Born and raised in Australia, Alli Sinclair has a passion for adventure that has taken her around the globe. She’s lived in Argentina and Canada, climbed mountains in Nepal and Peru, and worked as a tour guide in South and Central America. Drawing on her travel experiences, she’s written best-selling novels based in Spain and Paris, and with Burning Fields she returns to her homeland, which has always been close to her heart. When she’s not writing, Alli regularly presents workshops for Writers Victoria, Queensland Writers Centre and private writing groups, and also provides mentoring and manuscript assessment for new writers. She lives in Geelong.
Ice Castles by Leonore Fleischer
This is the first romance I remember reading and it spoke to my heart. It’s a beautiful story about a champion ice-skater who loses her sight in a skating accident and, as a result, loses the sense of who she is. With the love of the man she’d once rejected, she finds courage to return to ice-skating and, in the process, discovers her true self and true love. It still makes me cry!
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
This sweeping love story set in 1950s India is an investment in time as this is a very long book but well and truly worth the effort. Part family saga, part historical, with a very strong romantic element, A Suitable Boy reflects India in a time of flux and examines marriage, love and tradition. The huge cast of characters are entertaining and beautifully written, and Lata’s journey to find “a suitable boy” to marry will have you on the edge of your seat. This book isn’t a traditional romance as there is more than one suitor, but it is definitely a romantic story and is one of my all-time favourites.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
I absolutely adore this love story between crusty old Major Pettigrew and the delightful Mrs Ali, a widow who refuses to let her meddling family dictate her life. It’s an understated and highly unusual romance, which makes it all the more beautiful. The writing is eloquent and has an Austen-esque feel about it.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
This magical book takes readers to Mexico, where Tita, the youngest daughter of the De La Garza family, is forbidden to marry because of tradition. She’s destined to look after her mother until she dies but Tita falls for Pedro, who is seduced by her cooking. In a bid to be near her, Pedro marries Tita’s sister, and Pedro and Tita must navigate a series of tragedies before they can have their happy-ever-after. This magical realism book has people who eat Tita’s food take on the emotions she’s experiencing as she cooks. It’s a lovely, charming story that I often return to when I want to be swept away.
The Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
I love books with Indian characters and this book captured my heart. Sam and Milli are two very strong people who are flawed in interesting ways and you find yourself really hoping they’ll get their happy-ever-after. The Bollywood Affair turns tradition on its head and is full of wonderful Indian culture, family drama and fantastic food! This book takes readers on a fabulous, poignant journey.
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is one of my all-time favourite authors and The Japanese Lover is a story of a forbidden love that transcends decades. When Alma and Ichimei first meet during WWII, they fall in love but after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, they are ripped apart when Ichimei is sent to an internment camp because of his Japanese heritage. The couple reunite off and on throughout the decades, and each time obstacles get in the way of their love. This story is heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time and shows that true love never ever dies.
The Chance Sisters Series – Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie is an inspiring and beautiful writer and it was hard to choose which book, so I went with my favourite series – The Chance Sisters. There are four books – The Autumn Bride, The Winter Bride, The Spring Bride, and The Summer Bride – and these regency romances centre around four orphaned girls (two sisters and two friends). It’s a gorgeous tale of sisterhood with plenty of romance with debonair suitors. Whenever I pick up an Anne Gracie book, I know I’m going to be in for an enthralling read.
Moonlight Plains by Barbara Hannay
Barbara is a prolific author and I’ve read and loved lots of her books, but the stand out for me is Moonlight Plains. Set in Townsville during WWII and 2013, it’s a great story of intrigue, family saga and romance. I learned so much about life in northern Queensland during WWII and the descriptions of this beautiful region came to life on the pages. Barbara is a wonderful storyteller whose characters are well developed, and the settings vividly painted.
Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel
Another story set in India, this time in 1943. It’s about Layla, who is born under an inauspicious horoscope that does not bode well for a happy life with love in her stars. She defies the unfortunate hand she’s been dealt and falls in love with Manik, but there are plenty of obstacles in her way. Although they end up together early on in the novel, the changes of the political landscape in India and high racial tensions threaten to tear them apart and, quite possibly, cost them their lives. But their love is the one thing they cling to and it’s their journey, through these harsh times, that is utterly breath-taking.
The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson
This is Anthea’s second rural romance and she’s definitely an author to watch. The Cowgirl is a beautiful tale set in rural Australia and depicts the struggles and intensity of living a life on the land. There’s Deidre, a grumpy and bossy character who has gone through so much, which we discover as the secrets are slowly revealed. This story part family saga, intrigue and, at the heart of it, a lovely romance between a country girl and archaeologist. It’s about community and discovering what really matters both as an individual and couple. A lovely story for a sunny afternoon.