Reviews Count!

I was in a coffee lounge having morning coffee with a group of friends when a woman I had met briefly before came up to me.

I’ve read two of your books now, and I really enjoyed them,’ she told me.

You might think that’s not uncommon for an author to hear, but for me it changed a pleasant outing into a special morning. To be told  your work has given a reader pleasure is the ultimate satisfaction for any writer.

It made me think about the importance of book reviews, for both readers and writers.

For readers, an assessment by someone else who has read a book, showing their like or dislike of a story, can be a helpful guide in choosing whether a book is worthy of the investment in time takes to read it. Of course, a book review is subjective – no book can please every reader. But it is a signpost, pointing in one direction or another.

For a writer it is also a guide. Do readers like my work?  Do they hate it? The answers to that question can make or break a writer’s confidence. For a novice writer it is acutely important.

I remember well when my first book,  Inheritance, was published. I had written it and re-written it many times, until it was as good as, I believed, it could be, but as a beginner in the world of writing and publishing I was full of doubt. Was it any good?  I had been fortunate to find a publisher willing to take a chance on an unknown writer, but what would the world of readers think of my offering? This was my big test. Could I really write? It was with trepidation that I waited for the first review. When it came, from Aussie Authors,  I was shocked.

I reprint the review here:

Inheritance – by Kate Loveday is listed as a “romance mystery novel yet the book is so much more.BgpI3riCIAAwoyC

It is the story of young Cassandra Taylor who inherits a cattle property from her uncle. The property – Yallandoo – in Northern Queensland, though suffering from the long-term effects of the drought, is in dire need of Cassie’s wholehearted efforts to keep it self-sustaining.

The male interest – Mark Pierce – is a man who comes with his own set of personal issues and a child in tow while attempting to woo Cassie into selling him Yallandoo for his own business development purposes.

If the story ended there it would be a typical romance novel yet the author has incorporated so much more into this book. Apart from Cassie’s childhood memories and emotional bond with the property and the staff who run the cattle station, the girl has a feel for the land, the rainforest areas, the aboriginal heritage and the descendants who still remain, now working for Yallandoo.

With lots of characters, each with their own personality, perspective, and in some cases – agendas, Kate has done a terrific job of weaving them all together.

Overall I found the book compelling. Kate Loveday has a wonderful talent for getting into each and every character’s head and telling the story from their point of view. The different twists and turns in the story retain the reader’s interest while not all the outcomes are as one would expect!

A very believable story; one that draws the reader in and leaves them feeling as though they have not only met these people but have really managed to get to know them all, very well.

With her first novel ‘Inheritance’ Kate Loveday has created a fantastic read. I for one, applaud her wonderful talent. Great work! Can’t wait for her next book! I give it 5 Inkwells.   Reviewed by Sarah Cook

I had never expected such a glowing reception!

This review gave my confidence the boost it needed, and encouraged me to continue writing. I have always been grateful that Sarah Cook took the time to read and review my book. It encouraged me to continue down the path of writing, whch has brought me so much pleasure and satisfaction. I(nheritance went onto receive an ‘honourable mention’ in the Hollywood book awards 2013)

So next time you read a book that you enjoy, perhaps you will take the time to write a review. It could mean a great deal to another reader – or an author.






Review of Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry.


Dead Heat is a fast paced and exciting romantic suspense novel, with rather more dead Heatsuspense than romance. I found this book hard to put down.

Jo Lockwood loves her job as a National Parks ranger in the north west of New South Wales. She loves the country side, the wildlife, and she enjoys being on her own for much of the time.
That all changes the day she finds a park site has been vandalised. As she sets about clearing up and repairing as much damage as possible, a dingo emerges from the bush. In its mouth it carries bloodied human hand. Full of horror she searches the nearby bush and discovers the body of a young man who has been tortured and murdered.

