Hello everyone. Hope your June has been amazing. :)
This month I attended an author talk called The Secret Life of Authors with three fabulous women – Rachel Johns, Lisa Ireland and Sally Hepworth. Such fun! The ladies were brilliantly funny, entertaining, shared some amazing stories about their experiences, and their hour talk was far too short. I wish it could have been longer. The talk, and the way they worked off one another, was fascinating. They’re clearly great friends. They even finished each other’s sentences. :)
The ladies chatted about their books, their different writing styles, the importance of connecting with like-minded authors (finding your tribe) and some of the things they did in the name of research. They also talked about what it was like to receive a negative review and how writing was an industry in which, at times, one needs a thick skin.
You’ll see below I’ve reviewed a book from both Rachel and Lisa this month. Sally is a new-to-me author, and she kindly signed a copy of her book, The Mother’s Promise, which will be in next month's blog. It was wonderful to chat with them all afterwards too. I may have displayed my version of a Cheshire cat grin, which isn’t much different from my crazy lady one. LOL
It was also wonderful to catch up with a few writing friends too, which made the day extra special. :)
Man Drought by Rachael Johns
Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival.
Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground...and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing.
Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too?
When Imogene takes on the restoration of a pub, she pours all the love and passion she holds for her deceased husband into rebuilding a new life for herself. She’s certain she’ll never know romantic love again but hopes to inject some happiness into the small country town. As she gains the trust and admiration of the inhabitants, it’s obvious at least one stubborn inhabitant believes she and her ideas are little more than a joke. While Imogen wonders why she cares what he thinks, there’s no doubting her desire to prove him wrong.
If there’s one thing Gibson Black hates, it’s a city girl prancing around town thinking she’s one of the country folk. He’s seen it all before. Once the glamour wears off, they can’t wait to hightail it back to the city, and they don’t care who they hurt. It’s only a matter of time until Imogen proves him right. But with everyone else raving about her, especially his beloved grandfather, Charlie, Gibson hopes the novelty diminishes soon. Because this time when the city girl leaves, she might take more than one broken heart with her.
While they clash at every turn, Imogen and Gibson soon realise they have more in common than the adamant thought neither will fall in love again. Country life isn’t easy, but neither is losing someone you care about. And when someone they both care for is in danger, Imogen and Gibson must let go of more than their pasts if there’s any chance for future happiness together.
What a fabulous story. I loved the moment the title made sense. :) Imogen’s ‘country change’ from the city to a pub in the country was beautifully portrayed. I love how Ms Johns captured the openness of a country welcome and the willingness of country folk to step in and help one another out. Gibson’s grandfather was a standout character for me, and I love not only the way Ms Johns portrayed him but also how Imogen and Gibson were around him. The last few chapters of this story were amazing and ramped up the emotional stakes. I also love that the author didn’t make an obvious choice in how the book ended but embodied the main characters’ choices. I look forward to reading more of Ms Johns books. :)
The Shape of Us by Lisa Ireland.
Four different women. The same big problem. One magical solution?
Despite excelling at university, Mezz has ended up the second-choice doctor in a two-doctor town and won't be winning Mother of the Year any time soon. Miserably overweight, she knows it's only a matter of time until her gorgeous husband starts to stray...
Jewels runs a successful business and lives in her dream house. All she needs to make life complete is a baby. She'll do anything to lose weight and become a mother... just as soon as the Tim Tams are finished.
Ellie's life looks perfect on Facebook. But unlike the sunny snapshots, her world in Canberra is dull: she left everything behind in London, and the woman she sacrificed her life for is hardly ever home. Her ever-increasing waistline is testimony to just how small Ellie's life has become.
Kat's baby is her world. As a Bosnian refugee, she wants nothing more than a stable, happy life for Ami, but Kat's relationship with Ami's dad is collapsing. If she could just lose the 'baby weight' maybe Josh would look at her the way he used to.
When Mezz, Jewels, Ellie and Kat meet in an online weight-loss forum, a common goal accelerates their friendship. As the kilos start to disappear but their problems don't, they begin to realise that weight-loss might not be the key to happiness, but that supporting and believing in the ones you love, and yourself, just might be.
Mezz moved to her husband’s hometown determined to build up her doctor practice and make a wonderful life for herself and her family. It soon became apparent the city girl doesn’t belong, and no one thinks she’s good enough for their country boy. When nothing works out as expected, Mezz uses food to hide her disappointment with life and her crumbling marriage.
