautiful and brave, and he likes her so he carries her to his cave. Elizabeth is scared and frustrated, and doesn’t understand what has happened to her. She has no interest in this handsome prehistoric man’s advances, but he respects her wishes when she says no. He seems determined to provide for her. Winter is coming, and she has no choice but to stay. If only she could teach him to comprehend the simplest words. The struggle for coexistence, and the growth of love without verbal language makes this book a fascinating read.

The Cave of Lost Love by Morton Chalfy

This book intertwines a prehistoric romance with a contemporary one. Muta receives a sign that she must leave her tribe, and go on a journey, accompanied only by her husband, Rami. The future of the tribe depends on her respecting this omen. Together Muta and Rami find an amazing cave where their tribe could live in the future. Their lives change dramatically when Rami is injured while hunting. He now makes it his life’s work to create paintings depicting their tribal way of life and recording their knowledge. Rami’s cave drawings draw Matthew, an archaeologist, and Stella, a photographer together. The magical atmosphere of the cave and the fascinating discoveries they make set the scene for their growing romance.

Have you read any prehistoric romance novels? Which one was your favourite?

Love to love time with my family.

Love to laugh at the cute things children say.

Love to learn more about the craft of writing.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Twitches and Habits - Why Characters Shouldn't Be Perfect

By Cassandra Samuels

When I start to create a character I often see them in my mind. They aren't fully formed but they all have something about them that stands out - makes them more interesting - like a quirk, a habit or a physical mark that has a backstory that is necessary to the character.

In my current novel Collector of Hearts. I've given Quinn, the hero's best friend, a small quirky habit.

In the seconds after the commands were issued, Robert turned side on, presenting the smallest target. He lifted his pistol, narrowed his eyes down the sight and registered the panic in the other man’s eyes before he squeezed the trigger. The sound of gunfire boomed into the air like a marauding army. It filled the area with the acrid smell of gunpowder. Several men were already dashing towards the fallen Butterworth. Quinn tugged at his waistcoat, as he always did in a show of nervous distress, then he rushed over to Robert who dropped the pistol into Quinn’s gloved hands. 

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Quinn continues to have this quirk of pulling at his waistcoat throughout the book. Why did I give him this nervous habit? To give him a little more depth of character. It was a good way to show when he was nervous, or anxious about a situation or conversation without having to explain it every time. And Robert does put him through some anxious moments.

I could have made him straighten his cuffs or, like my heroine in my first book A Scandalous Wager, give her another habit that grates on the nerves of the hero no end.

She leant closer to the window to try and catch the lamplight on her pocket watch. He knew how she felt; he was thinking the same thing. Was this carriage ride ever going to end?

“I wish you would put that thing away,” Oliver said, folding his arms across his chest. It must have been the fifth time she’d done it since getting in the carriage. If she was going to do it all night it was going to drive him to drink - heavily.

“I must know what the time is,” she stated, her voice as cool as ever.

“Does it really matter if we are a few minutes late?” He was baiting her on purpose, and he knew it was dangerous considering what was in her reticule, but it was dark so he did have an advantage.

“Yes, it does.”

He waited. Nothing. “Is this another one of your theories, Countess? I suppose we men can’t be trusted with timepieces either? God forbid we may tell each other the wrong time.”

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For Lisbeth, I gave her the burden of constantly needing to check the time. In order to keep her sanity, she scheduled everything, and I gave her two tools: a pocket watch and a schedule. Breaking this timed schedule in any way caused her no end of angst. And no end of annoyance for Oliver.

These two small examples show just how using some kind of quirk or physical burden can enhance a character. Who wants to read a perfect character anyway?

Do you have a favourite character in a book who has an interesting quirk, twitch or habit?

Love to Love: To create characters who have unusual quirks and habits.

Love to Laugh: Watching my grandsons play in the pool. They are such water babies.

Love to Learn: About how I can create other wonderful characters by reading and studying real-life people.

Monday, 18 February 2019

The Romance of a Winery

Our guest blogger this month is Megan Mayfair, author of The Things We Leave Unsaid, Tangled Vines, and the soon-to-be-released The Problem with Perfect. 
Welcome to the Breathless Blog, Megan!

