Review: Calendar Girl: January by Audrey Carlan

Audrey Carlan’s Calendar Girl series has been charting extremely well, and its appeal is immediately obvious: one steamy novella for each month of the year, now all available so readers can move from one to the other as needed – or wanted … And wants, desires, are definitely at the core of the first book in the series, January.

Mia Saunders is in need of a lot of money – not to spend on herself but to pay back a debt of her father’s that has put his life at risk. As we meet Mia he’s in a hospital in Las Vegas, recovering from an attack by the men who are calling in the debt. While it’s clear that her father is a no-hoper, Mia isn’t prepared to give up on him, nor on her little sister, who she believes is in danger from the same men.

That may sound like a set-up for a crime novel, but instead it’s the catalyst for Mia to go to her aunt, who runs a successful escort service. Her aunt tells Mia that she could send her on short jobs but the real money is in month-long attachments – thereby establishing the premise for the twelve novels. It’s a great device, holding, as it does, the promise of more novels for fans, complete with a different male protagonist each month.

Mia’s first client is the handsome, charming screenwriter Wes who needs her to be his companion through a whirlwind month of business dinners and parties. He hopes that her presence will keep at bay the women who constantly try to seduce him – given that he’s a power player in Hollywood, as well as a fine physical specimen, he’s a prime target.

It seems like an easy enough gig – and her aunt has told Mia that sex with the client is at her discretion. It’s not part of the official deal. It doesn’t take Mia long, however, to realise that sex with Wes would be a very welcome addition to her month-long stay in his house …

And that’s where we come to the, ahem, meat of it: Calendar Girl: January is hot. Its power is in the sex scenes, which are really well constructed and, shall we say, effective. While the story might not be meaty enough for some, it’s enough to keep the reader hooked into the adventures of Mia and Wes – and to want to find out what happens to Mia when February comes around …

Calendar Girl: January is available now (as are all the books in the series).



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Review: Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty – Casey by Rachael Johns

I was a fan of the first Secret Confessions series, Sydney Housewives, so I dived right into the first release from the new Down & Dusty series. Casey by bestselling author Rachael Johns is the story of Casey and Joel, who are still married but Casey’s been living in a different town after leaving Joel because, basically, he just wouldn’t grow up. Plus, not being near Joel means Casey can’t give in to the temptation that arises whenever she’s hear him – because whatever problems they might have had, they were never in the bedroom.

Down & Dusty: Casey is not only down and dusty but hot and steamy … just as you’d want it to be. Johns gets us into the story and the characters quickly, so we can appreciate the action all the more. This is not a sugar hit so much as a super-charge – and a great start to the series.

Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty – Casey (Escape) is out now.

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The Princess: The Young Royals 3 released today

9781760301842_princess_coverToday marks the publication of the third novel in the Young Royals series that began with The Prince at the end of 2014 and continued with The Queen in May 2015. This third novel, The Princess, is about Princess Margaret, the youngest sibling in the royal trio.

Margaret is young but she’s already lost both her parents. She’s coped the best way she can: basically, by taking a lot of holidays, all while her sister, the monarch, works as hard as she can in the service of her country and their brother, David, settles down to his own responsibilities. Margaret isn’t lazy – she’s just not seen much point in working when her brother and sister are doing so much of it already. In this she has been supported by her long-term boyfriend, Hal.

Yet Margaret, of all people, should know that life doesn’t flow along without change – often unwanted change – and when the Queen’s circumstances change and she needs Margaret’s help, the youngest royal has to make some decisions about her life, including Hal’s role in it. Margaret has to grow up, even if that means being on her own … although a chance encounter with John Bartholomew, the world’s favourite actor, might just bring about change of its own.

The Princess: The Young Royals 3 is published by Momentum.


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Review: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Wallbanger isn’t a new book but it’s new to me – and, therefore, reviewable (given that this is my website and I can do what I like … right?). And Wallbanger exemplifies one of the really good reasons to discover an author’s ‘backlist’ titles: finding out that there have been other books written since which can be read and enjoyed hopefully as much as the first. That was my first instinct on finishing Wallbanger: to read Alice Clayton’s other books, although ‘inhaling’ them may be more accurate, as if they’re anything like Wallbanger they will entertain and delight, make the reader laugh and, yes, do all the right things a novel with great sex scenes should do.

