Title: Destination Romance
Authors: Carolyn Wren, Tanya Kean, Jean Jenkins, Renee Conoulty, Lisa Wolstenholme, Melanie Page, Mel A. Rowe, Michelle Beesley, Michelle Rule and Monique Mulligan
Published: November 22nd 2018
Publisher: Serenity Press
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Short Stories, Australian, Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
I want to see something of the world.’
Ten travellers with escape on the mind get an unexpected bonus when they stop by J’Adore Travel Boutique in Heart Springs. One by one, travel agent Maggie Redmont books them into the trip of a lifetime … and they have no idea their journey will lead to Destination Romance.
A London pub brings the past to the present. A cruise cures a fear of water. And a ‘Golden Oldies Coach Tour’ gets one couple out of the rut in more ways than one. Travel the highway of love with ten Australian authors, who deliver heart-warming stories of fresh starts and second chances, of healing and connecting, of temptation and desire.
From country New South Wales to the high seas, from London to the Greek Isles, Provence, Paris, Thailand, New Zealand and more, there’s a romantic destination for everyone, proving that love is all around us. And, that reaching a destination is only the beginning.
Romance and travel go hand in hand, so it is hard to resist a book that contains ten different stories that combine both these elements. Serenity Press, the creative team behind Destination Romance, are fast making name for themselves around the Australian publishing world for their appealing anthologies. Destination Romance is another winner and it will be sure to draw in armchair travellers and romance fans alike.
The concept behind Destination Romance is just fantastic. Ten different stories fill the pages of this delightful collection. They all begin with J’Adore Travel Boutique, based in Heart Springs, country NSW. The driving force behind J’Adore is Maggie Redmont, who makes her customers travel dreams come true. Destination Romance sees a character from each story begin their travel journey through Maggie and her team at J’Adore. When each character walks through the doors of this travel agency it is just the first step on a lifelong journey to change and happiness. Destination Romance allows the reader to step into the shoes of each traveller on their whirlwind adventure. Expect to be pampered on a cruise ship liner, experience an emergency in the WA outback, trek through the lush jungle of Thailand and take in the sprawling lavender fields of Provence. It is a memorable set of experiences, made even more special by the love stories that follow.
Ever since Destination Romance has been in its early production stages, I have been looking forward to the release of another anthology by Serenity Press. I love travel and romance novels, so this one ticked many boxes. What I loved most about Destination Romance was the opportunity this anthology has served to introduce me to a whole new set of Australian women writers. There are such a diverse set of voices and new talents in this collection. Through the overarching themes of travel, romance and life experiences, along with the placement of J’Adore Travel Boutique, each story has its chance to shine thanks to capable Serenity Press team.
Here is my brief overview of each story in the collection.
Cruise It or Lose It by Carolyn Wren
This story provided the perfect opener to the collection and I enjoyed revisiting the writing of Carolyn Wren, who also penned a story for the last Serenity Press Anthology. A cruise ship adventure, featuring a lead that I developed an immediate liking to, made this first story very memorable. Cruise It or Lose It is a wonderful Prince Charming meets Cinderella story, set on the high seas, with Maggie Redmont from J’Adore cast as the perfect fairy godmother.
The Boy Next Door by Tanya Kean
The Boy Next Door marks my introduction to the writing of Tanya Kean, but I’m keen to explore more of her writing based on my enjoyment of this story. The Boy Next Door had a wonderful home grown romance feel. I was reminded through this story’s message that sometimes the love of our life is right under our nose, next door in fact! I loved the travel sequences in both London and Greece in this one.
The Next Stage by Jean Jenkins
It was a pleasure to be acquainted with the work of Jean Jenkins, thanks to her contribution to Destination Romance with The Next Stage. My sympathies immediately went out to the loveable lead in this story, Carol, as she battled having her heart broken many times over. However, a trip to New Zealand via a majestic cruise offers Carol hope and love in the form of Robert. I haven’t had the chance to visit New Zealand yet, but the travel sequences in this story certainly whet my appetite!