I’m a city mouse. And I do love it – the hustle and bustle, but sometimes I think, ‘how nice would it be to run a winery?’

Image courtesy of giphy

Let’s be clear. I have absolutely no knowledge of how to make wine. Or how to sell it. Or how to grow grapes. My entire life is based in metropolitan Melbourne. I literally wouldn’t know where to start, but yet, the idea is so compelling, so intriguing and so romantic.

What is it about wineries that make them so romantic? I can’t be the only one to think so – they are an extremely popular setting for books and movies, particularly within the romance genre.

Blairgownie Estate Winery

Is it the fact they are often so prettily situated in gorgeous locations like South Australia’s Barossa Valley or Western Australia’s Margaret River? And that’s just Australia! There are plenty of glorious wine regions around the world such as Napa, Tuscany, Bordeaux. Just typing these locations makes me think of rustic buildings set atop of hills overlooking rows of grapes with the sun setting in the background. What an ideal setting for a hero and heroine to fall in love. Swoon.

Or perhaps it’s the luxury of the product? Sitting on a balcony sipping a glass of bittersweet champagne or a plummy merlot is a moment of luxurious bliss away from traffic jams, school pick-ups and deadlines. There’s something about stopping and enjoying a drink with my real-life hero that always feels like a slither of lux in a busy world. Not to mention that some of life’s most beautiful moments are celebrated with the popping of a champagne cork or a heartfelt toast.

Whatever the appeal, I love a novel or a movie set on a winery. While, at least not for the moment, running away to run a winery isn’t quite on the cards for me, I could at least let my imagination run wild in my most recent novel, Tangled Vines

My hero, Frederick runs a winery called Fox & Grey in Victoria’s Heathcote area, which is well known for peppery Shiraz due to the climate and soil. I enjoyed trekking to wineries such as Blairgownie Estate near Bendigo for inspiration, along with spots on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. Ahh, the things we do for research!

About Tangled Vines

Desperate to escape a humiliating scandal, Amelia seeks refuge with her aunt, Jill. Amelia quickly finds comfort in the arms of Frederick, a business owner battling for control of his winery, but as their relationship grows, an explosive secret in Jill's past threatens to re-surface. 

Can they find happiness or will history repeat itself?


I love to love… a romance amongst the vines.

I love to laugh… with friends over a drink.

I love to learn… about all our beautiful wineries throughout Australia so please let me know your favourites!

Monday, 11 February 2019

Online Writing Courses or Classroom-based Sessions?

by Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of giphy

Wherever you are on the journey from aspiring writer to established author, you'll know the importance of continually striving to improve your writing.

I’m an emerging author, constantly on the lookout for courses that deal with different aspects of the writing craft/business, not just for that ‘professional training’ aspect, but because there’s a sense of personal fulfilment in completing them that I really enjoy. Over the last few years, I’ve enrolled in a number of both online and classroom-based courses. Here are a few of my thoughts.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Online courses are, apparently, on the rise, and it’s easy to understand why. They offer flexibility and convenience for those of us who work day jobs and/or have family commitments. You can work at your own level and pace at a time that suits you. However, from my experience, you really do need to schedule a time to work on assignments (and make sure that you schedule enough time).

I dropped out of one course I did with Margie Lawson’s Writer’s Academy when ‘life’ intervened; I wasn’t in the right headspace and just couldn’t keep up. (Bye-bye $100 bucks!) Having said that, though, no one can predict life dramas, and the other two courses I did with Lawson’s Academy were absolutely brilliant. The assignment feedback from each of the mentors, and other enrollees, was invaluable.

Another couple of suggestions:

Image courtesy of giphy
✻Keep copies of all assignments you submit

✼Organise those Assignment files in a way that suits you (and work it out beforehand)

✼If you have a tendency towards procrastination, or have motivation that ebbs and flows, an online course is probably not for you

✻Also, ensure that your computer is working well – nothing is more frustrating than dealing with technology issues when you’re on limited time.

The Romance Writer’s of Australia OWLs (Online Writing Lessons) are fantastic. (Check out the schedule for 2019 here.) I’ve done a couple and found them very worthwhile. They cover a huge range of topics and are very reasonably priced at $55 for RWA members ($88 for non-members). Our writing group completed Cathleen Ross’s very practical Self-publishing for Beginners, which enabled us to publish our Christmas Anthology.

