In honour of ANZAC Day here in Australia, I’m sharing a scene from my latest Tarrin’s Bay novel APRIL’S GLOW, about a reclusive ex-soldier who moves into the house next door to April, a bubbly but troubled woman who helps to bring him out of his shell, and in doing so, helps her to face her own past.
A man in an Akubra hat met her at the rocky lookout, along with a few other people who were setting up some of the displays and seating for the service. She was instructed on where to bring the candles and he gave her a rundown of the proceedings. The sun was low and glary, and the strong breeze pushed around them like an annoyingly overconfident sales person. As he spoke about a friend of a friend’s grandfather’s time in the war, the contrast to where they now stood was so strong she felt unworthy of being there. In this beautiful place, this safe town, this beautiful natural landscape.
‘We’re lucky, eh?’ he said, glancing around the horizon where the deep blue of the ocean merged with the sky.
He eyed her leg, the ankle of her prosthesis visible under the hem of her long skirt. ‘How long’s it been?’ He gestured downwards.
‘Two and a half years.’
‘Not an ex-soldier, are you?’ He raised his eyebrows.
She chuckled. ‘Me? I wouldn’t cut it as a soldier. No, it was a car accident.’
‘Sorry to hear, love. Guess you’ve got to count your blessings.’
She’d heard that and its variations many times after that awful day, when the reality of being an amputee, among other trauma, had driven her deep into depression.
‘At least you survived.’
‘At least it was only below the knee.’
‘At least it wasn’t your right arm.’
And she knew they were thinking: ‘At least you weren’t paralysed from the neck down like Kyle.’
Kyle. He was the unlucky one. What if she had been sitting in his seat in the car? She shuddered to think of the possibility. He would have been her husband by now. But a drunk driver had changed that for them. And if she hadn’t been adjusting the volume on the car CD player and singing along, maybe she would have been able to react faster to the car coming towards their side who’d run a red light. Maybe less damage would have occurred had she been able to brake sooner, or swerve more sharply. Maybe then the impact would have been one inch further away from Kyle’s spinal cord.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
She would have stayed with him. She’d committed to being his fiancée and future wife. But his family said no, and once he was able to communicate clearly, he’d said no too. He’d wanted her as his wife, not his full-time carer. Maybe if he’d been a paraplegic, but quadriplegic? She’d known it would be incredibly difficult, especially with her own injury to recover from, but the accident hadn’t killed her love for him. Though he survived, she hadn’t only lost her leg that day, but her man. Her future. Life had dealt her a new one, and she was still figuring it out.
‘I have a lot to be thankful for,’ April said to the man, and before he could ask any more questions, she thanked him for his time and confirmed she’d arrive early to set up the candles.
* * *
The atmosphere the following morning was far removed from what it had been the day before. The sun had not yet splashed the sky with its glow, and the moon over the ocean created an eerie presence. Her candles, most held by the many attendees, and others framing the staged memorial area around the microphone and podium, glimmered in the sporadic breeze, the flames protected by their tall heatproof casing. A universal symbol of hope. Remembrance.
As names of soldiers were called out, and prayers and poems recited, she thought of Zac and wondered what sort of poetry he wrote. She’d never been into poetry, but hearing special words spoken into the dim expanse of Lookout Point, the sound of waves crashing and rolling beneath as their background music, she realised its power, its potential. It was a way to make sense of what had been, give structure to the chaos that had occurred, and immortalise the heroes who had perhaps stood here many years gone by, dreaming of a future they never got to experience.
Yes, she was lucky. She may not have got the future she’d planned, but she had a future.
When the service had ended and the early sun warmed the air and started waking up the town, April glanced down towards the harbour on her left, and saw him. Zac. In the distance, standing alone on one of the piers. Why had he not come up to take part in the service? She walked down the hill. Maybe they’d cross paths on her way back home. But by the time she got to the bottom he was already walking further ahead, going the long way around, towards the beach instead of the town.
Probably best. She would go home and make use of her rare day off while the shop was closed for Anzac Day. He’d go to his place and do his own thing, and they need never be more than courteous but distant neighbours. Later on she’d join some of the locals at the pub for dinner. Her mum wouldn’t be there though, she boycotted pubs. She would catch up with her for lunch tomorrow instead.
After chatting to some locals in Miracle Park on the way home, April arrived back in her street and found Zac planting a small tree in his front garden.
‘Poet and a gardener, huh?’ she said, stopping in front of his house. So much for leaving him to his own devices, her mouth didn’t like to cooperate with her brain. ‘I’ll leave you to it,’ she added, about to walk off.
‘Wait,’ he said.
She looked at his face, his eyes tight and squinting in the morning glare.
‘I’ve got something for you.’
‘Another cloud candle?’ April glanced upwards.
‘No. Something you can actually take with you. Into your house, I mean, not when you die.’
