From lockdown in our tiny harbourfront apartment, we watch the greatest show on earth—sunset—and think of everyone in our world still locked in battle with COVID.
The sun creeps closer to its mid-way position between Ball’s Head and Goat Island on Sydney Harbour. Time passes. The spring blossoms on my daily walk are more welcome than ever.
Reading and writing also offer escape. For those of us who love the balm of an uplifting ending, in this newsletter I am delighted to share with you some links to some fun, free and affordable reading.
A note of clarification! While my own books are considered “sweet” rather than “spicy” there is a mind boggling array of “man chest” covers out there. (Seriously. That’s what they’re called! You’ll see why …)
Curl up on the couch with a sweet read
Let’s start at my end of the spectrum, where fellow “sweet” writer Sylvia Price, from Canada, is offering her book Songbird Cottage for free.
“Set on Canada’s picturesque Cape Breton Island, this book is perfect for those who enjoy new beginnings and countryside landscapes,” Sylvia writes.
Another “sweet” writer, Angie Ellington from the US, is offering Dancing by the Moonlight, set in Connecticut, via Amazon.
“Recapturing a summer love swept out at sea thirteen years earlier can be as rough as a stormy sea,” writes Angie.
And another sweet author, Farrah Lee from Florida in the US, is offering her book Mail Order Valentine via Amazon.
Farrah’s blurb begins: “She’s running. He’ll do anything for his twin. They’re both in way over their heads.”
I take my hat off to the authors of all these ingenious romance plots. It’s an age old story, how one plus one equals … one! Yet there are infinite ways to tell it.
And now for a line up of some steamier stuff
(you have been warned)
Click on this link for Slow Burn September free reads.
Did you manage to spot my sweetie among the sizzlers?
A lovely review!
I warmly thank author and musician Cindy L Spear for writing this beautiful review of House of Diamonds.
A number of other VIPs have very kindly done the same. Thank you!
If you enjoy reading my books, you might like to leave reviews (see links below) and/or mention them to friends.
Along with heartfelt gratitude to all VIPs for your encouragement and support, I add special thanks to the team at Coast Community News for sharing my own “free sweet reads” offer earlier this month.
I cherish the memories of raising three small children while writing for the local newspaper. I’m indebted to the people I interviewed and to my friends and family still living on the coast for the wellspring of inspiration they’ve given me. Beaches and the bush crop up in many of my books.
Still on the “free” theme, and swinging back to “sweet”—here is the start of my House of Jewels series, Volume III, House of Spades, set in Australia’s beautiful Byron Bay hinterland:
House of Spades by Amber Jakeman
How it begins …
Flame Rhys held her umbrella closer as the rain banged down around her. She loved living in rainforest country, but it meant making friends with water, down her collar, into the tops of her red gumboots and up her sleeves.
Thank goodness for Becca and her generous heart, giving her a lift as far as the crossing. Not much further now.
Glad to be alive, Flame laughed as she stomped along the wet road, shiny as silver in the late afternoon. As great drops of water smashed down onto the umbrella from the limbs and leaves, Flame imagined the tree trunks pushing ever higher as they drank the rain, squeezed by the vines twisting tighter and thicker, reaching for the sky. A couple of king parrots shrieked past and she wished she, too, had bright green wings and could soar up through the canopy and fly across the valley and beyond, to see her grown-up girls. It had been too long.
The surrounding mountains disappeared, shrouded in cloud, as she inhaled deeply the fragrance of wet soil, replenisher of life.
As she rounded the home corner, back to her caravan, she glanced up at the hermit’s old farmhouse at the top of the hill; the stranger was her closest neighbor.
She looked forward to boiling her kettle for hot tea with sugar, or maybe even a hot chocolate with the precious UHT milk? She hitched the backpack higher on her shoulders. It was heavy, full of fresh fruit and vegetables and more spirits for the stove.
If she cursed Grady again, it would spoil her day. Bitterness could grow heavier than storm clouds.
“Greedy Grady, greedy Grady,” trudged her rubber-clad feet, one after the other. At least she still had the caravan, with its jaunty little spirit stove. Not long now and she’d enjoy that hot drink.
Down the last stretch of road she stomped, careful not to slide. Her fingers numb with wet and cold, she slipped open the gate latch, closed it again with care, and headed down the hill. Here, the ground was sodden with rain, the high grass and undergrowth laced with drips, tiny spider webs drooping with droplets. Not long now.
Her gumboots repaid her richly in the mud. Had someone driven down recently in something big? A tractor? The ruts were deeper than ever, like weals in the rich brown flesh of the earth.
Closer to home, the skies opened again. The drops beat down, atomizing through the umbrella, exploding on her world. The roar of the creek rose to a howl as she approached, but when she passed the stand of Sally Wattles, it was Flame’s turn to shriek. She looked right and left and right again, but there was no denying it.
Her caravan was gone, the place it had been, empty, like the socket of a missing tooth. So much for the chance to shrug off the heavy pack and peel off her wet clothes and steamy boots. So much for the simple pleasure of a hot drink.
A black leech waved around on the toe of her red boot, seeking flesh, and she rubbed it off with her other heel.
A great sob lodged in the back of her throat. Her caravan, her haven, full of the only things she’d salvaged from all her years of moving—gone?
Had her van been impounded? Police had taken one of her old unregistered cars once. Horror washed through her. Not that again!
Or maybe Grady came back for it. Again, she cursed the moment she’d laid eyes on Grady. Why had she ignored the inner voice which had warned her against his too-blue eyes, his oh-so-smooth smile and that voice? A professional crooner, singing slow love songs dripping with honey … How could she have been so foolish!
Or had someone else stolen it? Everything she owned was inside. If only she’d stuck to her resolve and sworn off men forever, she’d never be in this mess, sodden and homeless.
Defeat dragged down her shoulders, already weary from the pack, but she forced up her chin, and heaved a huge sigh. Her only option was to turn around and trace those tracks in the mud, to see if they might lead her to her caravan—one step at a time. It was all she’d ever taken, for better or worse.
Back at the road, her eyes traced the muddy trail, upwards. Above the steep paddock, in the gathering darkness, were other clues. Up at the hermit’s house, more lights shone than usual. Headlights? A tractor maybe? And behind it, a dark outline. Her caravan. But why?
Fast following the relief, anger began to bubble, and by the time she reached her van, fury blazed, white hot and pulsing.