One thing I have found difficult with online courses is that there is (usually) no instant clarification of concerns. Being able to read back over lectures (or Pause/Rewind on videos) is helpful, as is the presence of a chat room, but this is where classroom-based courses come into their own.

Learning in a group is fun!

There’s nothing quite like being in a ‘real’ room with other like-minded people, discussing a topic you’re all enthusiastic about. The spontaneity of discussion that comes with being in a face-to-face group provides so many fabulous learning opportunities.

There’s also something about being in a classroom that enables you to keep your attention focused (so much more effectively than watching a video or reading through a lecture on your own at home – or is that just me?? 😕).

I’ve heard good things about Writing NSW courses, with top-notch presenters from among our best-known Aussie authors. The wonderful Anne Gracie has a one-day course in May, Romancing the Page.

The Australian Writer’s Centre (North Sydney) offers both online and classroom-based courses. I have no experience with their online courses, but the classroom-based Blogging for Beginners was the starting point for our Breathless Blog. I’m also very excited to say that I’ll be attending History, Mystery and Magic in March, a two-day course with Kate Forsyth.

Can’t wait!

Last, but not least, Daily Writing Tips has an interesting review of James Patterson's Masterclass here.

Do you invest in your writing by doing courses? Do you prefer online or classroom-based sessions? Do you have any writing-related courses you’d particularly recommend?

Love to Love the sound of rain (it's been so damn hot this summer!).

Image courtesy of giphy
Love to Laugh at puns at Nerdy FunPun.

Love to Learn all about History, Mystery and Magic with Kate Forsyth.

Monday, 4 February 2019


Miranda's February Musings

Darlings, what happened to January? My stars. Over! Too! Soon! 

So here is a February question for you all while you hibernate from the crazy polar vortex in the northern hemisphere (whaaaat?!), and boil in the record temps Down Under, phew. 

What do you prefer to read? A single title romance, OR a series which can give the same hero and heroine or secondary characters their stories, and prolong the love in the community? 

For example, the amazing Nora Roberts AKA JD Robb began her In Death series waaaay back in 1995 with Naked in Death. This first book introduced prickly NY police detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas - and she meets intriguing Irish billionaire Rourke in the course of her investigations. Huh. Fourty-eight books later - yes, 48! - Eve and Rourke are still fresh, fabulous and intriguing enough for millions of readers to hang out for every new story, with the 49th book scheduled to be released later this year. In hardcover! This is truly a monumental series success story. JD Robb, we are in awe of you! Have you read any Eve and Rourke, and are you keen for more?

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A different series called Outback Brides brought joy to many reader hearts in 2018. Beloved Australian authors Kelly HunterVictoria PurmanCathryn Hein and Fiona McArthur gifted us four different brides, all divinely romantic and lovely and absolutely scrumptious. You simply must read on and enjoy each different bride's story, especially as they pop into the previous books. Yes please, I can cope with that very easily: a finite series of 4 books with a different H&H in each one. Can you? 

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Hands up the stand alone book readers? Those who really love carving time out to read one romance and that's-enough-for-now-because-it's-so-fabulous? Late 2016 (omigosh that sounds so long ago!) I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Totally loved it, laughed all the way through, went looking for another book by her and... eek! Had to wait! Imagine my thrill when her next book 99% Mine, which I pre-purchased months ago, fell into my Kindle last week! I cannot tell you how that sent me into an excited spin, but I need to finish the (fabulous) book I'm reading to get to it... I am sure that, like The Hating Game, reading 99% Mine will be - enough. Something to linger over and enjoy. Hopefully with some laughs and tears, like last time. No pressure, Sally Thorne! I have faith in you. ❤❤ But, YAY for a stand-alone book!

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One favourite stand-alone romance is Molly Cooper's Dream Date by Barbara Hannay. Apparently I'm not alone in loving this book; I've heard a whisper it's about to be made into a film, oh my. Bring it on! I could read this book again and again. Actually, I already have... It never loses its charm, and I love it anew every reread. Have you read it? It's actually a lovely armchair travel read for London, part of the appeal for us Aussies, and a luscious romance. Win, win.