She tilted her head. She didn’t know how to respond to that.
‘Sorry. I’m sure you’ll live a long healthy life. I’m just saying. You know, after our conversation a couple of weeks ago.’
‘That we can’t take material possessions with us when we die, yes. I remember.’
‘It’s inside.’ He brushed soil from his bare hands and walked towards the front door. April followed, but hung about on the porch. A subtle glow caught her eye and she peered into his house, noticing the fireplace. But it wasn’t lit, the candle on the mantle above was. The cinnamon candle.
‘I’m glad the candle is getting put to good use,’ she said. ‘But they look nicer when lit at night.’
Zac wandered to the mantle. ‘I know. But I thought today would be good.’
‘Because of Anzac Day?’
He nodded, and before she knew what she was doing she had stepped into his house without asking permission. ‘Is that you?’ She pointed to a photo of two kids. She recognised the shape of his jaw, even in the youthful roundness of the child’s face. She looked back to the door she’d stepped through. ‘Sorry, I shouldn’t barge in. My legs and my mouth have a mind of their own.’
He chuckled. ‘It’s okay. Yes, that’s me and my friend.’
April’s gaze wandered to the photo next to it. ‘And all grown up. Same friend?’
He nodded. ‘Yep.’
‘You’re a soldier?’ It made sense. His commanding presence and posture. His tattoos, the intensity and seriousness he sometimes had. When he wasn’t chuckling or commenting on how she was ‘amusing to watch’.
‘How long have you been off duty?’
Zac glanced up to the roof. ‘Almost three years now.’
‘Wow. You must have seen a lot. I mean, I don’t need to know, but … is that why my prosthesis didn’t shock you?’
‘I’ve seen much worse.’
‘I can imagine. Although I can’t. Not really. I won’t begin to even … I should stop talking. I’ll stop talking.’ She turned away from his gaze and brushed her hair from her face.
‘It’s okay, April.’
She narrowed her eyes a little. ‘I saw you, at the harbour. You weren’t at the dawn service?’
He shook his head and slid his hands into his pockets. ‘Prefer to honour the men in my own way. And also, it’s …’ He ran his hand across his short hair. ‘Doesn’t matter. Oh, your gift.’ He went to the kitchen.
April furrowed her brow. ‘What is this gift you speak of?’
He held out his hand, a small seashell resting on his palm. ‘Found it when I was walking over the sand dunes. Made me think of you for some reason. I think because it has these little speckles on it, like cinnamon.’
April took the shell and studied it with a smile. Golden brown specks were scattered across it like freckles. And one edge of the shell was broken off. There was also a larger patch of golden brown near the centre, like a birthmark. ‘It’s unique,’ she said. ‘I like it. Thanks.’
‘Don’t thank me, thank Mother Nature.’
‘Okay then. Thanks Mother Nature,’ she spoke loudly in case Mother Nature couldn’t hear her from within the confines of this man-made enclosure.
Maybe the reason why Zac had been distant the past two weeks was because of what today represented, and it triggered memories for him. Painful memories, just like the month of September did for her. ‘Sorry if I’ve been a nosy neighbour, pestering you about what you do and how you pay your bills. I’ll mind my own business now and try to be normal. So, if you need to borrow a cup of sugar anytime, let me know.’ She laughed.
‘I don’t use sugar,’ Zac replied.
‘Oh. Then if you need to borrow a cup of … Sugar substitute? Chia seeds? Or … coffee?’
‘I’ll be sure to remember your offer.’ He grinned, then walked April to the door.
Before stepping off the porch she turned to face him, his eyes grey and tired-looking, like he hadn’t had enough sleep. Which if he’d been up since before dawn like she’d been, he hadn’t. ‘Hey, a few of us will be at the pub tonight for dinner, if you’d like to come?’
Zac took a step back. ‘Um. Thanks. But I’ll pass.’
‘Okay, but if you change your mind, let me know.’
He scratched his head, and his mouth opened like he wanted to say something, but no sound came out.
‘Well, I’ll be off.’
‘April.’ He lightly touched her arm and she glanced down at his hand. He had nice hands.
‘Thanks for the offer. It’s nice of you. But the reason I can’t is, well …’ He nibbled one corner of his lip. ‘It’s a bit embarrassing, really.’ He rubbed the back of his neck.
‘What is?’ she asked. ‘That you don’t want to be seen in such a state of obvious self neglect with your unimpressive physique and unshaven face? And those tattoos, I mean, you look like a badass. People might get scared.’ She nudged him with a wink.
Zac smiled. ‘Yeah, I’ve let myself go. Too many meat pies.’ He patted his belly that clearly received no less than a couple of hundred or more crunches per day. ‘Nah, the thing is, and I haven’t told anyone this, except for … anyway, the thing is, I have a mild case of agoraphobia.’ A slight hint of pink coloured his cheeks. ‘Crowds. I just can’t do them. It’s hard to explain. I need quiet. Not too many people around. A pub, or any similar place, it’s … I’m not quite there yet.’ He lowered his gaze and lifted the edge of his doormat with his foot.
