Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Aussie Book Review: Limbo by Amy Andrews

“Six Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’  fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy.  So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.”

I was in a bit of a reading slump when I picked up my tablet to start reading Amy Andrews’ latest novel, Limbo – and what a way to come out of it!!! Amy drew me in from the opening lines by Dash and I felt myself slowly falling in love with this ex-cop/detective with twenty-seven years experience.

Three years ago, Joy Valentine met a friend of her older brother’s in a bar. One thing led to another and Dashielle (Dash) Dent became more than just a memory!

Now, after her international failure as a country singer on one of the world’s largest reality television shows, she’s back in her hometown working as a cadaver make-up artist in her father’s business. When the ghost of the dead woman she is preparing for burial appears and asks her for help, Joy knows exactly who to call on for assistance. After all, one night of passion is not all that her and Dash have shared and she knows that he’s the only other person who will believe her “woo-woo story”.

It’s not long after that Dash Dent, single father of Katie and disgraced ex-cop turned PI gets the rundown from Joy. Unfortunately, when they make contact with the police, they refuse to believe there is a possibility that little Isabella could still be alive but it doesn’t take much for these two to put their heads together to try and solve the mystery.

As they try to solve the puzzle of the missing child whilst getting on with their everyday lives, Joy’s presence brings the unresolved sexual tension (with the assistance of Simone and Ralph) to the fore and it’s not long before Dash begins to think of the feisty but caring young woman as more than just his friend’s little sister.

Together with Katie, who stole the show with her little personality; Eve, a brothel madam who has a beautiful soul; Stan, an ex-communicated minister who  displays unusual messages on his Church’s outdoor sign and who also has no qualms about playing AC/DC in Church; and two horny goldfish going by the names of Simone and Ralph, Limbo makes for some great mystery, suspense and self-combustible love scenes with Amy capturing all the salient elements of what I enjoy in a novel – character, depth, emotion and oh baby, some lip-smacking sexy scenes.

Her dialogue flows naturally from the day-to-day lives of Dash and Joy, adding meaning to their everyday trials, tribulations (and speculations about Ralph and Simone) which helps her create fully-drawn characters with the humour being an added benefit to the story as it balances out the sexual tension which totally boils off the pages.

While Amy may feel she has gone out on a limb in breaking with her traditional romances and giving her readers something different to what they have come to expect from her by using elements she’s never attempted before (see an interview held with Amy at AusRom Today), after reading Limbo I can honestly say that, while she may feel that way, for me (a long time reader of romance and all its sub-genres), her combination of comedy, mystery, suspense and romance is an absolute winner and I’d go so far as to say that both Stephanie Plum and Erica Jewell may very well have a rival in their midst – believe me when I say you will not want to miss this!

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I highly recommend this to all lovers of the romance sub-genres.

I’m excited that this is the first in a new series and I can’t wait to see how these lovable and quirky characters grow and what they get up to next. Can I just say that I’d like the second book now please!

I wish to thank Escape Publishing for providing me with an eGalley proof of this novel.

About the Author

Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written over fifty contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets.

She has written for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins, Momentum, Tule and Escape and sold over a million books which have been translated into thirteen different languages including manga.

Amy spent six years on the national executive of Romance Writers of Australia including a two year term as president and after many years of unofficial mentoring of emerging writers, Amy and her fellow Harlequin author Anna Cleary have started their own manuscript assessment business, Word Witchery, which specialises in romantic fiction. With unique insight into what makes a story that sells, Amy and Anna aim to help every manuscript shine.

Amy loves good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel - preferably all four together. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Aussie Book Review: Rose River by Margareta Osborn

"Adapted from Margareta Osborn's bestselling ebook novella A Bush Christmas, Rose River is a gloriously funny romantic comedy set in the beautiful Australian outback.

Take one city girl - and drop her into the back of beyond ...

Housesitting in rural Burdekin's Gap, high up in the East Gippsland mountains, is not an obvious career move for a PR executive like Jaime Hanrahan. But, hey, retrenchment is a kicker. 
Plus she's determined not to spend Christmas in Melbourne with her friends, who still have company cars and six-figure salaries, or with her mother, Blanche, who has remarried too soon after her father's death.

However, it turns out that Burdekin's Gap is a little more remote than Jaime had anticipated, the house is in the middle of a cattle station, and the handsome manager, Stirling McEvoy, doesn't appreciate a new farmhand in Jimmy Choos and Sass & Bide cut-offs. 

Soon Jaime is fending off stampeding cows, town ladies wielding clipboards, sheep who think they are goats, nude sportsmen and one very neurotic cat. So why does she feel like she's falling in love . . . with the life, with the breathtaking landscape, and with one infuriating cowboy …?”

