A bit of news… 

Penguin Random House Australia acquires Five Bush Weddings, the exhilarating debut novel by Clare Fletcher.

Publisher-at-Large Nikki Christer acquired World English rights from Clare Forster at Curtis Brown Australia to Clare Fletcher’s debut novel. Penguin Random House will publish Five Bush Weddings in August 2022. 

Capturing the heartbeat of rural Australia, Five Bush Weddings is an uplifting romantic comedy about looking for love, second chances, and what really matters when the bouquet has been thrown, the swag’s been rolled up and the party’s over.

Clare Fletcher says: ‘When I first met Nikki Christer and the team from Penguin Random House I knew that my rom-com, Five Bush Weddings, was in the best possible hands. It’s been an enlightening experience sharpening up the manuscript for publication, and also lots of fun. For anyone who’s ever been to a bush wedding, and has appreciated the drama and romance and rowdiness, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing this world through the lens of wedding photographer Stevie-Jean. I can’t wait for publication in August.’ 

Nikki Christer, PRH Publisher-at-Large, says: ‘I knew from the very first page, the mention of dancing to Eagle Rock, and the flashbacks it gave me, that this was a book for me. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, and utterly heart-warming. I felt happy just reading it. I’m so excited to be publishing this, and to introduce an incredibly talented new author, Clare Fletcher, onto the rom-com scene. Five Bush Weddings is just the tonic we need in these times.’

Clare Fletcher was born and raised in St George, in regional Queensland. She currently manages communications for the Walkley Foundation and is working on her second novel. In 2019 she completed the Year of the Novel Course at Writing NSW with Emily Maguire. In 2021, her short story ‘Death’s Waiting Room’ won the Body In The Library category at the Scarlet Stiletto Awards. Clare lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter.

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2023 books I’m most excited for

There are some absolutely cracking books due for release in the next few months, from some of my favourite authors. Personally I can’t wait for these to come out:

Emma Grey, The Last Love Note (Penguin, January 24)
A romantic comedy following a sole parent as she learns to live and love again after losing her husband — something the author has experienced — this sounds extraordinary.

Saman Shad, The Matchmaker (Penguin, January 31)
Set amid Sydney’s desi community, a rom-com about whether a jaded matchmaker can recognise her own perfect match. How fun!

Jessica Dettmann, Without Further Ado (HarperCollins, March 8)
Promotion includes the line ‘Beth O’Leary meets 10 Things I Hate About You in this sparkling romantic comedy’. What more do you need? I devoured an advance copy of this in about 24 hours. Absolutely gorgeous.

Karina May, Duck L’Orange for Breakfast (Pan Macmillan, March 28)
Another one I’ve had a sneak peek of and you don’t want to miss it. A fresh and funny new voice (Karina is a friend but I’m not just saying that!) delivers a fabulous rom-com with delicious sides of travel, IKEA obsession and French recipes. Chef’s kiss.

Claire Christian, West Side Honey (Text, April 5)
A hotly anticipated follow up to It’s Been A Pleasure, Noni Blake, this rom-com follows Cleo, florist with two kids and a new custody schedule that will give her the chance to finally do some things for herself. Knowing Claire’s work I’d expect a beautiful story of growth and self-love with some deliciously sexy escapades. After all, ‘how can you work out what you really, really want unless you try a bit of everything?’

Genevieve Novak, Crushing (HarperCollins, April 5)
Following up her brilliant debut No Hard Feelings, Genevieve Novak tackles a serial monogamist named Marnie who swears off relationships only to meet her dream man — and he has a girlfriend. I read an early draft of this and every arc is so satisfying — a brilliant sister relationship, a career reinvention, and a friendship for the ages with my favourite character, Claud. Bittersweet and divine.

Mhairi McFarlane, Between Us (HarperCollins, April 5)
Every year Mhairi gives us a new novel and every year it’s brilliant. She’s an auto-buy for me but this premise sounds delicious – about a long term relationship and how it’s affected when Joe’s new crime drama airs and Roisin sees secrets she shared with him play out on the TV screen.

Jodi McAlister, Can I Steal You For A Second? (Simon & Schuster, April 5)
A sequel / companion to the dreamy Here For The Right Reasons, here Jodi follows another couple on the fictional reality dating show Marry Me Juliet. I’ve been dying for this since I read a sneak peek at the end of HFTRR!

Curtis Sittinfeld, Romantic Comedy (Penguin, April 12)
From the author of American Wife, Rodham and the (I think) underrated Pride & Prejudice-meets-reality-TV novel Eligible, comes a story about a scriptwriter on a show that seems based on Saturday Night Live. Counting the days for this one.

Emily Henry, Happy Place (Penguin, April 25)
Emily Henry is an auto-buy for many rom-com fans and Happy Place is already generating buzz. I’ll be reading along with half of TikTok, hoping she can match the magic of Beach Read.

Charlotte Ree, Heartbake: A Bittersweet Memoir (Allen & Unwin, May 2)
If you follow Charlotte on Instagram you’ll be as excited for this as I am. An intimate memoir about lost love and finding yourself, with lots of food and recipes, it sounds dreamy.

Beyond my beloved rom-com genre, there are also plenty of other books I’m looking forward to including crime/thrillers from Dinuka McKenzie, Ali Lowe and debut author Holly Craig; non-fiction like Isabelle Oderberg’s Hard To Bear (Ultimo Press, April) and Ellen Van Neerven’s Personal Score (UQP, March); and blockbuster literary fiction from Zadie Smith and Melissa Lucashenko.

I’m also keeping an excited eye out for debuts from Saraid Taylor (Flinch, UQP) and Angie Martin (Melaleuca, HarperCollins) which should be out in late 2023 or 2024.

What are you excited to read in 2023?