A MelanieM Review: The Red Heart by Isabelle Rowan


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Red HeartDaniel Evans is a man in search of himself, a better, drug free self and heads into the outback to see if he can find him.  Pierced, and goth, complete with black eyeliner and nail polish, Daniel also has a trunk-load of demons to vanquish or at least come to grips with.  He’s on the road to Uluru with his twin brother’s car and no real plans.  Until he runs into Sam Collins, ex-Army vet still dealing with the repercussions of the wars he has fought.

Sam needs the isolation and quiet that the red dirt of the Northern Territory affords him and he lives by the odd jobs he hires out for from station to station.  When ex soldier meets goth on the run, the expected explosion never happens.  Instead two damaged men find the other half of their heart in the red desert and rocks of Uluru.

The Red Heart is perfect Isabelle Rowan.  A quiet story full of magic, strength and endurance, it surrounds itself in the elemental power of the Northern Territory desert and the ancient stones of Uluru, previously known as Ayer’s Rock.  With this setting as a foundation, Rowan brings into emotional clarity two damaged men in search of peace and an end to their anguish.  One, Sam suffers from PTSD and the memories or flashbacks that haunt both his days and nights.  Daniel is a drug addict just out of rehab and looking at the mess he’s made of his life.  He also happens to have a mirror image that underlines the poor choices he has made.  Daniel has a twin brother whose live took a happier, drug free path and the pain of that knowledge only adds on to Daniel’s guilt and confusion.

Rowan’s characterizations come across as completely believable poignant human beings, as does all the people in this short story.  Whether it’s the tourists Sam and Daniel find at  Uluru or the workers at the Station that accept Daniel, although not without a good amount of kidding that never falls into bullying or spite.  The station felt alive, busy and dusty from the red dirt all around them.  But it’s the desert and the ancient formations that Daniel and Sam hike through that give this story its magical power and elemental sense of timelessness.  Through Rowan’s vivid descriptions you can feel the pull of the rocks, the vibrations that flutter through the soul that forever changes Sam and Daniel.

What final part of this story grabbed at me?  The fact that nothing was magically solved or that each man’s problems were eradicated.  No, Daniel and Sam still had issues to deal with,  including once an addict always an addict for Daniel.  But they would be dealing with their realities together.  That made this story and this couple real, and wonderful, and meaningful.

I love this story and highly recommend both the author and The Red Heart!

Cover Artist Anne Cain does a great job with the landscape.  I just wish that the model was a little leaner, someone who looks as though they had hit the end of the road.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press      All Romance (ARe)    Amazon   Buy it Here

Book Details:

ebook, 114 pages
Published March 13th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 12th 2013)
edition languageEnglish
seriesUnder the Southern Cross

Down Under Author: Isabelle Rowan


DownUnder_January Is Banner


Meet Isabelle Rowan!

Isabelle Rowan is the author of A Note in the Margin, Twelve Days, and many other books listed below.

To get to know Isabelle Rowan a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.


Author Bio 1

By day I teach English and Media in a suburban High School, but whenever I manage to find I spare minute I fill it with writing.

Although I wrote a lot as a teenager academia ate my brain and stifled my urge to write fiction. The odd poem here or a very short story there until a midlife crisis made me pick up my pencil again. Several years of blogging encouraged me to try my hand at longer fiction and my vampire short was picked up by Dreamspinner Press for their Desire Beyond Death anthology.

Although I write mainly mm romance I am also a member of the Australian Writers of Horror Association.