Jaime Hanrahan, high-falutin’ designer label queen and ex-PR executive finds herself in some memorable and laugh-out-loud moments after she decides to take on a house-sitting job in Burdekin’s Gap – rather that than spend Christmas with her gainfully employed friends whilst still trying to come to terms with the death of her father.

Only problem is, she didn’t realise how remote it would turn out to be!

When Stirling McEvoy discovers that Jaime is in fact the new farmhand, he is not impressed. This, of course, all begins to change when Jaime shows persistence and determination, even venturing to participate (sometimes not through any choice of her own) in the community’s activities.

However, as is usual in these stories, nothing is smooth sailing and these two characters soon find themselves having to overcome a number of hurdles before they get their happily ever after, including the re-appearance of Tiffany, Stirling’s awful ex-girlfriend and Marty, Jaime’s step-father’s nephew who just doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer.

This novel was, for me, somewhat of a comedy of errors as Jaime finds herself in some humorous (and embarrassing) situations including being almost over-run when helping Stirling with the cattle, finding herself taking part in some nude cricket, being bucked right off a horse and trying to trick the goats (and the sheep who thinks it’s a goat) as well as the dogs out of the kitchen after they display some “naughty” behavior.

Even though I would have loved Margareta to included Stirling’s viewpoint, which would have just rounded him off that much more, this is a fresh, upbeat and light-hearted romance from our very own Voice of the Bush which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

I wish to thank Random House Australia for providing me with an eGalley proof of this novel.

About the Author

Margareta Osborn is a fifth-generation farmer, and a wife, mother and lover of all things country, who has lived and worked on the land all her life. She holds a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management specialising in Community Coordination and Facilitation.

Home is a beef property overlooking a beautiful lake in the Gippsland high country, where she lives with her husband and three children. 

She is the author of the bestselling Bella's Run - a no.1 bestseller - Hope's Road and Mountain Ash.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Aussie Book Review: Burnt by Karly Lane

I honestly can’t believe what a roll I’ve been on with the last few books that I’ve read – oh wait, yes I can because they’re all Aussie authors!

To add to that elation, there are also times when a book’s blurb so aptly alludes to the story held within its beautiful cover that I figure there’s no use in me competing with it. This is just one of those times which means that instead of giving my own short synopsis, I’m going to get right into what I loved about the book.

Having been a fan of Karly Lane’s writing for some time now (ever since I read Bridie’s Choice) and, while it took me some time to get to this novel, I read it in a day! Her writing is fast-paced, her stories believable and her characters people we can identify with.

In Burnt, Karly ("Rural Fiction's favourite daughter") brings us a story about two people dealing with their own very different but difficult situations and gives us a fast-paced but moving tale about families and relationships.

As always, she captures the tensions well, from the sexual to the external giving us a winning combination of romance and suspense which she builds around two complex characters, using her setting to her advantage - in this instance, the beautiful but rugged and unassuming national park bordering the town where Bec and Seb live.

Karly (also known as Karly Blakemore-Mowle) has proved to be a versatile author who can take just about any subject and write about it with warmth, empathy and authenticity and I found the thread involving Seb and his dad so very poignant as it added a whole new layer to both the story and his character.

At its heart, this story is one about healing, hope, families, redemption, the conflict and resolution between a father and son and coming to terms with our pasts in order to move on with our future.

It’s a really entertaining and moving novel with a gripping plot that will see you turning the pages long into the night and I wish to thank the publishers, Harlequin Australia for providing me with a hard copy for review.

About the Author

Karly Lane lives happily on the Mid-North Coast of NSW in the same small town where her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all lived.

She has a strong love or rural towns and the communities created in them.

A huge supporter of social media, Karly loves to meet readers through her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Proud mum to four beautiful children and wife of one very patient mechanic, she is lucky enough to get to spend her days doing the two things she loves most - being a mum and writing stories set in beautiful rural Australia.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Giveaway: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods

During April I read and reviewed Love at First Flight by debut author Tess Woods (my review here).

Now, as I mentioned in that review, I'm not one for enjoying my fiction with a dose of extra-marital affair but, the way in which Tess portrays this combustible issue makes all the difference and results in a tastefully written albeit unsettling read!

Thanks to HarperCollins and Tess, I am delighted to announce that I have 5, yes FIVE copies of Love at First Flight to give away in the form of iTunes vouchers.

All you need to do is leave a comment below telling me which part of my review makes you want to read this book.

This competition is open internationally with those entries closing at midnight CST on Tuesday, 16 June and Australian entries closing at 2pm EST on Wednesday, 17 June. Winners will be drawn via Random.org, announced here on the blog (which feeds through to both my Facebook Page and Twitter Handle) and will be contacted via email within 24 hours of the draw.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to re-draw if the winner does not contact me within 24 hours of them being notified.

Best of luck everyone!