Book Recommendation ~ Christmas at Gate 18 by Amy Matayo

Book Recommendation:

Supermodel Rory Gray just wants to go home. After wrapping up a three-day high-fashion photo shoot overseas, she’s exhausted and ready for the holiday. A holiday that involves Hollywood parties, air-kissing the industry elite, and a whole lot of fakeness…but whatever. Once she gets through that torture, she’ll head to her beloved Seattle and the life of anonymity she misses so much. In less than twenty-four hours, she’ll be there.

Colt Ross has spent the past six months detaching himself from the Hollywood world he grew up in, and home is the last place he wants to be. But he’s been called back by his overbearing father for reasons he can only imagine. Likely reasons that involve taking over the family corporation or fund raising among Hollywood elite—something Colt has no interest in being part of. Not that he has a choice; when you’re the son of an industry executive, rubbing elbows comes with the territory. In less than twenty-four hours he’ll be home. After all this time away, home no longer appeals to him. Especially not at Christmas. Leave it to his father to ruin a holiday.

But when a late-season hurricane grounds both of their flights in the Dominican Republic, Rory and Colt find themselves stuck at the airport far longer than anticipated. As weather conditions worsen, they both begin to realize that this Christmas will be spent with strangers packed inside a single airport terminal—specifically at gate 18.

Rory and Colt are faced with a choice: band together in their misery or make this Christmas one they will never forget. For two people who aren’t real fond of the holiday, this Christmas might turn out to be the best they’ve ever had.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I’m not a big fan of hanging around airports. I travel interstate for work and, if possible, avoid checking in baggage. When my flight home is delayed, I’m thankful the airport lounge serves a light dinner and always has soup as an option.

Rory Gray and Colt Ross are living an airport nightmare. They are stuck in a foreign country on December 23rd due to a hurricane grounding all flights out of the Dominican Republic.

Rory is a supermodel who doesn’t speak Spanish and forgot to pack a toothbrush and a change of clothes in her carry on. That makes her seem ditzy to Colt when he finds her lying beside him in the middle of the night in a crowded corner of Gate 18.

Colt is a bored playboy who has sworn off women. Six months earlier he ran away from his previous life where he worked for his domineering father. He has been summoned home to LA for Christmas.

Colt recognises Rory, although she doesn’t remember that they have previously met in person. During the story he discovers her inner beauty makes her outer beauty pale by comparison.

Rory is a loner who struggles to trust people and let go of past hurts. She’s attracted to Colt and likes that he’s not impressed by her celebrity status. She allows him to glimpse the real Rory during the few days they’re stuck together riding out the hurricane.

The story is funny and light hearted with a few poignant moments. The forced proximity is challenging for Rory and Colt in different ways.

Christmas at Gate 18 is a fun and clean romance novella with a few edgy elements that may be too much for conservative readers. The Christmas setting of a hurricane in the Caribbean was different and I enjoyed being stranded with Rory and Colt at Gate 18.

Read a FREE sample at

Book Recommendation ~ Rainbow’s End novella collection

Book Description: 

Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the enthusiastic volunteer who can’t see past her own plans; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer; and cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?

Back Cover blurb: 

It’s always an interesting group of strangers who show up for the first annual Rainbow’s End geocache hunt, and the spectacular scenery along the bluffs of the Lake of the Ozarks is just one reason…

Topaz Treasure by Valerie Comer

Lyssa, hoping she can get over her fears and point folks to the treasure found in Jesus, is startled to find her former college professor among the group. Will he upset her mission?

Beneath the Surface by Annalisa Daughety

City girl Madison is annoyed that her sister signed her up and then bailed – but now she’s been paired with a complete stranger! Worse, he’s one of those outdoorsy types.

Love’s Prize by Cara C. Putman

Reagan has always played it safe, doing everything by the book. And then she meets her brother’s frat brother, a guy who’s got his life mapped out, too.

Welcome Home, Love by Nicole O’Dell

After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley can’t wait to meet the people who didn’t know her “before”. But Brad is that species of guy she has no experience with: a player.

God only knows if this adventure in the woods will lead to heartache… or love.

Narelle’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed reading this novella collection. Each romance centers around the Rainbow’s End geocache hunt. I learned more about geocaching in each story and I liked the outdoors summer setting. The stories run concurrently and one of the novellas has a suspense element. I recommend this novella collection to those looking for fun romance stories with an outdoors theme.

Read a FREE sample at

New Book Release ~ Seaside Christmas

Happy Release Day! Today I’m celebrating the release of my ninth book. Seaside Christmas is a contemporary Christian romance novella in my Sydney Sweethearts series. The story is set in Sydney, Australia.


Chelsea Somers is the girl he never called back.

Six years later, former bad boy Gus Donovan is intrigued by Chelsea, but his past mistakes continue to haunt him. Gus is determined to prove he’s a changed man—prove it to his friends, his family, his father. And prove it to Chelsea.

Chelsea has embraced the faith she once mocked, and she’s focused on furthering her career in health promotion and staying away from politics. She’s drawn to Gus, although his busy role as an advisor for an Australian senator doesn’t impress her. When she’s forced to confront her fears and deal with a past family tragedy, can Gus convince her to trust him and take a chance on him?

A heartwarming Christmas romance novella set in Sydney, Australia. Seaside Christmas is a standalone novella and Book 3.5 in the Sydney Sweethearts series.  It’s available in Kindle Unlimited and for 99 cents from Amazon Kindle.

Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter One:

Chelsea Somers walked down the steps leading to the exclusive yacht club, her overflowing pink canvas tote bag swinging from her shoulders. The early afternoon spring sunshine created a mass of sparkles on Sydney Harbour, the iridescent glow bringing a smile to her lips. Her destination, a quaint wooden wharf surrounded by yachts of various sizes bobbing in the waters of the tranquil bay, teemed with people.

A gust of wind blew blonde strands of hair across her face. She tucked them behind her ears, her gaze searching the crowd for her church friends. Zach and Billie had offered their yacht for the charity race event. Chelsea had tagged along to support the organization where she volunteered to raise funds for youth mental health programs.

Billie waved from the wharf, her long dark hair secured in a ponytail under her baseball cap. She wore a t-shirt and denim shorts, and Chelsea envied her tanned complexion that wouldn’t fry in the sun like her own pale skin. She’d brought along a baseball cap and wore a long-sleeve cotton shirt and ankle-length pants, prepared for the unseasonal hot October weather.

Chelsea wove her way along the dock, entranced by the buzz of activity taking place on the surrounding yachts. She lacked any practical knowledge or skills related to sailing. Her plan was to sit on the deck while the experts guided them to the finish line.

Billie’s smile broadened. “Hey, Chelsea. You’re right on time.”

“I’m glad. The traffic was heavy.” The short journey from her parents’ waterfront home in Seaforth to the yacht club had been slower than she’d anticipated. She’d been held up at the Spit Bridge, a small section of the roadway lifting high in the air to allow yachts to pass through Middle Harbour.

“Gus is waiting for us in the rowboat. You know Gus, right?”

Chelsea nodded, her grip tightening on her bag. What was he doing here?

“He’s filling in for Ryan. Cassie isn’t well, and Ryan flew home to be with her. Let’s go.”

Gus Donovan. Chelsea’s chest squeezed around her heart, which seemed to thump louder and louder. She followed Billie to the end of the wharf and stepped down onto the worn wooden planks, only a few feet above the water line. She drew in a calming breath.

Gus sat in the center of a wooden bench seat of the boat, sunglasses on top of his wavy dark brown hair. His golden-brown eyes captured her gaze, his mouth tilting into a welcoming smile, and his muscular body swayed in rhythm with the rising swell in the harbor. He was different to the man she remembered. More laid back and at peace, as if he’d found his place in the world.

“Chelsea, can I take your bag?”

