Down Under


wpid-wp-1400584537239.pngStar Attraction by Vanessa Stubbs

“Can you really fall in love with the whole world watching?

He’s the most famous and most desired man in the world. She’s a hard-news journalist trying to keep her job. When Sydney girl Madison Edwards is sent to interview Hollywood heartthrob Jamie Hall, as far as she’s concerned it’s an embarrassing blot on her credibility. As far as Jamie is concerned, Madison is just one of the thousands of people who want a piece of him. They both turn out to be wrong.

When an unimaginable attraction develops between them, they’re momentarily blinded. Could it be true love or just the glare of the paparazzi’s flashbulbs?

Star Attraction is a deliciously seductive story of our times, about celebrity and stardom – and about finding something real and true, even when the whole world is watching.

This is a stellar debut by an industry insider who’s interviewed celebrities, attended red carpet events and glimpsed behind the velvet ropes. ”


I was blown away by this page turner. To be totally honest, I was expecting a shallow, designer label, celebrity-fest. I was so glad I was wrong.

Althought the book is set in that world, there is so much more. Vanessa Stubbs creates characters that are so real, you empathize with them immediately. You may not know what it is like to be a film star like Jaime, but we all have been insecure about something and had to find a way through self doubt.

Vanessa Stubbs really taps into the male psyche and shows that men, underneath their egos are just as vulnerable as women.

Madison expressed her own anxieties through her dialogue with Lucy and as a result, Madison comes across as complex , driven and very likeable.

Star Attraction is one of the best romance books I have read this year. If you are looking for a romance with emotional complexities and a bit of gravitas- then look no further. I highly recommend “Star Attraction”. Vanessa Stubbs début has stellar quality and I can not wait to see what this new up and coming author writes next.


wpid-wp-1400584455832.jpegSmall Town Storm by Elise Ackers

“Nineteen years after a devastating crime almost killed her, Erica Lawrence has returned home. In the small mountain town of Olinda, her story is legend. And now everyone knows she’s back, including top cop and childhood best friend, Jordan Hill, the first and only person to ever touch her guarded heart.

When a woman goes missing and her body is found brutally murdered, fear swallows the town. And suspicion soon turns on Olinda’s newest resident: Erica. As the cop in charge of the murder investigation, Jordan has to face the awful truth that the prime suspect is the woman he always swore to protect. While Jordan and Erica struggle with their feelings for one another, the murders mount up and the tension grows. Not only that, but Erica has a dark secret that she’ll do anything to stop Jordan from finding out…

Small Town Storm is a gripping read that captures the intensity and passion of first love and the terror of a town where trust has broken down. This is the unforgettable story of a lifelong romance, and of an innocent childhood tainted by evil that won’t let go. ”


“Small town storm” is a captivating read. Erica returns home after an long absence. What happened to her when she was last home is shocking and slightly disturbing. Erica shows fortitude and inner strength by returning home to obtain some closure.

I really admired Erica. Even though she went through some pretty horrible things, she never became a victim and is the perfect embodiment of the phrase “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.

Erica’s past comes back to haunt her when no sooner has she arrived home, a woman is murder and all fingers point to her. The sense of a community becoming unravelled and all trust breaking down slowly adds menace to the situation.

As well as being an unparalleled mystery thriller, Small town Storm also explores the relationship between Erica and Jordan. Their tender romance asks the question “Does true love ever die or just waits for the right moment again?”

What I can’t understand about this books, is why I haven’t heard of it until now. This beautifully crafted novel should be up there with the likes of Nora Roberts and Heather Graham. “Small Town Storm” is Australian noir at its best . It is truly undiscovered gem that blends mystery, thriller and romance together to make the perfect novel. If you only buy one book this summer- then make this the one. Five stars is not enough to express how much I enjoyed this book.

Now am exclusive interview with Elise K. Ackers:

Elder Park: What inspired you to write romantic suspense?

Elise K. Ackers: The genre didn’t come to me so much as the story did – two kids caught in the middle of something dark and desperate, who grow up to face it all again. Small Town Storm challenges family assumptions and gives weight to small town relationships. As I wrote Jordan and Erica’s story, I found myself drawn into the complexity and drama of the genre; red herrings, subterfuge, and mystery – it was a lot of fun to create and shape.
EPBR: Would you consider your books to be set in a more rural location than city? If so- what is the appeal of small town life for you?

