Sunday, 25 March 2018

71. Book Bonanza

It’s not long now until Mr, or is it Miss, E Bunny takes a trip around the planet to deliver Easter Eggs. Currently, it’s a relatable task. For one, I feel like I’ve been running around in ever increasing circles while trying to set the house in some sort of order. And two, I’m sure I’ve eaten as much chocolate as the good bunny tends to deliver. In fact, I hope they have back up.


Things are going well with the new house though. We have turf now, so hopefully that will discourage the dogs, and the dust bunnies, from bringing dirt and dust inside. Chocolate bunnies only allowed. I’m also blaming the extra dust for messing with my computer, which seems to be quite temperamental of late. It has its positive side though. Less computer time means reading more books, hence my book bonanza. :) And more books mean I seem to be getting less housework done. Such a shame! LOL

Book Reviews

Secret Confessions: Down and Dusty Secret – The Complete Collection –

Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden

Welcome to the heart – and heat – of Australia…
They say that no one has secrets in a small town – these women prove them wrong.
Eight stories from some of Australia's hottest writers in Australia's hottest genre. From the bar stools of the local pub to the wide-open plains of the biggest stations in the world, these tales travel the dusty roads to the heart of Australia and the women who understand how to work hard – and play even harder.
In the latest in the wildly successful Secret Confessions series from Escape Publishing, the women of Down & Dusty invite you into their lives – and their bedrooms.

Casey Cooper left her husband and the small town of Milpinyani Springs in her dust a year ago, vowing never to return. But a favour to a friend finds her back in town - and back in her husband's garage, where he offers her a proposition too sexy to refuse. A naked Joel has always been the one thing Casey can't resist - but can her heart handle the heat?

As the single female owner of Milpinyani Spring's only pub, Lucky has learned that her behaviour has to be above reproach. She works hard at home, and when she needs to play hard, she does so - far away from the prying eyes of her neighbours and friends. So when the hot new cop swaggers up to bar, she knows the rules: look, don't touch. But Dare doesn't know how to play her game, and he's about to show her that the only rules that count are the ones that you break.

Kelly Wilkins' marriage has always been a team effort, but lately, under the daily grind of work, kids, and an unrelenting drought, she feels like her team has dwindled to one. The lack of rain in Milpinyani Springs isn't the only dry spell affecting her and, despite her best efforts, her once attentive husband hasn't touched her in weeks. With the threat of a long, dry summer stretching out in front of them, can Kelly and Grant rediscover their spark, or will their relationship be another casualty of the drought?

Brooke's brothers practically define over - protective, and while Brooke appreciates their concern, their efforts have left her climbing the walls in sexual frustration. But no man in town is willing to risk their ire, and all Brooke wants is one guy who thinks she is worth the effort. One guy who will stand up for himself - and for her - against her overbearing, old - fashioned family, and whisk her away to sexual and emotional fulfilment. The only issue is that the one guy who looks like he might is the one guy who broke her heart - the one guy that she can't risk falling for again."

Clarissa may have been daydreaming about her head stockman, Brandon, every day and night of the long, hot drought, but Brandon has never been anything more than friendly and professional, and Clarissa has long accepted that life will never imitate fantasy. Until Brandon recommends an old friend–a renowned bull–rider and stockman–for a job, and suddenly Clarissa finds herself in the middle of a competition between two of the hottest men that she's ever seen. But Clarissa doesn't fancy herself a prize–and with two cowboys willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy, she might just decide that the winner takes all.

After five years in the city earning her veterinary degree, Skye Malone is happy to be heading back to Milpinyani Springs, and her best friend Bret. Sure, her crush on him is still at epic proportions, but she managed to ignore it this long, and a good friend is a valuable commodity in a small community like theirs. But Bret spent the last five years growing up, and suddenly Skye's girlhood infatuation evolves into something much stronger and much more dangerous–an adult woman's desire.

Maree Haraldson has done all the right things as Milpinyani Springs' only teacher–she's good at her job, the children and parents have accepted her, she's even become a local at Lucky's pub. Now it's time for Maree to do something right for herself, and that means finally seducing the school groundsman Brad Williams into her bed. Maree has always been a woman who goes after what she wants, but a small community means there's no place to hide if Brad turns her down, and Maree has been out of the seduction game for a long time. Her small schoolroom is safe and comfortable, but life isn't meant to be lived on the sidelines. With the rodeo in town, Maree is ready to step up, take her risks, and throw her hat into the ring of love.