Detective Nick Matheson is assigned to the case. He has recently been posted to this normally peaceful, low crime area, in order to resume an uneventful life after ten years as an undercover cop. He finds Jo a reliable and observant witness, outwardly calm, although in a state of shocked by the grisly discovery.

As the investigation proceeds it is discovered that this quiet area has become a site for organised crime, with drugs, police corruption, gang activity, illegal weapons, and more murders piling up.

Jo is the only person who has seen the face of the killer, a ruthless man without respect for human life, and she becomes a target for his assassination. Each with their own painful histories, Jo and Nick must work together if she is to survive.

Nick vows that he will do anything to keep Jo safe, and the tension mounts as they become targets for a sniper, while trying to evade gang members chasing them through dense countryside and outrun a bushfire.

Along the way they both discover that their feelings have become much more than the admiration they initially felt for each other.

Bronwyn Parry has penned a story with many twists that will keep you turning the pages to the end.

Review of Paper Daisies by Kim Kelly

This book is set in 1900, a time of Federation in Australia, and a time when women had few rights or choices in their lives, although they were agitating for the vote.

Berylda Jones has just come home to Bathurst from university in Sydney. She is thrilled that she has been accepted into the course for Medicine next year, and is looking forward to seeing her sister Greta after her absence. However, she  is dreading being back under the domination of their sadistic and brutal Uncle Alec, a surgeon and prominent figure in the town. Berylda is a strong character, and when she realises how bad things are for her sister at home she determines to take action to free them both from their uncle’s control.

Ben Wilberry is a gentle botanist who is grieving deeply over the loss of his mother. His promise to her that he will search for a particular flower brings him to Bathurst, and into Berylda’s life. He falls in love with Berylda, but in his unassuming way he is unsure if she is interested in him.

The story is told in alternating chapters from these two character’s points of view, and there is a great deal of introspection from both Berylda and Ben.

I found the continuing story compulsive reading as Berylda dragged me into her story, and into her deliberations over whether or not she can carry out her desperate plan to save Greta from further harm.

The themes of the story are misogyny, and the moral dilemma of whether two wrongs can make a right. I found it a book to make you look at your own moral values and wonder what you would do in Berylda’s situation.

The author’s note at the end of the story is interesting.

Review of Congo Dawn by Katherine Scholes

Congo Dawn is a Big Book, in size as well as scope. It is set in 1964, a time of unrest in the Congo in the aftermath of throwing off Belgian rule, when the country teetered on the brink of civil war, with fears that communism was gaining support against a Western style democracy.

Anna Emerson is a secretary in Melbourne, where she has lived with her mother since her parent’s divorce when she was seven years old. Her world is turned upside down when she receives a plane ticket to the Congo from a stranger, with the message that her barely-remembered father is dying and wishes to see her.

Against her mother’s wishes she decides to go, harbouring the desire that her father must love her if he wishes to see her again. Sadly it turns out Karl Emerson has his own reasons for wanting to see her, and it has nothing to do with love or family ties.

When she discovers he is not her father but her step-father she sets out on search to find her real father, knowing only the town of her birth, Banya, which is in an area near where the Simba rebels are fighting.

Dan Miller, a no-longer-young former safari leader, is approached to sign up as a mercenary fighter, leading a force of men to help keep the communists from gaining control of the country. Although hesitant at first he agrees, and he and his chosen men head into the area of fighting against the Simba rebels.

This story is not a romance, but another look at love, with the main characters on a search through a war-torn land.

Well researched, and inspired by real events, this book is totally absorbing, as Katherine Scholes gives us another glimpse into Africa in all its diversity, in a time of trouble, where there is both heroism and brutality. My only complaint is that the ending seemed a bit abrupt to me. I would like to know what happened to all the characters further on.

Review of Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly

I loved this book. It starts out in Lithgow and the coal mines in 1914 and covers the war years and beyond. Once I got past the old fashioned dialogue I was swept along with Francine and Daniel every emotional inch of the way. I felt the joy, the uncertainties, the fear and terror as their story unfolded.