The set-up of Wallbanger is a good one: Caroline, an interior designer living in the San Francisco apartment of her dreams, is kept awake at night by the literally wallbanging sexcapades of her neighbour, who turns out to be a ruggedly, raunchily handsome photographer called Simon. Caroline will find out his name when, fed up with sleepless nights and the fact that her cat, Clive, has taken a liking to one of Simon’s harem (as she calls the array of different women he beds), Caroline takes it upon herself to interrupt Simon one night with some raucous banging of her own: on his door.

This is a romance novel, so of course these two are going to become further enmeshed. Along the way we’ll meet their friends and mentors; we’ll find out that Caroline loves to bake and that Simon may have a fondness for baked goods; that both characters are well-drawn individuals who make a great heroine and hero. Their attraction to each other may be powerful, but it’s not without its complications – and even those are fun to work through.

Wallbanger is satisfying on so many levels. If you’ve never read an Alice Clayton novel before, make this your first – then do what I did and plunge (ahem) into her others.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton is available from all good e-book retailers.

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Special prices for The Queen and The Prince


9781760082192_Prince_cover3Ahead of the release of The Princess: The Young Royals 3 on 21 January 2016, the first two novels in the series are available for special prices for a limited time – just to, you know, entice you into the series …

The Prince (book 1) is FREE and The Queen (book 2) is 99 cents. 

The three books are written in chronological order and follow three royal siblings, starting with Prince David, who is the younger brother of Alexandra, who is the Queen of the second9781760082284_Queen_cover1 book. Their younger sister, Margaret, is the subject of The Princess. All three royals appear in all of the books; it’s just that the focus changes in each. There’s a lot of research in these books – let’s just say years of reading many books about the British Royal Family, especially Diana, Princess of Wales. So the details about royal households and how they are run, amongst other things, are as authentic as possible.

The books were great fun to write and I’ll miss my three royals now the series is done. But if you’re reading the books, first, THANK YOU, and, second, I hope you enjoy them.

And the biggest thanks go to my publishers, Momentum, who are, simply, the very best.


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Read an excerpt from The Princess

9781760301842_princess_coverThe third book in the Young Royals series, The Princess, will be published by Momentum on 21 January 2016. It tells the tale of Princess Margaret, the youngest of the siblings who form the core of the three books. Margaret’s life is more carefree than that of her brother, Prince David, and sister, Queen Alexandra, but she’s still a member of the royal family – and she has to grow up sometime. The Princess is about Margaret growing up, and hopefully it’s also about how any person finds a life that’s meaningful – and a relationship that fits.

Margaret meets John Bartholomew, the most famous actor in the world. He’s older than her, accomplished and handsome, but he is just as susceptible to self-doubt and mistakes as Margaret. One big mistake will cause them both to question the future of their relationship – and John’s suitability to be involved with a member of the royal family.

You can read an excerpt from The Princess at


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Review: The Billionaire Bargain 1 by Lila Monroe

We meet Lacey Newman, the narrator of The Billionaire Bargain, when she’s in the middle of a bad date, just before she’s called back to her job by her bad boss. In other words: her life isn’t going quite how she’d like – and that’s before she arrives back at work, at night, to help Bad Boss Jacinda clean up yet another mess caused by their devilishly handsome, and just plain devilish, boss, the Australian billionaire Grant Devlin.

Devlin has a knack for making investors nervous, with his reckless antics and his apparent lack of concern for his business, which employs a large number of people – including, of course, Lacey, who’s been stuck in her role as admin assistant to Jacinda for a while. Even if she’s really doing doing Jacinda’s work for her. Even if Jacinda knows that and doesn’t want Lacey to ever forget her ‘place’.

When Lacey, sick of working overtime for underpay, gets up the gumption to tell off Devlin to his face, she’s convinced she’s going to be fired. Which is a pity, because Devlin really is quite attractive … when he’s not being lazy and careless.

Instead of firing her, though, Devlin turns her world upside down in ways she couldn’t predict. Work, play, love, adventure – everything changes. Now Lacey just has to work out if she’s prepared to bargain with him so they both get the life they want …

The first volume of The Billionaire’s Bargain is pacey, fun, hot and incredibly enjoyable. There’s the odd implausible thing – in real life, Lacey would absolutely be fired for what she said – but that’s part of what makes fiction delicious: we can suspend our disbelief and immerse ourselves in another world for a while. If the book does its job, we have a great time while we’re there. The Billionaire Bargain absolutely did its job – and if that’s not enough to convince you, I immediately bought the next two volumes.

The Billionaire Bargain 1 (and 2 and 3) are available as ebooks. 

Lila Monroe is on Facebook at and Twitter at @lilawrites.

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Review: Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards

Each Christmas brings a new Santa sack full of Christmas-themed romance novellas; it would be difficult to read them all, but some are definitely worth making time for. Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards is one of those.

