by Carla Caruso
Fledgling romance author Simona Gemella is hoping the rugged wilderness of
will help reignite her creative spark after her husband walked out on her
(calling her a workaholic and filing for divorce). Kangaroo Island
She's joined her best friend, Nessie, on a health and wellness retreat at a mysterious old manor on the island, run by an astrology guru.
Though Simona's sworn off men, she can't help being distracted by a darkly dangerous man with a scorpion tattoo - Denham Cobalt - who's also staying at the manor. Then strange things start to happen, including uncanny accidents and even a possible murder.
It all culminates at a masquerade party on the night of a total lunar eclipse. Will Simona survive - with her heart intact?
I really enjoyed this amazing book, a perfect mix of mystery, romance, astrology and magical realism.
Simona has just released her debut novel. She has given up everything to pursue her dream of becoming a writer: she has divorced her husband and has abandoned her excellent work as a journalist. Her best friend Nessie convinces her to spend a holiday with her in a spa resort on Kangaroo Island. But she can not switch off from work, she must absolutely find an idea for her new book. It will not be easy to overcome writer's block, also due to the strange events that occur at the resort and the meeting with the charming Denham Cobalto, a marine biologist.
The characters are really warm and likeable. Simona has closed her heart to men to devote herself to work but perhaps the magic of the island and the attention of the mysterious and awesome Denham will make her change her minds. Nessie is really funny, I just want to enjoy a holiday with her.
This is a well-written novel that grabbed and held me from page one. Lots of colorful characters, a captivating plot, a wonderful setting and a magical atmosphere make this book a great one!
I definitely recommend this one.
I received an advanced reader copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Regal, rather than haunted, was how Simona would describe the two-storey Sea Star Manor, their accommodation for the next week. Wheeling her bulging suitcase, Simona craned her neck to take in the vast windows, Juliet-style balcony, and sweeping, red-roofed verandah.
The old-fashioned grandeur contrasted with the flashy Ferrari 458 Italia blocking their path on the curved, gravel driveway. Simona knew the car model because Carmine had drooled over one at a motor show. This gleaming version — red, naturally — had the numberplate LEO78. Its petrol-guzzling ability didn’t seem to fit with the healthy ethos of the spa, but maybe one of the guests liked to splash the cash.
Nessie, walking ahead with a fuchsia overnight bag in the crook of her arm, looked back, an eyebrow arched. ‘Could have told you the driver was a Leo,’ she whispered. ‘I didn’t need to read the numberplate. Leos are so flashy.’
‘Haha.’ Simona smiled in return. ‘Though it could refer to anything. The driver’s name, for example.’ Her forehead creased. ‘You know, the Ferrari aside, there weren’t many vehicles in the guests’ car park. I thought this place was meant to be fully booked, and we were lucky to squeeze in this week?’
Really, it was bad timing, being the same week as her book release and with the pressure mounting for an outline of her next offering. Unfortunately, Simona hadn’t known the release date when she had agreed to tag along.
‘There are only ten rooms.’ Nessie shrugged. ‘Guess it fills up quick.’
‘I guess,’ Simona echoed, uncertainly.
Circumventing the Ferrari, parked at its look-at-me angle, Simona stepped under the arched entryway onto the tiled porch. A wind chime clanged in the blustery weather and strands of hair whipped at her face. So much for getting her ’do professionally styled. In the distance, a rooster crowed, and beyond vines to her right a glimpse of sea beckoned.
Nessie pushed on the ornate front door. It opened with a creak. As she disappeared inside, Simona was left to struggle through with her suitcase before the door closed. Typical of Nessie to be too excited to wait.
In the slightly gloomy, high-ceilinged hallway, the statue of an angel spread its wings over an intricately carved staircase on the upper landing, and a patterned maroon runner decorated the polished floor. Nessie was already distracted, picking through flyers atop a wooden hall cabinet, her overnight bag at her feet.
‘Ours is the first room, right?’ Simona prompted her friend, as she picked up their name tags and the attached old-fashioned key from the table.
‘Hmm?’ Nessie murmured, before suddenly squealing. Simona doubted this was in response to her question. She was right. Nessie turned to wave a glossy flyer in Simona’s face. ‘Oh my gosh, they’re going to have a fire-and-ice-themed masquerade party — right here — just like on that Revenge show. It’s on Saturday, the night of the eclipse.’
‘You know about that eclipse thing, too?’
Nessie waved a hand in the air. ‘Astrid mentioned something vaguely … We are so going.’ Her eyes widened. ‘Ooh, reckon I’ve got the perfect blue frock for it in my boot, too. Good thing we brought my car.’
‘Lucky you. I didn’t bring any evening gear. Gowns don’t usually go with spa resorts,’ Simona moaned. ‘Guess I’ll have to go shopping.’ Although, the main street of Kingscote, which they had whizzed through, looked anything but fashion central.