It is a love story, but there is so much more to it than that. Kim Kelly has woven the politics, the feel of the times, and how people felt about the leadership during the dark, frightening days of the war, into the story, but there is humour there as well.
The characters are real, and I found it hard to put the book down until I read how the story panned out.
I have also read The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly, which I enjoyed and I will now seek out other books by this talented author.

Review of Vineyard in the Hills by Lily Malone

Lily Malone writes in an easy, free flowing style that that makes this book so easy to read. VineyardHer characters are real, some likeable, others less so.

Remy Hanley is warm hearted, unassuming, and independent. She has cut her viticulture degree short and is working two jobs, one at Lasrey’s Wines, to help her widowed mother, and to pay off her late father’s debts.
Seth Lasrey is every inch the boss when we meet him – all business, the dutiful son who is focused on working hard tomanage and grow Lasrey’s Wines, the winery that has grown from the vineyard planted by his mother, Ailsa, and his deceased father Joe, in Margaret River.
The minute Seth sets eyes on Remy he is bowled over and his stiff demeanour relaxes. Remy is almost afraid to let herself believe he could be interested in her. Their romance has hardly begun before a storm, a mistake, and a plot by mother Ailsa and scheming employee Rina, drives them apart, leaving Seth believing the worst about Remy.

Five years later they meet again when Seth acquires a winery in the Adelaide Hills, and the winery buys grapes from the vineyard that Remy has managed to buy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its characters, its storyline, and the descriptions of the Adelaide Hills. Having lived in there, I was able to follow the story to every little town and along every road, which added to my pleasure in reading.

An excerpt from ‘The Trophy Wife’

Chapter One

Erin McDonald inhaled the incense that hung heavy in the air, trapped by the green velvet curtains that shrouded the windows. Was it the smoky atmosphere of the room making her light-headed, or the words of the black-clad woman opposite?

‘I see great changes ahead for you. Your life will undergo a complete change.’ The psychic’s eyes narrowed as she studied the watch in her hand. ‘I see your heart is aching. It is not a man who causes this sadness. No. You have lost someone very dear to you. Not long ago.’ She lifted her gaze. Her black eyes bored into Erin’s.

Erin’s throat tightened. ‘I lost my mother recently.’

‘I see three. Was it three weeks…or perhaps three months?’

Goose bumps prickled Erin’s arms. ‘Three months.’

Grace stroked the watch. ‘I see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.’ She paused. ‘You will go to Sydney, and live in a fine house. You will be buying clothes. Beautiful clothes.  And shoes. I see you trying on a shoe – a wonderful shoe. It has high heels and is covered with crystals.’

Her fingers caressed the watch again. ‘Your mother wants you to stop feeling sadness for her. She has no pain now. She wants you to know she is happy. Yes. She wants you to get on with your life.’

Erin’s blood chilled. ‘You mean you can talk to her?’

‘No. I have a message. I see a D, a big yellow D. Did her name have a D?’


‘What is it?’

‘Deirdre,’ Erin whispered.

‘Yes. The message is from her. She wants you to know that you have a big future ahead of you. You will have troubles, but Fate will guide you, and you will find happiness.’

Grace sat back in her chair. ‘That is all I have for you today. I hope it is a help to you.’

She handed Erin her watch.

Erin’s head buzzed as she left. Part of her said it was all a load of crap. Very theatrical. But how could she know she’d lost someone dear to her? And that her mother’s name started with a D. And the bit about seeing her trying on a shoe. Why shoes? How could she know she had a thing about shoes?

Could she see into the future? Could she get messages from the spirits? And would she really move to Sydney? How? Why?

As she let herself into the little flat she and Deirdre had shared Grace’s words tumbled around in Erin’s head. She’d said Deirdre was happy now – that she had no pain. She hoped with all her heart it was true. Her mother had been so brave, trying to hide the pain of the cancer from her only child. But Erin knew. She wouldn’t bring her back again even if she could. Not to go on suffering like that. But how she missed her!