Hollie Douglas leaves behind a cad and country New South Wales to head to the northern hemisphere to fulfil a long-held dream: her first white Christmas. But if she thought her year was already not going to plan, a wintry Canadian landscape has more surprises in store for her – specifically, handsome widower Jim Bell, who comes across Hollie when her car comes off the road. Hollie is convinced that her perfect Christmas is never going to happen – but Jim has other ideas …

Edwards strongly evokes place and emotion in this incredibly satisfying Christmas story. You can feel the cold of the Canadian winter and the warmth of the protagonists’ hearts. The story is plausible, touching and easy to read (the latter being a compliment of the highest order, as it’s not easy to achieve) and if you buy it right now there’s still plenty of time to read it before Christmas. You’ll be glad you did.

Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards is published by Momentum.


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Review: Billabong Bend by Jennifer Scoullar

9780143572886Jennifer Scoullar writes great rural romance stories that always have an extra mission: an environmental theme. Her novels cover serious issues to do with farming, water preservation, mining, crops, endangered animals and weather in such a way that the reader is educated but the story never becomes heavy.

Billabong Bend (Penguin, 2015) is the second of Scoullar’s five novels I’ve read and I enjoyed it as much as the first, which was Currawong Creek. As with Currawong Creek, Scoullar follows the conventions of a romance story and gives the reader lots more to get stuck into, making for a novel with great, well-developed characters and a storyline that doesn’t flag.

Set in the vicinity of the northern New South Wales town of Moree, Billabong Bend is the story of Nina, who lives alone on her farm, Red Gums, and dreams of also owning Billabong Bend. Both properties abut the Bunyip River, but it is Billabong Bend that contains valuable wetlands and the endangered birds and wildlife that thrive in them. Nina’s elderly friend Eva owns Billabong Bend, but she is in a nursing home in Moree and Nina is reluctant to press her about buying Billabong – not that that will stop her.

Nina has a boyfriend, Lockie, who runs a property that is nowhere near Red Gums. She sees him every so often as work keeps them apart. In their case, distance doesn’t seem to make the heart grow fonder so much as serve to keep them together – until the night that Nina’s long-lost teenage love, Ric Bonelli, reappears in her life.

Ric grew up on Donnalee, the farm across the river, and his father, Max, clashed with Nina’s father, Jim. Max is a cotton grower, reviled by many in the area who think that cotton farmers are nothing but water thieves. Nina doesn’t feel much more warmly towards him, although she is glad that Ric has returned for a visit – bringing a surprise visitor.

The river that runs past Donnalee, Red Gums and Billabong Bend brought Nina and Ric together as children, then teenagers, but their lives are more complicated now. It could take more than a never-forgotten crush for them to overcome the differences between them – differences primarily caused by Nina and Max’s wildly opposed views on nature and farming. Nina is unsure if Ric’s loyalties are primarily with his father – and, if they are, she can’t trust him to care about the land and the river as much as she does. Nor is she sure that she can trust him to care about her.

Billabong Bend works as a rural romance, with lots of plot twists to keep the reader intrigued. It is also a love letter to the Australian landscape and ecosystems, with all their power of destruction and growth. Scoullar’s fans will be very pleased with this novel, and it should attract new readers looking for a novel that satisfies as well as challenges them.

Billabong Bend is published by Penguin.

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Review: An Outback Christmas by Louise Reynolds

[Since I write romance and read romance, I thought it time to start writing about romance. So there will now be reviews on this site in amongst news about my own books. Hopefully these reviews will help you find more great things to read!]

Last Christmas Louise Reynolds, author of Red Dirt Duchess, released the story A Kirribilli Christmas, which was the perfect accompaniment to long summer days leading into the festive season and which left me wanting the story to continue. In An Outback Christmas Reynolds has created quite a different story yet it’s also left me wanting more – now, if only she’d write full-length versions of both …

An Outback Christmas is the story of Carrie, who lives alone on a large property near Bourke, NSW, and of Englishman Adam and his young son, Tyler, whom fate – and wild weather – brings to her door one stormy December day just before Christmas. The reasons for Carrie’s isolation are revealed to us slowly, just as they are revealed to Adam; in the process he will discover why she does not celebrate Christmas.

This is a poignant Christmas novella that achieves a lot in a small number of pages. It is a great companion to A Kirribilli Christmas – and why not read both? – and, like its predecessor, balances sadness with joy very well.

An Outback Christmas is published by Destiny/Penguin and is available from e-book retailers.



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