Frankie has lost a lot to her stepbrother, Mac: her father's affection, the family cattle station, her teenage daydreams. But Mac has never shown any interest in taking what Frankie wants to give: her heart, her soul, and her body. So Frankie has no choice. She can't continue to live with Mac, loving him as she does, knowing he doesn't want her in return. She has finally saved enough money to buy Mac out of the station and out of her life for good. But Mac has an offer of his own: one night together, and he'll walk away. One night for full ownership of the cattle station. For Frankie, it's an offer too tantalising to resist, an offer too dangerous to consider– an offer she can't refuse.

Down and Dusty is a collection of stories set in the fictional town of Milpinyani Springs crossing from the local pub to the hospital to life on the outback stations in a time of drought and worry. Whether our heroine is a cook, a nurse, a vet, station owners, a publican, or a teacher, they’re putting their hearts on the line for true love and some very sensual moments – as in reading this while you’re waiting at school pick up may not be the best time to indulge your book habit.

Add to the mix a set of amazing romance writers, some of whom I know write successfully in different romance genres, and you’ll understand just how wonderful the talent here truly is. The way these eight authors seamlessly wove their stories together by interacting with other characters while staying true to their own stories was brilliant. Each story brought a different facet to the theme, and I doubt readers would be able to choose a favourite. A couple of these authors were new to me, so you know what that means – more books to add to the TBR pile.

Note* These stories are also sold separately.

The Troll Bridge by Jenny Schwartz

A witchling child befriends a troll boy and changes the fate of a kingdom.

Trolls aren't born. They're made, and they fight for the kingdom of Adynn. They are its first and fiercest protectors, guarding the roads into the mountain kingdom.

When young Morgana befriends a newly made troll boy and names him Peter, she unwittingly reveals her magic to his creator. Sorcerer Veritas removes her from her remote village to the School of Sorcery. There she will learn to cast spells and forge charms, but she’ll also learn the high price of friendship, and the reality that someone with her magical ability will always be a target for others who seek power.

War is coming to the kingdom of Adynn. The Vlad Empire, with its death magic and slaves, is closing in. Morgana will be trained as a war wizard, but in her heart, she resists the role. She doesn’t want to fight, and she refuses to kill. So Sorcerer Veritas will provide a little motivation.

A powerful story of friendship, magic and high adventure. 

Once again, Ms Schwartz has taken me in a new direction. I love the diversity of this author’s stories. I feel, if she wanted to, Ms Schwartz could easily pursue a path in the Young Adult / New Adult genres.

The Troll Bridge features a strong female character – Morgana, a young witchling, Peter, a created stone troll, and a magical war that forces everyone to grow up well beyond their tender years. In the tradition of classic fairy tales, this is one heck of an adventure. True love, magic, war, tragedy, and as always with Ms Schwartz’s books, a twist at the end, which made me smile. The reader feels everything Morgana feels, her triumphs and her failures, her loneliness and how huge her heart truly is. I know my teen will love this story. In fact, I wish she’d hurry up and read it, so I can talk to her about it. I also think this story would be an excellent introduction to those who are new to this genre, just as I believe there’s potential for more stories from the land of Adynn. :)

Oasis by DL Gallie

Three friends embark on a much needed, girls’ only getaway to celebrate their graduation from college. They all agree; dancing, cocktails, and tanning are what's needed, but no guys. However, that changes when they meet three sexy as sin men before their flight even leaves the ground. Sparks fly. Temperatures rise. Desire builds. They decide to ditch the no guys rule and give in to temptation. Maybe a hot and steamy weeklong fling is the best way to let loose. What they don’t count on are the feelings, which develop in the short time the girls are with them. Oasis: where the sun is hot, the drinks are cool, and the heat isn't contained to the beach. Will it just be a holiday fling at this posh resort? Or will they each find something they don't want to let go? What happens in Oasis, stays at Oasis…or does it?

