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A Lovely Review

ARRA (The Australian Romance Readers Association) just posted this review of my new book, The Heiress’s Daughter. I’m delighted with it. The reviewer said: 

  ” I love The Brides of Bellaire Gardens series. The lovely private gardens behind all the houses surrounding them are a splendid retreat. I can just imagine them in full, lovely bloom. It truly is a magical setting.

Do indulge yourself with the first two books: The Scoundrel’s Daughter and The Rake’s Daughter. You get to enjoy both the gardens and the romances of the characters who live there. And happily, they also pop into this book.

It was the beautiful Izzy (Clarissa’s half-sister) who starred in The Rake’s Daughter. Now it’s the ‘plain’ sister’s romance, Clarissa. She thinks she’s plain because she looks like her beloved mother (who Clarissa considered beautiful). Still, her horrible father told her again and again when Clarissa was young that she was plain and ugly and fat. Innocently, she believed him.

She also knew her father only married her mother for her fortune, not for any other reason. When he realised he couldn’t spend it because it was tied up, he abandoned Clarissa and her mother to lead a rakish, dissolute life with affairs everywhere, and zero love for his wife and daughter. What a wretched, dreadful man! If he wasn’t dead already, I’d be inclined to ask Anne Gracie to kill him off.

Clarissa thinks she’ll never find someone who loves her like Izzy’s husband loves her sister. The insults of her father have sunk deep into her psyche; she feels so worthless and unworthy. As far as she’s concerned most men will only want her for her fortune.

She definitely does want to marry, but going out in society is excruciating for her, afflicted with shyness and huge feelings of inadequacy as she is. However, she wants love, babies and a happy life—all of which seem impossible.

So, she decides on two rules when considering any possible husband: 1. No rakes, like her father. 2. No fortune-hunters, like her father. Otherwise, life will become horrendous, as her mother’s was.

We met Race, Lord Randall, in The Rake’s Daughter. He’s the best friend of Clarissa’s guardian Leo, now Izzy’s husband.

Race is—intriguing. Definitely a rake, but—interesting. Handsome. Does he pass Clarissa’s rules? He does have his own fortune, so he’s not necessarily a fortune-hunter. But he is allegedly quite the rake. Women all over town inform Clarissa they are in-ti-mate with him. They tell racy stories about him, all claiming him for their own.

He’s tall and handsome with a lovely deep voice and impeccable manners. He seems nice. But then he starts complimenting Clarissa on her beauty, which is a big, fat lie. She’s plain and fat. She knows it, has always known it. Race must be throwing flowery compliments around because, you know, he’s a rake and just says it to all the women. S0 she cannot believe anything he says, and he’s failed her first rule.

But, is he telling lies? Is he a rake? Suddenly his stories and those of the Ton’s women don’t necessarily match up… And he behaves in a very heroic fashion when Clarissa gets into a few sticky situations.

Anne Gracie writes such tender romance, and this book is a wonderfully lush pleasure to read. And I note there’s to be one more in this series, someone who enters this book in a complete surprise! Oh my, the anticipation. Bring it on.”
                                                                           * * * *

Thank you so much to Malvina, for taking the time to write such a detailed and lovely review, and to ARRA for supporting Aussie romance writers.



I dropped in on some friends yesterday and their daphne was already in flower.

Standing on their front porch, near where the daphne bush is, the fragrance filled the air. It’s one of my favorite floral scents.

It’s also a sign that winter, while not exactly on its way out — the winter solstice was only a few days ago — but that spring is coming. 

They gave me some daphne to take home.  I put it in a small vase by my bed and the whole room smells divine.

What flowers are in bloom where you are? Any favorite? 

Talking Frames

The other day a friend and I spent ages on the phone discussing frames — picture frames. I know — thrilling isn’t it, but hey! that’s my life at the moment.

She was having trouble deciding how to frame an original print she’d bought. And since she lives in rural Australia, there wasn’t a lot of choice. And some pictures she’d bought already framed, but the framing chosen actually detracted from the picture instead of highlighting it.
Hence the long discussion, with various photos flying back and forth on email as we talked.

I have quite a few paintings and prints in my house. Some were bought back when I was a student, and I was lucky in that a good friend of mine worked part time in a picture framing business owned by his family. He framed all my prints and paintings in his spare time, for the cost of the materials, and he did it so beautifully they have stood the test of time — I still love them.

I also used to spend a lot of time poking through junk shops and found a number of old picture frames. The one above on the right I found in an old shed in the country, full of junk that was for sale and I bought it for a few dollars. It was filthy and coated in dark oily grime but I could see it had real potential —it was hand carved from a sold slab of wood. So I scrubbed off the oily grime  and then scraped out every little carved indent with a pair of nail scissors.  And it came up a treat. I found a pencil drawing in a magazine that reminded me of a photo of my mother as a school girl, and popped it in the frame — where it remains to this day.

Another old frame I found has a beautiful decorative border. The glass is also slightly wavy, which means it was made back in the days when glass was rolled out. I got it very cheap because the corner was damaged and also it was really old fashioned but not regarded by the seller as an antique — just junk.. I loved it and I don’t mind the damaged border — it adds to the frame’s story. That’s a bit of it on the left. I used it to frame a Gauguin print of two Breton girls, and I think the frame suits it perfectly.

On the right and below is another old frame I bought years ago. It’s beautiful and quite large, and I love the  gold highlighted acorn pattern around the edge. You can see a close-up of it below.

The frame is still in very good condition, but for some reason I have never found a picture for it — no idea why. But since the discussion with my friend I am now on the lookout for the perfect picture to go in it.

What about you — do like to scour junk shops in search of  treasures? Found any you especially love?