“Thanks.” She passed over her tote, a fluffy beach towel stuffed into the top.

He raised an eyebrow. “You’re planning to swim today?”

“Not if I can help it.”

Billie laughed. “We’ll have to tell Chelsea how to stay on board during the race.”

She gulped, her confidence waning under his intense scrutiny. “I’ll try to stay dry.”

His eyes twinkled. “Have you been racing before?”

“Nope. This is my first time.”

He grinned, his gaze warm. “We’ll look after you, won’t we Billie?”

“Of course. You’ll soon learn the ropes.” Billie lowered herself into the small boat, settling on a bench seat facing Gus.

Chelsea chewed her bottom lip. Billie made it look easy. Could she step into the boat and keep her balance?

Gus held out his hand. “Let me help you.”

“Thanks.” She tucked her hand into his, his soft fingers enveloping hers in a firm grip. A wave of awareness shot through her and she ducked her head, her attention focused on not falling overboard. Not falling on him. Not falling for him.

Read more in the sample at

The novella is part of An Aussie Summer Christmas boxed set, available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.


Book Recommendation ~ Once Upon a Cowboy by Lacy Williams

Once Upon a Cowboy

Book Description:

Book 1 in the Cowboy Fairytales series from a USA TODAY bestselling author

A princess on-the-run finds sanctuary where she least expects it…

After nearly dying in an assassination attempt, Princess Alessandra of Glorvaird escapes to a place no one would ever think to look for her: small town Oklahoma and a ranch staffed by a herd of wooly, uncouth cowboys. One cowboy in particular gets under her skin, until she sees his softer side. She knows this interlude can’t last forever, but that doesn’t stop her from wishing it might…

Former Navy SEAL Gideon Hale might’ve rescued the princess from freezing to death, but the soldier doesn’t trust easily—or at all—especially when his gut tells him Alessandra is keeping secrets. But as Alessandra begins to fit into his life, he discovers another side to the princess—one that he can’t help but like.

When Alessandra’s enemies close in, Gideon must fight to save the woman who has become so much more than a princess…

Once Upon a Cowboy is a contemporary western retelling of the Snow White fairytale and Book 1 in the Cowboy Fairytales series.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of Lacy’s books for many years, and I enjoyed reading the first novella in her new Cowboy Fairytales series. A princess heroine and a cowboy hero is a winning combination for me in a contemporary romance.

The story opens with Alessandra’s life in danger. She manages to escape from NYC wearing her ballgown, and lands in a sleepy Oklahoma town where she meets Gideon.  A former Navy SEAL, Gideon is intrigued by the princess he calls Allie. Gideon takes on the responsibility of protecting Allie from an unknown enemy. He hasn’t dated in a long time, and eyebrows are raised when the cowboy returns to the family ranch with a beautiful and cultured woman by his side.

Allie is fascinated by life on the ranch, and she’s willing to get her hands dirty to help out. She’s drawn to Gideon, a man who originally reminded her of a bear with his shaggy beard and grumpy manner. She gets to know him during her short stay on his ranch, knowing she’ll return to the palace and her royal duties.

Once Upon a Cowboy is a fun fairytale romance based on Snow White’s story. The suspense element in the story worked well, and led to a satisfying and romantic happily-ever-after ending. The faith element is low key, and the characters draw on their faith when disaster strikes. I recommend this western contemporary romance novella to readers who enjoy modern day fairytale romances.

Book 2 in the series, Cowboy Charming, is now available. To learn more about Lacy Williams and her books, please visit her website.

