Booktopia Romance Buzz
March 2012 | Edition Thirty-Five
Gentle Readers,
We laughed, we dined, we drank champagne, and we talked books. Lots of books. Millions of books. Good books, bad books, hot books, soft books. Every kind of book and a few that don't exist yet. And we celebrated the best of 2011. If you overlooked the opportunity to attend the Australian Romance Readers Awards 2011 in Sydney last month, shame on you! Actually, the shame is on you, because it was a fantastic night and you missed out.

Details, a run-down, and a list of winners are here. Congrats to all winners, but especially Anna Campbell, who took home the coveted 'Favourite Australian Romance Author' award for the third year in a row.

Something interesting happened on the Booktopia Book Guru's blog last month - Guru John was challenged by moi to read a few romance novels, see what all the fuss is about. I chose five novels especially suited to his reading taste, and then we put it to a poll.

Readers, we told him to take the plunge. But has he? No. And what's more, he's been suspiciously quiet about the whole thing. So if you wanted to drop by and leave a comment, or contact him on Twitter (@booktopia) and let him know he should honour the poll, I would be eternally grateful. He doesn't seem to be listening to me!

If you are on Twitter, I'm @katydidinoz. Let's be twitter friends!

What I Just Finished: I'm heavily into R*BY judging at the moment, so I can't tell you what I'm reading. However, I can let you know that so far my books have been: bad, okay, fantastic, enjoyable, bad, and I'm-only-20-pages-in.

What I'm Reading Now: See above.

What I Can't Wait For: Did you check out the April Pre-orders? New Julie James!!

Until next month, happy reading!

Kate Cuthbert
Booktopia Romance Buzz

bronwyn-parry-295x300Super suspenseful, genuinely chilling, and with a deep respect for the Australian bush (and all the ways it can kill you!) - Bronwyn Parry's romantic suspense novels have spear-headed a recent resurgence of Australian rural-set romances. I was very lucky to get a sneak peek at her latest novel, Dead Heat, and I don't mind admitting, I had to stop reading it at night. If you're looking to spook your pants off - but with a guaranteed happy-ever-after ending, look no further than this talented author.

Bronwyn agreed to answer our Nine Naughty Questions. Check out her answers!

1.    I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.
I believe that writers are always readers first, and I certainly was. Although I wasn't - quite - born with a book in my hand, there were always books around and reading was an important part of my life. The idea of becoming a writer grew early, but I took a more 'sensible' career path into personnel management and education for a couple of decades before I finally began to pursue the writing dream seriously.  Even as a child, I'd always loved romantic stories - not so much fairy tales, but realistic stories of people discovering deep emotion within themselves and their ability to give and share love with another. So, that's the kind of story that I've always been drawn to write.

2.    For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?
Romance novels focus on people, on characters who struggle with their emotional attraction to another, and who need to resolve differences and overcome their fears to trust and build a deep and lasting relationship with their partner. Romance readers are usually interested in people - it's one reason why romance and other character-centered fiction appeals - and it's natural that the interest extends beyond reading to the authors themselves. And vice-versa, too - I really enjoy meeting readers. I don't know that I've ever felt too exposed; I share a certain amount about myself at reader events and online, but I've found that readers respect the need to maintain some privacy.

97807336254973.    Please tell us about your latest novel...
Dead Heat is my third novel, and it's another romantic suspense.  When National Park ranger Jo Lockwood discovers a body in a camping ground, the wilderness she loves becomes a dangerous place for her to be. Nick Matheson, the detective who's called in to investigate, is new to the area, and trying to adjust to normal life after years of undercover work and the violence of organised crime. Instead of quiet rural policing, he's suddenly right in the middle of violent crime again, with aspects of his past invading and complicating his investigation, and a woman to protect who is rapidly cracking through his emotional armour. With the peace and emotional safety of her life shattered for the second time, Jo has to decide whether to trust a man mistrusted by his own colleagues. Trapped in the rugged wilderness, pursued by killers who can't afford to fail, she may not have much choice.