I’m also co-director (with Matthew Lang) of the Queermance Festival. Please have a look at our website and maybe join us! http://www.queermance.com.au

Author Contacts

Contacts/Follow at :

Twitter: @Aussie_Izzy
Goodreads: Isabelle Rowan
Website & blog: http://www.isabellerowan.com
Facebook: Isabelle Rowan

Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Isabelle Rowan Books:

InkThe Red HeartThe Road to ByronTwelves Days





A Note in the Margin:   Rainbow Awards (Elisa Rolle) – Runner up, Best Contemporary Romance (2009) – Best debut novel (2009)

Blurb: margins

John McCann, a man who judges life by the tally of an accounts ledger, has a supreme goal in life: To achieve, live, and enjoy the rarified executive lifestyle. But he’s encountered one problem: The migraines are going to continue to get worse unless you make some major changes in your lifestyle. What you need is a ‘sea change’… Perhaps buy a nice little business in the country, settle down, something easier to occupy your time…

While John knows the doctor is right, he just can’t resign from the job he’s fought so hard for. He decides the sacrifice of taking a year’s leave of absence won’t interfere too much with his plans, and so he finds himself running Margins, a cozy little bookstore, with the help of the former owner’s son, Jamie. John expects to put in his year, get his stress under control, and then get back to business.

What John doesn’t expect is how Margins and its denizens draw him in, particularly the quiet, disheveled man who takes refuge in the old leather chair in the second-hand book section. John’s plans for an unattached year of simple business crumble when he meets David and is forced to reevaluate life, love and what he really wants from both. John and David are forced to come to terms with their pasts as they struggle to determine what possible future they might build together.

Book Details:

ebook, 276 pages
Published March 2009 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleA Note in the Margin
edition languageEnglish
seriesA Note in the Margin #1
charactersJohn McCann, David Robinson

Ink :  Rainbow Awards (Elisa Rolle) – Honorable Mention, Paranormal Romance. (2012)
Snowman  – released mid year (2015)
Twelve Days (A Note in the Margins Story)
The Road to Byron
The Red Heart – our review follows today.
Under the Southern Cross

Genre(s): Contemporary, paranormal


Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Isabelle Rowan) is an ebook of A Note in the Margin. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.


Author Qand A


A Chat with Isabelle Rowan

What books as a child has the most impact on you?

Stories have always been part of my life. My parents either read to me at night or made up stories. The Wind in the Willows was always my favourite and I honestly believe it still resonates with me in so many ways – I think I was a mole personality (shy and not very brave) wanting to be Toad (adventurous and fearless). By primary school it was The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings. Similar themes that I’ve carried over into my own writing – step up, take the risk to be brave and it might just work out. Ha ha, see, I’m still saying might instead of will, but I’m getting there.

Actually The Wind in the Willows plays a role in Twelve Days (Book 2 in the A Note in the Margins series) and this continues into the book I’m writing now – WIP title – Jamie’s Notes.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Wow, there is no one answer to this question, unless it’s everywhere – sights, sounds and smells! Ink came from my favourite tattoo parlor on Chapel Street. While I was being inked it struck me that the small purple room would be exquisite torture for a vampire. The heady smells of blood and adrenaline. Whereas, A Note in the Margin came from an indulgent night spent in a posh hotel in Melbourne and seeing a homeless man bed down on cardboard in a doorway. I didn’t sleep that night. The Red Heart’s genesis was a conversation with my high school students about the concept of home and country. Many of them are refugees and come from backgrounds I can’t even begin to imagine, so it was amazing to hear them talk country and belonging. Hopefully I captured a little of that essence in the central Australian landscape.

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult?

Poppy Z Brite wrote a vampire novel called ‘Lost Souls’ that I’ve reread so many times that I’ve had to buy at least four copies of the paperback (I still have them all). Her character Ghost stays with me. He is an ethereal character who, although human, seems to exist between worlds. He is a true innocent and for some reason that struck a chord for me.

Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

Write whenever I can steal some time. I teach high school so that can be hard. Those who know me or my tweets will know that I usually escape to cafes to write – not with wifi. I have the attention span of an insect so don’t need distractions! Somehow, the steady hum of voices, music and coffee machines soothes me to write. I have a release in June, Snowman, that involves cafes and baristas as well as mountains, dogs and horses!