Grief filled her chest until she felt it must burst as great, wracking sobs came, tearing her soul. Grace said she’d find happiness, but right now it felt the furthest thing in the world from her.

Erin’s friend Laura sat opposite her at the table in the staff room during their lunch break.

‘So how did it go? What did the psychic tell you? Are you going to meet someone tall, dark and handsome?’Laura asked.

‘Huh, no such luck. That’s obviously not in my future. But she is pretty amazing, isn’t she?’

‘I told you! Come on – what did she say?’

‘She knew about Mum. She saw a bit of stuff about that. And she said I’m going to Sydney.’

‘A trip to Sydney. Lucky you. But what about your love life? What did she see about that?’

Erin gave a wry smile. ‘Nada. Nothing.’

Oh, rats! Well, we’ll just have to make sure you meet some new people. You’ve been so busy with looking after your Mum these last couple of years…’ She broke off and leant across to touch Erin’s arm. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitive. I know you’re still hurting. But you must get out and about a bit. You’ve got to get on with your life.’

Erin’s heart twisted. ‘I know you’re right. But I still feel so sad.’

‘Of course you do. I know how close you and Deirdre were, it’s only natural you miss her. But you dropped out of everything while she was sick and now you need to get out and meet people again.’

Laura was right. She couldn’t keep sitting home forever. And she couldn’t deny she was lonely.

‘What you need is a romance. Something to cheer you up.’

‘I don’t know I’m quite ready for that yet.’

‘Maybe not just yet, but you do need to get out. Look, I’m meeting Ben after work, and we’re going for a drink and a meal. Just us, but you never know who we might bump into. Come with us.’

‘Thank you, but two’s company, three’s a crowd. Besides, I’m not ready yet…’

‘If you don’t want to come to dinner, at least come for a drink.’

‘I don’t think…’

‘Come on. Please. I really want you to.’

Erin took a deep breath. ‘All right. And thanks.’

Erin hesitated as they entered the crowded and noisy pub, but Laura took her arm to lead her through the crowd.  Suddenly Laura stopped, and her hand flew to her mouth.

‘Oh rats! There’s Troy…and Belinda. I didn’t know they’d be here.’ Laura cast an anxious look at Erin. ‘Um. I don’t know if you knew that Troy’s seeing Belinda now?’

Erin’s heart gave a little thump, but she kept her voice steady. ‘I didn’t, but it’s okay. I didn’t expect him to wait around for me after I let him down so often when Mum was sick.’

‘Agh! I’m sorry… I should have thought…after all, you were more than just friends…’

‘It’s okay. Truly. Don’t worry about it.’ She nudged Laura forward. ‘Come on.’

Ben turned with a smile on his face as Laura touched his arm.

‘Hi lovey,’ he said, squeezing Laura’s hand and dropping a kiss on her cheek. ‘And Erin. Good to see you. It’s been too long.’

Erin returned his hug, conscious of Troy standing with his arm around Belinda’s waist. ‘Good to see you too.’

Troy and Belinda had been standing back but now Troy, who could have been on a poster for surfing gear with his bleached blonde hair, tanned face and blue eyes, stepped away from Belinda and touched Erin on the arm.

‘Hello Erin.’

He’d once called her his ‘pocket Venus with bouncy red hair’.

He dropped a kiss on her cheek. ‘I was sorry to hear about your Mum.’

‘Thank you.’ Erin swallowed.

Belinda slipped her hand through Troy’s arm ‘Yes, me too,’ Belinda said. ‘Really sorry.’

‘Thank you.’

Ben put his arm around Erin’s shoulder. ‘What’ll you have, Erin? Do you still drink cider?


Within a minute he pressed a drink into her hand. She sipped it gratefully.

‘I haven’t seen you around for a while,’ Troy offered.

