Down Under: Alissa Callen

 

Book cover RHBeneath Outback Skies by Alissa Callen

A captivating rural romance featuring an indomitable young woman determined to save her family farm, and the city-boy who is not all he seems…Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile. Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions.It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs.”

 

 

Beneath Outback Skies was a wonderful rural Australian novel. Alissa Callen has a way of describing things that you can almost feel the red Outback dust on your face and smell the diesel fumes of her Ute.

Reading the from grey skies of a spring that is yet to sprung; Beneath Outback skies transported me to a drought ridden Banora Downs with no rain in site. Alissa Callen give real gravitas to the drought that plagues most of the Outback. It is the realism that strikes me because most of us never have to worry about where to get the next drink to survive from.

Paige and Tait’s relationship slowly builds over the course of the book and in true country style, love set its own pace. Of course the path of true love is never easy. Tait has a hidden secret that when found out could ruin everything. Paige’s life is just as complex. Her father is stuck in a wheel chair from a farming accident and is of limited help to her.

Paige is such a strong female character, who knows exactly what she wants and refuses to settle for anything less. Since her father’s accident she has almost single-handly taken over running her families farm and I think that made her a bit isolated.

I loved this book. I loved Paige and Tait, and I loved peaking behind the curtain of Outback life. I found Beneath Outback skies tender and touching romance. I fell in love with Banora Downs, Glenalla and all its inhabitants.

lineAlso by Alissa Callen and featuring “Glenalla”:

alissa3Down Outback Roads by Alissa Callen

An enthralling rural love story. Sometimes you need to give yourself permission to fall in love.Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance. Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?”

There is no place like Glenalla….

Thrown right into the middle of the action, this book hooks you in from the first line. Kree travels to Australia to find her brother who went missing while backpacking. She soon finds her brother and the beauty that is the Outback of NSW. While stepping into her brother shoes while he recuperated to full fill his commitments to a local family; she experience Glenalla first hand. Kree going to Glenalla was no mistake- it was her destiny.

She hatches a plan to save the very town that came to her aid when her brother was in life threatening peril, and along the way discovers her own family’s secrets.

Ewan and Kree’s attraction brews slowly like an electrical storm, building in intensity; but he quickly puts on the breaks as he feels he is unworthy of her.

Ewan is a flawed character who blames himself for his family’s misfortune. He resigns himself to live the bachelor life as a penalty- that is until he meets Kree. They have issues getting off the ground but there was no denying they were in love.

Glenalla was first featured in “Beneath Outback Skies”. Although, I suggest you read that book first, it isn’t necessary- “Down Outback Roads” is a stand alone novel.

Glenalla is such a wonderful setting, full of down home charm and community spirit. Come and fall in love with Alissa Callen’s Glenalla for yourself.

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I loved Alissa Callen’s books so much that I had to find her to do an interview. I was very lucky that Alissa Callen found time in her busy schedule to answer all my Glenalla questions:

Alissa Callen xEPBR: What was your inspiration for Glenalla?

AC: The small town of Glenalla, and the surrounding red earth countryside, is very much based on my local area. I live in rural Australia and even a trip to my grocery store provides inspiration. It isn’t unusual to see a horse truck parked in the car park or hear talk about how much rain people have, or haven’t, had. Australia is a land of great natural beauty but also a continent of extremes. Living where I do, I’ve experienced floods, drought and fires plus also the resilience, cohesiveness and compassion of outback communities. All of these things then seep into my writing. I hope readers enjoy visiting Glenalla as much as I enjoyed bringing this fictional town to life.

EPBR: You were a 2013 ARRA Finalist- what did that honour mean to you?

AC: It was a thrill to final once, let alone four times, but at the end of the day a reader leaving me a face book message about how much they loved my book makes me feel just as honoured and as thankful.

EPBR:What are you working on now?

