Monday 31 July 2017

What is Love? Part 3 - Secrets and the Bad Boy

By Cassandra Samuels

So, here we are again. In this post I thought I'd talk about the more forbidden type of love. I'm not sure if you've heard the term 'the Romeo and Juliet Effect'. This is basically when a new relationship is formed but everyone thinks it's a bad idea, which in turn makes your attraction to that person heighten. In other words you want to be with the forbidden lover even more.

1936 film Romeo and Juliet starring Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet
Why is this so?

Well, part of the reason is freedom. We want to love who we want to love, right? We don't like to be told what to do. It inhibits our freedom. Therefore we will do everything in our power to keep our freedom of choice.

In romance this may be called the Bad Boy trope and it's a popular one. We all like a bad boy and we all want to tame him. Everyone knows they shouldn't be together; he's from the wrong side of the tracks, his past is often murky and he has a chip on his shoulder the size of Russia. He has scars, both physical and metaphorical.

courtesy of Psychology Meow

What do we love more? When the bad boy turns good (not too good) and becomes a man worthy of our heroine (perhaps he was worthy all along)? But to keep the bad boy she may at first try to keep him a secret.

What is more seductive than being told you shouldn't? Doing it anyway and keeping it to yourself, of course. If our heroine is having a relationship with someone she knows others will find inappropriate, she may decide to keep it hidden. It's a little bit naughty and exciting to boot.

picture courtesy of Kristina Flour and sourced from

So why is a secret affair so enticing? When you are having a secret relationship it is on your mind more than usual. You are thinking about it all the time and how to keep it a secret. It feels more important - all those details you have to hide and all those lies you need to have in check. For to keep the relationship to yourself is to protect it. It's exhausting, and probably why secret relationships don't last long, especially if neither is willing to commit.

Do you like Bad Boy books? 

Let me know which one is your favourite. 

Mine is Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

buy a copy here

Love to Love -  looking forward to some grandbabies being born this year.

Love to Laugh - at inside jokes.

Love to Learn - by going to the RWAust conference in August.

Monday 24 July 2017

How to Write a Review

with Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of Giphy

All writers know the critical importance of reader reviews to the discoverability and potential purchase of our books. The more reviews we get, the better for us 😉.
(Although, having said that, I’m reminded of an author friend of mine who had a review written about her mystery thriller in which the reviewer named the killer! It took her weeks to have the review pulled. What a disaster!)

Anyway, back to the blog…

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Why is it that asking for reviews can be like asking for an arm or a leg? Could it be because readers are simply unsure of how to go about actually writing a review?

If that's the case, here are some suggestions that might help (don't feel you have to use them all!):

1) Before you start writing, imagine that you are describing the book to a friend who has asked your opinion on it. Your friend will want to know not just what the book is about, but why you liked/didn’t like it and, importantly, why.

2) Mention the author in the first few sentences, then give a taste of the plot in general terms (no spoilers, plot twists or endings, please 😉). If it’s part of a series, you can mention it.

3) Say what you liked about the book. Here are some questions to
get you started:
Image courtesy of Pixabay
  • Was the story believable?
  • Did you enjoy the author’s style?
  • Did you find the main characters credible/likable/relatable?
  • Did the author make the setting come to life?
  • Did the book keep you turning the pages?
  • Did you laugh, cry, want to keep reading past the end?

Image courtesy of

4) Anything that didn’t work for you about the book?
  • Characters TSTL (too stupid to live)? 
  • Frustrating ending? (Don’t give it away.)
  • Trope didn’t do it for you? (Be fair. If you don’t like the trope, why read the book?)
  • Story could have done with better editing?

5) Summarise your personal response to the book.
  • Would you recommend it?
  • Who should read it? (Fans of comedy, YA, historical romance, etc)
  • Any authors or series it could be compared to?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

6) Rate the book. (Even if you just give a book a rating, it helps.)

Readers always want to know what other readers think of books. A good review focuses not so much on the plot of the book but on the reviewer’s thoughts and feelings about the story and the author’s ability to tell it. By providing an honest review you can not only unite readers with books they can love, but also help authors to get their books noticed.

Go on! Do it! Write that review!

Image courtesy of Giphy

*Follow the link to find Cassandra Samuels’ excellent post on how to physically get your book review up on a site:

As a reader, what encourages you to leave a review? As an author, have you struggled to get reviews? Any suggestions?

Love to Love getting a new kitchen. This is my thirty-year-old one; I'm going with black and white for the new one. I'll post a pic when it's done.

Love to Laugh at reruns of The Vicar of Dibley. Gotta love Dawn French.
Love to Learn by doing workshops. I recently attended a one-day self-publishing workshop, organized by our writing group, with the fabulous Cathleen Ross. I learned so much! Who knew it was so easy??

