Port Douglas

Port Douglas – a town of tropical warmth, salt water crocodiles, and tourism. Our family enjoyed a short break in the township over school holidays, a complete luxury away from our busy life, and much needed. For the most part, we sat around the swimming pool and read books, although we did spend one day out on the Great Barrier Reef. We swam with turtles and reef sharks, while wearing the world’s least sexiest body suits to protect against marine stingers.

Naturally accident prone kid2 was the one who got the suit with the ripped backside! Thankfully, he did make it through the day without being stung, or bitten by a shark.

What I read on our short break away from home and work (affiliated links):

A fascinating family story about growing up in Australia. Jeanine Leane’s writer’s voice is almost stream of consciousness in style (which I usually find challenging) yet this time it really works as a natural voice for the story.
The book is quirky and funny, while also being poignant about the reality of life as an Aboriginal kid in rural Australia. I adored the parts about going to Sunday School (a mirror to my own experiences of being forced to attend church for appearances sake). There are many threads in this book, and I highly recommend it.

TW: domestic abuse (not the hero).
If you want an adorable hero who cares, this book is for you. The heroine is a surgeon with twin daughters. The hero is the nanny (and his reasons for being a nanny make perfect sense). The kids are clever and cheeky without being annoying, and the heroine is everything you want in a modern heroine as she balances the impossible life as a heart surgeon with being a solo mum. It’s a wonderful escapist read with a touch of tough reality at the end (when the ex is an abusive f*wit).

The third book in Nicola Marsh’s Dare series, this one features a shy workaholic heroine who used to live in a share house with the two heroines from the first two books. They’ve both found their HEA, and now she wonders if there is more to life than working towards her dream house.
She meets the hero in hilarious romance meet-cute style (gotta love a fun meet-cute), and they have an (out of character for her) quickie. Only for her to discover he’s her new boss at work. They negotiate the boundaries of their working relationship and it’s a hot ride towards HEA.

If a writer wants to learn about tension, Jackie Ashenden is the masterclass. For most of her books, I struggle with the topics (especially the motorbike ones), and yet I always burn through reading them as though I can’t get enough. This one features a Sydney crime family gone ‘good’ – still morally flexible, yet breaking less actual laws. They’ve moved away from their father’s drug empire and into property development. It’s a bit of an ugly duckling story with two sisters – one gorgeous, and the other geeky and awkward (she’s the heroine!). Loads of sex. Buckets of tension.

This book is full of emotion. The heroine is a chef who has spent too much of her career working for someone else – building up his reputation without any credit, and is more than ready to move on. Her mother is a model who initially appears to be embarrassed by her non-model thin daughter (and when the reason is revealed, it’ll make you cry). The hero starts out as just another romance hero – owns his own business, slightly alpha-hole, etc – but quickly transforms into a divorced single dad with a heart of gold (at least where his daughter is concerned). He does a whole bunch of things in the book that made me want to shake him because he doesn’t see the impact of his actions. He’s trying too hard to be there for too many people, even his difficult ex.
The research around chef life is incredible, the food and flavours are evocative. Gorgeous.

TW: LGBTIQ+ violence against the main character. Ari is an awkward teen who spends way too much time in his own head. Dante is a confident outgoing teen. When Dante teaches Ari to swim, a friendship evolves. Two events shift the friendship towards something more. A car accident (anything else would be a spoiler, and the emotions of the event are incredible), and Dante’s explorations of his identity in public (he gets bashed by a bigot). This book made me cry and smile in the best ways. It’s adorable and has a lovely ending full of promise.

To publish a political romance in 2018 USA is a difficult thing to pull off without touching on a lot of triggers for people. The hero and heroine are running for Mayor in Los Vegas. He’s rich and believes in hard work (the American dream). She’s not and realises that hard work doesn’t always result in wealth. Her job outside of politics is a bit of a romance novel wild meet-cute to fit the Dare promise, yet combined with his business interests, it makes sense and their reasons for being together and not being together make sense. I’m impressed at how this book balances politics, sex, and love in the current climate.

Classic mistaken identity trope with a twin mix up to begin the book. When a model double books herself, she begs her geeky twin to attend a photo shoot in her place. The geeky twin meets a football star and they hit it off.
I loved this book enough to buy the rest of the series, however, if you don’t like miscommunication, the mistaken identity is drawn out for most of the book. There were several times when I thought the heroine would confess, but excuses were made. The relationship between the twin sisters is excellent and carries the mistaken identity lie whenever it starts to feel like it should be confessed.

Friends to lovers trope. This one will make you cry in all the best ways. It’s about found family. It’s about finding yourself. And the tension is sky-high amazing!

Happy reading everyone, and remember – The Heart of a Bluestocking comes out 20 October.

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