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Kat Mayo

Hello, sparkly readers!

I just got back from the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra and I am so energised after spending a weekend with fellow romance addicts and authors.

Congratulations to the winners of the Australian Romance Readers Awards, especially Kylie Scott, who was once again voted by readers as their Favourite Australian Romance Author, and whose prize was presented by Booktopia CEO Tony Nash. We have a list of all the winners below, so make sure you check out those books. Kelly Hunter deserves a special mention for winning the category romance award for the fourth year in a row. If you've never tried a Mills and Boon, you can't go wrong with one of Kelly's books!

This month, Kelley Armstrong joins us to answer our Nine Naughty Questions. Urban fantasy romance readers will no doubt be familiar with Kelley's Women of the Otherworld series, which has now been turned into a TV show.

All that, and we have new releases from Anna Campbell, JR Ward, Nalini Singh, and Jo Goodman. Shona Husk branches out into new adult with an f/f novella, and hugely popular Australian author CS Pacat releases the print edition of her ebook sensation The Captive Prince. We are spoilt for choice, dear readers!

What I just finished: A Dance With Danger by Jeannie Lin

What I'm reading now: The Spy Who Tamed Me by Kelley Hunter

What I can't wait for: Lawless in Leather by Melanie Scott

And now, I am off to read all the goodies I collected at ARRC. Hope you're having a fabulous reading month!

Kat Mayo

Sleep Deprived from Too Many Books

Booktopia

Follow me on Twitter:@BookThingo

For exclusive offers, news on upcoming romance titles and general romance goss, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @LoveAtBooktopia.

A Scoundrel by Moonlight
The Sons of Sins Series

by Anna Campbell

Kat says: Fans of Anna Campbell's will be waiting to get their hands on the fourth book in the Sons of Sin series . Nell Trim is determined to avenge the ruination of her sister, but James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath, will prove to be more of a challenge than she had anticipated. Because, let's face it, if she can't even resist a kiss, how will she ever beat him at his own game?

I read a comment from another reader that Leath 'deserves to be thrashed by love', and I can't think of a better author than Anna Campbell to do it. Anna has a gift with words, and strikes that beautiful balance between giving readers all the feelings they want in a romance without talking down to us. She remains an auto-buy author for me, and release date for this book can't come soon enough!
 
RRP: $16.00 $11.25 Save 30%

This is a great starter list for anyone thinking of dipping their reading toes into romance or particular subgenres. These are the books voted by your fellow readers as the best of 2014, so make sure you check them out!

Lick
The Stage Dive Series : Book 1
by Kylie Scott
Kat says: Once again, readers have voted Kylie Scott as our Favourite Australian Romance Author. Her Stage Dive series won Favourite Continuing Series, and Play won Favourite Contemporary Romance. I talked about this book in last year's May and August Romance Buzz, but essentially, if you love bad boy heroes - especially of the rock band persuasion - you will love Mal and heroine Anne, who bucks the romance trope of being all anti-fame, anti-hero-worship, because she's had a huge crush on Mal ever since she was a teen. As I said in my previous review, anyone who has ever talked to a celebrity poster on their bedroom wall will find this story a complete delight.

Click here to see the full list of ARRA Winners
 
RRP: $19.99 $16.95 Save 15%

Click here to browse our Mills and Boon titles

The Spy Who Tamed Me
by Kelly Hunter

Kat says: Kelly Hunter won her fourth consecutive ARR award this year, and I'll be very surprised if her latest book doesn't make next year's shortlist. This is the much-anticipated final book in Wests series, featuring Jared, the brother who was deep undercover for most of the series. Let me tell you some of the things I love about this book (which I'm still reading, by the way):

1. Jared faints at least twice. (Rest assured, he faints as a result of heroic, manly injuries!)

2. Rowan, the heroine, is not only his boss, but she's older than him. She is not classically beautiful, and this is not glossed over.

3. The epilogue - yes, I read the ending first, even in Mills & Boon. It's such a reward for fans of the series, and just absolutely perfect, really.
 
