Booktopia Romance Buzz
August 2012 | Edition Forty

Gentle Readers,
August is one of my very favourite months of the year - and no, it's not because of the wonderful Melbourne weather. It's because of the Romance Writers of Australia conference!

This year, the conference is being held on the Gold Coast, and I will report back with all the details next month, including the winners of the Romantic Book of the Year awards. Watch this space!

Want to come along? The Australian Romance Readers Association has organised a book signing on the Friday afternoon. All details can be found here. It's a great opportunity to mingle with other readers, but also meet some of the biggest names in romance, including special guest Eloisa James!

I'll be there - hope to see you!

What I've Just Finished: Readers, Eloisa James's new novel, The Ugly Duchess, is just gorgeous. I can't recommend it highly enough. 

What I'm Reading Now: I've just started Sheila Roberts's Better Than Chocolate, which is turning out to be a delight - about a family business going under, a desperate attempt to save it, and the very handsome bank manager who seems to be getting in the way!

What I Can't Wait For: Oh baby, you know what I want: new Victoria Dahl ! new Victoria Dahl! new Victoria Dahl!!!

Until next month, happy reading!


Kate Cuthbert
Booktopia Romance Buzz
A huge Booktopia Romance Buzz welcome to Kristan Higgins who, even though she is on vacation, dropped by to answer our Nine Naughty Questions - which, readers, is true dedication!

If you haven't yet tried Kristan's fantastic contemporary romances, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon, because she's coming next year for the third Australian Romance Readers Association Conference in Brisbane. Trust me, you don't want to get caught in an elevator with a New York Times Bestseller and have to admit to never having read any of her books!

Luckily for you, her books are awesome, so getting caught up is fun! Maybe start with her latest? Here's Kristan to tell you about it!

1. I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.

A short while ago, I would've said writers are made. I never gave fiction a shot before I decided to write a book that would sell...and yet, I realize I always told myself stories. I think this was due in large part to being a fantastically dorky adolescent (the glasses! the perm!). Like a lot of those of us who weren't exactly living the dream, I'd mentally rewrite the ending of Gone With the Wind or revisit characters in a favorite romance novel. My daughter, who's sixteen, recently told me she didn't want a 'real' boyfriend; she'd rather imagine herself with Leonardo DiCaprio, circa age 19. "I understand completely," I told her. "I felt the same way about Rhett Butler."

My life before writing was excellent, but much quieter! I was a stay-at-home mom, taking a break from advertising to be with the little bunnies. When my son got into nursery school, I started to think about writing a book. I'd loved romance since I was 13 and stole my grandmother's copy of Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss, so I decided to give that a try. I got my first book deal when my little guy was in kindergarten, and have been writing since, so it's worked out swimmingly.

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?

I can't say that I feel exposed. I love the intimacy I feel with my readers. They send me letters that say, "I felt like I was sitting at my kitchen table, listening to a friend," and that's exactly what I feel like, too, when I'm writing-that I'm telling a pal about how this all Click here for details or to order unfolded. A lot of readers do feel like they know me after they've read my books, and they're right! It's not the whole picture, of course, but I think you hit on something with that question-that's my heart out there in my books, and when a reader writes to me and tells me she liked my book, and why, it's the most lovely and wonderful feeling. I think the only time I feel exposed is when I get a bad review and I don't have the chance to tell the reviewer what I really meant, or why they should've loved the part of the story they didn't. It's very frustrating! But as for 

3. Please tell us about your latest novel...

Will do! Parker Welles is sitting pretty in life. She's wealthy, she has her perfect son, she's successful...and then she loses everything (except her kid). Dear old Dad gambles away her trust fund in an insider-trading scheme, and voila. Parker's broke. No money, no job...just a decrepit little shack on the coast of Maine that's her only hope of a nest egg. When her dad's lawyer, whom Parker calls Thing One, shows up on the scene, she's forced to accept his help, even though she hates that she has to. But maybe James has more going for him than being a slick lawyer, and maybe losing everything was the best thing that ever happened to Parker.

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

It can be! My husband is a pretty romantic guy; he's a great cook (and I didn't even know that before we got married!) and is very loving and affectionate (except when he's grumpy). He'll pick me flowers from our garden and give me a card for no reason once in a while. Of course, the man isn't perfect: he's incapable of making a bed or pronouncing the name 'Hermione', but we have a lovely marriage and really enjoy each other's company. Most of the time. The other times just keep things spicy.

Sometimes I travel for work (like when I'll come to Australia in March!) and that feels very romantic...travelling so far to meet readers and being a guest of honour. That's something I never expected, to be honest.

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?

The answer that leaps to mind is when I met my husband. I'd been dating a cute boy for about two years; he broke my heart, the cad, and when I met McIrish, I'd just sworn off men. Then I was standing in line, and the guy in front of me turned around and said hi. I distinctly remember thinking, "Uh-oh." Because I just knew. We were engaged six weeks later. My poor mother...twenty years later, and she's still worried. So when I write a book, I love to describe that connection that the heroine and hero have. It might take awhile to reveal itself, but that feeling, that this one is's so powerful!

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 on, I can't see a thing' mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?

Very!  I think sex is body language at its highest form. Chemistry tells a story the mind might not want to hear just yet, which is something I love to write about-the unwilling attraction between two characters. Personally, I like to write books where the bedroom door is shut after some deeply stirring kissing. I get to about second base (do you use those baseball terms in Australia?), then decide the couple should be left alone to do their thing. Sometimes, imagination is more powerful than the "Insert Tab A into Slot B" description. Sometimes not, too! Don't get me wrong. I love a beautifully written love scene...Anna Campbell or Sherry Thomas leap to mind as authors who do so well at those.

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?

Great question! Gone With the Wind , for its honesty in character. Miss Mitchell never let either Scarlett or Rhett be anyone other than who they were, and boy, did it get them into a lot of trouble! It was a wonderfully frustrating book to read, and I've read it 14 times, but it speaks so eloquently that we are who we are, and conflict between characters can't be solved with a simple phrase.

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman is another. Its humour is so dry and subtle, and the book is such a joy. She's the master of the subtle romance within a story, and says more with what's unsaid than any author I know.
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Untouched by Anna Campbell. The second I started that book, I felt a thrum of electricity, and it didn't stop until about three days after I'd finished. That woman knows how to torture a hero! I loved how she gave the characters a nearly impossible task to overcome, and with such emotion packed behind the hero's dilemma! It's a gorgeous, gorgeous story.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James. Dame Eloisa, as I call her, has such a deft hand with humour and delight, and then bam! She sucker-punches you and you find yourself sobbing three pages later. I just love when that happens. This book in particular was a favourite, because she based the hero on the television character Greg House, whose a favourite of mine.

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis . Even before Jill became my lovely friend, I was a fan. Her books have it all, and the setting for this book was so vibrant and fun, and the heroine so tremendously relatable, I find myself reading the book over and over.

8. Paranormal Romance writing is 'so hot right now', do you have any thoughts on why?
I don't, actually. I know that when I come across a great paranormal, I enjoy it tremendously. Maybe it's because you can get away with so much in a paranormal: psychic abilities, wings, immortality of super-hot heroes. I think every genre waxes and wanes in popularity, and nothing is really ever completely out of style, so long as it's well-written and gives the reader a wonderfully emotional few hours.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
Well, read a lot, of course! and write a lot, too. The more you practice, the better you'll get. And believe in yourselves! No one was born published.

Thanks for having me today! Hope to meet you when I visit Oz!
It's all about contemporaries this month, from our special guest, Kristan Higgins, to the huge offerings from some of the biggest names in romance - including my own fan-girlish obsession: Victoria Dahl!

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We've got ourselves a water theme here, as two grand dames of romance revisit their best-selling series.

Lisa Kleypas returns to Friday Harbour for her third contemporary romance novel. Zoe has a romantic soul, but she has been hurt so badly that she won't risk her heart again. Alex is a damaged soul who never believed in love in the first place. Can two wrongs make a right?

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The Lakeshore Chronicles continue as Susan Wiggs goes back to Avalon in her 9th novel in the series.

Sonnet drops everything in her life to help her mom when she falls unexpectedly pregnant, fully intending to pick back up again when the baby is born. But a devastating diagnosis forces a change of plans - and a reunion with her worst mistake, Zach Alger.

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Return to Willow Lake

Click here for details or to orderReaders, I love her. Love. A new Victoria Dahl novel is enough to make my month. A novel entitled, 'in which the author details her laundry for the week' would still set my heart a-pitter-patting. Luckily, she hasn't yet resorted to that, but I'm just saying. If she had to, I'd still be there.

(This one's called Close Enough to Touch. No mention of laundry anywhere. Though, honestly, it's a Dahl novel. Probably there will be mentioning of clothes of the they're-all-coming-off variety)

So Hollywood isn't all it cracked up to be for Grace. As a make-up artist, she got to see the demanding divas, the precarious employment, and - just to really cement things - the unfaithful boyfriends. So the offer of a hide-away in rural Wyoming is pretty darned tempting, even if it's not that exciting. But, then, Grace doesn't know about Cole - the rugged cowboy who might just find a way to spice up her down country adventure.

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She's an unemployed sportswriter who turns her hand to romance novels - now how to conduct some research? He's a sports doctor who's happy to offer himself up as  a test subject. But how to turn research to the real thing? A new novel from contemp up-and-comer Robyn Kaye

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Call Me Wild

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When one finds oneself both single and jobless, it's best to find a hole and hide in it - so that's what Jesse does, heading straight to her Aunt and her folksy remedies. But what might work better than a poultice is the local physician's assistant, and the hope of a new romance. From perennial favourite Pamela Morsi.

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The Lovesick Cure

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She's happy with her quiet evenings and independent life, until a news story turns up unexpected memories. He's sworn off women, particularly nosy ones with crazy stories who want to butt into his business. The new Texas-themed romance from Christie Craig.

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Blame it On Texas

Bundle up warm and turn on every light in the house - with four chilling novels, you're in for a terrifying month!
Click here for details or to order So what's a woman got to do to make a tough FBI Agent shake in his shoes? Why, be an IRS attorney, of course! Julie Garwood returns to romantic suspense in her latest novel.

Grace may have inadvertently spoiled an FBI sting operation, but she's on the trail of something much bigger so Grayson Kincaid's ornery partner is just going to have to get over himself and let her do her job. Grayson isn't any help. He seems vaguely amused by the whole thing. But he's strong and has access to guns, so when her life is threatened in the course of her work, it's him she calls for help. He may be just what she needs - both in and out of work.

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Lisa Jackson delves into a mother's worst nightmare - a missing child and no resolution in her latest novel.

Since the disappearance of her son two years ago, Ava has been in and out of mental institutions, shattered by her grief. But as her strength slowly returns, so too do some disturbing memories. Is Noah still alive? And if so, who is hiding him from her?

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You Don't Want to Know

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The past seeps into the present in the latest of Heather Graham's paranormal-spiced romantic suspense novels.

Ghost stories may be de rigeur in Philadelphia's historical homes, but Allison knows that the murder of her colleague has a flesh-and-blood culprit. But when Agent Tyler Montague gets involved, with his theories about hauntings and history, and another murder occurs, Allison may have to revise what she thinks she knows.

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Click here for details or to orderKaren Robard has thrilled us for years with her psychological thrillers. With this, the first book in a new series, she throws some paranormal elements into the mix.

Dr Charlotte Stone is a highly respected, sought after expert in criminal pathology, but no one knows that her incredible insight is due to visits she receives from the spirit world. Indeed, to tell anyone would be to lose her credibility, her job, and her passion - bringing evil to justice. But FBI Agent Tony Bartoli might be the one who sees past her barriers to the secrets underneath - because he's hiding a few of his own. Together they work to solve a fifteen-year-old mystery that has resurfaced, with deadly results.

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It's as crowded as a Royal Ball in our historical romance section this month. Luckily you've got your personalised invitation...

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She knows all the rules of being a servant to an aristocratic house, but what happens when the servant becomes mistress in this Cinderella story? The latest novel from
Nicola Cornick.

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He's been playing a role for so long, he doesn't know how to escape it. She's acting as the town magistrate, and has no time for deception. The second novel from one of my finds for 2012 - Heather Snow.

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Sweet Deception

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She's desperate for a change of fortune. He's wholly consumed by his scientific study. Neither are what the other wants - but it may be they have found what they need. Discover this debut novel from Juliana Gray.

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A Lady Never Lies

It's Eloisa James time! This is made even more exciting by Click here for details or to order the fact that you could, presumably if time and space works out, get this signed by the author herself as she is Down Under for the Romance Writers of Australia conference. The Australian Romance Readers Association is running a book-signing, at which Ms James will be, so click HERE for more information.

Now to the book - another fairytale inspired romance based on (I'll give you three guesses!), The Ugly Duckling!

Theo is well aware that she doesn't fit London's conventional ideas of beauty - or, well, anyone's really. But she has a fortune, and she has a sense of humour, and she has her best friend James, so that's not nothing. But then James proposes in a shockingly romantic fashion, making her feel desirable and beautiful in the best way possible - for two days. Then he disappears, and all of London is back to mocking the bride so ugly her husband left the country to escape. Seven years later, James is back, and he's got the battle of his life in front of him - to convince Theo that he has always loved the swan she really is.

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Fresh off their RITA wins: two new novels by award-winning authors!

Tessa Dare takes us back to Spindle Cove...Kate's used to fending for herself, and she's found her place in Spindle Cove. But she still longs for love and a relationship with a man who love her too. Samuel knows he's not that man, but he's stepped in to be her knight in shining armour regardless, because playing at love is the closest he's ever going to get.

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Caroline Linden won for best novella - imagine what she can do with a full novel!

Charles has spent his life running away from his responsibilities, so it comes as a bit of shock when he has to actually stop and let them catch him. The one woman who can help is sharp-tongued and mysterious. And wholly tempting. Who says that life has to be all work and no play?

