Posted in Between the Pages, Kees2Review, Meet an Author

What Happens in the Ruins by Kelsey McKnight

Hands up: who loves a hero in a kilt? Me! Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Tule author, Kelsey McKnight and her Scottish heroes to the blog.

From Scottish lairds to billionaire businessmen, Kelsey McKnight will ignite your soul, no matter what century it lives in. Kelsey is a university-educated historian from southern New Jersey. She has married her great loves of romance, history, and literature to create her own tales of dashing heroes, sultry bad boys, and lovable heroines who have their own stories to tell. They will take you through the ballrooms of Victorian London, to the hills of the Scottish Highlands, and into New York City penthouses, all at the flip of a page. When she’s not writing, Kelsey can be found reading, drinking too much coffee, spending time with her family, and working for two separate nonprofit organizations.

Hello everyone, and thank you to Juanita for having me on as a guest blogger today, to talk about my latest release, What Happens in the Ruins, book two of The What Happens Series.

I’ve always loved Scotland—the mystery, the lore, the history, the kilts…well, the kilts weren’t a deciding factor in my love of the land of my forefathers, but it certainly helps when imagining a romance. And to me, nothing is more romantic than the thought of a hot Highlander wooing you in the shadows of a castle older than America.

When I wrote the first book in the series, What Happens in the Highlands, I really focused on the dream of an American girl finding love in a land of rolling green hills and the sort of brogue that makes your toes curl. With What Happens in the Ruins, I took a more serious turn, exploring the aftershocks of loss and finding love despite closing off your heart. The main character, Sorcha, is such a flash of joy in the first book, no one would see that her party girl ways are just covering up for a deeper grief.


Can she stop her past from ruining her future?

Sorcha Mackinnon isn’t your typical tortured artist. She is also a party girl, a vintage shopper, and the heiress to a whisky fortune. But when inspiration suddenly flies out the window, she’s left with an empty whisky glass and a blank canvas…until a childhood friend waltzes back into her life.

She’s known Danny Gordon since birth, but they lost touch as their careers took them in different directions. He offers to show her the parts of Scotland he swears will spark life back into her brushes. And as they tour the sights on the back of his motorcycle, Sorcha realizes that under the tattoos and smart mouth, Danny may inspire more in her than just a new painting.

But as a good time begins to morph into an ever after, Sorcha is reminded of old wounds that just won’t heal. Danny tries to open her heart, but her self-imposed isolation makes things harder than ever. Now she must decide what to do, because what happens in the ruins doesn’t always stay there.


The automatic floodlights turned on, filling the gardens. I blinked several times as I tried to register what I was seeing. At the base of the hedges, on a massive black horse, sat a knight. His armor shone in the florescent lights and he held a shield in one hand, a sword in the other. I thought someone must have spiked my champagne.

“Um, guys?” I called over my shoulder, not taking my eyes off the medieval sight. Katie and Rose came up behind me. “Are you seeing this?” I asked.

“Who is it?” Rose leaned over the railing, but Katie pulled her back.

“Stop! What if it’s Lachlan? You still have the veil on. Come on, let’s put it in your room for safekeeping.”

They disappeared again, leaving me alone with the guy in the tin can. “Lachlan, is that you? Is that the suit from the entry way?”

“Fair maiden!” the knight yelled. The sound of his tinny voice startled the horse and he began to trot from side. The knight pulled on the reigns in an apparent attempt at calming his mighty steed and carried on his proclamation. “Sorcha, I—” The horses reared and began to stamp. “Bollocks, this bloody—”

“What the fuck is going on?” I asked.

Thistle meowed at my feet and I picked her up. We both continued to watch the spectacle with interest. The knight dropped the sword first, then the shield. I wondered if whoever was in there even knew how to ride a horse.

“Sorcha, I’ve come to—stupid horse—um…Sorcha, let down your hair!”

I just rested my elbows on the railing, Thistle tucked in the crook of my arm. “Okay, what the bloody hell is this?”

The horse trotted backward, knocking over a potted plant and making its rider curse in Gaelic. It was oddly fascinating, like watching an antiquated train wreck. The horse went side to side while the knight struggled to stay upright. They were completely at odds and getting worse by the moment. I loved it.