Heart Swings by Renee Conoulty
I recently connected with the author of Heart Swings, Renee Conoulty in person at The West Coast Fiction Festival and I have her novel on my wishlist. In the meantime, a chance to explore her writing presented itself through Conoulty’s contribution to this anthology. Conoulty injects plenty of her personality in this story. Her enthusiasm, energy and love for swing dancing are ever present in Heart Swings. This story also represents a love song to Thailand through the vivid travel episodes used in Heart Swings. I fell in love with the seductive Ryan, just like the female lead in this story, Brooke.
When Love Breaks Down by Lisa Wolstenholme
For those who love a good mature age romance in the tradition of Liz Byrski and Maggie Christensen, be sure to add Lisa Wolstenholme to your author list. I loved the connection made between the retired couple in this story, Gill and Jim, to their daughter Maggie Redmont, who is J’Adore Travel Boutique’s extraordinaire. This is outback WA’s chance to sparkle and it delivers on all levels.
Living in the Past by Melanie Page
If you are a lover of history, particularly medieval history and archaeology you will love Living in the Past. I adore France and its rich tapestry of historical figures, architecture and practices, so a chance to read about this in a romance story certainly sent me in frenzy! As much as this is a picture perfect holiday fling turned love story, Living in the Past also recognises the importance of personal pursuits. Living in the Past features the most romantic closing scene in this anthology. A standout read!
On Track by Mel A. Rowe
This is one story in the collection I was most excited to read. I am currently enjoying the writing of Mel A. Rowe, via her feature length novel, The Football Whisperer. Even though On Track is a short story, I was reminded of how much I love Mel A. Rowe’s writing. In this delightful short story Jessica is our lead, Jessica is a website guru who comes to Heart Springs to help J’Adore Travel Boutique. This leads her unexpectedly in the pathway of Brett and plenty of tension surmounts between the two. Brett’s back story tore my heart into pieces and I was gunning for these two leads to have their own HEA.
Escape to D’Amour by Michelle Beesley
There is a cosy feel to the writing of Michelle Beesley, I immediately felt at ease with her prose. What I appreciated about this particular story was the chance Beesely gave Lavender, the owner of the local teashop in Heart Springs, to have her very own pathway to love. My senses were on overload as I was taken on a gastronomic journey to the south of France, experiencing the local culinary and love delights with the gorgeous soul Lavender. Escape to D’Amour represents my favourite locale featured in Destination Romance, thank you Michelle!
A London Minute by Michelle Rule
The hustle and bustle of London comes alive with an added dash of romance thanks to the author of A London Minute, Michelle Rule. Having lived in the UK, this was quite to homecoming story for me and the extra bonus of a sweet romance tale made this story a winner. I love the surprise issued to the lead of A London Minute, Ruby by her generous parents. I was rooting for Ruby and Flynn all the way!
Spoilt for Love by Monique Mulligan
Monique Mulligan is an editor of this anthology and it is very evident that she has worked her magic on every single story featured in Destination Romance. Now it is her time to take to the stage, delivering the final piece in this anthology collection. It is a fitting end to a whirlwind set of globe trekking love adventures. Spoilt for Love grants Maggie Redmont with an opportunity to find the love of her life, which she will find close to home. There is some travel narrative threads featured in this parting story, but it is locally based, giving our country a chance to show off its startling features. Expect plenty of heart, emotion, sensual moments, fun dialogue and will they/ won’t they moments from this love story. I guarantee this concluding story, along with all the connecting stories in Destination Romance, will leave you feeling like you were just hit by cupid’s arrow!
Destination Romance by Serenity Press will be published on 22nd November 2018. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Learn more about Serenity Press here.
*I wish to thank the publisher, Serenity Press, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Destination Romance is book #135 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge