Welcome to our first Erotica, Romance and Romantic Suspense Round-Up for the 2021 Challenge. In January we had a total of twenty-four (24) reviews across seventeen (17) books submitted for the Romance category, with eleven (11) individual reviewers contributing to the challenge. Of these books, four (4) were published in 2021, nine (9) in 2020, two (2) in 2019, and one (1) in 2012 and 2011 respectively. Additionally, thirteen (13) of the books were traditionally published, with four (4) books self-published.

From these twenty-four reviews (24), four (4) books received more than one review submitted and an additional book received one review and one interview (both from different contributors). Our top three books reviewed in January 2021 included:

  • Starting from Scratch by Penelope Janu with four (4) reviews recorded,
  • Mia by Fiona McArthur with two (2) reviews,
  • The Life She Creates by Maggie Christensen with two (2) reviews.

There were eleven (11) individual reviewers this month, with our top three contributors being:

  • Helen Sibbritt who submitted an amazing eight (8) reviews,
  • Brenda Telford with four (4) reviews,
  • Mrs B Book Reviews with three (3) reviews.

All in all, this is a fantastic start to what is sure to be an amazing book-loving, romance reading 2021. While our numbers are down compared to December 2020, we are only down by three reviews to compared to this time last year (with twenty-seven [27] reviews submitted in January 2020), so we are on track for a great challenge year. With that in mind, I wish everyone participating in this years challenge a fantastic reading year and I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below and through your reviews throughout 2021.

Category Romance:

Category romance, known more frequently by its publisher Mills & Boon, was our third biggest romance sub-genre reviewed this month, with a total of three books reviewed. In her review for The Sheikh’s Marriage Proclamation by Annie West ( Feb 2021), Helen via Goodreads says that:

 Annie West definitely knows how to put sizzle and sensual together in a page turner.”

Contemporary Romance:

Contemporary Romance was the second biggest romance sub-genre reviewed this month, with a total of four (4) books reviewed. Previously reviewed titles such as The Morbids by Eve Ramsey proved popular with both kate@Booksaremyfavouriteandbest and Mrs B Book Reviews both submitting reviews. Jenn J Mcleod reviewed Wherever You Go by Monique Mulligan. Both Brenda Telford and Helen Sibbitt reviewed The Life She Creates by Maggie Christensen (Granite Springs book 7) (2021) with Brenda saying:

The Life She Creates is the 7th in the Granite Springs series by Aussie author Maggie Christensen and again I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Granite Springs stories are all about older people and how happiness doesn’t have to be done and dusted once we’re old and wrinkled 😊 I’m really loving the series and am looking forward to #8 after reading Peta and Frank’s story. Highly recommended.

Historical Romance:

There were two books reviewed belonging to this sub-genre this month, with Mrs B Book Reviews interviewed Cheryl Adnams about everything to do with her new release The Bushranger’s Wife (2021), and Bree@Igirl2manybooks reviewed the book. Once again The Last Truehart by Darry Fraser proved popular with Veronica @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf having this to say:

Darry Fraser effortlessly weaves historical events throughout including lively debates around women’s votes and talk of the coming federation of Australia. The Last Truehart is filled with treachery, murder, family secrets, hidden riches, a dying man’s confession and a touch of romance making it a must read for historical fiction fans. 

Regency Romance:

With the romance community swooning over Bridgerton, I was so happy to see that an Australian Historical/Regency author was also receiving high praise, with Erin Gracie’s How to Dare a Duke (Scandalous Lords Book 1) being favourably reviewed by Helen Sibbritt via Goodreads.

“Erin Grace writes a great story with wonderful characters, characters who are easy to get to know and a romance that is sure to make you smile. This one has a bit of everything in it, kidnapping, blackmail and a fabulous sensual journey that sees Olivia and Adam find the love that they deserve, I do highly recommend this one”. 

Romantic Suspense:

Brenda Telford reviewed First Fate by Kendall Talbot (2021) had this to say via her Goodreads review:

First Fate is the 1st in the Waves of Fate series by Aussie author Kendall Talbot, and WOW! What an incredible, fast paced, unbelievable adventure! Suspend your disbelief and just go along for the ride! […] characters are all well written, from the person who does his best to help everyone, to the most selfish and self-centred person of all – I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Feral Fate. Highly recommended.

Rural Romance:

Once again rural romance proved to be this month’s most popular romantic sub-genre with a total of eight (8) reviews submitted across five (5) books. Four (4) of these books were backlisted titled featured in previous roundups (Long Way Home by Nicola Marsh; Rosalee Station by Mandy Magro; Something Like This by Karly Lane; Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein).

Starting From Scratch by Penelope Janu (2021) received four reviews from Claire Louisa Holderness, Bree @ 1girl2manybooks, Brenda Telford and Helen Sibbritt. Starting From Scratch was one of Claire Louisa Holderness’ most anticipated reads of the year, and it didn’t disappoint. Bree @1girl2manybooks had this to say as well:

As there are in many (perhaps all?) of Penelope Janu’s other books, there’s a strong environmental concern, this time about wetlands in western NSW and the usage of them, how important they are as habitats, for a myriad of species, including endangered ones and how the changing climate and over draining of them mostly from large, corporate owned farms, is impacting severely. I really enjoyed a lot of the information about the wetlands as well as the trip they take. Stuff like this is always a concern to me, the way in which rivers are diverted (the Murray-Darling has loads going on) and wetlands are drained or also diverted to the way of big farms. I know you need water to grow things but if you alter or destroy these habitats, the ramifications are so huge.


For anyone who might have missed last month’s 2020 romance round-up post, our fabulous and fearless romance editor Mrs B Book Reviews has stepped down after three amazing years as romance editor. On behalf of everyone in the romance community and the Australian Women Writers Challenge, I want to thank you for your enthusiasm, passion and fantastic contributions to the challenge as romance editor. Mrs B, you will be greatly missed and have left some big shoes for me to fill. I hope to do you, and the rest of the Australian Women Writers Challenge, proud as I take on my new role as Romance Editor in 2021.

About Me: Hey, I’m Jess from The Never Ending Bookshelf. I’m an avid reader, book collector (sometimes book hoarder) and a hopeless romantic. I live and breathe everything to do with the written word, working by day as a bookseller and by night as a book blogger. You can find me at The Never Ending Bookshelf, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and on Facebook.