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So, my pick for Single Title or Series is - BOTH, depending on my mood! I'm happy to read a series or a stand alone; they both have their place. What about you?

Love from Miranda xxx

Love to Love:

A new book from a fave author. And a new book in a series I love!

Love to Laugh:

At my teetering, tottering, Read-Me pile of books. I think it multiplies in the dark at night...?!

Love to Learn:

About all the new romances coming out. I know, I know, I've got a mountainous TBR, but there will be a new gem in the newies somewhere. For sure. 

Monday, 28 January 2019

New Year's Resolutions: Managing a Writing Career

By Alyssa J. Montgomery 

I'm thinking about New Year’s resolutions and my writing goals. I already have my publishing schedule for this year and deadlines set by my publisher, but what about my goals for managing my career as a writer?

After I received my first publishing contract I quickly discovered that the business of writing involves so much more than writing a publishable story! In fact in a hyper-crowded marketplace, marketing can make all the difference. 

This year I decided one of my NYE resolutions should be to consciously manage my writing career, including paying more attention to marketing. 

Sounds easy, right? For me, it isn’t because I have a day job that’s demanding in terms of time, emotional and physical energy (a private speech pathology practice which I own, work and manage!), a family to love, enjoy and organise and a home and several animals to look after, and friendships to enjoy and nurture. No different from most other writers and my health is pretty good, yet I find it a juggling act and I confess that I don’t always catch all the balls I throw up into the air, so what can I do better?

I'm told I need to spend time daily both writing and setting aside time to attend to ‘author-ly business’. I can’t write every day, but this year I’ve resolved to either write and/or attend to some of the business of writing on a daily basis. This should also help me focus on my writing career more.

Every minute spent marketing—whether it’s through social media, blogging, newsletters, book signings, organising pre-launch promotions, answering emails from readers or organising promotional merchandise—takes time away from writing. It’s important to continue the momentum of promotion from one book so that it flows on to the next. So I’m going to try to find a better balance. 

In 2019 I hope to find more time to develop my writing as a business. 

Anybody got any good tips to help me along the way? 

What are your writing New Year’s resolutions?

Love to Love: Meeting goals I've set.

Love to Laugh: When things go wrong and I can't meet those goals (it's either laugh or cry!)

Love to Learn: About how to improve my approach to managing my writing career.

Monday, 21 January 2019

The Breathless List 2019

Every year at this time, we Breathless ladies have the unenviable task of nominating our favourite Aussie romance read of the previous year. This year, with so many wonderful books published in 2018, it was an almost impossible task! 

The good news is: we did it!

And here they are...

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Miranda: A Baby in His In-tray by Michelle Douglas

This book is hands down gorgeous, my happy pick for The Breathless List. It has a twin swap - which Michelle absolutely nailed, a suddenly dumped baby, and a befuddled businessman trying to figure out if the baby is his - or related to him somehow (cue lots of family conflict). 

It is truly a sweet and lovely romance as Liv and Sebastian find themselves, find each other, and find out what a family really means. The most lovely thing about this book was the nice, decent and fair way Liv and Sebastian treated each other. Sometimes this is forgotten: H&Hs can go all conflict-icky with each other and behave less than splendidly. 

Here, despite all the dramas and disasters, their beautiful characters shone through. Plus, cutest cover ever! Bravo, Michelle! 

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Alyssa J Montgomery: Shock Heir for the Crown Prince (Book 1 of the Four Kings series) by Kelly Hunter

I’ve always loved Kelly Hunter’s voice and this second chance, secret baby plot romance ticked all the boxes for me. I loved Ana—a strong heroine who attained her career goal, supported by her parents, despite becoming a single mother. I also loved that her mother was a strong woman and that they had a close bond. Even Ana and Casimir’s child is no pushover!

Casimir is also strong but has the weight of his kingdom pressing down on him. His father was an unyielding man and Cas is determined to be a better ruler. Casimir has definite visions for his kingdom, an unshakeable sense of duty and loyalty but will listen to advice—up to a point! Only Ana is able to get him to lighten up.

As is Kelly Hunter’s usual style, there’s lots of humour in the dialogue where the heroine gives as good as she gets and even has Cas on the ropes at times. The royal advisor Rudolpho is also a great character. He’s wise and possesses a droll sense of humour.