On the surface, Jewels has everything. A doting husband, a thriving bakery business and the perfect life. But what she wants more than anything is to be a mum. When someone close to her casually announces she’s pregnant for the fourth time, Jewels’ world comes crashing down, her only solace, the cakes and pastries she excels in making, and eating.
Ellie left England a svelte and happy woman to follow the love of her life to Australia. Once there, she discovered the woman she gave up her dream job for is busy with her own fast-paced career. How can they have the wonderful family life Ellie’s yearned for if they never get to spend more than a few hours together? Unfortunately for Ellie, unlike her partner, food is always there.
Baby Ami might result from an unplanned pregnancy, but Kat loves her more than anything. She wants her daughter to have the life she never had and a loving partner who’ll be a kind and doting father. But the baby weight doesn’t seem to be coming off and Ami’s father seems more interested in hanging out at the beach or the pub with his friends than being there for them. Afraid of being alone, Kat’s not sure what to do or who to turn to so she can keep her family together.
When these four women meet online in a weight loss forum, they find an instant connection. Despite coming from different backgrounds, they share their hopes, fears, dreams and the common belief that if they lose some weight, it will solve all their problems. Then something life changing happens. Where food was once an emotional crutch to hide pain, fear and disappointment, these four women discover true friendship is more powerful than any heartbreaking experience they had before.
I finished this book last night and I am still blinking back tears. What a beautiful and powerful story Ms Ireland has written. The characters are vibrant and real, as are their emotional triggers. The women’s individual stories come together in a seamless blend, and I loved how the characters progressed throughout the book. I suggest keeping the tissues handy, because this story doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings, it wrenches them.
Dangerous Longing by Carolyn Wren
Covert operative, Jane Preston, is on her first solo mission, assigned to protect four-year-old Amelia Foster, the victim of a kidnap attempt. Jane is instantly captivated by her young charge.
Amelia’s widowed father is another matter. Philanthropist, Paul Foster, is stern, cold and a workaholic. The man is an impenetrable fortress, seemingly unable to express a single emotion except anger.
Another kidnap attempt leaves Jane convinced the threats aren’t random. Paul claims the motive is greed. Something just doesn’t ring true. What is the true mystery? Why can’t Paul seem to connect with his own beautiful daughter?
Even while her feelings for the solitary widower grow, Jane can’t ignore the truth. Paul is hiding something from them all.
Jane Preston learned the hard way how cruel life could be, and how it could all change in a heartbeat. Her experiences strengthened her, and at the agency, the best agents in the business have overseen her training. Now she can help save an innocent, and she’ll give it all she’s got. She’s fiercely protective of her young charge, but her internal alarm bells are ringing. How’s she supposed to protect Amelia when even the child’s father seems deceitful?
Paul Foster is keeping secrets, but keeping them comes at great cost, including the relationship with his beloved daughter. When he hires protection for her after an attempted kidnapping, Paul never thought his own heart and mind would need protecting too. But the agent posing as Amelia’s nanny has a way of fighting his defences with just a smile. Maybe he can trust her, but God help him if anyone discovers the truth.
When the threats become more violent, and another kidnap attempt mercifully fails, Jane and Paul must put more aside than their feelings for his daughter. He must overcome his past if they’re to save his future. And she must decide whether this is more than just a job, because staying professional might be the most challenging thing she’s ever done.
Another excellent tale by Ms Wren. I love how characters from previous stories make an appearance and help shape the current one. I also liked how Jane showed vulnerability yet remained strong and determined. The same with Paul breaking down his own mental barriers and learning to love again. As always, there were fun twists in the story, and I may have shed a tear or two as I devoured the pages. Only two more books left in the series. I already want the next one. :)
Some good news this month. :) The Rockingham Writing Centre has accepted two of my short stories for a spooky anthology due for release before Halloween. The Rockingham Writers Convention has released their program for September and the guest line up is fabulous. On the downside, it makes selecting which session to attend even more difficult. :) And there’re more writing workshops coming up in July and August.
I’m still busy writing, rewriting and reviewing. (And swearing and wondering what the heck I’m doing.) I did a recent proofreading job and I can’t wait until they release the book so I can tell you about it. :)
Until next time, I hope you find another book to love and beautiful words to fill your soul.