Read a FREE sample at

Book Recommendation ~ Glasgow Grace by Marion Ueckermann

Glasgow Grace

Book Description:

Opera singer, Skye Hunter, returns to the land of her birth as leading lady in Phantom of the Opera. This is her first trip back to bonnie Scotland since her mother whisked her away to Australia after Skye’s father died sixteen years ago. When Skye decides to have dinner at McGuire’s, she’s not going there only for Mary McGuire’s shepherd’s pie. Her first and only love, Callum McGuire, still plays his guitar and sings at the family-owned tavern. Callum has never stopped loving Skye. Desperate to know if she’s changed under her mother’s influence, he keeps his real profession hidden. Would she want him if he was still a singer in a pub? But when Skye’s worst nightmare comes true, Callum reveals his secret to save the woman he loves. Can Skye and Callum rekindle what they lost, or will her mother threaten their future together once again?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

Journey to picturesque Scotland in Marion Ueckermann’s delightful and heartwarming romance novella. I loved the gorgeous white Christmas setting in Glasgow Grace.

Skye is an opera singer who returns to her homeland from Australia to start rehearsals in the New Year. She wants to visit her father’s grave in Skye and she’s staying in a swish hotel, courtesy of her opera company employer.

Callum knows that Skye is back in town and he has bought tickets for an upcoming performance. Skye visits the pub owned by Callum’s family just before Christmas and she reconnects with Callum. It’s like the old days, when they were teens and head over heels in love. But Callum hasn’t forgotten how Skye moved to Australia with her mother and never replied to his letters. Her mother is a pretentious snob who didn’t think Callum was good enough for her daughter.

Callum has his own secrets. He lets Skye believe that he’s a singer and musician who works in the family pub and still drives his old car.

The romance at the start of the story seems to plod along almost too smoothly. A big plot twist (that I didn’t see coming) changes everything and challenges their faith. Skye’s career is threatened and Callum’s secret is exposed. They have to work together to overcome all the obstacles in their path to true love. Glasgow Grace has a tender and emotionally satisfying ending that will charm readers who enjoy sweet Christmas reunion romances.

Learn more about Marion Ueckermann and her books at her website.

Many thanks to Marion for providing a complimentary advanced reader copy of the book.

Read a FREE sample of Glasgow Grace (Passport to Romance) at

New Book Release ~ The Bridesmaid’s Hero

Happy Australia Day! Today I’m celebrating our national holiday and the release of my eighth book. The Bridesmaid’s Hero is a contemporary Christian romance novella in my Snowgum Creek series. The story is set in a fictional town in the Snowy Mountains region of Australia.


Pastry chef Serena Blaxland isn’t staying in the small Australian town of Snowgum Creek. She’s there for her sister’s wedding, and to help out at the family B&B until her mother’s arm heals. Sparks fly when the handsome driver of their bridal car saves Serena from disrupting her sister’s perfect wedding day.

Harry Westmore’s dream of becoming an equine vet was put on hold when his father passed away. He’s working several jobs in his home town to pay his bills and prepare for his future career. He can’t stay away from the beautiful chef when he visits the B&B each day to look after her mother’s horses.

Serena’s home is in Canberra, where she has built a successful career. When Harry’s offered an opportunity too good to refuse, they must decide if their love and faith can overcome all obstacles.

The Bridesmaid’s Hero is a standalone novella and Book 1.5 in the Snowgum Creek series.  It’s available in Kindle Unlimited and for 99 cents from Amazon Kindle.

Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter One:

Serena Blaxland leaned back into the soft leather rear seat of the white BMW hire car, her bare shoulders tense. Wedding planning had transformed Debbie, her easygoing older sister, into Bridezilla in her quest for a perfect day. She’d never forgive them if they kept her waiting.

The front door of their parents’ Snowgum Creek home remained open. Serena’s younger sister was inside the farm house. Why was it taking Gina so long to find a missing tube of lipstick? She’d been in there ten minutes already.

Serena fidgeted with the hem of her knee-length pale pink bridesmaid dress, her immaculate French manicure catching the early afternoon sunlight. Her nails had never looked this good, but the manicure failed to hold her interest.

The handsome driver of their hire car had captured her full attention.

He paced the length of the front veranda, his elegant suit accentuating his tall, muscular physique. Harry Westmore. The name suited him.

Harry returned to the car and crouched beside her open window, his fair hair ruffled and eyebrows drawn together. “The rest of the bridal party left fifteen minutes ago. Should I find out what’s holding up your sister?”

