My Illustrated Review – The Aussie Next Door by Stefanie London

Stefanie London – The Aussie Next Door

Entangled: Amara

Angie Donovan has left America and a past she doesn’t want to think about to come to Australia. Specifically, Patterson’s bluff – where she’s found a home and never wants to leave. Except she has to, her visa is a ticking clock and unless she can find someone to marry her, she’s out. Marriage of convenience isn’t an option, but marriage for love certainly would be. 

Jace Walters grew up knowing he was a little different from the rest of his large and unwieldly family. Settled with a great job creating a successful comic strip and living by himself, the last thing he needs is a distraction in the form of his sexy neighbour, Angie. 

Throw in dog sitting of two delightful dogs, a small town community that welcomes everyone and an obnoxious tight-knit family – well it’s one hell of a book. I literally laughed out loud, multiple times, whilst reading this on a flight to Melbourne. There was a part of me that wanted to hire a car and go searching for Patterson’s bluff the moment I arrived – it felt that real and welcoming. 

This book was the perfect combination of heat and heart and I simply couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the next book in the Patterson’s Bluff series. 

Below is my sketch of Jace, Angie, Tilly & Truffle

My Illustrated Review – The Problem with Perfect by Megan Mayfair

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 12.30.23 pmMegan Mayfair

The Problem with Perfect

Crooked Cat Books

Another enthralling and beautifully written book by author Megan Mayfair.

I was lucky enough to get to beta read this novel, and boy did it have me hooked. I didn’t immediately warm to Marigold in Tangled Vines, but a few chapters into her story, Problem with Perfect, and I loved her (and not just due to her fashion sense).

Marigold Doyle’s life is turned upside down when her husband unexpectedly passes. Missing major details at work, she is put on gardening leave – a fate worse than death for workaholic Marigold – and to top that off she receives a mysterious call about her late husbands’ apartment. An apartment she knows nothing about.

Finn Schröder is a swoon worthy former police officer, who now does private security. An event from his past still haunts him, and he dearly wants to live a simple uncomplicated life. Having done some work for the Doyle empire previously, he is the only person Marigold feels she can contact about her problem. Agreeing to help (and in secret from Marigold’s father) Finn feels conflicted about the situation, especially when real feelings evolve between Marigold and himself.

There are plenty of twists and turns and I was furiously scouring the pages for answers until the very last page. Megan has plotted a delicious slow burn romance, with a strong mystery story line that has both main characters questioning what is most important in life.

Plus, that cover!

Below are two sketches of Marigold Doyle – serious fashionista this one!

My Illustrated Review – Tumble by Clare Griffin

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Tumble by Clare Griffin

This book took me back in time! Back to my high school days, a different mindset and a seriously fun ride. I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve read YA (ok, a long while, but let’s not get bogged down on details relating to my age) and I’d forgotten how good they are. I had moments of thinking like a parent and wondering at some of the heroine’s antics but once I threw that hat off and just enjoyed the ride; I have to say this was a brilliant read.

Emma Reynolds wants to ace year 12. Her life is all mapped out, her career plans on track, and she’s not interested in letting anything get in the way. Except maybe her long-time crush. I really enjoyed Emma’s enthusiasm for life. Her character was very believable for her age and I loved that she had an inner strength and direction she was willing to work at.

The love triangle that came clear a few chapters into the book was well executed, and all the characters (including secondary ones) were well rounded and had their own qualities. I felt immersed in the world the author built and really enjoyed the trip down memory lane, into the minefield of teenage drama and love.

The novel touches on some deeper issues but does so in a thoughtful and realistic way. I admit I didn’t see the major turn of events for the main character coming; I had thought it would be something else, but I really enjoyed being surprised.

This is definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone who loves YA or who wants to turn back time and re-live the twists and turns of high-school anguish over first love and life. I eagerly await a follow up to Tumble (Hint, hint ;))

The images I’ve sketched (ok there are four, I couldn’t choose) are all of Emma, and key outfits on her year 12 adventure.

My Illustrated Review – Catching London by MV Ellis

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Catching London by MV Ellis

Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing

I was super excited to read Catching London. I fell in love with the cover after seeing it on Instagram, whilst knowing nothing about the actual story. It delivered in spades and big congratulations to the author – this is an amazing debut novel. I can’t wait to get stuck into the next books in this series, a short novella (Cold, Heart and Heartless) and the story told from the hero’s POV (Pushing Arlo).

Arlo Jones is a millionaire bad boy Rockstar, only having to crook a finger to get what he wants. Initially he thinks London Llwellyn is just another groupie trying to get into his pants, until she slaps him, and walks away. London isn’t interested in getting involved with anyone, especially bad boy Arlo. He has bad news written all over him, but when he offers her a job of a lifetime, how can she refuse? No, you’re right, she can’t! And boy is that a fun adventure to experience.

Catching London contains a fair amount of language and has a high heat level. The language threw me a little at first, but once I got to know the characters it worked. The author really created a whole world, and atmosphere for the reader.

I didn’t like the hero, Arlo, at first, wanting to give him a good smack over the head until he saw sense, but (my feelings aside) he was absolutely true to character, and his actions really emphasised the growth he experienced and made me fall that much more in love with him by the end.

The heroine, London, I loved from the get-go. She’s got an inner strength that really shone on the pages, and you could feel every emotion, high and low, that she went through. I was gunning for her to win her man and get everything she dreamed of.

There are some epic big romance scenes in this book and it left me dreaming of flitting off to Paris, experiencing a rock star life, and everything else in between.

The images I’ve sketched below are both of London Llwellyn at key points in the story.

My Illustrated Review – The Season to Sin by Clare Connelly

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 4.34.39 pm.pngThe Season To Sin (Christmas Seductions Book 1) – Clare Connelly

Publisher: Harlequin Mills&Boon Dare

Clare Connelly’s latest Dare offering is hot hot hot with a Christmas star on top.

Dr Holly Scott-Leigh is a therapist and dedicated single mum. She agrees to meet Noah Moore and fights her initial intense attraction to him as he’s a potential client. Though she never crosses that line, it’s a source of intense soul searching for her and I loved seeing her character grow through her romance with seriously sexy Noah.

Noah Moore is a billionaire bad boy who needs help but refuses to acknowledge the fact. But it’s certainly a fun ride watching his walls come down. I found this story to be grittier than the authors previous books, and it really had me devouring the pages until the end.

For me it was a very emotional read and full of depth, which over-took the high sexy rating at times and added a new dimension that I hadn’t noticed in the authors other Dare novels to date. It was in first person, and I really felt the push and pull turmoil both characters were experiencing.

The ‘Hollywood moment’ was divine – you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get to that part of the book, but WOW did I swoon.

I really enjoyed the fact that the heroine was a mother as well as a sensual woman, I thought the author portrayed that really well, in fact I would happily have seen more scenes with the mum/daughter and hoped for more of this at the end with the hero. There is a second book in this series – that’s published under the Modern/Presents line by Harlequin Mills & Boon and honestly, I cannot wait to read it!

Christmas, bad boy billionaire and a gorgeous smart woman who tames him – what more could you want for a sexy Christmas time read?

I was given this book as an ARC in return for an honest review.

The images I’ve sketched are both of Holly Scott-Leigh.


My Illustrated Review – Dressing the Dearloves by Kelly Doust

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 3.15.15 pmDressing the Dearloves – Kelly Doust

A fabulous, enchanting read. If you like fashion – read this book!

Oh, how I adore this book. It’s the perfect mix of history, family secrets, romance and gorgeous fashion. I devoured this book. I thought the premise sounded great and it over delivered on my expectations.

Sylvie Dearlove is a failed fashion designer, who heads back home to England after her label goes bust. I didn’t immediately warm to Sylvie, finding myself wanting to tell her to buck up and stop wallowing on a few occasions. However, her transformation had me hooked, and kudos to the author on that score, because I was loving her character by the end.

There were various stories from the Dearlove women intertwined throughout the novel. I did find myself confused at one stage as to whom each of the characters were, but it wasn’t difficult to sort those out in my head shortly after. All the characters were meticulously thought out and came to life on the pages for me, to the point I was hoping to call and invite myself over for tea.

The manor had me dreaming of ambling mindlessly across England, visiting the old estates and enjoying the beauty and history contained in that part of the world.

One of my main drawcards for this book though – the fashion. Not only did the author delve into fashion through the ages, describing vintage treasures with a clear love of their value and detail, but she left me wanting to buy pieces from the new collection Sylvie started to piece together. I wasn’t sure if it was my own love of fashion, but every description had me immediately picturing the garments in my mind, desperate to go scour flea markets or vintage shops for my own treasure trove.

I only had one niggle – I had hoped for a better resolution for Victoria and Gigi. I won’t say more than that as I don’t want to include spoilers, but I thought there could have been more to the ending of the novel. I’m in no way left unsatisfied – it was a wonderful read, I’m just being selfish in my desire for more from this author in the last chapter. In other words – I simply didn’t want it to end.

The images I’ve sketched are both of Sylvie Dearlove: The first is when she opens the door to an old friend, who now happens to be a hot landscaper (*swoon*), and the second is when she goes to a meeting – I couldn’t resist this one as fifties fashion has always been a love of mine.


My Illustrated Review – The Things We Leave Unsaid by Megan Mayfair

The Things We Leave Unsaid – Megan Mayfair

The Things We Leave Unsaid follows the story of two strong, yet very different, female leads. Set in beautiful Melbourne, it’s packed full of emotion, humour and heart wrenching moments, asking readers the question – is it the things we leave unsaid that haunt us the most?

Tessa DeLuca lives for great coffee, running a successful coffee and cake shop she lives by her own rules, never dating emotionally available men. Any sign of love and she’s out of there. Looking after a deteriorating mother with dementia and dealing with a father who wants to re-connect (who she feels was the trigger for mother’s condition), she’s got enough on her plate without the complication of a romance.

Clare has just moved to Melbourne with husband Pete. Struggling to find work in her PR field, she takes on a part time job at Tessa’s café, helping sort out her marketing. Whilst looking at starting a family, Clare stumbles upon a family mystery, realising the limited family she had may not be as it seems.

Clare and Tessa form a friendship as they work together. Clare searches for answers on her family tree, whilst suffering emotional setbacks on the family front. Tessa stumbles into a relationship with a Dr who is everything she’s been trying to avoid, who helps her grow as a person and realise her mistakes.

The romance in this novel is secondary to the friendship between Tessa and Clare, and the different family situations they both have to deal with. I love how the author packed emotion and humour into this story, whilst tackling some difficult topics. The coffee and cake shop, and various descriptions of food throughout, had me wanting to race out to my own local coffee shop to indulge in some tasty treats. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

For this novel I’ve chosen to do two sketches – Tessa & Clare – both in key outfits from the novel. You’ll just have to read it to find out why they are key 🙂

My Path to Romance Writing

Having recently joined a writers group I can safely say I don’t fit the traditional ‘I’ve always wanted to be a writer’ mould. I did grow up reading any type of romance book I could get my greedy hands on but I never attempted to write my own (well until now that is!)

I liked English at school, writing essays and creative writing weren’t a hardship but I’m by no means a grammar/spelling/punctuation pro. In fact I’m the opposite – spell check saves my butt more times than I like to admit.

So why writing?

This is a question I’ve spent some time pondering more and more, particularly after meeting so many people who’ve dedicated their lives to the cause so far.

The idea of wanting to be a romance writer came to me on my honeymoon. That sounds odd doesn’t it? But I was all loved up and after driving halfway across Tasmania I realised I’d written half a romance story in my mind. Then it occurred to me that I’d spent a lot of my life coming up with romance stories in my mind. Sometimes with myself the heroine and my current crush the hero (funnily enough before my husband those relationships were definitely much better in my mind!) But more often than not both characters were purely thought up, having a chance encounter, leading to passionate love, emotional conflict and finally a happy marriage (with decadent proposals).

I mentioned wanting to try writing my own romance novels to my husband; he bought me a laptop the moment we got home (swoon!)

So far I’ve written one full manuscript which I’ve filed in the ‘not good enough’ pile. More recently I’ve dedicated myself to learning the finer details of how to write and it’s paying off with my new book idea flowing onto the page nicely.