Nessie was fortunate that she used her Ford Fiesta like a second wardrobe. It was the reason she could travel so light.
Nessie leaned over and took the key off Simona, then stepping forward, she slotted it in the first door on the right. ‘I’ve got a feeling this week’s going to be life-changing, Sim,’ Nessie said as she turned the key. ‘No more partying and disorganisation for me, and less angst about your career and divorce for you. It’s like … like a fresh start.’
Simona nodded as the door swung open, and she followed Nessie inside. In pride of place was a four-poster queen-size bed with billowy white netting and a wooden chest at the end. Adding a touch of cosiness was an elaborate fireplace, and plush reading chairs by a heavily curtained window. In the very far corner, a single bed was crammed, like a last-minute addition. Everything seemed to be designed for couples.
Before Simona could take another breath, Nessie had flung her bags on the queen bed and squealed. Again. ‘I love it! It’s so olde-worlde. And by the window will be perfect for setting up my meditation altar.’
Simona swallowed a sigh. It was only day one; too early to argue. Plus, the retreat was Nessie’s idea, and she had driven them both. Simona would catch a break next.
‘It’s gorgeous. So what time did you say the welcome drinks were this arvo?’
Nessie checked her chunky, white watch. ‘An hour’s time — in the sunroom, according to my printout. Well, I might dash down the hall for a shower. Relaxation mode starts now.’
Unfortunately, a bathroom wasn’t attached to their room, which would mean long, cold trips in the dark. Joy.
‘Cool,’ Simona murmured. ‘I might unpack.’
Nessie grabbed Simona’s shoulders as she passed. ‘This week is going to be so much fun — I can feel it in my bones.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Carla Caruso was born in
Australia, and only
'escaped' for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in . Previously, she
was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Sydney 's daily newspaper, The Advertiser.
She has since freelanced for titles including Woman's Day and Shop Til You
These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au.
Q&A with Starcrossed author Carla Caruso
Where are you from?
Hi! I’m from Adelaide, Australia. Adelaide’s a small city, but some people describe it like a ‘big country town’, as for many city-slickers it only takes about half an hour to get to the beach or countryside. Our rush hour isn’t much to complain about! Right now it’s springtime and the almond blossoms are perfuming the air, the skies are a wonderful blue, and the countdown has begun until our (sun-drenched) Christmas.
Who are your favorite authors?
Sophie Kinsella, Maggie Alderson, Liane Moriarty, and Zoe Foster. Chick-lit and women’s fiction are my comfort reads, though I’ve grown partial to cosy mysteries, too. (I used to just like those in the TV form.) As a youngster, I grew up on Enid Blyton, Sweet Valley, The Baby-Sitters Club, and Judy Blume.
What are you reading now?
Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic to the Stars! I actually got it for my birthday in January, so it’s taken me a while to dive in. After a break from Kinsella, I’ve had a bit of a binge on her books recently, also just finishing her young-adult novel, Finding Audrey. Sometimes you have a book on your to-be-read list so long, it loses its sparkle. Then you finally get around to reading it and you wonder why you waited as long as you did, as has happened with Shopaholic to the Stars! Now I’m hanging out for the next Shopaholic instalment, set in Las Vegas.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, the editing! I love the creative part of just coming up with a story and letting the words flow on the page, but going back and polishing them ain’t so fun for me. I’m a Capricorn (astrology’s a theme of Starcrossed, by the by), so I like having things done and dusted sooner rather than later and quickly moving on to my next project. Hence, why I usually only do one edit before handing in a manuscript to my editor…
Do you have a special place you like to write?
My home office at the back of our house! It’s on the north side of our abode, so light-filled with plenty of windows. It’s also shaded by a mandarin tree and looks onto our grassy backyard. And it’s a no-go zone for my two-year-old twin boys, who have a tendency to leave grubby fingerprints and dings everywhere, so is, hence, a sanctuary for me!
Any other books in the works? Goals for future project?
I recently finished a novel with the working title of Tomato Season, which is inspired by my Italian ancestry and market gardening heritage. It’s told through the eyes of a 20-something woman in the present-day, her mother in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the Italian grandma in the ‘50s. And it involves romance! I’ve been learning to cook and be ‘more Italian’ along with the heroine in my novel and blogging about the process here: www.theunitalianwife.com/about.html. I’m also near the end of a novella about triplet brothers who go into the wedding photography business together. This one focuses on the non-identical brother, but naturally, I’m planning three books in the series. Can keep you updated on my progress at www.carlacaruso.com.au J
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Star-crossed-Carla-Caruso-ebook/dp/B00XTG48KU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438109170&sr=8-1&keywords=starcrossed+Carla+Caruso&pebp=1438109194844&perid=1ANFG1TJ42J9JQC2XG34
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Carla will be awarding an eCopy of Starcrossed to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.