April felt a surge of pity for the guy. Well, not pity so much as sadness. A man like him, in his prime, clearly traumatised by things in his past … of course it was understandable that the war would have affected him in some way. He didn’t appear to have any physical injuries, but maybe he had post-traumatic stress disorder, or maybe the crowds and open spaces just triggered anxiety for some reason.
April touched his arm as he had hers. Somehow, it felt both rough and smooth at the same time. ‘I understand. No problem.’ She offered a small smile. ‘Thanks for telling me.’
She gave a small wave and stepped off the porch, but as per usual, she thought of another thing to say and had to turn around again. ‘You know what? I feel like eating in tonight.’ April put her hands on her hips and surveyed Zac’s front garden. ‘Care to join me?’
Zac’s eyebrows shot up. ‘You’re inviting me over for dinner?’
‘Looks that way. I can pick something up, or find something to whip up.’
He rubbed his chin. ‘The thing is, I’ve already defrosted some chicken for tonight. How about you join me here instead?’
Now April’s eyebrows rose. ‘You’re going to cook for me?’
‘No, you can cook. I’ll just provide the ingredients and kitchen facilities.’
She eyed his unchanged facial expression.
‘I’m kidding,’ he chuckled. ‘You can clean up instead.’
April laughed and warmth spread throughout her cheeks.
‘Seriously, I’ve got it covered.’ He held up his hands. ‘Just come over when the sun goes down.’
‘You’ve got yourself a deal.’ She gave a nod. ‘Would Juliet like Romeo to join her for some gourmet cat pellets?’
Zac laughed, and his Adam’s apple bobbed. ‘I think the cats can sort themselves out for tonight. See you later on.’ He smiled and closed the door.
So much for not bothering to get to know him anymore. The pages of his book of life were starting to open, and she was sure tonight would provide many more answers to the questions that had been forming in her mind. It was time to get to know Zac, for real. Not just chatting over the fence, not the odd, random conversations at his door, but real, proper, dignified conversation over the dinner table. A sense of anticipation fluttered inside. She had been looking forward to dinner at the pub, but this … this she was looking forward to way more than that.
APRIL’S GLOW is available from all online ebook retailers.
Others via the buy now button at Escape Publishing
It is a week of celebrations… a new book out today, 2 others earlier this month, and yesterday was my 40th birthday 🙂
It’s no surprise I decided to start the story of APRIL’S GLOW off with a birthday celebration too… April is the main character and her birthday at the start of the book begins a life-changing year for her as she meets and reluctantly falls in love with troubled ex-soldier Zac who moves in next door. But April is also troubled and the two will find both similarities and differences they need to come to terms with if they are to move on from their past and create a positive future.
I absolutely loved writing this emotionally intense story, and it gave me a chance to explore my love of poetry too, as Zac is a poet with his own blog. His poems take a different turn though when he starts to become fascinated by his new neighbour, April. But when April discovers a secret about Zac, it will change everything.
APRIL’S GLOW deals with issues of grief, hope, loss, addiction, and disability. Scarred people trying to navigate their challenges and create a new life for themselves. It shows that no matter what the mind, body and soul have been through, the heart will always ache to love again. But you have to be open to new possibilities.
APRIL’S GLOW is book 4 in my bestselling Tarrin’s Bay series, however it can be read as a stand alone story. You can find out about the other books in the series here.
BLURB & BUY LINKS:
The heartwarming new Tarrin’s Bay novel from bestselling author Juliet Madison is all about moving on – in unexpected ways.
Distracting herself from a string of bad luck and a disastrous love life, bubbly April Vedora throws herself into her new business —April’s Glow, a candle store in seaside Tarrin’s Bay — the enchanting scents and colourful atmosphere provide a safe haven. But outside business hours she’s clueless about her personal life.
When a mysterious loner moves in next door, she can’t help but become intrigued, and ex-soldier Zac Masterson is equally fascinated by April. But both have sworn off relationships, and while April avoids her emotions by keeping busy and sociable, Zac hides away from the world — and his past.
As the pair chip away at each other’s facades and secrets are revealed, April fears that the man she is unwillingly falling for could represent everything she’s worked so hard to avoid. Or could they be just what the other needs?
They’ve shared their secrets over the back fence, but resolving the past is going to mean opening the doors to their hearts — and letting each other in.
Buy from all online ebook retailers:
Others via the buy now button at Escape Publishing
…If you love the Tarrin’s Bay series, join the exclusive private Facebook group!
I hope you enjoy the latest TB story. Now, I’m about to start writing the next one… Memories of May! 🙂
Book 3 in my Young Adult paranormal romantic suspense series is now available! Scent is a stand-alone story but also continues the overall mystery from book 1 (SIGHT), so if you haven’t read the first yet, the details are HERE. Book 1 is currently on special for 99c at some retailers.
