I had the great pleasure of attending the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) 2016 Brisbane High Tea recently with fellow She Brisbane writer and romance author Kelly Lyons.
Romance and High Tea just seem to go hand-in-hand, which is why ARRA set out to bring together some of Australia’s most loved romance authors to sup on tea, nibble dainty cakes and discuss all things romance with their readers.
The event kicked off in Sydney with readers getting to meet authors such as Amy Andrews, Helene Young and Rachael Johns followed by Melbourne in October, which included writers Kerri Arthur, Fiona Lowe and Alli Sinclair.
Finally, it was Queensland’s turn, with the romance readers of Brisbane frocking up and heading to the iconic “Room with Roses” in the Brisbane Arcade to meet their favourite romantic novelists.
Authors Anna Campbell, Tina Clarke and Kylie Scott were our hosts for the day. Readers had the choice of sitting at their favourite author’s table. I was lucky enough to sit with the always bubbly and ever vivacious Anna Campbell.
Anna is the best selling author of historical romances with evocative titles such as “A Scoundrel by Moonlight”, “Captive of Sin” and “Tempted by the Tycoon”. She was voted Australia’s favourite romance author from 2009 -2012 after her first book “Claiming the Courtesan”was published in 2007.
I had met Anna previously at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival where she wooed us with Baci chocolates and copies of her books. This day was no different. The romance readers at our table were delighted with Anna’s generosity . We walked in to find a stack of books waiting for each of us at our places. It felt like Christmas Day, especially as Brisbane Arcade was already awash with Christmas decorations.
Tina Clark, who writes as TM Clark, was hosting the next table. She is a warm and engaging lady originally from Zimbabwe in Africa. Her novels “Tears of the Cheetah”, “No Brother but One”, “The Avoidable Orphan” and “Shooting Butterflies” are African suspense novels with romantic elements. Knowing my love of Africa after a trip earlier in the year, Tina kindly gifted me one of her novels as well as some South African goodies. I know I’ve now found a new and exciting author to read and I can’t wait to be transported back to Africa via Tina’s evocative African settings.
The cool rock chick of the group, Kylie Scott, hosted the third table. I have been lucky enough to attend some of Kylie’s writing workshops in the past and she’s always great fun. Her first novel “ Flesh” was a post zombie apocalypse erotic romance and set her on the path to becoming a New York Times and USA Today best seller. She was voted Australia’s favourite romance author in 2013 and 2014 . Her novels have provocative titles like “Lick” , “Play” and “Dirty”. Kylie has a dedicated band of readers who eagerly wait for each new title to be published.
Feeling like queens for the day, we drank in the old world atmosphere of “Room with Roses” with its ornate chandeliers , floral curtains , dainty cake stands and vases filled with roses.
We felt like characters from one of Anna’s regency novels sitting and supping in an old world parlour. We feasted on sandwiches, quiche and mushroom tart to begin, then made our way through the most divine scones with raspberry jam and cream. To finish, a selection of dainty cakes-chocolate , ginger and a citrus mousse slice, were all washed down with copious amounts of tea and coffee and perhaps a cheeky champagne (Thanks Anna).
We talked all things books, romance and high teas. Our favourite reads this year have been “A Man Called Ove” by Frederik Bakman , “The Promise Seed” by Cass Moriarty and Annie Barrow’s “ The Truth According to Us”.
High Teas we have loved in the past include those at the Sofitel, Queenies, Tea and Niceties and Bacchus, Rydges.
ARRA is asking for suggested venues (towns or cities) for next year’s high tea program.
As we left “Room with Roses” laden with goodies and full to the brim with tea and cake, we were already making plans for next year. Ah romance and high tea, could there be a better combination.