4.    Is the life of a published romance writer... well... romantic?

Silk peignoirs, champagne, chocolates and gorgeous men to take dictation while the royalty cheques roll in? Um, no. But I love the flexibility of working from home, in comfortable clothes and without worrying about makeup or having to remember to brush my hair! Writing involves many, many long hours in front of the computer, but in my writing breaks I can walk the dogs, bake sourdough bread, or watch the kangaroos just outside the window. (You may notice that I didn't mention housework...)

Life as a published writer does suit my personality - I get a lot of quiet time working at home, but I also have times where I'm out at events, meeting readers and other authors, attending conferences or visiting bookshops and libraries, and I love that aspect, too. The balance is perfect for me, and my wonderful husband puts up with an untidy house, my distracted writer's brain, and brings me chocolate when I'm working late at night, so I think that definitely makes it a romantic life!

5.    Of all of the romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

It's not a romantic moment I actually experienced myself, but I have a lovely photograph that to me is the epitome of romance. The photo is of my beloved aunt and uncle, taken when they were well into their sixties, and it's a perfectly captured moment when they are looking at each other with all the joy and love that characterised their long and happy marriage. I don't show my characters in their later years in my books, but I hope that they build a strong enough relationship in their stories that readers can imagine them, forty, fifty, sixty years later, as much in love as my aunt and uncle were.


6.    Sex in romance writing today ranges from 'I can't believe they're allowed to publish this stuff' explicit to 'turn the light back I can see a thing' mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?

If it's important to the characters, then it's important to the novel! Romance is about emotional relationships and sex is a significant step in a developing relationship, a step towards physical and emotional intimacy. I think that the best sex scenes are love scenes, where you can see the characters falling further into love, into trusting each other enough to become emotionally vulnerable. The physical aspect of Part A in Slot B (or C...) doesn't matter as much as the emotional journey of the characters and the significance of the physical intimacy to their emotional intimacy.

7.    Romance writers are often romance readers - please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

Laura Kinsale's Flowers from the Storm is one of my favourites, and so is Jo Beverley's The Shattered Rose. Neither of them are 'easy' historical romances - a hero who's had a stroke in the first, and an 'adulterous' heroine in the second, certainly challenge some genre conventions, but I love that the characters and stories are so well-grounded historically, and true to their times, rather than modern people in costume.

I may be one of the few people that describes Australian author D'Arcy Niland's Call Me When the Cross Turns Over as a romance, but it is a great romantic story, set in outback South Australia and New South Wales, following Barbie Cazabon through the twists and turns of her life and her relationship with Jack 'Fascinatin' Kippilaw. On the surface, he's no ideal hero, but Barbie is no ordinary heroine, either.

Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness is another favourite re-read - again, not a genre romance, but the developing relationship between the two protagonists is one of love, even though their extreme biological and cultural differences mean that neither see it as such, until perhaps the end. Le Guin is brilliant at weaving stories, layering complexities and meaning so seamlessly that no matter how many times I read her books, I always find something new.

In a totally different way, Louisa Alcott's Little Women is a favourite. I know some people are Team Laurie and think Jo should have fallen for him, but although he adored her and was lovable, I don't think Laurie was right for her as a husband and lover - I'm Team Prof all the way! They matched each other, challenged and stretched each other emotionally and intellectually. Jo could become with Prof Bauer (and he with her!), rather than simply be with Laurie - so I believe in a deep and abiding romance for them.

8.    Paranormal Romance writing is 'so hot right now', do you have any thoughts on why?

Paranormal romance draws both from the romance genre and the fantasy genre, adding the mythic elements, the epic hero-adventure, and the special powers of fantasy to the emotional power of an affirming love story. The characters in paranormal romances are faced with huge challenges - they often have to save the world - so that increases the stakes and intensifies the drama. And don't we all wish, sometimes, for special powers? In paranormal romances the characters usually have some - but they're often a burden as well as a gift, and a barrier the character must be overcome in order to discover his or her true humanity, and ability to love. Mythology, fantasy and romance stories have resonated with us for millennia, so it's not surprising that paranormal romances that play with and stretch the imagination are so popular. What's not to like in that?

9.    Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

Stop dreaming and start writing! Spend time 'playing'; writing scenes, ideas, dialogue, exercises, whatever you want. That 'playing' is important practice and a way to build the muscles in your writing brain and discover what you really want to write, and how you want to write it. Write the kinds of books you love to read, the ones that capture your imagination; you will probably already have a sense of the genre conventions and general narrative structure and style, plus, if you're going to write an entire novel, you want to be able to enjoy spending all that time with the story!

I do recommend that writers attend some workshops, festivals, and other writing events, but do focus on the kinds of writing and stories that appeal to you. The Romance Writers of Australia is a fantastic writing organisation, and full of professional, successful, and supportive authors, so for people writing any form of romantic or commercial fiction, I can't recommend it highly enough.

It's a buyer's market this month for paranormal romance fans, including fan-favourite Suzanne Brockmann making her paranormal debut!

9781439153833 An erotic street drug, a celebrity wedding, a sexy security specialist, and a Lodestone agent with a nose for trouble. It's the second novel in Cherry Adair's new Lodestone series.

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9780758265203Smarter than your average bear takes on new meaning when Shelley Laurenston mixes a big, burly shapeshifting cop with a elite special-forces she-tiger in her 7th  Pride book.

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Bear Meets Girl

9780451236050 It's out of the frying pan and into the fire, but with less Meat Loaf for the heroine of Shannon K Butcher's 6th Sentinal War novel - she is rescued from captivity, only to be forced to choose a warrior mate in a bid to save the world.

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Dying Wish

9780345521279 Don't fret - Suzanne Brockmann isn't giving up her military men. Instead she's exploring them with a paranormal twist with her new novel Born to Darkness.

Set in the not-too-distant future, and thanks to the magic of science, humans can now tap into their unexplored potential - think all the superpowers you ever wanted but never could manage: in my case, "These are not the droids you are looking for <finger waggle>" - but you need natural potential, and the training is intense. Mac's boss thinks it requires celibacy. Mac disagrees: and the new Navy SEAL (it is Brockmann) she's met only underlines her decision.

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9780425246597 I devoured the first three novels in this new series by Thea Harrison - and then had to cool my heels waiting for the fourth installment. Well, I wait no more! Oracle's Moon releases this month.

Her sister's death lands Grace Andreas with the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, and her sister's two young kids. And, indirectly, Khalil, Djinn Prince of House Marid, who appoints himself part guardian of the children, member of the household, and gigantic pain in Grace's behind.

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9780061958069Kerrilyn Sparks mixes a little humour into her vampire stories - because what about sucking blood isn't funny?

He's a big city vamp, determined to rid NYC of the scourge of the Malcontents; she's a werewolf princess with a healthy skepticism for vamp charm. And they're off together to romantic Wyoming where anything can happen.

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Wanted Undead or Alive

9781841497969I don't need to sell Patricia Briggs to you - she's one of the best-loved, most-respected urban fantasy authors out there. She has a new novel out in her tense, thrilling Alpha and Omega series this month.

Anna and Charles are sent out to chase down a serial killer: one who has a particular taste for werewolf victims.

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9780749955700 Rheadhers have been whaiting fhor this Black Dagger Brotherhood sthory fhrom alhmost the beghinning. Bhut who could evher replhace Wellsie for Tohrment?

He lost everything that mattered in his life to the enemy he's sworn to destroy. Now he has a second chance at love - and life - but will he be able to look past his bitterness?

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Great new suspense titles available this month - including the latest In Death novel from JD Robb.


9780373776566Wanna talk kick-ass heroines? Arizona (yeah, I know, move on), the heroine of Lori Foster's latest novel goes through a nightmare but still offers to put herself up for bait to catch the bad guys. Also, there's a hot bounty hunter.

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A Perfect Storm

9780553592641It's drug cartels and blackmail in Jill Sorenson 's latest suspense novel. Kari is desperate to rescue her sister from the drug lord who is holding her captive. But entering the drug game - even under the surveillance of the border protection officers, can only be dangerous.

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Caught in the Act

9780749955960 The movie exploiting her more daring cases is finally wrapped, and Eve is having a reasonably good time at the cast party even if the fake Eve Dallas is a little disconcerting. Until the actress playing Peabody shows up dead, and everyone there is a suspect. Just another day for the real Eve Dallas.

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Celebrity in Death

Lost that lovin' feeling? Tom Cruise might be able to help with that. But if you find him just this side of creepy, check out our contemporary titles for the month.

9781402257186If you haven't read Tawna Fenske 's debut novel Making Waves, hie thee here and pick it up. Then hie thee here and pick up this novel - her second quirky romance.

She believes in facts and numbers - not her mother's psychic power. He believes in music and a good beat - not the psychic tiddle-taddle next door. Still, he did play that one song at exactly the right time. And she did happen to be in the right place at exactly the right time...

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9780425245521Does anyone actually read Jaci Burton novels, or do we all just stare at the cover? I mean, how do you turn the page on that?

Just in case you manage, here's the details: when her brothers up and chased athletic superstardom, Jenna is left running the family bar, regardless of her own dreams. And though pro hockey stud Tyler is unbelievably hot, and a regular, Jenna has no intention of letting another jock in her life.

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There are so many awesome choices for historical readers this month - including a new one from my find of 2011, one of my long-time faves, and a whole heap of up-and-comers to try.


9780312534523I love Suzanne Enoch. There's not much else I can say about that. Love her. You should too.

She jilts her arrogant, lazy fiance at the altar, and is promptly disowned and left penniless. She has no choice but to go work at the notorious Tantalus club...and ignore her fiance's (handsome, charming) lackey who comes to fetch her.

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Taming an
Impossible Rogue

9780062049872Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove is the place to be if you're single in the Regency era - a match guaranteed, or your money back!

He's bored out of his mind, trapped in a seaside resort, until he agrees to squire a socially awkward, but exceedingly beautiful lady scientist on a journey North.

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A Week to be Wicked

9781420117271Mary Jo Putney pulls out a classic romance trope in her latest historical romance: a lady dressing as a man to make her way in the world.

He has one last chance: take his place as heir of Strickland. She has one daring hope: take a job and make her own life away from the restraints of her gender.

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The Rake

9781451606959 Though I had her books on my shelf for years, I only started reading Meredith Duran last year - and I've been kicking myself for waiting ever since. My number one find of 2011 - make her your find of 2012.

He is the most dangerous man in London with only one goal - restore his family to their rightful place in society. But even the Earl of Rivenham can't ignore the king, nor the task that is set for him. The task that throws him in the path of Lady Sarah Percy - the woman who could ruin everything, but for whom he might be willing to risk everything.

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9780062023056Fresh, funny, witty, and sexy - Miranda Neville is a fabulous new talent (with fantastically long titles).

He is a wastrel, a cad, a rogue. She is proper, prim, perfect. Do opposites attract? Do extreme opposites attract extremely?

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Confessions from an Arranged Marriage

9780425247945It's all about the bling in Renee Bernard 's ongoing series - sapphires, emeralds, rubies and this month it's pearls.

The dungeons of India stole his eyesight, so he clings to the only thing that brings colour to his bleak world - her.

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Passion Wears Pearls

9780515150469There's something about ambitious women in the Regency era - Madeline Hunter explores gender inequality - and how heroines can get around it in her new novel.

She's inherited her father's auction house and fully intends to run it. But he can stop her - and fully intends to put an end to her ludicrous plans.

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The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne

Prices displayed in Booktopia Romance Buzz are correct at time of publication. Website prices are subject to change at short notice. In these circumstances, the price listed in the newsletter may not be correct. In the event that a price conflict between the newsletter and website does occur, website prices will override prices listed in the newsletter.
In This Issue

Kate's Month Ahead
Nine Naughties

PRE-ORDERING: Emergency planning for book lovers!
So that when it's flooding outside your front door, you don't have to worry about leaving the house, or that the internet connection died, or that you're on your last book and you're desperate for that new novel. You pre-ordered. You're set.

Nora Roberts
Amanda Quick
Robyn Carr
Jennifer Ashley
Julie James
Maya Banks
Mary Jo Putney
Christine Warren


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