How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

Hmm, ask some of my poor frustrated editors! I didn’t realise that there were that many differences until I was told I have very Australian sentence structure. Seriously, I didn’t know there was such a thing! But I do know that we have what a good friend from the US calls Aussie-isms. Other than that I think you’d have to ask a non-Aussie because I can’t necessarily spot the difference – too close to it I guess.

If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?

I was toying with the beautiful Dandenong Ranges (1 & 2), or my local beaches, but I think the sights and sounds of Melbourne would have to win out. Tourists often head to Sydney and Uluru leaving Melbourne for ‘next time’, but it is an amazing city. So, I would base my tour around Art and coffee culture! We have galleries galore as well as wonderful street art. We could take a tram ride around the city or perhaps up to Lygon Street(3) or down to St Kilda(4). Many café stops would be needed as well as sampling delicious cakes and chocolate. So kick back with an espresso and try to decide how to fit in all the theatre, music, and history Melbourne has to offer.

Dandenong RAngesDandenong 2Lygon StreetOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA






What are your current projects?

Snowman is just about to start its editing cycle and that should be released in June.
I’m almost half-way through Jamie’s Note (working title only).
I have a zombie YA novel in the works.
I’ve also started musing on a steampunk novel.

Down Under Day 21: Welcome, Isabelle Rowan, and our AUS/NZ Facts of the Day



Welcome, Isabelle Rowan!

Isabelle Rowan’s book, A Note in the Margin, was my first introduction to Australia by way of a M/M author.  This novel is Australian with every bit of its heart and mind.   From the Australian Christmas to the venues in and around Melbourne, I learned as I read, wept and cried tears of joy.  It’s still one of my all time favorite stories to rec.  So please stop by Isabelle Rowan’s page, learn about all her stories, and about the author herself!  And guess what Isabelle Rowan is giving away for her contest! Yep, A Note in the Margin.    

And because she is from Melbourne, that’s where our Australia fact of the day looks in on:

Australia Fact of the Day – City of Melbourne!

Interesting & Fun Facts About Melbourne:Melbourne City

  • Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria, Australia.
    Melbourne is located in south-east Australia.
    A person from Melbourne is called a Melburnian.
    ‘The Story of the Ned Kelly Gang’, made in Melbourne in 1906, recognized as the first feature film of the world, running to five reels.
    About 90 tons of dog poo is left on the streets of Melbourne every day.
    According to the RSPCA, Melbourne is the “Fox Capital” of the western world, with 6-23 foxes every square kilometer in the metropolitan area.
    melbourneBefore Melbourne came to be known as the ‘City of Melbourn’e, it was called Batmania, Bearbrass, Bearport, Bareheap and Bearbury.  (I personally love Bearbrass or Bareheap!)
    Melbourne’s famous beer, Foster’s Lager, was actually produced by two Americans. – See more at:
    Luna Park, in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of St Kilda, is the oldest amusement park in the world under private management.Melbourne-Skyline
    Melbourne had the first gay and lesbian radio station in the world.
    The expression ‘call girl’ that is used for a prostitute, was invented in Melbourne. – See more at Melbourne Lifestyles

New Zealand Fact of the Day

New Zealand is made up of two primary isles, North Isle and South Isle, with further outlying isles known as the Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Isle, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands.  The largest city in New Zealand is Auckland. auckland

Original Maori name for New Zealand: Aotearoa
Original Maori name for Auckland: Tamaki Makaurau

New Zealand has over 4.5 million inhabitants, of which 1/3 lives in Auckland. Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and is also known as “the city of sails”. It has Auckland-new-zealandmore boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.


auckland spire

Oh, the Fun Down Under, A Special Riptide Tour and the Week Ahead!


DownUnder_January Is Banner

Down Under Author Showcase Update

Oh, the fun we are having with our Down Under Author Showcase.  I’ve learned so much about Australia and New Zealand just putting together the facts of the day for both countries.  And that has me itching to go and check it all out for myself.  Glowworm caves?  Who knew?

