One of the things I like about reading contemporary romance is the variety. The genre encompasses so many settings and different situations. Rarely is it a matter of finding a good story. The issue is which story do I pick!
Thanks to the team at Contemporary Romance Café for hosting me today. I’m a contemporary romance writer from Sydney, Australia. In this post I’m going to give you a little bit of everything: romantic comedy, suspense, family saga, cowboys, mercenaries, and sweet love.
Mountain Ash by Margareta Osborn
After years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much older and so controlling. Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo…
Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry. But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo.
Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…
I generally don’t read a lot of rural romances (nothing against the genre, it must just be the city girl in me). However, when I read the description for Margareta Osborn’s Mountain Ash, I was in. The lead character getting involved with both the father and the son? Now there’s an idea! From an author’s perspective, I also wanted to see how Osborn handled it without destroying our respect for the heroine and whether it would come across as contrived or not.
Jodie is a character who is genuinely likable, a hard working country girl who is trying to raise her seven year old daughter on her own. She’s just lost her father and it’s his good friend, Alex, who represents stability and financial support–never mind he’s fifty-eight (to Jodie’s early thirties).
While Jodie debates whether she can love Alex or not she escapes on a girl’s weekend to a rodeo. It’s there she meets cowboy Nate. Hang on, you’ll just have to give me a moment (fans myself with my hand). Ahem. I never thought of myself as a cowboy sort of girl, but Osborn has converted me. While the reader is hard-pressed to resist Nate’s charm, nor does Jodie stand the chance.
This book packs a punch. It was laced with family drama, a heady dose of unsuspecting plot twists and a dramatic conclusion to keep your heart pounding. Osborn has a gift for creating authentic characters and even the supporting characters have a depth that succeeds in bringing Jodie’s community alive to us.
By the time I came up for air, I was convinced of several things. Osborn is an author of prowess, pulling the father v son conflict off with ease and in a way that didn’t damage our respect for Jodie. And the other thing? I think I may have fallen in love with a cowboy for the first time in my life. Not sure how my husband will take that one…
Bounty by Elise Sax
Abby Williams has got it made: First a new job as magazine editor in London, and now a trip to an exotic island to review a five-star resort with poolside service. Unfortunately, on day two of her vacation, Abby finds herself bound and stuffed into a burlap bag and dragged across two continents. And worse than that? Her hottie abductor has got her distracted. Maybe escape is overrated.
Iain Brodie is a muscle-bound mercenary. He just helped a despotic dictator take over an island. He’s also Abby’s kidnapper, and he has his own problems. Framed for a murder he didn’t commit and a boss who’s out to get him, he has to face facts: Early retirement is out of the question and Abby Williams looks damned good in a burlap bag.
Bounty reminded me of the classic adventure movies of the 1980’s: Romancing the Stone or Indiana Jones, for example. It’s full of adventure, suspense, action, romance (with enjoyable doses of sexual tension), and humour. Bounty does all of these things well but it is the humour that hooked me and wouldn’t let go. Of all the (many) first chapters I have read throughout my bibliophile life, Chapter One of Bounty is one of the most funny and memorable: “A is for…” (I won’t ruin it for you, you’ll just have to read it).
Abby is a likeable leading lady. She’s feisty and vivacious, which is essential to a good romantic adventure novel–but most of all she’s funny. She’s the classic open her mouth and think later type, talking her way out of dangerous situations. Contrasted against the impenetrable, strong silent type, Brody, they make for a very intriguing pair.
There is more to like about this story than romance and the characters. The plot is well thought out, taking us from Africa, to Eastern Europe, England and New York, never letting go once it has you in its grip. Most of all this book is fun. Perfect ‘escape from reality’ fiction guaranteed to leave you with a big smile on your face.
Then and Always by Dani Atkins
For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.
Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.
I’ll admit it. The Sliding Doors reference got me. The concept of exploring two different paths for one person’s life is always an intriguing concept.
This book surprised me on a number of levels. First of all, it was more New Adult than I’d anticipated. Not that I have a problem with NA, although I generally don’t read a lot of it. It was well done in this sense, exploring the relationships and friendships of Rachel at that time in her life, with conflicts that were entirely believable.
The other thing that surprised me about this book was its sweetness. It was more than a romance, it was a love story. A genuine Nicholas Spark’s variety love story, that will leave tears streaming down your face.
I can’t really go into very much detail about the plot without giving too much away. All I’ll say is that Jimmy steals the reader’s heart, as much as he steals Rachel’s. Atkin’s strength for characterisation really delivers. While you were left wondering what on earth was going on in Rachel’s life, and how she could possibly be experiencing an entirely different reality to the one detailed at the start of the book, it’s the characters that hold you tight and keep you turning the pages.
Poignant, heartfelt and tear-inducing, this is a beautifully written debut about a love that’s worth holding onto, no matter where the course of life takes you.
About Belinda Williams
Belinda was named a top ten finalist in The Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award in both 2013 and 2014. Her debut novel, Radiant, a paranormal romantic suspense, is currently available on Amazon, while her contemporary romance, The Boyfriend Sessions, is due for release by Momentum (Pan Macmillan) in October 2014.
Her other addictions include music and cars. Belinda’s eclectic music taste forms the foundation of many of her writing ideas and her healthy appreciation for fast cars means she would not so secretly love a Lamborghini. For now she’ll have to settle with her son’s Hot Wheels collection and writing hot male leads with sports cars.
Belinda lives in Sydney, Australia, and blogs regularly about writing and reading here: www.belindawilliamsbooks.com