SCENT is told from Sasha’s point of view. She can smell the future! 🙂 But she needs her sisters and their respective senses to be able to put their predictions together in order to help others and themselves.
Here is the book description:
Five extraordinary sisters discover that they each have a unique talent, an extra-sensory perception that enables them to see what others can’t. It makes them incredible, it puts them in danger, and it brings them closer to learning the secrets that have haunted them their entire lives. These are the Delta Girls.
Sassy Sasha is having an online interlude with a secret admirer. She’s convinced it’s the gorgeous Taylor Petrenko behind the romantic emails.
There’s little time for love, though. As new developments come to light around their father’s disappearance, the Delta Girls start to question just how well they knew their father. The sisters experience increasingly detailed and troubling sensory predictions that bring fear and uncertainty, weighing them down with the responsibility toward helping those in danger.
Sasha distracts herself with the excitement of newfound romance, refusing to partake in further analysis of the visions. When her sisters cover for her so she can sneak out for a date, her sense of scent becomes heightened and awakens the memory of a vision she shared with her sisters. Sasha realizes a moment too late that she is in danger, and must gather all of her strength if she is to save her own life.
SCENT is published by Diversion Books and is now available in both print and ebook from all online retailers, with audiobook to follow, and can be purchased or ordered from physical bookstores as well.
- FREE & fast international shipping from Book Depository (all 5 books available to order/preorder).
- Diversion Books
- Amazon US / Amazon Aus / Amazon UK
- iTunes/iBooks US / iTunes/iBooks Aus
You can also add SCENT to Goodreads here.
I hope you’ll enjoy the 3rd book in The Delta Girls series! Book 4 (TASTE) is releasing in April 2016.
~ Juliet xo
THE DELTA GIRLS:
SIGHT (Savannah’s story) – now available!
SOUND (Serena’s story) – now available!
SCENT (Sasha’s story) – now available!
TASTE (Tamara’s story) – Coming April 2016
TOUCH (Talia’s story & the series conclusion)- Coming July 2016
Today is the official release day for SOUND (THE DELTA GIRLS #2)! 🙂
This is the 2nd of my 5 book series. It is a stand-alone story with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course the paranormal, but also continues the overall mystery from book 1 (SIGHT), so if you haven’t read the first yet, the details are HERE.
SOUND is told from Serena’s point of view. She can hear the future! And not only that, she starts to hear voices from spirits that are haunting the house that the boy she likes lives in.
Here is the book description:
Five extraordinary sisters discover that they each have a unique talent, an extra-sensory perception that enables them to see what others can’t. It makes them incredible, it puts them in danger, and it brings them closer to learning the secrets that have haunted them their entire lives. These are the Delta Girls.
Serena and her sisters read a private letter their father wrote to their mother, revealing a clue about his disappearance that they never knew about before. But as they struggle to gain further insight through their sensory visions, trying to solve the mystery continues to prove elusive.
The Delta Girls try to move on, balancing their supernatural abilities with the daily trials of being teenagers. Studious Serena teams with the classroom outcast, Lara, and her charming brother, Damon, for a school science project. They end up studying more than they bargained for, though, when strange noises come from rooms in Lara and Damon’s house. There are voices, but only Serena, with her special powers, can hear them. This is until the trio experiment with Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and are able to record and hear them on the computer.
Bringing in her extraordinary sisters to help, Serena must figure out who the voices belong to— and what they want—if she is to have a chance at stopping an impending tragedy before it’s too late.
SOUND is published by Diversion Books and is now available in both print and ebook from all online retailers, and can be purchased or ordered from physical bookstores as well.
- FREE & fast international shipping from Book Depository! (all 5 books also available to order/preorder)
- Diversion Books
- Amazon US / Amazon AUS / Amazon UK
- iTunes AUS / iTunes US
- Booktopia (AUS)
You can also add SOUND to Goodreads HERE.
I hope you’ll enjoy the 2nd book in The Delta Girls series! Book 3 (SCENT) is releasing in January 2016.
~ Juliet xo
P.S. – For info on the first book in the series, SIGHT, click here.
Ta-Da! Here it is, the sparkling cover for my first ever Christmas story, 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS. 🙂
What is the book about? Here’s the blurb:
A beautiful, uplifting holiday story from best-selling author Juliet Madison about a lonely writer, her grandmother’s ghost, a road trip, and 12 different Daves.
Abby Solomon may write happy-ever-afters for a living, but doesn’t believe she’ll have her own. But then a surprise visit from her grandmother’s ghost sets her off on a journey she’ll never forget.