“Princess, it is I—” The horse reared one last time and the knight fell hard to the ground with the sound of someone taking out the recycling bin.

The horse began to bolt and Lachlan appeared from the shadows, chasing it down. The knight rolled from side to side, unable to get up, and Rhys and Sean ran to help him. Their brash laughter echoed around them and I had to join them as the knight’s helmet was removed.

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Posted in Australian Rural Romance, Meet an Author

Writing Australian Rural Fiction with Pamela Cook

It is my pleasure to welcome Pamela Cook to the blog today.

Pamela Cook writes Rural and Contemporary fiction. Her novels feature complex women, tangled family relationships and sometimes a sprinkling of romance. She is the co-host of the exciting new podcasts Writes4Women and Writes4Festivals, and Program Director for the inaugural Storyfest Literary Festival happening in Milton, on the south coast of NSW, Australia in June 2019. An eclectic reader, Pamela also enjoys writing poetry and memoir pieces and is proud to be a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. When she’s not writing, podcasting or festival planning she wastes as much time as possible riding her handsome quarter horses, Morocco and Rio. Her books are available on all online platforms and through Booktopia.  Over to you, Pamela!

Being part of the huge phenomenon that is Australian Rural Fiction has been a highlight of my writing career. Connecting with both readers and fellow writers in this community is a daily joy and one I hadn’t expected as I never really set out to write in this genre. But when I think back it’s really not surprising that it’s where my story ideas led me.

Although I grew up in the southern suburbs of Sydney I spent a good part of every Christmas holiday at Burrill Lake on the south coast of New south Wales. My family rented a house opposite the lake and I’d spend hours sitting by the water watching fish jump, pelicans cruise by and hermit crabs scurrying along the shore. We bought Jaffas and Fantales to devour at the small open-air theatre, sitting in canvas seats under the stars, covered in blankets. Days blended into weeks and even though there were moments of boredom the return to city life always came with a sense of regret.

Other school holidays were spent out west. My mother was born in Parkes, and still had aunts and cousins scattered around the area. Aunty Flo lived in my great grandmother’s house, an iconic country shack with a rickety veranda, chooks nesting in rusty backyard cars and a couple of kelpies chained up out the back. Uncle Harry was a sheep farmer and I have vivid memories of hopping in the ute beside him and watching his favourite dog Beau respond to the ear-piercing whistle as he rounded up the mob and we moved them into new paddocks.

As an adult I had weekend getaways to the coast in the kombi my husband and I bought (and still own 30 years later!) venturing north from time to time but always feeling a pull to the south. Eventually we swapped the camping weekends for a holiday house a couple of hours south of Sydney near beautiful Milton and it just so happened there was a horse riding ranch just up the road. My daughters became hooked, closely followed by me and pretty soon we were all riding our own horses. We kept them closer to Sydney and spent every weekend hanging out with them on an idyllic ranch-style property. School holidays were spent in the holiday house, surrounded by bush, not far from the beach and getting a taste of small-town life.

By this stage I’d already finished a literary style novel and was yearning to write something different. When I sat down to write my next book an image of a woman standing by the locked gate of horse property popped into my head. I started with that and the plot developed as I wrote. Within a month the first draft of Blackwattle Lake was complete. I went on to write Essie’s Way (set in a fictional township further down the south coast), Close To Home (set in a town very like Milton and centred around an outbreak of the Hendra virus) and then The Crossroads (set in outback Queensland where I was lucky enough to visit for an author talk). My new novel Cross My Heart is largely set in the central west of NSW. Returning there last year on a road-trip with my 94 year old mum is an experience I will always treasure.

Most of my books have a few scenes set in Sydney but inevitably the story draws me away to the country. While I do have a hankering to write a book set in Paris, for me writing Australian stories set in rural locations comes naturally and it’s the perfect escape. Hopefully my readers enjoy coming along for the ride.

Thank you, Pamela. What a lovely insight into your inspiration for writing Australian Rural Fiction. I have no doubt your readers are loving the ride! If you’d like to know more, Pamela loves to connect with readers both in person and online. You will often find her lurking in one of these places:

Twitter @PamelaCookAU

Instagram @pamelacookwrites and @w4wpodcast