She shook her head, meeting his concerned gaze. “I’ll give her a few more minutes before I go inside and yell. Unlike Debbie, Gina has no concept of punctuality.”

“The bride was determined to leave on time.”

“That’s Debbie for you.”

His eyes, the color of the cloudless sky overhead, hinted at his impatience.

An idyllic September spring day, and they had a long drive ahead. The bride had left with her parents in a matching BMW. The chief bridesmaid had snubbed Serena and Gina by catching a ride to Sunny Ridge with her boyfriend in his luxury sports coupe. Debbie hadn’t been impressed by Crystal’s last-minute change of plans.

Gina flounced onto the veranda, slamming the front door behind her. Two inch heels didn’t slow her progress across the lawn. “I found it, finally.” She held the lipstick in the air as if it was a precious gem.

Serena let out a deep breath. If Harry drove the speed limit, they should make it on time to Sunny Ridge Community Church in the large town west of Snowgum Creek. Pre-wedding photos were scheduled in the adjoining park.

He opened the car door for Gina and she slid into her seat behind the driver, her skirt a tangled mess around her thighs.

Gina bit her lip. “I hate this skirt.”

“Be thankful it’s not floor length.”

“True, but I wish Debbie had asked what we thought before she chose our dresses.”

“It’s her wedding.”

“And don’t we know it.”

She let Gina’s comment slide. Her younger sister’s relationship with Debbie was fraught with issues, and Harry didn’t need to hear their complaints. He’d already witnessed Crystal’s emotional outburst. Debbie’s best friend had refused to travel to Sunny Ridge in the bridesmaids’ car.

Harry started the car, a quiet purr compared to the cough and splutter of Serena’s aging hatchback. “Ladies, are we ready?”

“Let’s go.” Gina buckled her seat belt. “I hope we won’t be late.”

Serena suppressed a groan. “Me too, because Debbie doesn’t need the extra stress. Harry, I’m ready.”

“Okay.” He maneuvered the luxury car over the cattle guard at the front entrance next to the prominent Blaxland B&B sign, onto a short dirt track leading to the main road. “We have enough time.”

“Oh, good.” Gina stashed her lipstick in her purse. “I’m already in Debbie’s bad books.”

Serena tightened her grip on the door handle. “What did you do this time?”

Read more in the sample at

The novella is part of the Love Blossoms box set, available for pre-order for US2.99 on Amazon Kindle. It’s releasing on January 28, 2016, and will be available in Kindle Unlimited.


#Christmas Book Recommendation ~ Poles Apart by Marion Ueckermann

Poles Apart

Book Description:

Writer’s block and a looming Christmas novel deadline have romance novelist, Sarah Jones, heading for the other side of the world on a whim.

Niklas Toivonen offers cosy Lapland accommodation, but when his aging father falls ill, Niklas is called upon to step into his father’s work clothes to make children happy. Red is quite his color.

Fresh off the airplane, a visit to Santa sets Sarah’s muse into overdrive. The man in red is not only entertaining, he’s young—with gorgeous blue eyes. Much like her new landlord’s, she discovers. Santa and Niklas quickly become objects of research—for her novel, and her curiosity.

Though she’s written countless happily-ever-afters, Sarah doubts she’ll ever enjoy her own. Niklas must find a way to show her how to leave the pain of her past behind, so she can find love and faith once more.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I love Christmas romance stories and Poles Apart didn’t disappoint. Sarah is impulsive, and she books a three week trip to Lapland, Santa’s home town, over Christmas. She’s desperate to overcome writers block and meet her looming deadline. Sarah believes Lapland will provide the inspiration for her Christmas romance novel. A white Christmas is a very different proposition to the summer Christmas weather she’s accustomed to back home in South Africa.

Niklas, the owner of the cabin she rents in Lapland, is surprised and entranced by Sarah when they first meet in rather unusual circumstances. Sarah isn’t familiar with Finnish customs, especially the avanto, which creates humorous moments in the story. We meet reindeer, and Niklas’ golden retriever dogs are adorable.