Grandma Charlotte wants to find her first love, Dave, who she mistakenly thought had died in World War II. A quick search yields a list of twelve possibilities, and Abby and Charlotte set off on a Christmas road trip – twelve Daves over twelve days along the sun-drenched East coast of Australia.
With just over a week to make the meeting happen, Abby has to meet a dozen Daves – some sweet, some quirky, some downright dangerous, while trying to honour her book deadline and enduring the awkward challenges of having a ghost as a travelling companion. But when she comes across a young doctor who looks like one of the heroes in her novels, Abby has the chance to discover that true love transcends time and space and that happy endings aren’t only to be found between the pages of a book.
12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS is a 30,000 word novella and fits into the Romagic Comedy genre – it has romance, comedy, and magical elements, like some of my other books; FAST FORWARD, I DREAM OF JOHNNY, & HAUNTED EVER AFTER.
Release date: 8th December 2014
Publisher: Escape Publishing
>> Be notified when it is released by subscribing to my newsletter HERE.
Here is an excerpt…
‘What about Grandpa?’ I said. ‘Is he, ah…’
‘On the other side? Yes. I’ve touched base with him, and it was good to see him again, it really was, but I’m afraid to say he’s moved on. We loved each other of course and had a great life, but the truth is…’ she took another of those redundant breaths, ‘…we weren’t soulmates.’
‘What do you mean he’s moved on?’
‘He’s spending the afterlife with Lorna. And I’m not angry. I don’t blame him, because when all the obligations and responsibilities of physical life are down the pooper, all that matters is being true to your heart and soul.’
I frowned, from disappointment at Grandpa’s choice of afterlife companion or confusion as to how this all worked, I didn’t know.
‘Sorry, darling, it must be hard to comprehend all this. But the fact is, Harry and Lorna had a…what do you call it? A rendezvous or a fling, if you like, many years ago. I knew about it and of course I was furious, but after a while I forgave him. Because in reality, I knew I still loved and longed for Dave, so who was I to judge?’
‘But Grandma, who is Dave and why didn’t you stay with him back then?’
‘It’s a long story, muffin. But the gist of it is, we were together before the war, well, during the war. But then he went off to fight when he was eighteen and I never saw him again.’ She dropped her gaze to the floor. ‘We promised that when the war was over we’d meet again at our favourite place, and I was to turn up there every Saturday at noon until we were reunited. Months and months passed and I was there every week without fail, but he never showed.’
‘But the letter…he wrote to you, obviously.’
‘Just the once. As you can see in his letter, he promised to keep writing whenever he could, but something must have happened to prevent him from fulfilling that promise.’ She puffed up her short fluffy hair with an upturned palm like she always used to do, and pointed to the watch. ‘He gave that to me before he left, said it was to remind me that in time we’d be together again. I maintained it and kept it working.’
‘But he didn’t die in the war?’
‘Apparently not. I thought he had, everyone did. They said he was missing in action, presumed dead. And then when the war ended and he failed to return after several months, well, after a while I had to decide whether to keep hoping or let go and start living my life.’
‘So what happened to him?’
‘That’s the thing, I don’t know. I’ve tried to find out where he is and what happened, but the wretched administration up there,’ she pointed to the heavens, ‘leaves a bit to be desired.’ She crossed her arms. ‘All they could tell me was that my Dave Smith had not passed through the pearly gates. But to find out more information requires more manpower and paperwork, and they put me on a three month waiting list. Three months! While Harry and Lorna have their happily ever after, I’m left to twiddle my thumbs and wait it out. I’ll be putting in a complaint when I get back, you mark my words.’ She gave a curt nod. ‘But that will probably take another three months to process! They’re utterly swamped up there, what with all the deaths. And the queues, there are more crowds than a Buddy Holly concert, let me tell you.’
I didn’t know whether to laugh at what I was hearing or be frustrated along with her. Grandma wasn’t known for being shy, and if she had something to say about something that was bothering her, she’d say it.
‘How do we know where to look? I mean, do you have any idea where he might be?’
‘I met him when we were living in Berrinda. He was passing through with his soldier friends for a camping trip to celebrate his eighteenth birthday. When he told me he was going off to war, he said that if he returned safe and sound he’d want nothing more than to settle down in a place like Berrinda, or one of the other small towns on the south coast. That’s all I’ve got to go on.’
‘That’s a start, I guess. He might be in the phone book. What did you say his last name was?’
I sighed. She had to go fall in love with someone who had an extremely common first and last name!
As if reading my thoughts, Grandma said, ‘Shame his name wasn’t Reginald Liktenblacht or something easier to find.’ She shrugged and grinned.
Today is the official release day for HAUNTED EVER AFTER, my new full length romantic comedy novel with a touch of magic. And over the next two weeks I’m running a special competition to win a beautiful silver bracelet from Mantraband of the winner’s choice (Open Worldwide, free shipping). See below.
HAUNTED EVER AFTER
When bride-to-be Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids, the last thing she expects is an uninvited guest: the ghost of her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend.
