Holding Out For A Hero by Amy Andrews … Out Now!

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Holding out For A Hero, by my friend Amy Andrews is out NOW!!! This is Amy’s thirty trillionth book… well not quite, but the woman is prolific, and she writes like a woman who knows her craft. Plus she’s hilarious. So support an Aussie author, and grab your copy now. Check out these reviews:

Holding Out For A Hero is a fun sexy contemporary with an Australian flavour…” – Kaetrin’s Musings

“A funny, smexy contemporary romance with absolutely unique characters that are easy to love.” – Harlequin Junkie

“A heartwarming and inspiring story of never giving up, friendship, family and letting go.” – Beauty and Lace

“Intriguing, passionate, emotional and fun…” – Contemporary Romance Reviews

“Andrews’ ability to capture the ups and downs of familial relationships has never been in doubt, but here it adds a depth to what is essentially a love story.” – Exploits of a Chick Lit Aficionado 

Do yourself a favour and grab a copy now.

Want more incentive? Here’s the blurb:

When sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

Great travel romance films

I wrote this blog for the Momentum Moonlight blog

Anyone who has read my novel Trouble Brewing will know that I like a bit of travel with my romance. In fact, there’s nothing more romantic than exploring a new place with a lover. Or romancing yourself and setting out on the road alone. And when you’re unable to travel, a good film will take you there. Here are a few films to travel with, without leaving home.

 

The journey of Celine and Jesse.
The journey of Celine and Jesse.

The “Before” movies (Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight)

For travel romance you simply can’t do better than this wonderful trilogy. In the first instalment, Before Sunrise, American Jessie meets French Celine on a train in Europe. They get off the train together and spend one romantic night together in Vienna. As they part, they promise to meet again in six months … but do they?

Fans of the film had to wait nine long years to find out. Before Sunset takes place in Paris, where the characters are older, more cynical, and still inexplicably drawn to each other. They spend one afternoon walking and talking the streets of Paris. As the credits roll, we‘re left wondering, “Do they stay together?”

Fast-forward another nine-years to the third instalment, Before Midnight. This time their relationship is played out against the spectacular backdrop of the Greek Peloponnese peninsula. This is travel romance at its most sublime: great acting, writing and directing, excellent chemistry between the stars … and each setting used to perfection.

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Lost in Translation

I lived in Tokyo for years and this beautiful film captures the city perfectly. Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, an aging movie star who’s in Japan to shoot a whiskey commercial. (I was in a bunch of Japanese TV commercials and the scenes with Murray on set are hilarious and absolutely realistic.)

Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, the disillusioned wife of a self-absorbed photographer on assignment in Tokyo. Both Charlotte and Bob are holed up in the Hyatt (life sucks for them) and meet in the bar. They strike up an unusual friendship, which is explored with grace and restraint. Given another director at the helm and the film would’ve had them falling into bed together and me heading for a bucket. But director Sophia Coppola truly understands the unique connection two strangers can feel for each another in a strange land. Lost in Translation is like taking time out in Tokyo.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I’m off to India in a month, so recently revisited the Marigold. It’s set in Jaipur (yep, going there) where a bunch of “older” Brits arrive to take up residence in a retiree hotel. They arrive to find the hotel looking nothing like it did in the brochure. Oh no! What happens next is movie filler… then most of them fall in love with India. The end.

Okay, so the plot is a little predictable, but it’s a stellar cast, with Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson. I am always excited to see good roles for older actors, especially those with facial expressions and wrinkles. Throw in a colourful, crazy Rajasthani backdrop, and this is a definite travel romance, feel good film.

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Cairo Time

Apparently I’m on of the very few people who enjoyed this lovely film. Reviews weren’t great, but Cairo Time did for me what good travel romance films are meant to do—it transported me to another place and made me yearn to be there.

Juliette, played by the awesome Patricia Clarkson, is an American magazine editor who arrives in Cairo to spend time with her husband, a diplomat. However he’s held up elsewhere and has organised for his former employee and friend, Tareq to show Juliette around. And it doesn’t take Juliette long to realise she doesn’t miss her husband, and instead enjoys his friend’s company a little too much.

