I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of the titles from Random House Australia’s new digital-first imprint, Random Romance.
I’ve got to say that seeing all of these wonderful Australian stories and authors being given a voice is fantastic. To me, as an Australian romance reader, it’s great to see stories that accurately portray the Australian experience (and its people) and don’t make us come off looking like the demented offspring of Crocodile Dundee.
And now….to the books!
First cab off the rank is One Little White Lie by Loretta Hill.
Single girl Kate Dreson knows that her friend, Lisa, is not going to leave her alone unless she tells her that she is happily dating someone. Who knew that One Little White Lie could so blatantly backfire?
The imaginary boyfriend she described to her friend so lovingly suddenly walks into her life and starts making himself comfortable in it.
Trapped by her lie, poor Kate is powerless to stop him. But the real question is, does she really want to?
This was a fun, light read. The romance was sweet, more towards the “behind closed doors” end of the spectrum, which in this instance really worked. The opening scene where Kate is approached and then propositioned by Creepy Drunk Guy gave me flashbacks to uni days, where an all-too-similar thing happened to me.
We all tell white lies and half-truths on occasion, and I can see why certain things were kept secret. But there did seem to be a lot of lies and overly secretive behaviour in this book, which ground on me after a while.
Kate and Henry were a nice couple, quite cute actually. They didn’t set my world on fire. However, I will be checking out more of Loretta Hill’s work because One Little White Lie was an enjoyable read and her voice is really good.
My rating: 3 out of 5
Release Date: 1 February 2013
Next train out of the station is Just Breathe by Janette Paul.
Dee Nichols is a free-spirited yoga teacher, albeit a broke one. But she’s not interested in money or possessions or thinking too far into the future. After surviving a terrible car accident, she’s just happy to be breathing.
Then Dee meets Ethan Roxburgh at a Christmas party. As the head of Roxburgh Holdings, and a regular in the social pages, he’s the opposite of what Dee wants in her life. Until a job modelling yoga in a TV commercial turns Dee into an overnight celebrity…
Thrust into a whole new world of business and PR (as well as high-heels and plunging necklines) Dee is out of her comfort zone and suddenly Ethan is perfect – as a mentor. Or would be, if she wasn’t so
damn attracted to him. After all, he’d never look twice at a short, accident-prone yoga instructor with market-stall couture …
Then Ethan does look twice – and life gets sweet and sexy as hell.
What I enjoyed about Just Breathe was the relationship between Dee and Ethan. There was no insta-love, just a nice, realistic progression into romance and a relationship. While also in the “fade to black” school of sexy-times, I felt the romance was stronger in this than in One Little White Lie.
Too often in stories where the heroine is described as “free-spirited” or “living in the moment”, they come across as dippier than a tub of hommus. Janette Paul has made sure Dee hasn’t, and I really like that. Even though her mother had the best of intentions, I often found myself wanting to shake her for not respecting Dee’s wishes and choices for her life.
And Ethan….just lovely! He’s just a regular guy in the body and life of a rich man. He doesn’t measure his self worth by his net worth and that’s just awesome.
The back story of both was well-developed and you don’t get the feeling that they simply materialized out of nowhere.
This was a well-written novel, with great witty dialogue and strong characters. I very much enjoyed this one.
My rating: 4 out of 5.
Release Date: 1 February 2013
And the final fixture is Beneath Outback Skies by Alissa Callen.
Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her crippled father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile.
Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…
It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…
I like that, despite the instant and obvious chemistry, Paige and Tait took their time. Both have past and present issues that need to be dealt with before they feel they’re ready for a relationship.
Paige has the weight of the world on her shoulders, looking after her father (disabled in a farming accident) and trying to keep Banora Downs afloat. She’s also been let down by a lot of people and finds it very difficult to place trust in others. Particularly men.
Tait might outwardly appear to be a fancy pants, luxury car driving rich boy. He’s not. Tait has a gentle, caring side and hey, any man who willingly would fix their lady’s hair gets my vote. However, he does have secrets, and one in particular may just push Paige out of his reach.
In regard to this big secret of Tait’s, I appreciated that once Paige found out his real reason for being at Banora Downs, she didn’t flounce off and become a victim. Sure, she may have been shocked but she took the time to listen to his story before making her mind up.
All in all, this was a great read with lovely characters and a uniquely Australian setting.
My rating: 4 out of 5
Release Date: 1 February 2013
Note: I was provided with advanced reader copies of these three books by Random Romance, an imprint of Random House Australia via NetGalley in return for an honest review.