AC: In between playing taxi to my kids, I’m working on two things. I’m planning another full length novel set around Glenalla plus a series of small town novellas set in the rugged snow-dusted mountains of Montana. The hemispheres may be different, but the challenges rural and remote towns face are very similar as too are the qualities that make close-knit communities such a special place to live.

When Alissa Callen isn’t writing she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who really does believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. After a childhood spent chasing sheep on the family farm, Alissa has always been drawn to remote areas and small towns, even when residing in the US and UK. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take and her books are characteristically heart-warming, emotional and character driven. She currently lives on a small slice of rural Australia in central western New South Wales, Australia. You can visit her blog for more news and updates on your favourite town and characters.

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NEW- EPISODE 2

NEW- EPISODE 2

Resources Down Under:

On Steam Puddings : “Rachael Johns Drops By And Talks Writer’s Block (And There’s A Competition Too!)”

Over at The Naughty Ninja’s blog : The Rhyll ‘the Lady’ Biest and Cate ‘Man-eater’ Ellink get married”

Here are a few Aussie to Pom translations:

Pom: Stands for Prisoner of the motherland or person from the UK

Akubra: A felt hat often worn in the Outback

Esky: An Eskimo cooler container

Smoko: Teabreak, or smoking break but since smoking is now passe- any kind of break will do.

 

Who remembers Rebecca Gibney from The Flying Doctors? For some years she has been staring in a family drama called “Packed to the Rafters”. It is avaible on DVD in the UK if you can find it, but has never been televised in the UK. If you can get a hold of it, I thought it was a very entertaining series:

 

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Flight to Coorah Creek by Janet Gover

What happens when you can fly, but you just can’t hide?
Only Jessica Pearson knows the truth when the press portray her as the woman who betrayed her lover to escape prosecution. But will her new job flying an outback air ambulance help her sleep at night or atone for a lost life?
Doctor Adam Gilmore touches the lives of his patients, but his own scars mean he can never let a woman touch his heart.
Runaway Ellen Parkes wants to build a safe future for her two children. Without a man – not even one as gentle as Jack North.
In Coorah Creek, a town on the edge of nowhere, you’re judged by what you do, not what people say about you. But when the harshest judge is the one you see in the mirror, there’s nowhere left to hide.”

 

 

The first thing I said when I finished Chapter One was Wow!. From the first line you were transported right into the middle of the action. Within a few pages, you felt like you knew these characters and were revisiting old friends.

Queensland is described in such vivid details that you can almost feel the heat of the sun and the outback dust in your throat. The Outback is like a character in its own right because it is depicted with it is own personality and vibrancy.

I felt immersed into Coorah Creek’s world. It is a world where life has a slower pace, neighbours care about each other and good old fashion country charm – that never goes out of style.

The main characters are all impossible to believe they are fictional. I identified and bonded with Jess immediately, because we all know what it is like to be in love and blind. Dr. Adam, all I’m going to say is I wish he was my doctor. Watching Jack and Ellen’s romance unfold was breath-taking. I don’t believe in spoilers, but there were a few times I cried.

Janet Gover’s writing is phenomenal, she can make something as complicated as flying a plane easy to understand and visualize.I didn’t even feel like I was reading a book because a film played in my head. It was a perfect book from the start to the last line “…broken only by the distant laugh of the kookaburra.”

I fell in love with Coorah Creek and it’s in habitants and so will you. This book has the Wow factor.

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Feature: Down Under

 

 

I am pleased to announce a new regular feature “Down Under” to spotlight the best that Australia has to offer. If you are a regular reader, then you will know I have a deep love for anything Aussie and this is my chance to share with you all the undiscovered gems I have found.

Today I have some great books and a great new Podcast to introduce you to – Lets get  started. Here are three new releases by Random Romance:

 

alissa3Down Outback Roads by Alissa Callen

Release Date: May 1st, 2014

An enthralling rural love story. Sometimes you need to give yourself permission to fall in love.Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance. Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?”

 

There is no place like Glenalla….