There are shades of Lost in Translation here. The director takes her time. The characters don’t give into their desire. Instead the attraction is subtly played and the focus remains on the city it unfolds in, this time Cairo, which is beautifully shot. As the credits rolled, I was booking a ticket …

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The Way

While not technically a romance, I believe a good travel romance film can be when the protagonist undergoes a personal transformation—when they romance themselves.

The Way is the story of a rather conservative father (Martin Sheen) who goes to France to collect the body of his free-spirited son who has been found dead on the French side of the Pyrenees of the El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). After the heart wrenching viewing of his son’s body, (Sheen’s real-life son Emilio Estevez, who directed the film, was in the body bag) he makes the uncharacteristically spontaneous decision to walk the Camino for his son, who didn’t make it far, and scatter his ashes along the way. He sets off, determined to complete the task as quickly as possible, but along ‘the way” meets a ragtag group of characters who help him slow down and enjoy the journey, and in the process truly honour his son, as well as himself.

It’s a wonderful film for travellers, and if you haven’t already walked the Camino then you’ll probably add it to your list. The Way is a beautiful reminder to treasure life and embrace the journey. As the movie poster logline reminds you, don’t choose your life … live it.

 

Honourable mentions:

Under the Tuscan Sun: Buying an Italian farmhouse and starting a new life? One can dream.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: Glamour, romance and scamming people on the French Riviera. This classic film makes it look fun.

Mama Mia: A gorgeous Greek island and ABBA songs. Does it get any better than this?

Casino Royale: The sexiest Bond in years zips from glamorous location to fabulous destination, including lots of places starting with M, like Madagascar, Miami and Montenegro.

A Room With a View: A young English woman spends time in Florence. Florence. Yes. Enough said.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: There are all sorts of complicated relationships in this Woody Allen gem, but watching Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz on screen together with a Barcelona backdrop is simply sexy.

Midnight in Paris: Another Woody Allen travelogue, this time with Paris, past and present as the setting.

Time to write that book

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This blog was first posted on A Bibliophile’s Scroll. Check it out.

It is said that everyone has a book in them. Certainly in my experience this appears to be true. When people ask what I do for a living, and I tell them I’m a writer, most will inform me that they’ve always wanted to write a book. Some even tell me what the book is about. Most will admit that they really want to write the book … but simply don’t have time.

It’s at this point that I roll my eyes. I don’t mean to. (I apologise if I’ve done it to you.) But am I one of those blessed people who was born under a 24 hour clock while others got ripped off with only 15 hours a day? How can I find time to write when others can’t? Or is it possible that everyone has enough time to write a book?

I understand that everyone is busy. I am too. I run a business. I’m raising four boys. I also have a massive problem where I love a clean house but don’t have a cleaner … I’m thinking about making all my sons live in one room only, which will cut down on housework.

Life is a constant juggle, but I jam as much writing as possible into any spare minute I can. I write when my sons are asleep. Or when I’m waiting for my kids to finish jujitsu/swimming/drums. While other mothers chat, I sit in the corner and edit pages. I regularly stare into space as I ponder how to move forward with my plot (no doubt many people think I’ve lost the plot).

There is always time for that book if you really want it.

Do you watch TV? Turn it off. There, you have time. Spend hours on the Internet? You could be writing. Do you commute to work? I have a friend who writes all his novels on the Tokyo subway.

Naturally there are certain things I’ll never find time for, despite knowing I should. I’ll never find time to volunteer for canteen shifts at my son’s school. I’ll never find time to clean up my iPhoto, or make proper albums for my kids, or write in my diary, or read A Course in Miracles, or clean out the front shoe cupboard. But anything I’m truly passionate about, and anything I really want to achieve … well there’s always plenty of time for that!

Book’d Out review for Trouble Brewing

The wonderful Book’d Out reviewed Trouble Brewing (see below). Go and check out the site, which is packed with fantastic reviews, and enter the comp to win a copy of TB. 