Monday 17 July 2017

Author Spotlight: Alli Sinclair

The focus of this month's Author Spotlight is the gorgeous Alli Sinclair. She's a favourite of ours here on the Breathless Blog, having written several guest posts for us. (After you've read the interview, scroll all the way down to find a special offer to celebrate Alli's latest release.)
Welcome Alli!

What are you currently reading?

Image courtesy of IMDB

I usually have two books on the go – one non-fiction and one fiction. Currently I’m reading Mae West’s biography which is really amazing. Mae West did a lot for asserting the rights of women being paid fairly in Hollywood and her life story is intriguing. I’m also reading The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George. This is the second book of Nina’s and I am absolutely loving it. Her characters have a lot of depth, are all very different to each other, and the storyline is captivating. I can’t wait to read more of her books!

What is the premise of your latest book?

Beneath the Parisian Skies is a sweeping saga about love, truth, grief and passion — and what it takes to fulfil a dream. Australian Lily Johannson goes to Paris to make amends with her turbulent past but the only way she can move forward is to unravel a one-hundred-year-old mystery about the Ballets Russes. She enlists the help of a dashing Frenchman, of course, and along the way Lily discovers who she really is and what she wants in life—especially with love.

With Bohemian Paris, classic French and Russian artistry woven into the story, Beneath the Parisian Skies takes readers on an emotional and cultural journey. Readers can enjoy the experience of travelling through beautiful Paris from the comfort of their armchair—no passport required!

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?

I’m definitely a tweenie. I do love to plot as I can’t start a story without knowing the basic storyline and who my characters are, but as my work contains lots of historical facts, I sometimes discover new information as I’m writing and that can take the plot in a different direction. I also have characters barge their way onto the page and I let them stay there as long as they serve a purpose. It’s often quite intriguing what they bring to the story and sometimes their role is pivotal and I had no idea until they appeared out of nowhere!

What is the last photo you took on your phone?

It was of my daughter who received a bunch of flowers from a dear friend in England. My daughter played soccer with a fractured foot (we didn’t know it was fractured at the time) and my friend in England was super impressed (he loves soccer) and his daughter wanted to give my daughter a get well hug. So to save the expense of a plane ticket, my friend and his family sent flowers. I do have the most caring and lovely friends. I’m so lucky!

Image courtesy of Pixabay
What do you love to love?

Love to see people reaching for the dreams and, even better, achieving them.

What do you love to laugh at?

When my hubby and kids and I find a joke so funny that we’re all laughing hysterically then someone snorts and we all laugh at each other laughing—pure joy.

What do you love to learn about?

I love to learn about strong women who have taken on the world, despite the odds, and followed their passion regardless. They are such wonderful role models for people in all stages of life and the more we talk about these amazing women, the more inspired people will be to follow their own paths and inspire others.


Alli Sinclair is a multi award-winning author of books that combine travel, mystery, and romance. An adventurer at heart, Alli has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and immersed herself in an array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. Alli’s stories capture the romance and thrill of exploring new destinations and cultures that also take readers on a journey of discovery.

Alli volunteers as an author role model with Books in Homes, promoting literacy and reading amongst young Australians.

Alli can be found at .

Alli can be found at



Instagram: alli_sinclair






iBooks: Kindle:

Google Play:



Alli has written a free e-novella that is the prequel to Beneath the Parisian Skies. To download it, use any of the following links:

Monday 10 July 2017

Miranda's Musings about Irish Meanderings...

Darlings, I've just had the most fabulous holiday in Ireland. Yes, I can see you're green with envy, and I would be too if I was you! Actually, the whole of Ireland is emerald green because it rains every day. Your brolly and raincoat become your new BFFs there. I saw castles and libraries (those magnificent old books!), learned about Vikings and Celts, famines, the 1916 Easter Uprising and The Troubles, blundered through two film sets, and heard lots of stories - and some might even have been true. I enjoyed terrific dancing and singing, drank Guinness, ate potatoes (they taste far better in Ireland) and saw so much incredible scenery my eyes and heart went into overload.

The Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, a
Game of Thrones scene for
'The King's Highway'.

I did a literary tour, so drenched myself with literature from Irish greats such as James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, Lady Gregory, WB Yeats, CS Lewis, Oliver Goldsmith, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, JM Synge, the delightful Maeve Binchy - the list goes on and on... At times, as when mired in the fat bio of Patrick Kavanagh, I wondered why on earth I was doing this. But it paid off tremendously. I appreciated Ireland a million times more because of the reading.