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Sharon Burke: The Laird’s Willful Lass by Anna Campbell

Fergus Mackinnon is used to being in command and in unquestioning obedience from his servants and tenants. He became Laird of Achnasheen when he was only a child, and people have met his autocratic expectations ever since. Fortunately, his decisions are always correct, and people understand this. When he marries, he will naturally require the same level of deference from his wife.

Marina Lucchetti is a well-known artist in Florence.  She has achieved success, admiration, and independence even though she is competing in a man’s world. Marina is passionate about her art and vows to remain single. No man will stand in the way of the career she loves.

When Marina’s father is injured in a carriage accident, she agrees to remain at Achnasheen and paint the beautiful estate scenery while he recovers.

Fiery desire battles with good sense as both hero and heroine are swept away by irresistible passion, while recognising they can never fully commit to each other.

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Marilyn Forsyth: Three Gold Coins by Josephine Moon

One wonderful memory from my travels around Europe in my twenties is a magical night when I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain. So, from the moment Laura Foxleigh tosses her gold coins into that fountain, stating ‘I am in Rome’, I was hooked by this book. The vivid details of the Italian people, their culture and the landscape (plus cute goats, plus cheese-making!) brings the story to life in the loveliest way.

I loved the vulnerability of sweet and sexy Matteo, goat farmer, and the bravery of Laura, who leaves Australia for Italy to escape an abusive ex. That both characters have what many consider disabilities (no spoilers) is what draws them together.

The book is sensual without being overtly sexy. It also has a dark edge to it that kept me turning the pages. If you enjoy romance, armchair travelling, and books that deal with ‘real-life’ issues, you’ll love this one.

(And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did go back to Rome.)

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Cassandra Samuels: Bittersweet by Jacquie Underdown

I really enjoyed this novel and remember being quite embarrassed that I was tearing up on the plane on the way to see my daughter in Brisbane. 

There is a lot of emotional turmoil in this book but the heroine Amy uses her skills as a chef to keep her friend’s cupcake bakery open while also trying to support her friend's husband. I won't tell you why as it will ruin the book. The hero Tom is a fly-in-fly-out contractor who has shunned his part in the family vineyard, but with Amy holding the fort he feels the need to be there for his brother and for her. 

This is a book about love, family and friendships.

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Enisa Haines: Maggie’s Run (Outback Brides Book 1) by Kelly Hunter

Maggie’s Run is the first in the Outback Brides series and, wow, it’s magic! 

Maggie Walker is riddled with self-doubt and her sleep plagued with nightmares ensuring she’ll never forget her traumatic past. When she inherits Wirra Station, her cold, austere great-aunt Carmel’s home and never really hers, she doesn’t want it, but her visit there brings her back in contact with Max O’Connor. The one person she feels close to yet she fights to keep those feelings back.

Max, owner of the property next door, wants to buy Wirra Station, but he also wants Maggie, the girl he’d long-ago lost his heart to, to know what she’ll miss by selling. Can he convince her to stay?

Witty humour, secrets and intrigue, romance both tender and sensual, and the so-so-beautiful happy ending Maggie and Max very much deserve. Thank you, thank you, Kelly Hunter! 

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Jayne Kingsley: The Trouble with Choices by Trish Morey

Set in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, The Trouble with Choices follows the story of the three Faraday sisters, Hannah, Beth and Sophie. All carry romantic baggage and are hiding secrets from each other. Each has a choice to make that will direct their futures. 

It's a beautiful and heartfelt story that had me laughing, sighing and wishing it would never end. 

Was your favourite amongst our top picks? If not, leave a comment mentioning which Aussie romance published in 2018 you absolutely loved. We're always looking for great Aussie authors to read and support. 

Love to Love Aussie romance authors and their books.

Love to Laugh Full stop.😄

Love to Learn that the next book in the descriptive thesaurus series is The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition! This new edition has added 55 more emotions, bringing the total to 130 and almost doubling it in size! You can check out the full list of emotions (and some sample entries) HERE.

If you’d like to pre-order, you can find it on Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books (iBooks) and Indiebound.

Also, Angela & Becca are giving away a free webinar recording of one of their popular workshops on Emotion, so head over if this is an area of struggle for you.