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The Way to a Duke's Heart

Click here for details or to order Pippa Middleton made it look easy - but what does being a royal bridesmaid really entail?

Three of historical romance's best voices are here to tell you, in three historical novellas exploring the lives - and loves - of the women standing just a little to the left of the altar.

Stephanie Laurens pairs her bridesmaid with the man who got away.

Gaelen Foley's bridesmaid gets the shock of her life when she becomes the bride.

Loretta Chase's bridesmaid takes honour seriously and challenges her sister's detractor to a duel.

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If you like your erotic romance paranormal-flavoured, this is a great month for you!
Click here for details or to order Two of erotic romance's hottest authors team up for an anthology about the ... furrier side of life!

Being kidnapped may not normally be a good thing, but quiet, sheltered Darla Lewis couldn't be happier - how else to explore her repressed wild side than with a big bad wolf? The euphemistically titled, Like a Wolf With a Bone from Shelly Laurenston.

He'd hoped for a lot of action on his honeymoon, but fleeing hunters determined to kill him, his pack, and his human bride isn't exactly what he'd had in mind. She's got secrets, and he's going to lay all of them bare. The how's-this-for-an-ultimatum title, Wed or Dead from Cynthia Eden.

Not available in Australia until November
But if you're impatient we can get you the U.S. edition(See below)

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New from Lora Leigh in the Breeds series:

Stygian's responsibility is to find a Breed girl  who went missing thirteen years ago - wherever she is and bring her home. To help, he has Liza, and together they're closer than anyone thought possible. But Stygian's obsession with the lost woman may cause him to lose sight of what's in front of him, what's real, and what could be very easily destroyed.

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Lorelei James brings us book 4 in her Blacktop Cowboys series:

She knows he's bad news - plus, he only ever sees her as his best friend's kid sister. But after one alcohol-fuelled night, they end up married. Now she wants an annulment, but he doesn't want to let her go. He uses his Wyoming property and her ranching background to hold her...but it's going to take more than that to keep her.

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Click here for details or to orderThe amazing Robin D Owens thrills us all with a return to her Celta universe - the 11th book in the series.

Garrett Primross may have survived the disease that kills his lover and her baby, but he leads a half-life, trying to banish the past and bury his heart with them. But his survival is a miracle that can't go unnoticed by the healers of Celta, and they assign Artemisia to monitor him. Garrett and Artemisia are HeartMates, but after her family was disgraced, Garrett never pursued this promise. Now he refuses to acknowledge her as she goes about her business. This suits Artemisia fine, as she focuses on the job she loves and the secrets she keeps. But it soon becomes apparent that to deny one's HeartMate is to deny life - and the future.

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Walk on the wild side this month, with stories from three huge authors.


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Return to the world of the Dark Hunters: book 16 in Sherrilyn Kenyon's
signature series.

She's been haunted by dreams her whole life, and the quest to end them leads her to Las Vegas - and a twist she never expected. He is an ancient warrior so powerful not even death could tame him. He needs her help to save the world, but can she see past her scientist prejudice and believe?

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Time Untime

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Christina Dodd returns to her Chosen Ones series - and Aleksander Wilder - in book five.

Ignoring your duty always comes with consequences, but Aleksander's were more dire than most -  torture, torment, and transformation. But a chance encounter and subsequent good deed might mean the chance to live as a man again - and a chance for love.

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No matter which Mary Janice Davidson series - or which paranormal incarnation -  you like best, there's something for you in this anthology of novellas, together for the first time. Featuring an amorous ghost, a psychic who gets more than he bargained for, a cape cod werewolf, and a witch, this book explores the lighter side of paranormal romance.

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Dying For You

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In This Issue

Kate's Month Ahead

Nine Naughties


Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance

Erotic Romance

Fantasy Romance

Paranormal Romance


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Anna Campbell
Nalini Singh
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Stephanie Laurens
Jayne Castle
JR Ward
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Meljean Brook
GA Aiken


Booktopia Romance Buzz congratulates the RITA winners!

Get your hands on a winner, as the best of 2011 novels are announced: including one of our own!

Our Aussie Winner!
Best Contemporary Single Title Romance
Fiona Lowe

Best First Book
Darynda Jones
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Best Paranormal
Thea Harrison
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Best Historical

Joanna Bourne

Best Regency Historical Romance

Tessa Dare
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Best Young Adult

Ann Aguirre
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Best Romantic Suspense
New York to Dallas
JD Robb

Best Inspirational Romance
Serena Miller

Best Romance Novella

I Love the Earl
Caroline Linden
I Love the Earl-Caroline Linden

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Barbara O'Neal Click here for details or to order

Best Contemporary Series Romance
Sarah Morgan

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Best Contemporary Series Romance:

Cindy Dees


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