Thrown right into the middle of the action, this book hooks you in from the first line. Kree travels to Australia to find her brother who went missing while backpacking. She soon finds her brother and the beauty that is the Outback of NSW. While stepping into her brother shoes while he recuperated to full fill his commitments to a local family; she experience Glenalla first hand. Kree going to Glenalla was no mistake- it was her destiny.

She hatches a plan to save the very town that came to her aid when her brother was in life threatening peril, and along the way discovers her own family’s secrets.

Ewan and Kree’s attraction brews slowly like an electrical storm, building in intensity; but he quickly puts on the breaks as he feels he is unworthy of her.

Ewan is a flawed character who blames himself for his family’s misfortune. He resigns himself to live the bachelor life as a penalty- that is until he meets Kree. They have issues getting off the ground but there was no denying they were in love.

Glenalla was first featured in “Beneath Outback Skies”. Although, I suggest you read that book first, it isn’t necessary- “Down Outback Roads” is a stand alone novel.

Glenalla is such a wonderful setting, full of down home charm and community spirit. Come and fall in love with Alissa Callen’s Glenalla for yourself.

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alissa2Love on Location by Claire Baxter

Release date: May 1st, 2014

“A deliciously fun rom com about a girl who has big dreams and just can’t stop herself from falling in love.Shayna is this close to getting her dream job as a location manager for a new TV soap, she just needs to find the right house to film it in, and the job is hers.Luckily, she’s found the perfect place. Unluckily, the owner – who is tall, blond and more handsome than is fair – is stubbornly refusing to let her use it unless she goes to dinner with him. No harm in that, right?Lachlan swore he’d never go back into show business – not after his heart was broken – and the last thing he wants is a film crew traipsing through his house, but there’s something about Shayna that’s making it hard to say no . . .He won’t let anyone near his heart, and she’s not looking for love – what could possibly go wrong? “

Shayna meets Lachlan, former teenage heart-throb when she wants to use his house in a new TV show. Lachlan wants no part in television any more and dares Shayna to convince him. Lachlan doesn’t make her job easy and I think he is playing a little hard to get; That is where the fun starts.

Shayna and Lachlan are both looking for soul mates but is unsure if true love really exists; until they meet each other and feel the bond that transcends the physical.

Love on location is an adorable novella set in the glamorous world of Television productions. It is the perfect read for an evening spent curled up on the couch. I can’t think of a better way to spend the night than reading Love on Location by Claire Baxter.

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alisa4Bet on it by Cheryl Adnams

Release date: May 1st, 2014

A sizzling rural romance set in the McLaren Vale, with a girl who’s ready for a change and the three brothers who are determined to win her over.Gabrielle didn’t believe men like this existed in real life – the three Muller brothers are ridiculously good-looking, and they’re officially her new bosses. She’s in need of a change of scenery, and the Muller’s winery might just be the right place.Seth Muller isn’t sure it’s a good idea to bet on who can seduce Gabby first, but the new girl working at the winery is too gorgeous to give up to his brothers without a fight. But what happens if he starts to fall for her? Will he lose everything if she finds out what he’s done? 

Gabrielle arrives to take a managerial role at one of the McLaren’s vales most spectacular vineyard. What she finds is not only a gorgeous location but three gorgeous brothers. The first brother she meets is Andrew- who can only be described as a lady-killer. The next brother is the older Brian who exudes stoic and mysterious charm; but it is the rugged Seth and his rugged ways that first sets Gabby’s heart on fire.

Unbeknownst to her, the brother make a bet of a hundred dollars each to compete to woo her- the winner taking the pot and Gabby.

Bet on it was an exceptional good book. There are some great moments where the brothers chase after Gabby but she isn’t as naïve as they think she is- she really gives them a run for their money. I can not say more because I don’t want to ruin one delicious moment for you; but what I can say this is this a great sexy holiday read. There is romance, comedy, beautiful settings and did I mention three hunky Australian brothers?