‘No. I’ve been busy lately.  I haven’t been out much.’

‘Well, you know what they say – all work and no play makes for a dull day.’

She managed a smile. ‘So Laura keeps telling me.’

‘Well, I’m glad she brought you along tonight.’

‘I’m glad I came.’ The polite lie slipped easily from her lips.

‘Why don’t you join us for dinner? For old time’s sake.’

Belinda tightened her grip on Troy’s arm.

‘Thanks for the offer, but I have something arranged. I just popped in to catch up for a drink.’

Erin stayed for another drink as they all started discussing the big game tomorrow, when the local Newcastle Jets were playing Melbourne City. Then she said her goodbye’s and made her way home. The flat was very empty when she let herself in.

Chapter Two

It was a few weeks later and the psychic’s words had faded to the back of Erin’s mind when the manager’s PA gave her a message.

‘Erin, the boss wants to see you in his office.’

‘Do you know what it’s about?’


‘Okay, thanks Sal.’

Erin gnawed her bottom lip. The firm was undertaking restructuring, as they called it, and one of the younger girls was given notice last week. Was this why the boss wanted to see her – to tell her she was no longer needed?  He’d always seemed happy with her work, but a little knob of worry inside her whispered she’d been less than cheerful around the office recently, mired down in grief as she’d been. Perhaps he’d noticed, and felt it was bad for morale?

She took out her mirror and quickly checked her face, then smoothed her hands over her hair in case her unruly locks had escaped. She headed to his office and knocked on the door.

‘Ah, come in Erin. Take a seat.’

Erin sat opposite Mr Hill, her hands in her lap, butterflies in her belly, and waited for him to speak. He took off his glasses and polished them before beginning.

‘I understand why you’ve seemed unhappy lately, Erin. It’s a terrible thing for a young girl like you to lose her mother, especially as you have no other family. I want you to know I feel for you, very much.’

The butterflies became a knot of tension. He was about to fire her. She sucked in a breath and forced words out. ‘Thank you.’

‘As you know, we’ve been restructuring things in the firm, both here and at Head Office in Sydney. Times are hard, and even an old established firm like ours is feeling the pinch, and we need to downsize.’

Erin clenched her hands together so tightly the nails dug into the flesh. It was her turn to go. Where would she find another job in these hard times?

The boss pulled a file towards him and opened it. ‘I see you’ve been with us for four years now, since you were sixteen, and you’ve always performed very well. I’d be sorry to have to let you go, so I have a proposition for you.’ He paused. ‘I’m right in thinking you have no particular attachments here in Newcastle, aren’t I?’


‘It so happens that our Sydney office is about to lose their receptionist, and I believe you would be ideal for the position. You’re bright and outgoing, and I’m sure you’d fit in well. I think a change of scene might be good for you. If you like the idea, I’ll recommend you, and arrange an interview with Mr Thomas.’ He leant back in his chair. ‘Now, how do you feel about it? It’s a long way to commute, but perhaps you could move down there, if you wanted. Do you think you’d like to live in Sydney?’

Erin’s hands unclenched as a surge of relief flooded through her. ‘Yes, I’ve always loved Sydney. It would be wonderful.’

‘Right. Then I’ll go ahead and arrange an interview.’

Erin chose her clothes carefully for the interview, knowing a receptionist needs to look smart as well as capable. Finally she chose one of her favourite outfits, a plain white linen dress with a black belt and a short black jacket.

She caught the early train to Sydney to make sure she was in plenty of time, and she approached the interview with Mr Thomas, head of the firm, with twin measures of excitement and anxiety. What if he didn’t like her? Would he think her capable of filling such an important position – the client’s first contact with his business?

But if she got the job, working in the sophisticated metropolis of Sydney, how exciting that would be!