However, darlings, I do adore coming back to romance. It is my go-to genre, the one I love and will always come back to between big, fat classics and all other genres. So imagine my delight to discover this pretty green gem at the exchange bookcase at my Dublin hotel:

Image credit:

I literally pounced on it and then discovered all four authors have signed it. Wow! WOW! I was going to read it and leave it there for the next romance addict, we are many after all, but somehow this little treasure made its way home with me. Whoever left it has my undying love and thanks.

When you travel, do you immerse yourself in the stories of the area? Do you trawl the local bookshops and drool and wish your weight limit was 100kg and you could buy it all? I certainly did, and all the others in the group were also irresistibly lured. Some desperately hoped their carry ons would never be weighed because they were full of books and probably weighed as much as the plane itself. Some tossed out toiletries and clothes (I'm not making this up) to squeeze in

Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway, a treasure trove of new and used books
with rooms that went on and on... I spent most of a heavenly afternoon here.

Since I've come home I've read four more Irish stories; I can't seem to stop and I've loved them all. But the romances are elbowing their way back in and I'm loving them too.

What you do on holidays? Put your feet up with a romance? Read local authors to get the 'local flavour' before and during? Download them then and there onto your Kindle and launch in? Write down every new book you discover and plan to read it when you get home?

Can't wait to hear from you!


Love from Miranda xxx

Love to Love:     All things Irish. Seriously.
Love to Laugh:  At the Irish blarney. My bus driver told the best jokes.
Love to Learn:   Irish history. I was staggered at how much I didn't know.


Monday 3 July 2017

How to Write A Bestseller (Part Two) - Advice from 4 Well-Known Romance Authors

by Enisa Haines

Welcome to Part Two of my investigation into How to Write a Bestseller where again I get a sneak

peak into just how four beloved Aussie romance authors make a book a runaway success.

Melanie Milburne, USA Today Bestselling Romance author:

Link to buy

Writing a best-selling romance...Write real but larger than life characters. Make them believable people you can relate to and empathise with and feel sympathy for. Make sure their dialogue is true to their character and to their emotional state in each scene. Don't over-complicate the plot but rather draw out the emotional conflicts unique to each character. When you think you've got enough emotional punch, double it.

Valerie Parv, Bestseller and Pioneer in Romance Writing:

Link to buy
Firstly, I don't believe you can set out to write a bestseller. At most you could analyse numbers of successful books and try to identify common elements. But Hollywood does this routinely and still produces some astonishingly expensive failures. I believe it's far better to pour your heart and soul into a story you can't wait to tell, trusting that your passion will resonate with millions of readers. If you avoid writing your story thinking it has to be a bestseller and you're afraid nothing else will do, the only way is to plunge in and write the book anyway. Move past your need for the work to be perfect - it never will be. Focus on the story you're eager to tell about characters who are alive in your mind. Let your passion carry you away and there's a good chance you'll have the same effect on your readers. If you're lucky they will talk about this wonderful story they've read and urge their friends to read it, too. Those friends will tell their friends until readers everywhere want to share the experience. That's how you make a bestseller.

Annie West, USA Today Bestselling Romance Author:

Link to buy
What makes a Bestseller? Ah, if only I knew for sure. Sadly, there's no set recipe for how to write a bestselling romance. But here are a couple of ingredients:

  • Writing that makes us feel!
  • A different take on a familiar romance theme. Something fresh that sparks and comes alive so that, before we know it, we're sucked into the story and don't want to leave.
  • Characters we want to spend time with. Maybe they're engaging from the start. Maybe they get our sympathy initially because of their circumstances. Maybe we don't want them to like them but there's something about them that overturns our wariness - they surprise us or tug at our emotions despite our reservations. These are people who, for whatever reason, won't fade into the background. We care about them, relate to them and wait with bated breath for their happy ending.
  • A vivid world that is real and fascinating.
  • Passion. By this I don't necessarily mean a love scene. But passion from the author and in the characters. This place, these people and their problems must matter. And of course, I think characters who are passionate about what's important to them, draw us in all the more.

Helene Young, Award-winning Romantic Suspense author:

I think the most important aspect of storytelling is to have characters your readers care about. Our readers need to worry that the characters might not get their happily ever after, might not survive to see love blossom. They need to go on the emotional roller-coaster with our hero and heroine, laugh with them, cry with them and feel that solid punch of love when the world jolts off its axis. They need to barrack for them when times get tough and forgive them when they make mistakes. A solid plot is a handy thing as well, but for me there is no greater compliment than a reader emailing me to say that they couldn't stop thinking about my characters.

Link to buy

Great advice, each author saying in their own way: "Write from your heart and soul. Write with passion."

How do you keep readers turning the page?

Love to love: seeing kindness in others

Love to laugh: at funny yet clever conversation

Love to learn: about far-away lands