RRP: $7.99 $5.50 Save 31%
A Seal's Pleasure
by Tawny Weber
Explosives expert and Navy SEAL Gabriel "Romeo" Thorne makes his living tempting fate. Pushing the limits. So far, he's never lost 14especially when it comes to women. That is, until his best friend's wedding, where Gabriel is suddenly face-to-face 14and deliciously body-to-body 14with the one woman hot enough to detonate his self-control.

Tessa Monroe is used to being in control with men. Gabriel, on the other hand ...
RRP: $11.00 $7.50 Save 32%
Captive Prince
Book One of the Captive Prince Trilogy

by C.S. Pacat

Kat says: Readers who participate in the Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors (DABWAHA) Challenge, run by popular US blogs Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, will recognise Australian author CS Pacat as last year's winner. DABWAHA is essentially a popularity contest, so you can imagine how many readers just adore the Captive Prince series , a dark fantasy romance. I know so many people who have told me that they started it not expecting to keep going past the first chapter, only to find themselves reading through the night to finish both volumes - yes, it's that good.

Penguin is re-issuing volume 1, The Captive Prince, in print so if you haven't read it, or if you love it so much you want a physical copy for your bookshelf, make sure you grab this edition.


RRP: $19.99 $15.95 Save 20%

Click here for more details or to order Captive Prince

Blue Eyed Stranger
by Alex Beecroft
Billy Wright has a problem: he's only visible when he's wearing a mask. That's fine when he's performing at country fairs with the rest of his morris dancing troupe. But when he takes the paint off, his life is lonely and empty, and he struggles with crippling depression.

Martin Deng stands out from the crowd. After all, there aren't that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society ...
RRP: $33.99 $25.75 Save 24%
Out Of Rhythm
Face the Music Series : Book 1

by Shona Husk

Kat says: Dark fantasy romance readers will recognise Shona Husk from her Court of Annywn and Shadowlands (the goblin books) series. She's branching out into new adult, rock band romance, turning the ye olde friends-to-lovers trope on its head by featuring a female-female couple. It's really difficult to find f/f romance, so I'm so pleased that Shona has decided to start her series with this novella.

The first full-length book comes out in May, so if you love Out of Rhythm , you won't have to wait long for the next story!
 
RRP: $2.99 $2.25 Save 25%
The Virgin
The Original Sinners Series : Book 7

by Tiffany Reisz
The provocative story before the story continues in the critically acclaimed and award-winning series The Original Sinners

For years, Kingsley Edge warned Eleanor the day would come when she, the mistress of a well-respected Catholic priest, would have to run. She always imagined if that day came, she'd be running with Soren. Instead, she's running from him ...
RRP: $15.99 $12.75 Save 20%
The Shadows
The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series : Book 13

by: J. R. Ward

Kat says: I mean, do I have to say anything about this book? If you're a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series , you'll have clicked the pre-order link before you started reading this. The book features brothers Trez and iAm, who were introduced in the series as Rehv's henchmen, but who have become increasingly more prominent in the last few books. I believe this is the first BDB to feature two main couples, and I can't wait to see where it leads us!

Also, if you haven't already heard, JR Ward is working on a new Black Dagger Legacy series, which will centre around the training centre. Watch out for the first book in December!

RRP: $29.99 $23.95 Save 20%
The Liar
by Nora Roberts
A new life. A new home. But can she ever escape her past?

When her husband Richard dies in a freak accident, Shelby Pomeroy is devastated. But his death reveals a horrible ...
RRP: $29.99 $23.95 Save 20%
Running Fire
by Lindsay McKenna
He was a haven in the midst of Hell...

Temporarily assigned to the Shadow Squadron in a troubled region of Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie is no stranger ...
RRP: $15.99 $11.25 Save 30%
This Gun for Hire
by Jo Goodman

Kat says: This Gun For Hire follows In Want of a Wife but can certainly stand alone. Calico is hired to protect a mine owner's daughter, but the boss's right-hand man, Quill, is a distraction she hadn't counted on. I love Jo Goodman. Her books are quiet, and subtle, and just so amazing, and through her I rediscovered the appeal of the American Western historical. Definitely an autobuy for me!