Red is quirky, loud and distracting, and Sally is soon desperate to find the reason behind her presence, so she can rid herself of her embarrassing shadow before the wedding day. Unfortunately, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her existence, but very enthusiastic about Ty, the surprise hen’s night stripper who keeps showing up at awkward moments.
Time is running out for Sally, but it’s also running out for Red. By the time all is revealed, Sally will be tested to the limits, and go above and beyond everything she’s ever believed in order to ensure not only her own happy-ever-after – but Red’s as well.
>> BUY NOW from Escape Publishing or via the links below:
If you enjoyed FAST FORWARD, be sure to check out Haunted Ever After which has lots of funny moments as well as emotional and heartwarming moments. This one also has a touch of mystery, and what romcom novel of mine wouldn’t be complete without a wacky underwear scene? There’s one in here too. Two, in fact. 😉
And to celebrate the release, I’m joining forces with two fellow authors from Escape Publishing who also write Magic Realism Romance; Sarah Belle and Jacquie Underdown, in a fun Facebook party with lots of giveaways! It starts tonight (Sep 1st) and will run for 24 hours (the party – not us, we will hopefully get some sleep at some point). Join the event HERE!
WIN a beautiful silver inspirational bracelet from Mantraband with your choice of affirmation engraved on it, plus an ebook of your choice written by me (6 to choose from). Open WORLDWIDE and free shipping for the bracelet. The bracelet prize will be delivered as an email gift voucher which you can use to order the bracelet of your choice free of charge. Winner drawn 15th September.
To enter click the following rafflecopter link:
Good luck! And i hope you enjoy HAUNTED EVER AFTER! 🙂
Drumroll… Ta-Da! 🙂
What do you think?
The design team at Harlequin Australia / Escape Publishing have given me another fabulous cover. It’s always so exciting to see a cover for the first time, and I end up giggling like a little girl. 😀
This is my first cover with a guy on the front! Hello. Oh, except if you count the male nose and mouth on the cover of Starstruck in Seattle. 😉
As soon as it’s up on Goodreads, and on Amazon etc to preorder, I’ll post links. But for now, enjoy the cover and the blurb and excerpt below…
When bride-to-be, Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids in the small country town of Barron Springs, the last thing she expects is for an uninvited visitor to tag along: the ghost of her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend.
She’s quirky, loud, and hyperactive, and the prim and proper Sally is desperate to find out why she’s being haunted so she can be free of her embarrassing disruptions before the wedding day. Problem is, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her presence, but seems intent on tempting her with the hot and charming stripper, Ty, who is always turning up at awkward moments. Is the ghost on a jealousy-fuelled mission to stop the wedding?
By the time the ghost’s secrets are revealed, Sally’s strength will be tested to its limits, and she must go above and beyond anything she’s ever experienced in order to ensure a happy-ever-after for not only herself, but others too.
She pushed her finger forwards, and — plop! —the stone fell from my grasp and down my t-shirt through the small valley of my cleavage. I shivered at its cold, smooth surface as it travelled down to my abdomen. ‘Oh no!’ Red laughed as I unbuttoned my jacket and tried to discreetly shove my hand down my top.
‘Can I help at all?’ I spun around to see Ty standing nearby, my hand still lodged between my boobs and my elbow pointing to the heavens, where I wished Red would toddle off to. I yanked my hand out and straightened my jacket.
‘No, I’m fine thanks. Where did you spring from?’
‘I saw you looking at something in your hand so I came to see what it was.’
‘Oh, it’s just a gemstone.’ I brushed a non-existent strand of hair from my face. ‘It sort of, um, fell down my top.’ I could still feel it low against my belly, but I didn’t think my arm could reach down far enough to get it. I could also feel an uncomfortable wave of heat rushing across my face, belying the fact that it was a cold winter’s day.
Ty tried to hold back a grin, but a hint of it twinkled at the sides of his mouth. ‘So, maybe just give your shirt a bit of a shake?’ He grasped his close-fitting black ribbed top at the hem and gave it a shake, and a glimpse of his tanned, hard abs brought back flashes of him last night in his underwear.
The heat on my face intensified. ‘Well, you see, I sort of can’t,’ I replied, touching the spot where the gemstone lay.
Oh dear God. Of all the days, why did I have to wear this thing underneath?
‘Because I’m wearing a bodysuit.’
Ty’s eyebrows rose. ‘Oh, one of those all-in-one lycra things?’
‘So you’d need to, um…’
‘Unhook it, below, yes.’ Too much information. Why was I telling him this? Surely a man of his ‘experience’ knew how a woman’s bodysuit was structured.
‘In that case, I’ll let you get on with it.’ He gestured behind and turned away, then turned back briefly. ‘I’ll just wait over here.’
I hid behind a stall and grasped the stone through my clothing with one hand, walking it up my body the way one does with a draw cord lost in the waistband of one’s pants, but it only moved slightly. I plunged my hand down my top again and dug around, but the tight-fit of the bodysuit made it difficult. C’mon gemstone! Where are you? It was like the Bermuda Triangle in here. If this failed I’d have to find the ladies bathrooms and do the unhooking, but if I could just get it…
I grunted, sinking my stomach muscles inwards to make more room for my arm, and stretching poor Mel’s t-shirt piece of art. My fingers came in contact with cold stone which I grasped, and with my other hand I pushed it upwards, until the stone was in my hand and my arm was finally out of a place I didn’t exactly aspire it to be whilst in public, or even private, for that matter. ‘Phew!’ I breathed out, having held my breath for a little while.
I adjusted my top and jacket and returned to where I’d been, feeling as though everyone was looking at me, even though they weren’t. Except Ty.
‘Got it?’ he asked.
I held up the stone in victory.
He clapped. ‘If you were single I would have given you a hand. You know, just to do the helpful gentlemanly thing.’ He winked.
Flirt. ‘Oh, I’m sure.’ I crossed my arms and diverted my gaze from his.
Stay tuned… HAUNTED EVER AFTER releases on 1st Sept 2014. Subscribe to this blog or to my email newsletter HERE to be reminded on release day.
The paperwork is all in order so I can now officially announce that I’ve signed a 3 book contract with my publisher, Escape Publishing (digital imprint of Harlequin Australia)! 😀
The books are as follows:
- HAUNTED EVER AFTER (previously Haunted Housewives) – a romagic comedy novel about a prim and proper bride-to-be who is haunted by the ghost of her fiance’s ex-girlfriend on her hen’s/bachelorette weekend away. There’ll be fun and games, a stripper who has more to reveal than rock-hard abs, and one very feisty red-haired ghost on a mission. Releasing 1st September 2014.
- 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS – a heartwarming romagic comedy Christmas novella about a romance writer who spends more time on her fictional love lives than her own, and receives a surprising visit from her Grandmother’s ghost asking for help to find her first love, Dave, who disappeared during the war. Cue a Christmas road trip, and a series of funny and touching moments as they work their way through a list of Daves in search of the right one. Releasing 1st December 2014.
- MIRACLE IN MARCH (tentative title) – Book #3 in the Tarrin’s Bay series, though a complete stand-alone story just like The January Wish and February or Forever. …Miracle in March is about two ex-lovers both in need of a miracle, who find themselves unexpectedly reunited during a one week stay at the Tarrin’s Bay Beachside Cabins. Emma’s hiding the truth about why she ended their relationship six years ago, and James is no longer a high-flying lawyer but a single stay-at-home dad with an autistic son. At the Town of New Beginnings, truths will be shared, dreams will be remembered, and a miracle or two just may occur. Releasing 1st March 2015.
I can’t wait to share the first book, Haunted Ever After, with you in September! The other two are currently in progress, so I’m working hard on making them as enjoyable as possible and meeting my deadlines!
I use Pinterest a lot for inspiration, so if you’d like to follow my boards for each of these books, here are the links:
You can also stay updated by subscribing to this blog, and to my email updates at www.julietmadison.com (free gift included!).
BIG thanks to my publisher for continuing to publish my books, and to my readers and reviewers who keep me in business! 🙂
Here’s a question for you: Which of the following is a romance novel?
Answer: all of them. And each is a bestselling and/or award-winning book. Did you already know these are examples of the wide variety of romance fiction available, or is your perception of romance books limited to those with covers showing Fabio-esque men embracing buxom women?
I was inspired to write this post about the diversity of romance after reading Kat Mayo’s article on ABC’s The Drum in response to another article about romance feminism. Many of the comments on the articles showed just how many misconceptions there are about romance fiction. Some people look down on romance fiction as being ‘rubbish’, but many do so without having actually read books within the genre, or having read widely enough.
The view that romance novels give women unrealistic expectations about love and relationships and portray women that are disempowered beings desperate for a hero to rescue them is outdated. The majority of contemporary romance novels have empowered, strong, relatable women as characters, and often represent issues and challenges present in real life. And what’s so unrealistic about finding happiness with someone in a romantic relationship? It happens to many. Yes, there is divorce and broken families in society, but there is also love, commitment, respect, and satisfaction.
These books do not give women unrealistic expectations, they provide entertainment, relaxation, inspiration, and an example of what is possible. And they are FICTION. They are not a How-To guide on finding love. Just as crime and thrillers take readers on an intriguing, suspenseful journey with a satisfying conclusion, romance novels take readers on an enjoyable, emotional journey with a happy ending. There is nothing wrong with that.
