Romance readers have been busy since our last roundup. In the past three months, we’ve had 45 reviews, covering 34 books by 32 different authors.

Our reviewers were Brenda on Goodreads (13 reviews), Lauren at Australian Bookshelf (7), Carol from Reading, Writing and Riesling (5); Deborah from Debbishdotcom (5), Sam from Sam Still Reading (4), Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf (4), Eleni Konstantine from Eleni’s Library (3), Jo at Book Lover Book Reviews (2), Read Round Oz (1) and Kira (1). You can see the entire list of books they reviewed here.

What to highlight?

The Secret YearsI’ve only read one of the books reviewed, Barbara Hannay’s The Secret Years. “How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property?” – so goes the cover blurb. The Secret Years is one of those books so popular now where the main character in the present is haunted by events of the past. Kira Jessup writes in her review:

The novel is told through multiple viewpoints: Lucy, her mother Rose, and her grandmother Georgina. The contrast in time (world war two and present day) and various settings served the story well. The characterisation was brilliant…

The mark of a great author is someone who can prompt a reader to look more carefully at their own lives. This book has really struck a chord with me and I am determined to find out more about my own family history, as Lucy did, through my grandparents and parents.(Full review here).

Kira gives the novel 5 stars, an assessment I’d have to agree with.

Kira’s rating prompted me to look to see whether there were any other 5-star ratings among the other reviews linked to the challenge this quarter. There were. Brenda gave Mandy Magro’s Walking the Line 5 stars on Goodreads. Jess from Never Ending Bookshelf gave five stars to Lily Malone’s A Vineyard in the Hills.

hating game thorneBooks that were almost 5-star reads, according to their reviewers, were Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, Anthea Hodgson’s The Drifter, Meredith Appleyard’s The Doctor Calling and Deborah O’Brien’s The Rarest Thing. 

Sam from Sam Still Reading writes of The Hating Game:

Many months ago, I added The Hating Game to my book wish list notebook (yes, I have such a thing) after it was more than likely mentioned somewhere on the internet. More recently, said internet started going gangbusters over this book from the snappy conversations to the OMG-ness of the hero. I love good dialogue, so I jumped on this book straightaway. It’s sweet, funny, sexy, realistic, far-fetched and loads of fun. It’s pretty much all of the things that you’d look for in a good romantic comedy in book format. The Hating Game is the book you would see twice at the cinema, buy the DVD, then buy another DVD with special features. It’s that good. (Full review here.)

Sam was also deeply impressed with Anthea Hodgson’s The Drifter:

hodgson drifterThe Drifter is a book that sneaks up on you, until you’re completely captivated by its charm and melancholy. I’m a fan of Australian rural fiction, yet The Drifter is a unique fit as it deals with loss, secrets, life, death and grief. Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s an ultimately uplifting story. (Full review here.)

It’s great to know that this ever-popular genre is dealing with serious themes.

Note: As regular followers of this blog will know, Sam was responsible for most of our romance roundups this year and we’ve very much appreciated her input. She’ll be replaced by Elizabeth Fitzgerald from Earl Grey Editing early next year. So thank you, Sam, and welcome, Elizabeth!

Lauren was impressed by Meredith Appleyard’s the Doctor Calling. She writes:

Meredith Appleyard has quickly made it onto my list of fave Aussie authors in the rural romance genre. I enjoy her writing style, the small town communities, the medical influence on her stories, but most of all the character development. She really draws me in as a reader and the internal/ external conflict of the hero and heroine is very well fleshed out.

I won’t say too much about the plot, but I did really connect with the storyline. Appleyard very sensitively explores the issue of end of life, grief and loss…

I found it really hard to put this book down and I’ll definitely be reading more from this author! (Full review here.)

rarest thing obrien
Jo from Book Lover Book Reviews highly recommends Deborah O’Brien’s The Rarest Thing. The book is set in 1966 when the mountain pygmy possum, a species thought long extinct in Victoria’s high country, is rediscovered. Jo writes:

Do not for one minute read this novel’s subtitle ‘A High Country Love Story’ and write it off as your typical commercial rural romance. Deborah O’Brien plumbed great depths in her outwardly light-hearted novel The Trivia Man, and now has crafted something truly special in The Rarest Thing.

Yes, the love story is a beautiful one – but it is the firm grounding of a particular time and period in history, a tumultuous time for both the society and those characters’ positions within it, that makes it so compelling. It is a time of change, an awakening of sorts, but dark undercurrents from the past run strong and are never far from the surface. (Full review here.)

It seems we’ve struck a common theme among our reviewers: just because these books are romances set in a rural setting doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Jo tells us The Rarest Thing is published by Lomandra Press. I looked up the publisher’s website and it appears that this is the only book they’ve published. When I see this, I’m tempted to wonder whether the author has created a publishing name to disguise the fact that it’s self-publishing.

What do you think? Is there still a stigma attached to self-publishing?


Lhuede thumbnailAbout me: Writing as Lizzy Chandler, I have two ebooks published with Escape, Snowy River Man and By Her Side. Snowy River Man also came out in print this year as part of the Country Secrets anthology with Mandy Magro and Sarah Barrie. You can find out more on my website.