EKA: Small Town Storm is set in a mountain town east of Melbourne in Australia, Unforgettable in Melbourne city. Ask Me to Stay is a collection of novellas set in a rural town west of Sydney – I like trying different settings. They provide such diverse opportunities for character interactions and reader mood. But I do find myself often drawn to small town life. The close relationships of townspeople who’ve known each other most of their lives, the dynamics of newcomers and long-standing locals… It’s fascinating to me.

EPBR: what are you working on next?EKA: I’ll be travelling overseas for the next few months, and I’ll be writing about some of the places and things I’ll be seeing and doing. I’ve outlined a contemporary romance and will be layering in the details and  settings as I travel. I’m very excited about capturing different cultures and adventures.

EPBR:  You have some great accolades-tell me about what it means to you to be shortlisted/nominated/awarded for these honoursEKA: It’s a wonderful recognition for hard work, and obviously a confidence boost – but these awards helped me get off the slush-pile, so I owe all the organizers a great deal of thanks. I had some of these accolades when I pitched to Penguin, my first publisher, and I believe it helped to get their attention. I encourage all new writers to enter writing competitions, and I appreciate all of the groups who run them. They really help.


Catch of the Day by Carla Caruso

“After a regrettable incident at the office Christmas party, up-and-coming fashion editor, Winnie Cherry, is banished to coastal South Australia to set up a beach lifestyle magazine – 300km from nowhere.

Her friends joke that she’ll marry a rich cray fisherman and stay there for good, but Winnie has other ideas. Determined to get back to Sydney within two months, she gets to work and starts counting down the days. Until she meets handsome freelance photographer Alex Bass, and sparks begin to fly.

As Winnie is increasingly drawn into the close-knit local community, she starts to question whether city life is really what she wants. That is, until Alex drops a bombshell that casts dark storm clouds over all her coastal dreams… ”


Catch of the day is a delightful city girl in the country story with all the fish out of water gaffs that you could think of.

Winnie starts to re-evaluate her city ideals as she falls in love with Kingston, Alex and the comforting country pace of life.

Catch of the day is a delicious slow building romance that is hear warming as well as entertaining. Alex is such a wonderful character, I think I am a little bit in love.

Carla Caruso pulls out all the stops with her gorgeous coastal South Australia setting and really makes her old fashioned romance as timeless as the sea itself. Carla Caruso’s wonderful writing evokes the sound of the waves crashing and sand between your toes.

Catch of the day is 100% pure escapism and will not disappoint.

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Winning the Player by Leesa Bow

“When injury destroyed her dream of playing college basketball, Aubree Taylor fled overseas. Now she’s finally home again and ready to move on with her life. Until she runs into Hunter Stone on her first night out, the only guy who’s ever meant anything to her – and the last person she wants to see.

Since she ran out on him two years ago, Hunter hasn’t been able to get Aubree off his mind. The sexy football star has had girls all over him for years, but Aubree is the only one to have ever seen behind the cocky persona he puts on for the crowd.

Despite her attempts to keep her distance, Aubree is unable to resist the strong attraction between them and it isn’t long before they fall into a passionate relationship. She has never been afraid of a challenge, but Hunter’s arrogance and inablity to trust are testing her to her limits. Aubree must decide whether to follow her heart and lower her guard…or risk losing the best thing that’s ever happened to her.”


I have to admit that I wasn’t too sure about this book. I don’t like sports and the idea of a sporty romance seemed a bit daunting. Leesa Bow won me over however. There is so much in “Winning the player” It is more about overcoming and maturing than it is about actual sports.

To me it was more about the emotional complexities about being an athlete and how the sport becomes an identifiable part of your identity.

Aubree really grows through the course of the novel as a person and offers some great inspirational wisdom. Her mother is a wonderful character and I some times wish I had someone like her on my side.

Winning the player is a wonderful New adult début full of family drama and acceptance. Even if you aren’t sporty like me, this delightfully fun romance will win you over too.




Down Under Resources:

What’s hot on Steamy puddings this week: Book Review: The Playboy’s Dark Secret By Madeline Ash

The Naughty Ninjas: June 4th is hug your cat day.

Hearts ‘N Wined: It’s not really a blog, it’s a Facebook page but I absolutely love this page devoted to Western Australian writers. It’s a showcase of the best romance, erotica and chick lit writers in WA and there’s a whole lot of wonderful photographs and competitions.


untitled (4)The Border Laird’s Bride by Allison Butler

“To fulfil his father’s dying wish, border laird Jamie Graham must marry and sire a legitimate heir. But his marriage will be one of convenience, for he has vowed never to open his heart to betrayal. While guarding his cattle from thieves, Jamie catches the spirited daughter of a neighbouring laird stealing his horse. Despite viewing an arranged marriage as a death sentence,  feisty Kenzie Irvine has no choice but to wed the domineering Jamie. But she has sworn an oath never to bring a child into an uncaring world. And Kenzie also has a dark secret she has no intention of giving away –  even if she finds herself her on the wrong side of the law…”


This was the best Historical Scottish Romance I ever read. I loved that Kenzie was feisty and didn’t just roll over and do what was expected of her. She was a very courageous character who knew her own mind and wasn’t looking after her own comforts but wanted to make a difference to her clan. I was so impressed that she was a scrapper and ready to throw down for her beliefs- it is a refreshing change from the swooning maidens who just want to be whisked off their feet.

Alison Butler is a incredible author that created some of the most memorable complex characters that have so much depth- they almost seem like real people. I found myself talking to the book as I was so wrapped up in the story, it felt like the story was a living thing unfolding in my time and not a predetermined stack of words on paper.

The Border Laird’s bride is the thinking woman’s historical romance. Love is portrayed tenderly and realistically; it has to be based on a foundation and not a thunder bolt from the sky.

Alison Butler creates a Scottish story that is on par with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and a truly unique historical romance. I can highly recommend The Border Laird’s Bride for hours of unrelenting entertainment that will stay with you long after the book is finished.



The Mystical Bond, the Fatal Allure … of Hunter & Prey

Misunderstood seventeen year old Lila Crain unwillingly moves to the foreboding town of Shade, prepared to face her punishment – Shade High. But she can’t begin to anticipate the life-altering events that lie in wait for her.

The dark and charismatic Reid has a wolfish grin and amber eyes that would make any girl blush and he has his sights set on the new girl in school.
Reid’s stunning friends – including icy top dog Sam – invite Lila into their clique. Suspicious, yet flattered by their attention she answers the intriguing call like a moth to a flame.

Thrillingly introduced to the local nightlife by the enigmatic group, Lila finally feels like she belongs. But her newly found friendships threaten to turn sour when she unwittingly develops feelings for the leader’s off-limits boyfriend, Sky.
Tensions rise further when a quirky local named Cresida warns Lila to stay away from the clique at all costs.

Undeterred, she is irresistibly drawn to uncover the truth behind their mysterious lifestyle.
Lila unwittingly starts off a chain of events that will forever alter fate for both hunter and hunted as she learns they have been waiting for her… ”

“Wolf Sirens is a totally unique YA read. I was intrigued by Tina Smith’s Wolf mythos and found it rather refreshing to have some new life breathed into shifter lore.

Tina Smith captures what it is like to be a teenager perfectly. The peer pressure and need for acceptance is so evident and never patronizing. Lila is a very vulnerable character since moving to Shade and some times doesn’t handle certain situations too wisely- but that is what being a teen is all about.

Wolf Sirens is a great start to a series and has so many new twists and turns, as Lila finds out more about her new friends. It is also a voyage of discovery for Lila as well.

I really enjoyed Wolf Sirens and I found once I started to read, I couldn’t put it down. I thought it was great supernatural novel packed with plenty of action, a hint of romance and teen angst. Fans of “Blood and Chocolate” will devour this book, like I did.

I am looking forward to reading the other titles in this series to see how Tina Smith unfolds her story and to see what surprises she has in store for us.



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