With the weather cooling down rapidly, it’s the perfect time to curl up with an amazing book written by some of our fantastic Australian women writers. It seems we all had the same idea last month in May, with a whooping fifty-five (55) reviewes submitted across the Romance, Erotic and Romantic Suspense category. In total, we had forty-one (41) indivdual books reviewed by a total of sixteen (16) reviewers.
Compared to April 2021, this is an increase of eighteen (18) additional reviews! This is a HUGE increase from April and I want to thank you all so much for reading and reviewing our awesome Aussie women and contributing your reviews to the Australian Women Writers database.
Of the forty-one (41) books reviewed in May, twenty-eight (28) were traditionally published and a further thirteen (13) were self-published. Just under half of the books reviewed were published in 2021, with an additional four (4) in 2020, two (2) in 2019, three (3) in 2018, five (5) in 2016), three (3) in 2015, two (2) in 2014, three (3) in 2013 and one (1) in 2012. This is the widest coverage of publication dates this year and it’s great to see reviews still flowing in for books published amost ten (10) years ago.
Contemporary romance proved to be the most popular sub-genre last month with a total of fourteen (14) books reviewed, followed closely by Fantasy/Paranormal/Scifi Romance with nine (9) books, Historical romance with eight (8) books, Rural romance with six (6), Romantic suspense with two (2) and Mills & Boon Category romance with one (1) book reviewed.
May’s top three reviewed books were:
- How To Mend a Broken Heart by Rachel Johns with six (6) reviews,
- The Breaking by Irma Gold in equal-second-place with three (3) reviews,
- Take Me Home by Karly Lane in equal-second-place with three (3) reviews.
April’s top three reviewed books were:
- Elani Konstantine – Elani’s Libary with sixteen (16) reviews,
- Helen Sibbritt with thriteen (13) reviews,
- Mrs B Book Reviews with six (6) reviews and two (2) interviews.
With so many reviews submitted this month, I simply cannot feature them all (or we would be here all week) so I’ve tried to limit it to two reviews per category.
As one of Australia’s most beloved authors, it came as no surprise to anyone that Rachael John’s new release How To Mend A Broken Heart was the most reviewed book in May 2021.As a companion novel to The Art of Keeping Secrets, featuring Felecity Bell once again as the main protgaonist, Helen Sibbritt believes that this title can be read as a stand alone without any problems. Mrs B Book Reviews thought the book to be “life affirming, warm, relatable and witty [How To Mend A Broken Heart is] a story of heartache, healing, starting afresh and creating new dreams”. Shelleyrae from Book’d Out furthers this by confirming that she “thought Johns portrayal of the complicated relationship Flick has with her ex to be sensitive and honest. Johns portrayal of Flick’s struggle to trust in love again is sincere and poignant as the protagonist’s romantic relationship blooms with Theo, the handsome owner of the bar that neighbours the taxidermy store.”
In our pandemic world, every reviewer remarked on the unique experience this novel gave them, with Johns not only capturing the beauty and character of the city perfectly, but allowing the reader to travel effortlessly across the globe from the safety of their own armchair. “The picture Johns paints of New Orleans would keep travel agents busy with bookings in a COVID-free world: she easily captures the vibe of the city, so that reader can see, hear and smell the sights, sounds and aromas the place has to offer, and her descriptions of the local dishes will have mouths watering” (Cloggie Downunder via Goodreads). If you find yourself with some spare time, I highly recommend you check out Marg @ The Intrepid Reader ‘s delightful post recapping her memories and experiences in New Orelans as re-lived through the John’s novel.
The Breaking by Irma Gold was one of our most reviewed books in May and with good reason. Described by Whispering Gums, “The Breaking is an engaging debut novel that encourages us to consider some of the critical questions of our time”. As part of the emgerging eco-literature genre, The Breaking is a same-sex, romance heavy debut novel that tackles the confronting and distrurbing exploitation of elephants in Thailand’s Tourism Industry as seen through the eyes of two Australian women. All three of our reviewers expressed how difficult the read was at times “as much like the fiery character Deven, the story is loud, in-your-face, and demands action in the face of injustice. But while the book’s explicit nature can create an unsettling reading experience, the author’s passion and insight for elephants is sure to encourage readers to take a more ethical approach to tourism. For readers who consider themselves a romantic, a travel-bug, or even an activist for animal rights, this book is one to add to your TBR list! (Ebony Bryant @ The Underground Writers). Jennifer Cameron-Smith summed the book up perfectly in her Goodreads review as “highly recommended […] thought-provoking debut novel” that challenges the way you think and see the world.
Speculative Romance (Fantasy/Paranormal/Sci-fi Romance)
Elani Konstantine @ Eleni’s Library via Goodreads reviewed an incredible nine (9) books that fall within the fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi romance sub-genre this month. Eleni’s reviews are short and to the point, and for all our speculative romance lovers, I highly suggest you follow her on Goodreads as she has hundreds of reviews (five-hundred-and-forty to be exact) that you can persue to find your next fantastic read. As I know many of these books will cross-over with the speculative round-up, I could only choose one book to highlight this month and that was Tainted by Christina Phillips.
As the fourth book in the Druid series, Tainted is an erotic novel featuring the much-loved enemies-to-lovers trope as the two main characters “from different worlds emark in an illicit affair wanting nothing more to explopre the sexual tension between them.” Although erotic in nature, Konstantine explains the writing as also “sweet and lyrical” that makes you want to help “the jaded warrior and the hurt roman noblewoman“. Summed up as a delicious mix of historical and fantastical realism (there may be gods and goddesses involved), this is a novel that Konstantine feels we all need to read.
There was a wild mix of historical romance reviewed this month, with reviews coming in thick and fast for both the traditional period romances such as Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie (reviewed by Elani Konstantine @ Eleni’s Library via Goodreads) and The Bachelor Bargin by Maddison Michaels (reviewed by Claire Reads & Reviews) to the more fantastical Tainted by Christina Phillips (reviewed by Elani Konstantine @ Eleni’s Library via Goodreads) and the more mordern historicals likes Those Hamilton Sisters by Averil Kenny (reviewed by Mrs B Book Reviews), I had trouble choosing between one review to highlight, instead click on any of the book titles above to be taken to the reviews mentioned.
Brenda Telford, Helen Sibbritt and Shelleyrae from Book’d Out all reviewed Take Me Home by Karly Lane this month with Brenda exclaiming via her Goodreads review that this is Lane’s “best book yet!” She loved “travelled with Elle in her little hire car as she wound her way through thethe picturesque details of Scotland, Elle’s determination and courage in doing the journey by herself, the raft of great characters. This is the closest I’ll ever get to Scotland so I countryside and little villages. Take Me Home is a poignant, heartwarming story which I highly recommend”. Likewise Shelleyrae thought the novel to be “a delightful story of self discovery and a scottish fling” that took her from “the heat and dust of rural Australia to the cool, green hills of Scotland“.
It’s not often we see anthologies reviewed, but this month Helen Sibbritt reviewed Love in a Sunburnt Land a rural romance anthology featuring the work of Susan Mackie, Rhonda Forrest, Louise Foster, Leanne Lovegrove and Emma Power. Featuring ‘five fabulous stories from five Aussie authors”, Sibbritt highly recommends this anthology to anyone who loves a good Aussie romance set in the outback.
Sharon Hill thought Her Last Words by Kim Kelly was “a truly delightful book” that she “didn’t want to end.” Although different from Kelly usually writes, Hill believed the book to be a ” well written story about, grief, friendship and love and one that will stay with the reader for a long time after they have read it.” Pitched as a haunting murder mystery, crime novel full of love and giref, this looks set to be another fantastic read from Kim Kelly.
Helen Sibbritt gave Pregnant in the King’s Palace by Kelly Hunter five stars explaining the Modern line Mills & Boon royal romance to be not only a “sensual, moving and fabulous story” but “a must read for any true romance reader who loves a story that is passionate and beautiful“.
Until next month, I wish you all a fantastic reading month in June and can’t wait to read all your reviews!
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.