I highly recommend this book and it is released just in time to be at the top of the list for your summer reads.

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bookish tartsBookish tart is a new podsnuggle by Georgina Penney, author of “Irrepressible you“. Click on the cupcake image to link to the page to listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Naughty Ninja’s is a great site for more Australian resources and a lot of fun. This is what they are all about:

“Eight Naughty Ninjas. A bazillion varieties of author naughtiness.
365 days a year. Who are the Naughty Ninjas? We’re mean, lean, silent and deadly… who am I kidding? We’re all cupcakes. Romantic, fluffy cupcakes who write stuff designed to give you all the feels.

We write about lurv and naughty goings on, and people should go find our books and read them because our mums all say they are AWESOME.

We decided to see what would happen if all eight author brains pulled together in a tandem effort, like a team of eager but easily distracted huskies tied to a giant, mutant sled. This site is our sled. Our ninja sled. Who knew ninjas liked to sled and own huskies, right? Well, we do. There’s lots people don’t know about ninjas, but you can study our complex and little-understood ninja ways and draw your own conclusions.

To find out more about the dark secret pasts of each Naughty Ninja author, click on their icon below. Just don’t make them angry”

naughty

Another great resouce is the Heats n Wined Facebook page. Check them out and give a like fb.

lineLast Friday was ANZAC day. Anzac Day  is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.” (Reprinted from Wikipedia).

makes them chewier.

lineThis next video is definitely a hidden gem for all of us outside of Australia and has become one of my all time favourite television shows:

Claudia Karvan stars as dentist Suzy Darling, who walks away from her husband Steve Darling (Rodger Corser) of 15 years and their loveless marriage and into an old apartment block that is inhabited by the ghost of Henry Mallet (Matt King), a 1980s English rock star.

 

 

Feature: Irrepressible You by Georgina Penney

ireIrrepressible You by Georgina Penney

“You don’t become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down.

When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he’s hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn’t occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset – after all, it’s hilarious, and his readers love her!

It isn’t until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realise just how badly he’s cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?”

 

pinupSet in the sunny port city of Perth, Australia, this stunning debut has style. I loved Amy. I thought she was funny cute, sassy and clever. I am a big fan of the 1950’s style of dress and wished I had her wardrobe.

Everything has such personality in this book, from the outdoor plumbing to Gerald, the dog and his testicle implants.

There are plenty of false starts for Ben and Amy and at times it feels as if someone poured a bucket of water over you. When they do get together it is very saucy. In all honesty, it is racy but it is done tastefully. I blushed myself a few times, and needed a cold shower by the time it was over.

This book is a breath of fresh air and I highly recommend to anyone who is looking for an out of the ordinary story with loads of style.

 

 

Now an exclusive interview with Georgina Penney:

EPBR: Amy is such a stylish character, do you prefer the pin up look yourself?

GP: She is a stylish little wench, isn’t she?

I do love the pin up look. Forties and fifties fashion is so flattering that no matter how much of a bad hair/my-arse-is-huge day I’m having, I feel awesome once I frock up and whack on a bit of make-up. That said, there is a huge tom boy part of me that thinks jeans and a T-shirt is a much easier option. It makes for an interesting wardrobe. Glam to grunge and nothing in between!

EPBR: What inspired you to write Irrepressible You?

GP: Amy originally started off as a secondary character in Unforgettable You, my next release. She just popped onto the page one day and I loved her so much that she had to get a story of her own. Her bubbly personality, eccentric house and narcoleptic dog, Gerald are all based on real-life people, places and things that I’d been saving up for years. (Especially Gerald.)

EPBR:What is your next project?

GP: Unforgettable You, my next book is coming out on May the 14th this year. It’s the prequel to Irrepressible You and is all about Amy’s sister Jo, an engineer who works on oil rigs and Stephen Hardy, heir to Evangeline’s Rest winery. Jo’s story was so much fun to write, I can’t wait to hear what people think.

