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Hug an Australian Day

by Beth Cranford

Happy Hug an Australian Day, friends!

If you’re thinking that’s a national holiday I made up just to get more hugs, that’s fair. It definitely sounds made up, and it’s probably reasonable to assume that some Australian living in, I don’t know, Delaware, decided that they needed more hugs and just started telling people it was Hug an Aussie Day and it grew and grew until this moment. This article.

Once again, Delaware out here leading the way. (Thank you, Delaware!)

Of course, it could also be related to the fact that yesterday, April 25th, was ANZAC Day. For those unfamiliar with Australian and New Zealand public holidays, ANZAC Day is akin to Memorial Day — a day to commemorate the sacrifice and bravery of those who served in the armed forces. The full history of ANZAC Day is moving and incredibly heartbreaking. If you want to learn more, go HERE.

Whatever the reason for Hug an Australian Day, however, it’s here and it’s not going away, and neither am I. At least, not until I’ve introduced you to some of my favorite (that should be favourite, if we’re doing this thing right) Aussie romance authors. Starting with…

MARLEY VALENTINE

I have to confess, I hemmed and hawed about adding Sydney-based author Marley Valentine to this list. Not because she doesn’t write incredible books — she really does — and not even because she’s a Sydneysider while I am a Melburnian. Rather, it’s because of this TikTok.

Those pajamas? I covet those pajamas for multiple reasons (THEY HAVE POCKETS!) and I miss being able to buy them whenever I want. *sobs* *holds arms out for hug* *buys four pairs online*

Sorry, sidetracked. Marley writes both M/F and M/M contemporary romance, and if you want to see Australia through her eyes, you can check out the Redemption series. Be warned, the top review for book one, Reclaim, is titled “Raw, Beautiful and Heartfelt,” so you’re going to need some tissues. Some = LOADS, by the way. If you’d like to read the book that *I* love most, allow me to introduce you to Deacon and Julian in the absolutely beautiful but heart-rending Without You. This Australian definitely needed several hugs in the aftermath but it was 100% worth it.

CARMEN JENNER

My love affair with Carmen Jenner started several years ago, when I picked up her debut book, Welcome to Sugartown. I was absolutely enchanted with the way she mingled small-town Australian life — replete with bogans, bushland and the baddest boy of them all, Elijah Cade — with angst and humor. In the years since then, I’ve followed Carmen through hilarious wombat attacks, into dark romance that ripped into my very soul (there are very, very few authors I would let lead me into reading dark romance, and Carmen is one), around the corner into unforgettable MM romance, and straight into the first cartoon romance cover I ever picked up. I enjoyed them all for varying reasons, and if you haven’t already read one of Carmen’s books, I implore you too. You can say “thanks, mate” later, okay?

P.S. I was actually lucky enough to meet Carmen at an Australian event in lovely Queensland a few years back (oh, to be able to go back!), so if the fact that I still love her books after all this time doesn’t sell you, then perhaps the fact she gave me one of the best hugs this Aussie has ever had will?

STEPHANIE LAURENS

I was something of a latecomer to romance — I didn’t pick one up until after I moved to the USA in 2012, when I was just shy of 30 — and an even later comer to historical romance. In fact, I shared my favorite historicals in a Subgenre Spotlight right here on the blog recently! And while I may never live down the shame of not embracing this subgenre earlier, it’s okay — I’ve more than made up for it since. However, it wasn’t until my fellow Book+Mainer, Julie, gifted me a copy of Devil’s Bride that I discovered Stephanie Laurens. (Her family moved to my hometown, Melbourne, Australia when she was five, just to clear up any question of her Aussie bona fides, LOL.)

Honestly, the gift of Devil and Honoria was the best hug Jules could’ve given me. It lit a fire in me that had me racing to catch up on the Bar Cynster and all their heady dives into true love. I really can’t decide which one of these reformed rakes is my favorite, although I confess a soft spot for my first, Devil, and my second, Vane. But… Scandal, and Demon, and Gabriel, and Lucifer… Oh my!

AMY ANDREWS

I learned just now that Amy Andrews hails from Yeppoon, that Yeppoon is in Queensland, and that I’d really like to go to Yeppoon one day. (Also, Yeppoon Lagoon is fun as hell to say.) What I am not learning just now is that Amy Andrews is an author whose books make me smile and laugh and feel good. One might even say they’re like a hug in book form. If one was writing this article to a theme, that is…

Anyway, I kicked started my love affair with Amy’s books when I read the second book in her Sydney Smoke Rugby series, Playing It Cool. Now, for anyone who knows me and my dedication to both Australian Rules Football and reading books in the correct order, this might seem like an odd choice. But I have zero regrets — I loved Harper and Dexter’s story and from there I was hooked. And what hooked me even more? Credence, Colorado, a small town with cowboys (don’t try to separate me from my cowboys, I love them) and maybe even a stray Aussie rugby star. Excuse me while I swoon.

KYLIE SCOTT

Okay, I have to start this one with a confession: I have not read Kylie’s uber-popular Stage Dive novels. I know I should — hell, I want to — but time is not on my side. I have, however, read her Dive Bar series, and guys, I’m a fan. A big fan.

The series kicks off with Dirty, and lemme say that a man finding a bride in his bathtub is not the kind of thing I thought I’d be writing about when I was an ankle biter wanting to follow in my parents’ journalistic footsteps. #NoRegrets. From there, this group of friends goes through a lot to find their way to HEA, and I was happily along for every step.

And now, I wait for July 13, 2021, when Kylie releases Pause. It might not be a Stage Dive or Dive Bar book, but it is releasing on my birthday and will be my gift to myself. We’ll call this one a self-hug, because self-care is important.

ELLA FRANK

Dear Ella Frank,

Thank you for Logan and Tate. I will be forever in love with you for giving those delicious, delightful men to me. Try not to Take this too seriously, because I swear, I’m not a stalker. You’ll just have to Trust me on that.

Love, Beth

Okay, okay, I’m sorry for that intro, but my fellow ex-pat Aussie is the reason I read MM romance. She gave me my first taste, and I’ve been jonesing for more ever since. And boy, has she ever given it to me. Sunset Cove, the PresLocke series (with honorary Aussie Brooke Blaine), Confessions — the list goes on, and so could I. Just know that this one isn’t a hug that I’m receiving. No, no, it’s a hug that this Aussie is giving to another — out of gratitude. And fine, maybe a little bit of stalker-ness.

About Beth

Beth Cranford was born and raised in Australia, but followed her heart (and her husband) to the United States in her late 20s. As the mother of two kids, she’s learned that you can turn anything into a song and that slime does not belong in carpeted areas (or polite society). You can most often find her with her Kindle in hand, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, or spending way too many hours playing Animal Crossing.

Follow her @BethCranford on B+M Bites.

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