What a naughty little romp of a book this was. This is pure fun, silliness, girly get-togethers, feeling young and being free. Of course, these hot summer romances are supposed to begin and end in the same season. After all, Serena and her girlfriends are having a last little fling before they settle down to the more serious matters of their careers. There’s no time for romance, men, or the heartache they bring. It seems Oasis, their holiday destination, has other ideas. Temptation soon beckons our three lovely ladies with three hot, gorgeous men who seem too perfect to be true. Despite her best intentions, Serena knows she’s falling for Blake, but summer flings, like summer holidays, must end and suddenly their casual romance doesn’t seem so casual at all. Such a fun read.

The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

Journey to a world of ancient magic, breathtaking sensuality, thrilling time-travel.... Journey to the world of The Dark Highlander. Crisscrossing the continents and the centuries, here is a novel as gripping as it is sensual—an electrifying adventure that will leave you breathless....
I am Dageus MacKeltar, a man with one good conscience and thirteen bad ones, driven to sate my darkest desires…

From his penthouse lair high above Manhattan, Dageus looks out over a glittering city that calls to the darkness within him. A sixteenth-century Scot trapped between worlds, he is fighting a losing battle with the thirteen Druids who possess his soul, dooming him to an eternity of sexual pursuit. When Chloe Zanders, student of antiquities, is drawn into his world, she finds the insatiable alpha male an irresistible lure. Before long, she is caught up in an ancient prophecy that will sweep her back into time to medieval Scotland. Plunged into a world of timeless magic and dark seduction, she will soon face the challenge of a lifetime: fighting thirteen evil spirits for the heart of one irresistible man....

Dageus MacKeltar broke a four-thousand-year-old compact with the ancient, powerful, and magical people, the Tuathe De’ Danaan, for purely selfish reasons, something the MacKeltars are expressly forbidden to do – he did it to save his twin brother’s life. In doing so, the souls of thirteen evil druids now live within Dageus, tempting, teasing, and torturing him in body, mind, and soul in their attempts to be released. If he just gives in to their demands, they promise he’ll be free, but Dageus knows that will never be. Instead, he must find a way to break the curse and return the druids to the dimension in which the Tuathe De’ Danaan banished them. Only then can he return home to the place of his birth not in shame, but with his honour restored. To do that, he needs the help of a ravishing, and undoubtedly the most stubborn lass he’s ever seen.

Chloe Zanders is no fool. Innocent in the ways of men and sex she may be, but no, she’s not stupid. There’s no way she’s about to hand over a priceless book to a man who can’t possibly read its ancient languages let alone appreciate such a valuable piece of history. She’s prepared to tell him exactly what she thinks of the dangerously attractive man too, but all that fades into comparison to the wonders he can share with her. Indeed, the wonders he can show her too. But not everything /adds up when it comes to this strange man who seems more suited to the Scottish Moors than contemporary New York City. Chloe’s afraid she may lose so much more than her heart to this wild man, a man who claims he is not of this time. A man who is so much more than he seems.

I’ve been fascinated by the Tuathe De’ Danann and Celtic tales in general for many years, so not only was I excited to read something that touches on this belief, but also to step out of my comfort zones and read a time travelling story. In the Dark Highlander, I found both.

I admit I was disappointed when I first read about an experienced man who falls for a sweet, innocent virgin. It seemed so cliché. But I had to consider when it was written, and the more I read, the more drawn into the story I became. And it was so much more than just a romance. It had my Celtic legends, ancient artefacts, and my favourite paranormal topic – curses. If you’re like me and you love Celtic tales, you’ll enjoy this story. And if you like sexy Scottish men – well, need I say more? :)

Blow (a retelling of The Three Little Pigs) by Demelza Carlton.

Three sisters. An absent prince who promised to protect them. And the wolf is at the door...
Once upon a time...
When war breaks out, Rudolf promises Portia and her sisters he will protect them. But his father falls in battle, and Rudolf is forced to return home to command his father's armies.

Shifting alliances turn Portia and her family from friends to sworn enemies. To win the war, Rudolf must conquer her home, and risk losing her forever.

When the wolf is at the door, who will win - love or war?

Exiled from his family home for offending the reigning queen, young Rudolf finds refuge in the house of a warlord who teaches him how to fight. In return, Rudolf promises to protect the warlord’s three young daughters with his life. Growing up together, his relationship with the triplets was more like sibling rivalry, but there’s always been something special between he and the oldest, Portia.