I can not wait for that book to come out. I loved Irrespressible You. Here is an exclusive sneak peek at the next book:

 

unforget

Unforgettable You by Georgina Penney

Release date: May 14th, 2014

“AAfter months working on an oil rig in the Atlantic Ocean, engineer Jo Blaine can’t wait to get home. Her job is tough, and she is desperate for some long overdue girl time. The last thing Jo needs when she walks through her front door is to find a strange man staying in her house. When she learns that her uninvited guest is none other than Stephen Hardy, she’s tempted to head straight back out to sea.

Stephen has always felt guilty for the part he played in ruining Jo’s life years earlier and immediately jumps at the chance to make things up to her by looking after her apartment and her giant cranky cat. It takes some fast talking, but Jo is finally convinced to let him stay. And by the time she leaves for her next shift at work, they’re both eagerly anticipating her return.

But as they grow closer, it soon becomes clear Jo is hiding something about her past that is coming back to haunt her. After a lifetime of taking care of herself and her sister Amy, Jo isn’t used to sharing her problems, especially when they involve her messy family history. But when threats start to escalate, Jo must decide whether to trust Stephen before her stubborn independence places them all at risk.”

Don’t forget to visit Georgina Penney’s website for more information and news.

 

 

Review: Flight to Coorah Creek by Janet Gover

ImageThe first thing I said when I finished Chapter One was Wow!. From the first line you were transported right into the middle of the action. Within a few pages, you felt like you knew these characters and were revisiting old friends.

Queensland is described in such vivid details that you can almost feel the heat of the sun and the outback dust in your throat. The Outback is like a character in its own right because it is depicted with it is own personality and vibrancy.

I felt immersed into Coorah Creek’s world. It is a world where life has a slower pace, neighbours care about each other and good old fashion country charm – that never goes out of style.

The main characters are all impossible to believe they are fictional. I identified and bonded with Jess immediately, because we all know what it is like to be in love and blind. Dr. Adam, all I’m going to say is I wish he was my doctor. Watching Jack and Ellen’s romance unfold was breath-taking. I don’t believe in spoilers, but there were a few times I cried.

Janet Gover’s writing is phenomenal, she can make something as complicated as flying a plane easy to understand and visualize.I didn’t even feel like I was reading a book because a film played in my head. It was a perfect book from the start to the last line “…broken only by the distant laugh of the kookaburra.”

I fell in love with Coorah Creek and it’s in habitants and so will you. This book has the Wow factor.

I highly recommend to anyone who loves reading.

kanga

I caught up with the wonderful Janet Gover last night for a little Q&A to answer all those questions I had.

janetgoverMe: Is Coorah Creek a real place?

Janet: No, but if it did exist it would be in western Queensland, midway between Mt Isa and Birdsville. Birdsville (also in book) is real.

Me: Where can you suggest for an authentic Outback experience?

Janet: Visit Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach for outback experience.

hotelIn the book Flight to Coorah Creek  the team head out to Birdsville races, I only just learned about through Janet Gover’s book but it is a yearly event. There is still time to check it out and book tickets. If like me, you have no chance of making it to Australia any time soon, the website offers many pictures and links, so you know exactly what you are missing.

Now you can not mention the land down under without mentioning Lamingtons.

300px-NZ_LamingtonLamingtons are a quintessential part of every Australian’s childhood. The little sponge cake is dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut.

These little treats are sold at school fairs and bake sales around the country.

 

outbaxk I had a wonderful time reading and reviewing Flight to Coorah Creek and learning more about Australia. I would Like to thank Janet Gover and the RFDS for all their support with my features. Read all about the RFDS in my article, The Royal Flying Doctors. I hope all of you enjoy the book as much as I did. It is the perfect holiday read.

I have one final treat for you. In my interview with Janet Gover she mentioned Longreach Outback experience. I found a video for you. For now we will have to make do with being an armchair explorer. I leave you with the distant laugh of a kookaburra. Have a great weekend.