I love the Book'd Out logo.
I love the Book’d Out logo.

Trouble Brewing is an enchanting romance by Australian author, Jane Tara. Though ostensibly the second book to feature the magical Shakespeare family (the first is Forecast), it can be read as a standalone.

Calypso Shakespeare is a witch whose psychic ability allows her to brew cocktails to, amongst other things, mend broken hearts, instill confidence or encourage love to bloom. Though based in her parent’s London pub, Calypso’s wanderlust sees her traveling the world, never staying in one place very long but eventually The Winds of Change finds her and Calypso is forced to consider if she is always running to, or from, something…or someone.

Heartbreak haunts Calypso and the arrival of former fling Taran Dee in London is the impetus for her to move on, despite only just having arrived. But this man isn’t willing to let her run far, following her to Vienna and then Paris before convincing her to spend just three days with him. Calypso and Taran’s relationship is fun and sexy, the chemistry is obvious and the push and pull is believable given their individual histories.

Though primarily a lighthearted romance, Trouble Brewing has some additional depth as it explores grief, loss and love. Calypso struggles with the fate of a former love and her family faces a frightening health scare, while Calypso’s Viennese friends are plagued by their unexplained infertility and Simon faces being disowned by his family.

Trouble Brewing is enhanced by its eccentric cast made up of Calypso’s family and friends, several of which have their own stories explored in the novel. For her sister Nell, the focus is on her search for a career, while for Calypso’s unconventional best friend Megan, it is finding love unexpectedly with the wealthy and repressed Simon. I adored the Shakespeare matriarch, known as Batty.

Fun, charming and contemporary, Trouble Brewing is a lovely read ideal for those that believe in the magic of romance.

Raise your glass to medieval monks

I finished my third novel this week, pressed send, yay me. I was hitting a wall about a week before I finished. I was juggling too much, and pulling 2am nights just to write. Enter a sore throat and cold. My lovely guy plied me with lemon juice, but then decided I needed something even more medicinal, so arrived home with a bottle of Chartreuse. One shot, gargle before you swallow… cured the sore throat immediately. Anyone who has read my novel Trouble Brewing will be aware of my interest in medicinal spirits.

Here’s a piece I wrote about Chartreuse for my publisher’s blog.

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Anyone who says alcohol is never the answer doesn’t know much about it. I don’t mean downing a carton of Heineken. A bottle of Pinot, while often quite lovely, won’t be of much benefit. But there are certain liqueurs out there that will fix your health problems, solve your emotional issues, and some will even clean your house. (No, not really, but after a few shots you won’t care about housework anyway.)

How do you find these magical liqueurs? Look no further than the medieval Christian church.

Monastic communities had to be independent, so to do this they needed to provide a service that paid. Brewing booze funded their meditative life. But they couldn’t just distil any old drink. Everything they did had to benefit both their physical and spiritual wellbeing. Any drinks they made needed to be nutritional and medicinal. And all these drinks were developed with their spiritual development in mind. It’s meant to make you feel differently. It’s called “spirit” for a reason.

Take Chartreuse for example. The first records of this powerful healing liqueur dates back to 1605 when an ancient alchemical manuscript was handed over to a monastery near Paris by a marshal of artillery to King Henri IV. The manuscript was called The Elixir of Long Life. The recipe was so complex it took the monks over 100 years to decipher the ingredients and learn how to compound them. In the early 1700s the manuscript was taken to the La Grande Chartreuse. Here, Brother Maubec spent his monastic life trying to unravel the secrets of the elixir, only passing on his knowledge on his deathbed.

Chartreuse is still produced by these monks. Only three monks know the 130 medicinal herbs and flowers that go into Chartreuse. All three monks know only a third of the secret recipe and all have taken a vow of silence.

I’m pretty sure the guys making Coolabah cask wine don’t take their job this seriously. But there’s good reason for it.