RRP: $15.99 $13.25 Save 17%
A Dance with Danger
by Jeannie Lin

Kat says: If you're a historical romance reader looking outside the Regency setting for your next love fix, I highly recommend Jeannie Lin. Her new book is part of a series, but I think you can read it out of order and still enjoy it. Bao Yang is on the run after a failed assassination attempt (he was the assassin), and falls into a shotgun wedding to Jin-mei, daughter of the man who had helped plot the assassination.

This is a romance that plays with familiar tropes in an unfamiliar setting. A Dance With Danger has the social restrictions of Regency, the arranged marriage of category romance, and the intrigue of romantic suspense. It's a delightful combination, and I'm looking forward to glomming the rest of Jeannie's backlist!
 
RRP: $13.00 $11.25 Save 13%
Four Nights with the Duke
by Eloisa James
The next exquisite historical romance in a sparkling series by the queen of Regency seduction, Eloisa James.

As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would ...
 
RRP: $19.99 $15.95 Save 20%
The Scoundrel and the Debutante
by Julia London
The dust of the Cabot sisters' shocking plans to rescue their family from certain ruin may have settled, but Prudence Cabot is left standing in the rubble of scandal. 

Now regarded as an unsuitable bride, she's tainted among the ton ...
RRP: $15.99 $11.25 Save 30%
Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires
Secrets at Thorncliff Manor Series : Book 4

by Sophie Barnes
Welcome to Thorncliff Manor, where London's elite mix, mingle, and may even find their heart's desire . . .

There are thousands of things Christopher, Viscount Spencer, would rather do than hunt for a bride, especially since experience has taught him that women are not to be trusted. Then he finds the intriguing Lady Sarah scrambling around in Thorncliff's conservatory and he is instantly charmed by ...
RRP: $12.99 $11.25 Save 13%
The Duke and the Lady in Red
by Lorraine Heath
Sparks fly in the finale of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, as the last wicked rogue meets his match.

When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked ...
RRP: $12.99 $11.25 Save 13%
A Good Rogue is Hard to Find
by Kelly Bowen
HE THOUGHT HE'D SEEN IT ALL . . .

The rogue's life has been good to William Somerhall: He has his fortune, his racehorses, and his freedom. Then he moves in with ...
RRP: $12.99 $11.25 Save 13%
The Assumed
Storm Warning / Dual Image

by Nora Roberts
Internationally bestselling author Nora Roberts bring us two stories of love's dark side.

Storm Warning

Autumn Gallagher arrives at her aunt's isolated inn, she is confronted with the one man she vowed never to speak to again - Lucas McLean. Lucas is handsome, mysterious...and trouble. Three years ago, he broke Autumn's heart without a thought or ...
RRP: $27.99 $22.40 Save 20%
I Loved a Rogue
The Prince Catchers

by Katharine Ashe

Kat says: The final book in the Prince Catchers series is basically everything we look for in romance. Determined to go on an adventure, Eleanor volunteers to pursue the gypsy prophecy that promised to reveal the identity of her parents. Childhood sweetheart Taliesin offers to assist, and suddenly the heartbreak of the past hovers on the edge of everything they do. Taliesin is the perfect blend of aloof alpha hero and tender partner. I ached for him throughout the book. Eleanor is no wallflower, and she, too, is a delight in this book.

The resolution to the prophecy surrounding the Caulfield sisters' parents comes together splendidly, and even though I knew perfectly well this was a romance, author Katharine Ashe is so good at what she does that every time Eleanor and Taliesen hovered on the brink of doing irreparable damage to their relationship, my heart was in my throat. But rest easy, my fellow readers! The tension is all part of the delicious journey to the happy ever after!
 
RRP: $12.99 $11.25 Save 13%
Kelley ArmstrongI met Kelley Armstrong this month at the Australian Romance Readers Convention, and she's quite unusual for a romance author because she has also branched out into other genres of fiction, mainly fantasy and children's books. The first book of her Women of the Otherworld series, Bitten , remains a fan favourite despite having been published in 2001, way before werewolves were even a thing in romance. She gave a keynote at the convention, and I had the privilege of chatting with her socially, and I have to say, I might have developed a teensy crush on her. (Totally healthy, though. Involving lots of book buying and no inappropriate behaviour!) Her Women of the Otherworld series has been adapted into a TV series, so make sure you check that out as well!