I loved the way the romance between Sarah and Niklas evolves, and how the faith element intertwines with the mythology and legend of Santa.  The story has a lovely underlying Christian message that keeps the focus of Christmas on Jesus.  I recommend Poles Apart to readers who enjoy fun and light hearted Christmas romance novellas set in exotic locations.

Poles Apart is currently available for 99 cents in the Snowflakes and Mistletoe: A Collection of Christian Christmas Romances box set.

Read a FREE sample at

Book Recommendation: Secretly Yours (Riverbend Romance Book 1) by Valerie Comer

Secretly Yours

Book Description:

A Christian Romance Novella for Valentine’s Day

Chef Lindsey Solberg agrees to cater the church’s Valentine’s Day fundraising banquet as a favor to her teen sister, but she’s shocked to discover the bad boy from her high school days is now Riverbend’s youth pastor. Seriously? How could he have changed that much? Nick Harrison has prayed for years for an opportunity to make amends. Now Lindsey’s back in Riverbend and won’t give him the time of day. What’s a guy to do except leave a trail of gifts from a secret admirer?

Lindsey’s heart takes a beating when she realizes the boy who was never good enough is now a far better man than she deserves.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Secretly Yours, set in the small fictional town of Riverbend in British Columbia, Canada. Lindsey Solberg hasn’t had an easy life. She returns to Riverbend to help her stepfather care for her stepsister, Madison, following the tragic loss of their mother. Pastor Nick is the reformed bad boy who messed with Lindsey’s heart when they were in high school. Lindsey struggles to believe that he’s a changed man, and she is reluctant to trust him. She’s not looking for romance, and her mother’s relationship history has turned her off the whole concept of marriage.

Lindsey agrees to be the chef for the church youth group’s Valentine fundraising dinner, and she’s drawn into an easygoing friendship with Nick.  I have a soft spot for reformed bad boy heroes, and Nick didn’t disappoint me. Nick regrets his actions in high school and comes up with his secret admirer plan to win Lindsey’s heart. His faith is strong and he gently encourages Lindsey to explore her own lukewarm faith.

Secretly Yours is the first book in Valerie Comer’s Riverbend Romance novella series, followed by Pinky Promise. A sweet Valentine’s Day read, I recommend Secretly Yours to readers who enjoy fun and lighthearted contemporary Christian romance novellas.

Click here to read my book recommendation for Sweet Serenade (Riverbend Romance Book 3)

Read a FREE sample at

My first independent release: His Perfect Catch

HPC  final

I’m happy to announce that His Perfect Catch is now available for 99 cents (US dollars) as a standalone title in the following stores:

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble



It’s exciting to move into the arena of indie publishing and have the opportunity to publish my own books. A special thank you to my awesome editor, Iola Goulton, and brilliant cover designer, Karinne Campbell. Many thanks to my critique partners and beta readers who have provided input and encouragement for all of my books. Thank you to the lovely ladies in the SPLASH! novella group who were very generous with their time and expertise as I navigated the new world of indie fiction publishing. I appreciate you all and I’m blessed to call you my friends.

I’m exploring traditional publishing opportunites with my agent, despite the Heartsong Presents line closing last month. I’m now technically a hybrid author because I’m open to publishing both independently and with traditional publishers in the contemporary Christian romance genre.

If you’d like to be notified when my next book releases, please sign up for my author newsletter.

His Perfect Catch is available, for a limited time, in the SPLASH! box set for the special price of 99 cents on Amazon Kindle. Yes, the SPLASH! box set is an excellent deal – NINE novella’s for the price of ONE! Pick up your copy of SPLASH! today.


SPLASH! Interview with Marion Ueckermann, author of Orphaned Hearts

Orphaned Hearts

Book Description:

When his wife dies in childbirth, Zambian conservationist Simon Hartley pours his life into raising his daughter and his orphan elephants. He has no time—or desire—to fall in love again. Or so he thinks.