Chartreuse is a herbal tonic that has been perfected over centuries. Each of the 130 herbs, roots and flowers that go into it have been chosen for their healing properties. It can alleviate everything from digestive issues to respiratory infections. It is a tonic for the body and an elixir for the mind. It is not only a cure for insomnia, but also gateway to other realms via your dreams. And for those who know their liqueurs, Chartreuse tastes great too.

So treat yourself, drink Chartreuse. And when you do, raise your glass to the monks who made it. It’s good for you.

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5 star review of Trouble Brewing

Well now they’ve given Trouble Brewing 5 stars! Read the great review below, and click through to CUWAGB for other top reviews.
curling up with a good book
Love this book! Better than the first one in the series Forecast! I never like the second book better than the first but this one was an exception!
In Forecast the reader was introduced to the Shakespeare women that live in New York. In Trouble Brewing the reader gets lost in the mystical world of the Shakespeare women in London. Calypso Shakespeare is the young psychic who drifts all around world trying to help people through her magical brews. She is a special kind of bar tender that can make you a drink that will help solve all your problems!
Calypso thought she had loved and lost and would never love again until Taran Dee blew into her life! I was devouring this book so fast to learn what happen between Calypso and her first love. The connection that was revealed during the art show was mind blowing and awesome!!!
I highly recommend both Forecast and Trouble Brewing! I give this one 5 stars!

Great review of TB from the Blushing Reader

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A lovely review from the Blushing Reader. Drop by the fabby BR blog and check out the giveaway. Here’s the review:
When I was a little girl and just starting to read chapter books I stumbled upon a series about a funny witch and all these years later I am a sucker for a book with witches and magic.  Trouble Brewing did a great job blending magic, wit and love into one great story!Trouble Brewing is book #2 in the Shakespeare sisters series, and even though I haven’t read Forecast (book #1) yet and I was able to enjoy, and understand Trouble Brewing just fine as a stand alone book!

I loved reading about Calypso   Her magic is in creating the perfect potions to help others let go of things and move on.  She is funny, care-free (on the surface), loyal and easy to like.  Calypso is different that your typical female lead in a story, she is independent, confident and satisfied with her lot in life.  Her gypsy like ways of collecting friends (and lovers) all over the world was a nice change and made it more enjoyable to watch her fall for Taran.

Taran is a man that knows how to get the ladies and they usually flock to him until he decides it is time for them to go.  Then he meets Calypso and everything changes.  How can he not chase after the one woman he can’t forget?

I really enjoyed Trouble Brewing, it was a fun, light-hearted, emotionally charged story, with the perfect touch of magical whimsy.  The secondary characters were very engaging and enjoyable to read that at times I wanted the story to expand and tell me more about them.  (I can’t wait for Nell’s story).  Jane Tara does a wonderful job creating a world where you believe in magic and destiny and all the wonderful (and crazy) things that go along with it.Trouble Brewing is a great book to get lost in for a few hours.  This was my first Jane Tara book and I will be anxiously awaiting more from this author.  If you like a bit of magic with your love stories then this is the perfect blend for you to 1-click away!

Trouble Brewing review

Trouble Brewing review

Another review in the inbox this morning, this time from Victoria’s Gossip. Gotta say, these reviews are a lovely start to the day.

And my new novel, Trouble Brewing. Drink up!
And my new novel, Trouble Brewing. Drink up!

Reviewed By: Patricia

Story:4

Romance:4

Flames:4

Trouble Brewing is the second book featuring the Shakespeare women. I never read the first one but honestly you don’t really need to read the first one. This book can stand alone. The book is set in London and follows the  lives of Batty, Calypso and Nell. All witches in their own right with flaming red hair and attitudes. Batty the mother and part owner of the family pub. Calypso the wild child that mixes potions for the people who need them. In her own small pub in the basement. Then there is Nell the most sensible of the two daughters . Calypso is wild and carefree, but is running away from heart break from her past. She is quite content traveling all over the world . Until one day the winds of fate changes her life . In walks a man into her life or should I saw renters her life. Taran , a tall hot witch from America, turns her life upside down and makes her rethink the one true love . As she runs from the love that Taran offers, he follows keeping her off balance as she falls in love again. She realizes that you can really have a second chance at love.
I truly enjoyed this book. It was a laugh out loud look at a family, friends and a second chance at love. The cast of characters were well rounded and loved the quirks of each and everyone of them. Makes me want to get the first book and get to know the rest of them. the English slang didn’t even bother me in the least.
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a great summer read.

A fun & fabulous 4.25 star review!

Go and check out the original review here… Love the GIFs. The whole review made me smile. 

And my new novel, Trouble Brewing. Drink up!
And my new novel, Trouble Brewing. Drink up!

I adored this book. The first time I noticed it was flipping through the pages of books available for request on Netgalley. I may be something of a cover snob and when I saw this one, it said “CANDACE! I AM MADE FOR YOU! PICK ME UP! LOOK – A PINK MARTINI! YOU LOOOOVE PINK MARTINIS!”

Ok, ok, ya got me. I do. CLICK.

And THEN I read the blurb – it had me at “psychic” and “magical cocktails”. I clicked that REQUEST button hella fast.

So first, thank you to Momentum Books for the ARC!

Second, Trouble Brewing was every bit as charming as I thought it would be.

Calypso (fabulous name, btw) has this inherent need to be free to explore the world on a whim, never settling too long in one place, yet making friends and feeling at home wherever she goes. She serves up magical cocktails all around the world, easing broken hearts, giving reassurance to the insecure, motivation to the stuck, but most of all…bringing love to those who desire it.

Calypso had her chance at finding one true love, only to have it end suddenly, leaving her brokenhearted and resigned to the fact that she would never love again (Shakespeare women only have one true love in their lifetime). She loves ‘em and leaves ‘em until one persistent man from her past arrives out of the blue to try to change her mind, and her heart…

This is such an enchanting story. I’m a sucker for witches, potions, cocktails, fabulously quirky characters and traveling. I’ve been thinking about backpacking through Europe and damn if this wasn’t the perfect book to set the mood. Most of the book is set in London, Paris and Vienna. How’s that for a gorgeous backdrop?

Have you ever just liked the feel of a book? Do you know what I mean when I say that? Like you just want to jump through the pages and experience that world and live with the characters and for the hours spent reading, you really did.

Speaking of characters – fiery Calypso, intense Taran, hysterical Megan, adorable Simon, affable Alf, quietly strong Nell, larger than life Batty – I loved every one of these eccentric personalities. Though I have to say, stand-up comedian Megan stole the show every time she appeared. The girl can come tell me jokes all day every day.

A number of people in the audience laughed uncomfortably, unsure how the slip of a girl onstage would handle the large drunk.

“You’ve got no tits and look like a boy,” the drunk slurred.

Megan just nodded sympathetically and in a voice dripping with disdain said, “You’ve got no manners and look like a cockhead. Difference between us is that I can buy boobs and put on a dress. What the fuck can you do?”

And this one, which is the perfect example of how using your/you’re can completely change a sentence:

“Hey, did you hear about the two nuns who were driving through Transylvania?” Megan asked in a perfect Irish accent.

“Okay, give it to me,” said Calypso.

“Suddenly Dracula jumped onto the bonnet of the car and bared his fangs. The first nun turned to the other nun and said, ‘Quick, show him your cross.’ So the other nun rolled down the window and yelled, ‘Get off the fucking bonnet, you blood-sucking bastard!”

Please tell me you got that joke. Please. Go back and read it again. Get it now? Good.

Trouble Brewing focuses time on each member of the family, so you’re not only getting a great love story with Calypso & Taryn, you’re getting SEVERAL! Perfect for greedy readers like myself.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to go back and read the first in this series, as well as future Jane Tara novels. Strongly consider tapping that one-click button for this one! I know I am. 🙂

*This is the second book in the Shakespeare Sisters series, but don’t let that stop you from reading! I haven’t read book one yet, but apparently it focuses on the New York set of Shakespeare women, while Trouble Brewing is the story of the London women.*