Shivers ran up and down her spine as she sat waiting in the outer office until Mr Thomas was ready to see her.  What was he like? What sort of as boss would he be – if she got the job? When she was finally ushered into his office she found he was slim, middle-aged, with a pleasant face and a brisk, business-like manner.

He looked up from a letter he was reading. ‘Ah, Erin McDonald,’ he greeted her. ‘Please take a seat.’ He gestured to the chair in front of his desk.

Erin was aware he scrutinised her as she crossed the room to sit opposite him. He took in her looks – slender figure, deep green eyes with black eyelashes, and dark auburn hair.

‘I’ve been reading your reference from our Newcastle office. John Hill speaks highly of you.

‘That’s very kind of him.’

‘Do you think you’d like to work here, Erin?’

‘Yes. I’d love to work here.’

‘Do you enjoy meeting people?’

‘Yes, I do.’

‘I see that you took on the receptionist job in the Newcastle office when their regular girl was on leave. How did you find that?’

‘It was stimulating.’ She smiled. ‘Meeting all the clients face to face. I enjoyed that. I’d love to do it permanently.’

‘Then I would like to offer you the same position here.’ He smiled at her. ‘Will you accept it?’

The blood rushed to Erin’s head. She gulped before she had breath to answer. ‘Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much.’

When she walked out into the street a little later she felt as if she was floating. Receptionist at Atkins and Thomas, Chartered Accountants, of Pitt Street, Sydney. How good was that!

She bought a paper and carried it into a coffee shop. As she sipped her coffee she made a list of flats available for rent that were open for inspection today. The first four she viewed were dark and pokey, and she crossed them off her list.

The next one was a bed-sitter on the second floor of a building in Macleay Street in Kings Cross. When she climbed the steps to the door of 2A the agent was waiting to show prospective tenants through, and he invited her in.

The first thing that struck her was the sun streaming in through the double windows. She crossed the room and looked out. Opposite was the El Alamein fountain and the Fitzroy Gardens. She turned away from the view. The flat was bright and cheerful, and she fell in love with it. She went through the motions of inspecting the tiny bathroom and kitchen area, but she had made up her mind. She could be happy living here. She signed a lease right away.

She moved her belongings in the next weekend, and settled to life in Sydney. Just as the psychic had predicted.

Erin had been in her new job three weeks when she met Giles Brightman. A long-time client of the firm, he’d come in for a meeting with Mr Thomas. A striking figure, tall, dark and solid looking, without an ounce of fat on him. He exuded self-confidence and power.

‘You’re new here, aren’t you?’ he asked her, his eyes assessing her as he spoke.

‘Yes, Mr Brightman,’ she replied, smiling as she did at all the clients.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Erin McDonald.’

That’s Irish, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. My parents came here from Ireland.’

He nodded, but said no more as he went through to the offices. When he came out from his meeting he stopped by her desk.

‘I’d like to take you to dinner if you’re free tonight, Erin. Are you?’

Erin’s tummy fluttered. Fancy this imposing man wanting to take her out.

‘I…well, yes Mr Brightman, I am.’

‘Good. Call me Giles, and write down your address for me. I’ll pick you up at seven thirty. And leave your hair down,’ he added as he left, nodding at the barrettes she used to keep her hair tidy at work.

Erin looked Giles up on the internet later. He was forty one years of age. Divorced from model Megan Andrews three years ago. No children, and…Wow!  He was one of the richest men in Australia. He owned a huge conglomerate with interests in hotels, real estate and property developments all over the world.

Why would he ask her out, when he could probably have his pick of the society beauties around town?

As Erin prepared for their night out she looked at her wardrobe. Giles was probably used to escorting lavishly dressed women when he went out. She owned nothing glamorous enough to compete. But her mother always managed to look stylish on her secretary’s pay. ‘You can look good without spending heaps,’ she’d told her. ‘Buy quality over quantity. Make sure you always have a little black dress and one really good pair of shoes. Then you can go anywhere.’

So she wore her little black dress, and her best shoes. And she left her hair down.