Wanting to escape English society and postpone an arranged marriage, Lady Abigail Chadwick heads to Africa for a year to teach the children of the Good Shepherd Orphanage. Upon her arrival she is left stranded at Livingstone airport… until a reluctant Simon comes to her rescue.

Now only fears born of his loss—and secrets of the life she’s tried to leave behind—can stonewall their romance, budding in the heart of Africa.

Me enjoying a Zambezi River sunset cruise

Me enjoying a Zambezi River sunset cruise

Narelle: Welcome, Marion. Can you please tell us more about the setting for Orphaned Hearts.

Marion: Orphaned Hearts is set in a place close to my heart—Zambia—land of my birth. When asked to write a story set in Africa with a water theme for this boxed set, I knew there was no other place for this story than the Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River. Of course, having been there and seen it all helped cement my choice of African location.

Although the Vic Falls is mentioned in the story, focus is on this great river itself.

Narelle: I love your exotic African setting. How does your novella fit with the SPLASH! water theme?

Marion: South African Simon Hartley has lived close to this incredible river for over a decade where he’s doing his part for conservation with his elephant orphanage.

Having ridden on and fed one of these magnificent creatures, plus seen an eleven-week old ellie up close when we visited Zambia many years ago, I had to bring elephants into this story. What do they have to do with water, you ask? Elephants love and need mud, and so there’s a fun scene with the pachyderms and orphans down at the mudhole (that’s water, too…sort of).

This little baby below has such an amazing story about its conception, but I’d have to share that in a separate blog.

This baby loves mud

This baby loves mud

Feeding Danny, the elephant I rode on

Feeding Danny, the elephant I rode on

When his wife dies in childbirth, Simon buries her on his property beneath a giant sycamore tree on the banks of the Zambezi.

Over five years pass. Raising his daughter and orphan elephants consumes Simon’s life. When he offers help to a stranded Abigail Chadwick, fresh off the plane from England and in Africa for a year to teach the orphans of the Good Shepherd Orphanage, he finds himself reluctantly drawn to her. Their feelings for each other grow with a romantic sunset dinner cruise down the Zambezi on Valentine’s Day.

Narelle: The elephants are adorable and I love how they feature in your story. Is your novella connected to a series?

Marion: Initially it wasn’t. I was writing a story set in Africa for this boxed set, that’s all. Valerie Comer, who has championed Splash!, said I should consider turning this into a series. Series? Even though my first two published books, Helsinki Sunrise and Oslo Overtures (coming August 2015) are part of Pelican Book Group’s Passport to Romance series, and my Helsinki Sunrise hero and heroine make a brief appearance in Oslo Overtures, I’d never considered writing books connected to each other in some way, whether by character, location or theme. It didn’t take long to convince myself this was a great idea, and so my Heart of Africa series was born.

I plan to write and Indie publish two Heart of Africa stories a year. Book 2 will continue where Book 1 finished, but the hero will be one of the minor characters in Orphaned Hearts, and the heroine, someone who earned a one-liner in the same story. There’ll definitely be scenes at Mosi-oa-Tunya—the Smoke that Thunders, better known as the Victoria Falls. Maybe I’ll throw in a lunar rainbow or two for good measure.

I’m really excited about setting stories on my continent—who doesn’t love the idea of an African safari. But because Africa has so much more to offer than just its unique wildlife, there’ll also be, amongst other things, exciting desert experiences or time spent relaxing in the beauty of the Cape winelands. I hope readers will be excited to come along with me to the heart of Africa and fall in love.

Narelle: Marion, I can’t wait read more stories in you Heart of Africa series. Thanks for visiting today and sharing more about Orphaned Hearts with our blog readers.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novella, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novella, Oslo Overtures, releases 2015. Marion lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

You can find her at or her Amazon author page.

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NINE Refreshing Romances Filled with Faith!

Releasing June 23 and available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents.