Monday 27 January 2020

The Breathless List

Image courtesy of giphy

It's that time of the year again, when the Breathless ladies reveal their favourite romance read of the last year by an Australian or New Zealand author. As always, it's been a difficult task to choose just one, but here is The Breathless List! (Hope you're as excited as Rachel and Phoebe. 😉)

Sharon Bryant: Marry in Secret by Anne Gracie

Lady Rose Rutherford has no desire to marry for love, but she is sick of being on the marriage mart and wishes to enjoy the relative freedom of life as a married woman. Having rejected numerous proposals, she accepts the Duke of Everingham’s offer of a “courteous, unemotional, rational arrangement”. Midway through their wedding ceremony a bedraggled stranger storms into the church. He demands the wedding be stopped, claiming to be Rose’s long-lost husband. At first Rose does not recognise him. This wild-looking man cannot be her beloved Thomas. The man she married in secret is surely dead.

Anne Gracie has delivered another delightful page turner with a fascinating premise and beautifully constructed characters. This novel has considerable depth of plot and characterisation. It deals with the harsh realities of the slave trade on the Barbary Coast and explores themes of anguish and suffering, recovery and redemption.

Kristine Charles: See Me by L. Simpson

Full disclosure: L. Simpson is a friend/writing buddy but, that said, this is my favourite Aussie romance of 2019.

See Me follows single-dad Ethan as he navigates an infuriating ex, an adorable daughter and Mia, a sparky new love interest. Mia, of course, has her own commitment issues (thanks to another infuriating ex) and the requisite meddling friends who help Mia, and Ethan, find their way.

See Me is set between Bright, in the beautiful Alpine Valleys of Victoria, and bustling Melbourne. L’s from the Alpine region and her love for the area is clear in her descriptions. The story’s a well-written, easy read, which will make you both fall in love with Ethan, and want to travel to Bright!

Warning! See Me is book four in a series! Two more are due in 2020. Happy reading!

Marilyn Forsyth: Undara by Annie Seaton

This book combines dual timelines, eco-adventure, mystery and romantic elements, and it grabbed me from the opening page with a heap of questions I just had to find answers to.

Emlyn Rees is an entomologist investigating the lava tubes of North Queensland for new species of insect. The tunnels are located beneath the property of Travis Carlyle, whose cattle station has become an unviable millstone around his neck. Both characters have suffered tragedy and throw themselves into their work to escape the pain of their individual marriage breakdowns.

Mysteries abound. What happened to the children who disappeared over a hundred years ago? Who is sabotaging Emlyn’s work? What happened to make her leave the husband who writes her such heartfelt letters?

Annie Seaton’s love of the Australian landscape shines through on every page. The lava tubes of Undara are now on my bucket list of Aussie must-sees. Thanks Annie!

Enisa Haines: Emma (Book 4 in the Outback Brides of Wirralong quartet) by Kelly Hunter

Laughter, soul-wrenching sadness and tears, trust that’s feared yet yearned for, and love that fills the heart to overflowing. That’s what Kelly Hunter’s Emma has from the first page to the last. Liam McNair, a rough and tough cattleman as gorgeous in looks as well as in his heart, seeks love but believes himself unworthy. Emma, Lady Emmaline Lewellyn Grayson, always feeling the outcast in her upper-class world, seeks to belong but believes no one will ever want her for the woman she is. When Emma meets Liam, each finds ‘the one’ and no way are either letting go.

A beautiful story with that ‘awww’ ending that keeps you staring at the page. Thank you, Kelly Hunter, for a really moving read!

Jayne Kingsley: The Aussie Next Door by Stephanie London

Man, choosing one favourite read was hard! But this book is the perfect combination of heat and heart and I simply couldn’t put it down.

Angie Donovan has left America and an unthinkable past to come to Australia. Specifically, Patterson’s Bluff, where she’s found her forever home. Except she has to leave, her visa is a ticking clock. Marriage of convenience isn’t an option, but marriage for love certainly would be.

Jace Walters grew up knowing he was a little different from most people. Settled with a great job creating a successful comic strip and living by himself, the last thing he needs is a distraction in the form of his sexy neighbour, Angie.

Throw in dog sitting of two delightful dogs, a small-town community that welcomes everyone, and a large unwieldy interfering family – well it’s one hell of a book. I literally laughed out loud, copious times.

Cassandra Samuels: Live and Let Spy by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Adam Hardacre has proved his worth but is denied a promotion in the royal navy because he was not high born. Insulted he resigns but is quickly approached by another man and asked to use his skills to help in a secret mission.

Olivia Collins was the governess to the occupants of the big house but they are selling and she is no longer needed. She has stuck around to help finish things up and comes across a secret that involves Adam. She quickly falls for his no-nonsense charm and he for her. They both know that their lives are verging for only a few weeks and then must face a future without each other. They become involved in Adam’s mission and only just escape with their lives and their true love.

A fun book and the first in a series for this author.

Alyssa J Montgomery: Prince's Virgin in Venice by Trish Morey

This book is my standout for 2019 for a couple of reasons. Firstly because although I’ve loved her longer romantic/women’s fiction stories such as The Trouble with Choices and Cherry Season (and her latest, One Summer Between Friends is now on my TBR pile) it was so lovely to see Trish return to her ‘roots’ as a Mills & Boon Presents author and this was the first Presents book I’ve read from her in a couple of years.

Secondly, apart from delivering the expected romance in the Presents style with the lovely rags-to-riches/Cinderella trope, I really enjoyed the descriptions of Venice and of the lace-makers from Brugge. Venice is one of my favourite places and I’ve seen the lace-makers at work in Brugge, so the rich descriptions of these elements in the story really struck a chord with me. Thanks Trish!

Miranda: 99% Mine by Sally Thorne

Sally Thorne's debut The Hating Game was totally left field, a game changer in modern romance. A bit dark and different, and funny. Bitingly funny. Ditto for this one, although much darker to begin with, so dark I was a bit worried I wouldn't bond with the book and Darcy, the feisty, unusual, out-there, take-no-prisoners heroine.

About a third of the way in, after I'd put the book down and picked it up the next day, the book changed - or maybe it was me. I suddenly 'got' the humour, started laughing, enjoyed the walk on the dark, wild side, and totally relished the story so much it was sad to finish. Imagine my delight to find an epilogue tucked away for both this book and The Hating Game right at the end - so don't skip the important last bits!

Can't wait to see what Sally offers us next.

Love to Love: the way Australians have come together to help each other during the terrible Bushfire Crisis this summer.

Love to Laugh: along with everyone who danced in the rain (when it finally arrived).

Image courtesy of giphy
Love to Learn: What was your favourite romance read in 2019?
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  1. I do love seeing everyone's favourites and I have read six of these books as well, we truly have fabulous books to choose from to read from fabulous Aussie and Kiwi authors :)

    Have Fun


    1. I should have known you'd already read most of these, Helen. 😘 You're a wonderful supporter of us Aussie and NZ writers. Thanks so much for dropping by.

  2. Thank you so much for including Outback Bride Emma in this wonderful list. Mwah!

    1. My pleasure, Kelly. Emma is a beautiful romance and a gorgeous end to the series.

  3. I'm delighted to see Undara there... and in such great company!

    1. It was a great read, Annie Seaton! I was enthralled from the first page. Thanks so much for dropping by.

  4. What an amazing list of Australian authors. Makes me feel very proud to know so many of them.

  5. Thanks so much for including my Marry In Secret on your gorgeous list. As well, there's a few books there I haven't read, so I'm off to buy them. I love getting book recommendations. Thanks, Breathless babes

    1. Thanks so much for dropping by, Anne. I am thoroughly enjoying reading your Marriage of Convenience series, and look forward to reading George's story when it comes out later this year.

  6. Gosh, I love this list every year! FABULOUS picks, girls, but wasn't it agonizing narrowing the choice down to just one! I felt like a cut off a few beloved children or something. Too hard, but also - excellent list! I've just hidden my purse because I want to read them all. Or maybe I can simply get my purse out and give myself a little present. :) Thanks everyone! x

  7. This is such a fab list :D A few I haven't read so off I go to add to my TBR pile!

  8. The list is wonderful. Now I have to add to my TBR pile. At this rate, it won't ever decrease.

  9. Kristine Charles27 January 2020 at 16:24

    Oh ditto! Too many good books to add to my very precarious (albeit mostly digital!) TBR pile...

  10. So many great books here and so much great Aussie talent out there that this is a difficult list to compile. By the way, the site has some great specials on both Australian and international authors right now as part of their Book of the Week and Summer of Love promotion so it's definitely worth a mention to drop by and see the specials.


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