Everyone is entitled to their own reading preferences of course, and not liking romance (or sci-fi, or fantasy, for that matter) is perfectly okay, but labelling all books in a genre as ‘rubbish’ is an opinion often given without adequate and fair appraisal of a variety of recent books in the genre. In many cases it is based on assumptions and stereotypical perceptions influenced by what people have seen in movies or in the media.
…So what makes each of the above mentioned books a romance? Regardless of the sub-genre or plot, they each have a romantic relationship as a crucial part of the story and a happy ending where the couple ends up together. It is about the journey, not the destination. Without the romance element the story wouldn’t quite be complete. The romance element may be the main component and driver of the story, or it may be a lesser though still significant part of the story.
Let’s look at each example…
Fast Forward is a time travel romantic comedy, with the main plot centring around a 25-year-old model stuck in the body of her 50-year-old self in the future. At first impressions, there doesn’t seem to be anything romantic about that, but crucial to the plot and her growth as a character is the development of her relationship with her future husband. Because the story wouldn’t be the same without the romantic element, it is not only a comedy and a paranormal/time travel story, but a romance. Some may also classify it as women’s fiction or chick lit, because of the story’s focus on the woman’s journey (however, there are male fans of the book too!) 😉
“A wonderful story that delivers a very powerful message underneath the humor and love – it’s not often that a romance novel makes me stop and think of my own life and choices, but Fast Forward does just that, which just adds to its appeal!”
Holiday Affair is a category romance (from Entangled Publishing’s ‘Indulgence’ imprint) in which the hero discovers his new neighbour and co-worker is the woman he had a one-night-stand with on a tropical holiday. A *category romance is a shorter novel (usually around 50,000 words) that adheres to certain guidelines and themes of a particular line or imprint, so readers know what to expect in terms of character types, settings, and/or heat level. In category romance, the romance is the main plot. There may be a small number of secondary characters and possibly a minor subplot, but not at the expense of the main romance storyline. *Note: Many people have the misconception that all romance is category romance – ie, the Mills & Boon type of book. Mills & Boon books are category romance, but not all category romance is published by Mills & Boon.
“A delightful tale of two people who have more in common than they think, but are scared to believe it. Neither one of them trusts that love-at-first-sight really could happen on vacation, even though it’s obvious that they are made for each other. Wonderful descriptions of the vacation scenery and a neat inside look at the academic world. I look forward to more from this author!”
Outback Dreams is a single title Australian rural romance about two best friends with dreams they’re each working towards, whose relationship becomes romantic and changes everything. In comparison to a category romance, a single title romance is a full length novel and contains secondary characters and sub-plots as well as the main romance. Rural romance is a popular genre about the lives and loves of people living and working on farms and in rural communities.
“OUTBACK DREAMS gently highlights the issue of having a family member with Autism and how it can affect the whole family … a perfect blend of romance, believable conflict, perfect miscommunication and a happy ever after”
Half Moon Bay is a romantic suspense novel written by airline pilot, Helene Young, about a woman running from her past who returns home to help her community, and an ex-soldier with secrets and trauma connecting him to her. Just like other thrillers, crime, and suspense novels, romantic suspense has all the plot twists and turns that keeps the reader turning the pages, but also focuses on the developing romance between the main characters as they deal with challenging circumstances that could either tear them apart or bring them closer together.
“I, too, have shied away from the “romance” genre, thinking Mills & Boon. However, I am now a convert to the romance / suspense genre, especially Helene Young’s books. Handsome men, whose characters develop into more than just a pretty face, alongside strong independent intelligent women are characters you will connect with.”
The Rosie Project is a hugely successful romantic comedy about a genetics professor with social difficulties who creates a questionnaire to see if he can find a wife, and one who is perfect for him. His perceptions about life and mishaps along the way create the comedic element, and with the plot revolving around finding a wife, romance and finding out if he’s capable of true love is a big part of the story.
“It is not the typical boy meets girl love story formula, and that is what makes it so good. What a refreshing take on the autism spectrum: it is varied, complex, but real and workable for many individuals. Lastly, what hope this book delivers: there is someone out there for everyone.”
…As you can see, there is much diversity in the romance fiction market, and these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Romance spans many other subgenres including historical, steampunk, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, erotic, contemporary and more. It is written mostly by women, but also by men, and read by both men and women. It can be about the variety and complexity of life, career, family, war, illness, history, time travel, mystery, or sexuality, with the uniting factor of how love impacts on the challenges and choices people make in life. Romance is diverse, and so are its writers and readers.
I’d like to propose a challenge for anyone that perceives romance books as ‘rubbish’: Read several current books in the genre before making that claim. Try the ones mentioned in this article, or read the winning books from the Australian Romance Readers Association Awards, and if you still think they’re rubbish, fair enough, at least you’ve read enough of a variety to make that personal judgement. But maybe these stories will entertain you and enlighten you as to the variety and depth of talent and storytelling ability in the romance fiction industry, which, by the way, keeps the book industry alive.
Happy reading! 🙂