When war breaks out, Rudolf must return to his homeland only to discover that where once Portia was an ally, now she’s the enemy. And if he is to reclaim their love and end the war, he has little choice but to ‘blow her house down.’

Rudolf was meant to protect Portia, but she’s doing a good job keeping herself and her virtue safe. And now the wolf is at the door, promising an end not only to her home, but also her innocence and the heart that beats for a man she’s certain has betrayed her. A man she can never claim because she must marry someone worthy of her station, never for love. As far as she’s concerned, Rudolf’s little more than a great warrior, not a lord or a prince, is he? And it seems even he’s succumbed to the Wolf.

This is another type of story I find fascinating – the reimagining (retelling) of traditional fairy tales. They’re certainly not the versions the likes of the Brothers Grimm shared. Ms Carlton sets this story against the time of the Vikings yet twists into her tale a cheeky comparison to the three little pigs and the wolf who just might devour them. I liked how she made the story her own.

Justice Book One by Georgia Tingley


Independence Day, 4th July 1976 - Thirteen-year-old Christine Conroy mysteriously vanishes from her back yard in a small country town in North Western USA. Folks think Christine has run away to Hollywood as she threatened, but people who know what really happened are determined to hide the truth.

Forty years later, Justice Smith is commissioned to find her body and her murderer - not an easy task after so much time has elapsed. Luckily for him, he has a secret weapon - Justice Smith is a Warrior Angel!

Sent down to Earth to seek justice for those that can't, he uncovers a deadly secret - the bodies of several young girls. A serial killer has gone undetected, living among a small community for four decades.

To complicate matters further, Justice has a mortal connection to the prime suspect's daughter Andi. He finds himself teaming up with an unlikely ally and while working together to uncover the truth, he crosses the boundary to break the heavenly rules for a forbidden love. Will the price he has to pay be too high?

For those who read last month’s blog, you’ll know I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms Tingley on her debut release. This is also one of the books I beta read, so I know how hard she’s worked to give her readers the best story possible.

This story begins as a cold case in which Justice Smith, a warrior angel, has been ordered by the Angelic Council to solve. His reward, apart from bringing peace to the ones who were left behind, is the opportunity to advance through the angle ranks and earn his ‘wings.’ For now, while he’s in human form, he may be stronger, and in possession of some amazing gifts, he is still bound by what it means to be human and all the emotional baggage that comes with it. For example, the human woman he’s falling in love with, something that’s strictly forbidden for his kind. The real kicker is learning her father is the killer he’s been sent to find. Proving this man’s guilt may cost Justice more than just his wings. It may even cost him his soul.

Wonderful story with a procedural feel I could easily see as a telemovie or a television series. The story was engaging, had subtle humour, clever twists and wonderful imagery. I think people who like romantic suspense will enjoy this story as much as I did. :)


I’m beta-reading two stories, editing a third, and writing a short story for an anthology submission due out later this year. I have two workshops to look forward to (so far) and two conferences to attend in the Spring so I had better get cracking – Easter Egg cracking! LOL. (Apologies for the Dad humour that occasionally sneaks in.)

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Enjoy the long weekend for those otherwise inclined. :)


  1. Eggscellent priorities-books and chocolate, but I think you've been working hard too in getting the new house set up. xx Ashlyn

    1. LOL Love the pun, Ashlyn. Books and chocolate sounds better than housework to me too. I'd forgotten how hard it is to get a new place set up. Hiding in books was just what I needed. :)

  2. Setting up in a new house you NEED chocolate, all the chocolate you can hide from the kids - or mug the Easter bunny for :)

    Thank you for the lovely review of The Troll Bridge. This one really was a book written from the heart - it certainly wasn't in my writing schedule for 2018! Now, I'm playing catch up with other scheduled projects. Argh!

    Happy Easter in your new home!

    1. I'm still good at hiding chocolate from the kids. Not so sure I can catch the Easter Bunny. LOL

      You're welcome for the review, Jenny. I really enjoyed Troll Bridge so I'm glad you managed to squeeze it into your schedule.

      Happy Easter to you too. :)