You can find out more about Kelley and her books by visiting her website at, liking her on Facebook, or following her on Tumblr or Twitter.

1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed d├ęcolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background - what's your favourite type of romance cover and why?


Headless washboard abs. Even better scenery than a sprawling homestead.

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

My secret life right now is very glamorous. Twice a day, I put on a second pair of sweatpants, a ushanka hat, penguin mittens and trudge through the snow and minus 20 temperatures to the peace and blazing fire of my back field writing cabin.

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, Bittenand have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?

Very little of myself goes into my characters. My series protagonists usually have a few small things in common with me as touchstones. In Cainsville, the main character Olivia and I share a love of mochas and fast cars...and that's about it. Same for experiences. It's usually only tiny things. For example, I'm finishing a Yukon-set mystery and shortly after the character arrives, a black bear ambles across the road, expecting the car to just stop and wait. That part comes from my research trip...but it's the only actual shared experience.

4. I'm interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?


To me, romance means it may have sex, but sexual exploration is not the main plot. In erotica, it is the main plot. In porn, it's about sexual gratification...for the reader, not the characters. I'm amused by the number of people who thought the Fifty Shades sex was new for women's fiction. It has been around at least since I started in 2001, when including explicit sex and mild bondage in an urban fantasy novel didn't raise any eyebrows. In that genre (and paranormal romance) I was actually considered quite tame.

Visions5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

The latest was Visions, the second Cainsville book. My working title was...Cainsville 2. Yeah, I've learned that I don't have a gift for titles, so unless something jumps to mind, I often don't even bother with a working title!

6. What's the most memorable reaction you've received after a friend or family member read one of your books?


I don't get any of the "fun" reactions-no one comments on the sex scenes or the violence or the language. I think they just know me well enough to expect all that. One of my favourite reactions was not to the actual book, but from my grandmother when she learned I'd sold my first novel. I said it was about werewolves. Later, she asked my sister "What's a werewolf?" She did read it, though, and I was fine with that. She was an avid romance reader so there would have been nothing new or shocking in it for her.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they'll write 'real' books - what do you tell the haters?

Honestly, it's not just romance. I write crossover fiction, which includes elements of romance, mystery, fantasy and horror. That question applies to all those genres. At least it does for a Canadian author-it's expected that you write genre fiction as practice and will eventually "rise" to literary fiction. I enjoy reading CanLit, but I'd rather endure root canal without anesthesia than write it...and I'm quite open about that. I also joke about the size of my royalty cheques and that I'd rather have a luxury convertible in my drive than a literary award on my shelf. I have many responses, as you can see, because this comes up a LOT for me.

Omens8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

Writing cross-genre means I read many genres. Recent faves would be No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Third Twin by CJ Omololu and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it's particularly delicious!

In Visions, let's just say there's a motorcycle scene. I recently heard from a reader who has read all my YA and then moved into Cainsville and had just finished Visions. She was, um, twelve, and all I could think of was the motorcycle scene and what I'm teaching young readers. I was so tempted in my return email to tell her that scene is not a good example of safe motor vehicle operation.

Kelley, thank you for playing.
Otherworld Series: Bitten
by Kelley Armstrong
Kat says: Heaps of romance readers have Bitten in their keeper shelves - Kelley's book was a pioneer, featuring a female first-person narrator, werewolf pack politics, and mating bonds. There are 13 books in the Women of the Otherworld series, and this series remains a fan favourite in urban fantasy romance.
RRP: $19.99 $16.75 Save 16%
Cainsville Trilogy: Omens
by Kelley Armstrong
Kat says: The Cainsville trilogy is perfect for readers who love a bit of crime thriller mixed with the supernatural. There are romantic elements thrown in, but even without that, you'll be racing your way to the last book!

Blurb: A life shattered in one moment. Olivia Jones has lived a life of privilege and good fortune. But on the eve of her wedding she discovers two shocking facts. One - she was adopted. Two - her biological parents are notorious serial killers.
RRP: $19.99 $17.50 Save 12%
Cainsville Trilogy: Visions
by Kelley Armstrong
Omens, the first instalment in Kelley Armstrong's exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel's past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most. Olivia finds a dead woman in her car ...
RRP: $29.99 $25.25 Save 16%
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