Valentine’s Day romance stack

My Valentine’s Day romance stack

Hello and wishing everybody a happy Valentine’s Day. Or a happy Sunday if celebrating VDay isn’t really your thing.

In any case, it’s a gloomy Sunday here in Melbourne and we’re in the middle of another (hopefully) short lockdown, so I feel like it’s a great day to curl up on the couch with a romance novel. I’ve prepared a nice stack of some of my favourite romance reads over the years, plus a couple of bonus books amongst the shelves in the background.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone, so I hope you all have a great weekend and happy reading!

With her tousled blond hair and upturned nose, dark glasses and chic black dresses, Holly Golightly is top notch in style and a sensation wherever she goes. Her brownstone apartment vibrates with martini-soaked parties as she plays hostess to millionaires and gangsters alike. Yet Holly never loses sight of her ultimate goal.

Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S is very different from the movie. It’s much darker and Holly Golightly is even wilder than the movie version. This is an interesting book to read and a great choice if you are a bit sick of all the Valentine’s Day gushy stuff. I think this might be one of the rare times that I prefer the movie to the book.

GOODREADS

It’s tough to beat Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly

‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Jane Austen is another great romance author for anyone feeling a little bit cynical about love. Austen’s dry wit and astute observations about love and human nature will draw you into her world every time.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

‘Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?’

Set on the bleak moors of Yorkshire, Lockwood is forced to seek shelter at Wuthering Heights, the home of his new landlord, Heathcliff. The intense and wildly passionate Heathcliff tells the story of his life, his all-consuming love for Catherine Earnshaw and the doomed outcome of that relationship, leading to his revenge.

Poetic, complex and grand in its scope, Emily Brontë’s masterpiece is considered one of the most unique gothic novels of its time.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS is probably the darkest book on this list and perfect if you’re feeling a bit anti-love this weekend. Almost all of the characters are terrible and there aren’t many happy endings here, but it’s also one of the most beautiful Gothic novels and I’m looking forward to re-reading this book shortly.

GOODREADS

A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.

When aristocrat Clifford returns from the war, paralysed from the waist down, his wife Connie Chatterley becomes isolated and despairs of the post-war years, yearning for human connection among the emotionally dead intellectuals that surround her. When the aloof, but noble, Oliver Mellors returns to the estate as gamekeeper, Connie begings an affair, feeling that she has connected in a sensual, primordial way for the first time.

Hugely controversial at the time of its publication, Lawrence’s exploration of class differences and love and his celebration of sexuality resonates against his view of the repressed modern condition.

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER has a long reputation as one of the most scandalous classics, often read in secret by teenagers, but I found it underwhelming when I read it for the first time a couple of years ago. There’s plenty of sex and swearing but it wasn’t as confronting or titillating as I was expecting. It’s still a great read with some fascinating social commentary.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

Birth. Death. Wonder … One woman’s journey to the edge of love and loyalty from the bestselling author of The Lace Weaver

London, 1702. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver, midwife and herbalist, is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down.

In a climate of desperate poverty and violence, Mary is caught in a crossfire of suspicion and fear driven by her husband’s outlandish claims, and it is up to her to navigate a passage to safety for herself and her daughter, and the vulnerable women in her care.

When a fellow sailor, a dangerous man with nothing to lose, appears to hold sway over her husband, Mary’s world descends deeper into chaos, and she must set out on her own journey to discover the truth of Gulliver’s travels . . . and the landscape of her own heart.

I’m still reading GULLIVER’S WIFE and it’s a wonderful retelling of the classic Gulliver’s Travels from the perspective of his wife and daughter. This book is perfect for the historical fiction fan who loves strong feminist characters with witchy midwife vibes. It features more action than romance and it’s beautifully written. Stay tuned for my review coming soon.

GOODREADS

1948. The world is struggling to regain a sense of balance after the devastation of World War II, and the sugar cane-growing community of Piri River in northern Queensland is no exception.

As returned servicemen endeavour to adjust to their pre-war lives, women who had worked for the war effort are expected to embrace traditional roles once more.

Rosie Stanton finds it difficult to return to the family farm after years working for the Australian Women’s Army Service. Reminders are everywhere of the brothers she lost in the war and she is unable to understand her father’s contempt for Italians, especially the Conti family next door. When her father takes ill, Rosie challenges tradition by managing the farm, but outside influences are determined to see her fail.

Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia—until he meets Rosie. Her easy-going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families until the situation becomes explosive.

When a long-hidden family secret is discovered and Tomas’s mysterious past is revealed, everything Rosie believes is shattered. Will she risk all to rebuild her family or will she lose the only man she’s ever loved?

BURNING FIELDS is a sweet Australian Historical Romance set in Northern Queensland, 1948. It’s an epic love story with family secrets set in an interesting era and I fell in love with the leading man from the first page. This is a great read for all of the true romantics out there.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

An enthralling story of one woman’s determined grab for freedom after WW2 from a talented new Australian voice.

‘PART CABARET, PART BURLESQUE, AND LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE! GENTLEMEN, AND LADIES IF YOU’VE DARED TO COME, WELCOME TO …

THE VICTORY!’

1945: After the thrill and danger of volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment protecting Londoners from German bombers overhead, Evelyn Bell is secretly dismayed to be sent back to her rigid domestic life when the war is over. But then she comes across a secret night-time show, hidden from the law on a boat in the middle of the Thames. Entranced by the risqu� and lively performance, she grabs the opportunity to join the misfit crew and escape her dreary future.

At first the Victory travels from port to port to raucous applause, but as the shows get bigger and bigger, so too do the risks the performers are driven to take, as well as the growing emotional complications among the crew. Until one desperate night …

1963: Lucy, an unloved and unwanted little girl, is rescued by a mysterious stranger who says he knows her mother. On the Isle of Wight, Lucy is welcomed into an eclectic family of ex-performers. She is showered with kindness and love, but gradually it becomes clear that there are secrets they refuse to share. Who is Evelyn Bell?

THE DAUGHTER OF VICTORY LIGHTS is another Historical Romance set post WW2 but in London this time. Evelyn Bell is a fascinating and adventurous woman struggling to readjust to civilian life after volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment. Then she discovers the part burlesque, part cabaret ship floating along the Thames. This book isn’t overly romantic and is a little bit sad, but the ending is wonderfully uplifting.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

One crumbling grand manor house, a family in decline, five generations of women, and an attic full of beautiful clothes with secrets and lies hidden in their folds.

Kelly Doust, author of Precious Things, spins another warm, glamorous and romantic mystery of secrets, love, fashion, families – and how we have to trust in ourselves, even in our darkest of days. One for lovers of Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra, Fiona McIntosh and Lucy Foley.

Failed fashion designer Sylvie Dearlove is coming home to England – broke, ashamed and in disgrace – only to be told her parents are finally selling their once-grand, now crumbling country house, Bledesford, the ancestral home of the Dearlove family for countless generations. Sylvie has spent her whole life trying to escape being a Dearlove, and the pressure of belonging to a family of such headstrong, charismatic and successful women.

Beset by self-doubt, she starts helping her parents prepare Bledesford for sale, when she finds in a forgotten attic a thrilling cache of old steamer trunks and tea chests full of elaborate dresses and accessories acquired from across the globe by five generations of fashionable Dearlove women.

Sifting through the past, she also stumbles across a secret which has been hidden – in plain sight – for decades, a secret that will change the way she thinks about herself, her family, and her future.

Romantic, warm, and glamorous, moving from Edwardian England to the London Blitz to present day London, Dressing the Dearloves is a story of corrosiveness of family secrets, the insecurities that can sabotage our best efforts, and the seductive power of dressing up

DRESSING THE DEARLOVES is a delicious family saga full of romance, fashion, and mysterious family secrets. While there is a lovely romantic storyline, the love between the endearing and sometimes formidable Dearlove women is the real draw of this book for me. Lovers of vintage fashion will adore this book.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

IT WAS ONLY EVER YOU is a sweet love story featuring three fascinating, but very different, women who love one charismatic Irish singer. I loved the backdrops of 1950s Ireland and New York, the rock and roll New York scene, and the lovely Irish Maeve Binchy feel of this book. Perfect for everyone who likes a good love triangle, or square perhaps in this case. All the characters had their flaws in this story, particularly Patrick, but he got it right in the end.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

What if you met the love of your life and he wasn’t your husband? An AusRom Today People’s Choice Award winner that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.

What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of facing. As the fallout touches friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into a nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT is not a typical love story. It takes a confronting look at adultery told with compassion and a thought-provoking perspective. This is a great fit for anybody dreaming of travel at the moment.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

An Interview with Tess Woods – Australian Romance Author

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It’s a very exciting day on the blog today because I am joined by the absolutely brilliant (and all-round beautiful person) Australian romance author, Tess Woods!

Tess Woods is a physiotherapist who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Her first novel, Love at First Flight, released by HarperCollins in April 2015, received worldwide critical acclaim, hit the best-seller charts in Australia and was voted Book of the Year in the AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Awards 2015 where Tess was also top ten nominated as Best New Author. Love at First Flight was the first HarperCollins Australia digital book to be given a print release in August 2016.  Tess’s short story, Destiny in a Day,  released in the anthologyHot Stuff: Surfing Love is set in beautiful Cornwall, where she dreams of living one day and Tess is currently working on her second full-length novel, Beautiful Messy Love. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

If you haven’t already heard me raving about how much I enjoyed Love at First Flight you can check out my glowing 5 star review. 

Thank you so much for joining me on the blog today, Tess. It looks like you had an amazing time at the print launch of Love at First Flight! Can you give us the run-down on how you celebrated?

After eleven re-writes and a total of twenty-seven rejections and after waiting more than seven years for this book to go to print – there was no way I was launching small!

We celebrated at the gorgeous Sportsman’s Observation Bar which has great views of Scarborough where the book was set. We spent two days decorating the venue until it was a sea of red and white to complement Mel’s dress on the cover of Love at First Flight and the whole evening was Flight themed.

We had a twelve-person flight crew – including eight cabin crew serving food on silver trolleys, four cabin crew checking ‘boarding pass’ invitations and a pilot and co-pilot greeting guests after they walked along our ‘runway’ themed entrance carpet to come into the ‘departure lounge’ just like the first chapter of Love at First Flight.

The band and even our booksellers from Dymocks dressed up as cabin crew too – and that wasn’t even requested by me, it was a surprise!

When guests arrived they enjoyed drinks at the departure lounge bar and entrees of hot and cold food served by our gorgeous cabin crew girls (my mum, best friend Sarah and I had cooked for days beforehand.)

Then a pre-recorded boarding call from the captain was played and everyone prepared for the flight to take off by gathering around and listening to the lovely MC, Serenity Press publisher Karen McDermott, introduce Monique Mulligan and I for our ‘Stories on Stage’ interview. It was great fun doing my first live interview with Monique.

After the interview, I signed books for well over an hour while the on board band, the amazing girl group Velvet Amps, hit the stage and the dance floor quickly filled up while our truckload of gourmet pizzas arrived (it had to be delivered in two lots!) to feed our two hundred passengers.

We had a birthday surprise mud cake for one special passenger that we all shared for dessert and then the band and disco kicked on until we ‘landed in Melbourne’ at midnight.

People kept telling me that I was missing my own party because of how long I spent sitting there signing books but what they didn’t understand was that that WAS my ultimate party – meeting so many of my readers for the first time was heavenly for me.

I loved having a mix of family, friends, my children’s teachers, authors, press and readers all together under the one roof.

It truly was one of the best nights of my life! Here are some pics :).

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Thank you for sharing such wonderful launch photos with us! It’s lovely to hear that you had such a fantastic night and very well-deserved.

Love at First Flight was originally published as an e-book. What was the process like to get ready for the print launch?

It was an awful lot of hard work from a village of people but so worth it in the end. The eBook version went through a big structural edit followed by a proof read, all of which I was heavily involved in.

The cover design team came up with that STUNNING cover (I’m still able to stare it as the minutes tick by).

The sales team worked super hard to get the book widespread exposure by convincing all the booksellers just how much they needed my book at the front of their stores.

The marketing and promotions team arranged great competitions and other promotional activities such as scoring me a stand at all WH Smith airport shops as August’s Fresh New Talent.

The digital design team made all my digitally shareable images and logos, my cover images for social media and they made sure they Tweeted all my news.

My tireless publicist worked her fingers to the bone making sure the book landed in all the right hands (like Marian Keyes if you don’t mind) and organising my intense six week book tour – liaising with print, radio and online press, booksellers, libraries, photographers and book bloggers on my behalf.

And my publisher oversaw the whole process and  fielded daily spam emails from me with a bazillion questions.

Quite a monumental effort for all concerned!

I actually wrote a blog about this process, outlining what happens in a publishing house for a book to get to print that I thought aspiring authors who are submitting to publishers might like to read. Here’s the link –

http://www.tesswoods.com.au/getting-published.html

It’s fascinating to hear about all of the work that went into getting launch ready and how all the different teams work together. And I have to agree, it is a beautiful cover!

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I really loved the settings of Perth and Melbourne in Love at First Flight. I thought the sunny beaches of Perth were the perfect backdrop for Mel’s ‘dream’ life while angsty old Melbourne was the obvious setting for a torrid and emotional love affair. Since you clearly know both cities so well, what is your number one thing to do in Melbourne and in Perth?

Well you said it for Perth, I don’t think you can beat our coastline.

We pulled our kids out of school for three months a few years ago and travelled around the Australian coast. Admittedly we cut through Alice Springs so we didn’t see the coast in Darwin but we have seen the rest of the coast and nothing compares to WA’s white caster sugar sandy beaches and aqua waters of the Indian Ocean.

For me, you can’t beat the beauty and vibe of Scarborough Beach in Perth which is stunning beach day and comes alive every night with its pub and café culture.

My number one thing to do in Melbourne is exactly what Mel and Sarah went to Melbourne for in Love at First Flight – shop! The shopping is AMAZING – it leaves Perth for dead in that area. My favourite place to shop in Melbourne is Bridge Road, Richmond. I do love me a good bargain and I love being outside street shopping more than enclosed shopping centres.

I think Perth’s beaches definitely have the edge over Melbourne. Especially at the moment, I almost got blown away the last time I went for a walk on the beach!

And finally, I’m dying to know if you have been working on anything new lately?

I’ve actually finished the loose sequel to Love at First Flight, called Beautiful Messy Love – it’s about Mel’s children who are teenagers in Love at First Flight but who are now in their twenties.

Nick is Australia’s highest paid AFL player with a notorious reputation whose world is turned upside down when he has a chance meeting with Anna, a Muslim refugee with a tragic past. And Lily is a student doctor who finds herself falling deeply in love with Toby, the husband of her dying cancer patient.

Love at First Flight was told from Mel and Matt’s perspective – I’ve doubled that this time! Beautiful Messy Love is told from Nick’s, Anna’s, Lily’s and Nick’s perspectives.

I’m crazy in love with this book – I like it so much more than I liked Love at First Flight and I can’t wait to share it with my readers although I’m sure it’s going to cause an outrage among certain groups of people when it’s released. It makes Love at First Flight seem like a Little Golden Book by comparison….stay tuned!

Well, you have just officially made my day! I can not wait to get Beautiful Messy Love in my hands. Thank you so much for joining me on the blog today xx

 

Book Review: ‘Love at First Flight’ by Tess Woods

Title: Love at First Flight                                                   tess

Author: Tess Woods

ISBN: 1460705416

Published:  April 1st 2015 by HarperCollins Australia

Genre:  Romance, Chick Lit

Pages: 336

Source: I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Description:

Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

My Thoughts:

Love at First Flight is the thought provoking debut novel of Australian author, Tess Woods. To an outsider, Mel appears to have the perfect life. She has a successful career as a doctor, an attractive husband, two kids, and a beautiful house near the beach in Perth. But when she crosses paths with a handsome stranger on the way to Melbourne for a girly weekend with her best friend, she embarks on an obsessive affair which has the potential to ruin her perfect life.

I’m not normally a big fan of instant love stories, however, Love at First Flight is much more than a typical ‘girl meets boy, there is some barrier keeping them from being together, but it all works at in the end’ kind of love story. The author explores the relationships and consequences of Mel’s affair in a way that allowed me to understand each and every character’s perspective.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that Love at First Flight was a uniquely Australian novel without being too over the top about it. The description of Perth made me remind myself that I need to add Perth onto my list of places that I need to visit and the author clearly loves our hometown of Melbourne just as much as I do. I’m looking forward to reading Tess Woods’ next novel already!

Amazon

Goodreads