Plus, as I am devouring John Wiltshire’s series, More Heat Then The Sun, and loving it.  Have you grabbed those up yet? I am overwhelmed with all the new authors and books that I myself have added to my TBR pile and auto buy list!  It’s been great and it continues this week, our last full week of the month.

So far, here’s our author roll call to date:

1/1 Christian Baines
1/2/2015 Nicki J. Markus            1/10/2015 N. R. Walker
1/3/2014 Anne Barwell                1/12/2015 John Terry Moore
1/5/2015 N.J. Nielson                  1/13/2015 Beany Sparks
1/6/2015 L.J. LaBarthe                1/14/2015 A.B. Gayle 
1/7/2015 Michelle Rae                 1/15/2015 Lisa Henry
1/8/2015 Renae Kaye                   1/16/2015 Meredith Shayne
1/9/2015 John Wiltshire             1/17/2015 Pelaam


If you have missed a day, go back and see what you have missed.  Check out their bios and their books and enter their giveaways.  And don’t forget to search out the Scavenger Hunt Word of the Day as well as my Australia and New Zealand fun facts!

The Burnt Toast B&B Book Tour and Charity Donations!


Now onto The Burnt Toast B&B Tour,(of which we are a participant) from authors Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz and Riptide Publishing.  The Burnt Toast B&B story (which Barb read, reviewed and loved) included a trans character, Ginsburg.  Well, hear it from Heidi and Rachel:

Ginsberg’s background of financial hardship and lack of family support is all too common among many people who, like him, are trans and trying to live happy, fulfilling lives as their true selves. As such, we the authors, our publisher Riptide, and our generous blog tour hosts will be using the next few days to highlight the personal fundraisers of real trans people in need. We hope that if you’ve got a little extra money this month, you’ll consider donating, and if money’s tight, maybe you can help by spreading the word, too.

For our part, Rachel, Heidi, and Riptide will be giving donors a $5 Riptide credit code for every $10 in donations you make (up to $50 in codes per person, up to $5,000 in codes overall)–just email your donation receipt(s) to info@riptidepublishing.com with the subject line “Burnt Toast Tour Donation,” and Riptide will send out all $5 codes a week after the tour ends. (It’s totally cool, by the way, to spread your donations across multiple fundraisers if you’d like; we’ll add up all your receipts sent in a single email and base your credit vouchers on the grand total.)

We’re also hosting a special contest for people who donate: every dollar in donations to any of these fundraisers will earn you an entry into a drawing for a full paperback set of Riptide’s current Bluewater Bay lineup, OR two signed paperback copies of The Burnt Toast B&B. We’ll draw one week after the blog tour ends. Every dollar helps, and every dollar counts!

And there’s more, plus additional ways you can help:

Lastly, we’ll randomly select three commenters from all the tour stops and donate $50 apiece in each winner’s name to the trans charity or fundraiser of their choice. (Please be sure to leave a way for us to contact you if you win!)
Today’s featured fundraiser is for Reid, a young Canadian trans man struggling to make ends meet because of employment discrimination. You can find it at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/transman-needs-a-little-help.

For the entire post and wonderful way Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz and Riptide Publishing are using this heartwarming story to help others, visit our page here and/or follow the entire tour which can be found here!

Transgender rights is an important issue everywhere and transgender  people need our support in every way possible.  If you know of other organizations or venues that support transgender rights, email them to us and we will put them on our LGBTQ list.

                    Now Here is Our Schedule at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words this Week!

Monday, January 19:

  • Down Under Day 19: Welcome, Toni Griffin, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day
  • Down Under Author Toni Griffin
  • A MelanieM Review: Chestnuts Roasting Anthology (repost)
  • KC Wells “Bond of Three” Book Tour and Contest
  • A MelanieM Review: Bayou Des Infants by Lynn Lorenz

Tuesday, January 20:

  • Down Under Day 20: Welcome, L.J. Harris, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day
  • Down Under Author: L.J. Harris
  • A Sammy Review: Unfortunate Son by Shae Connor
  • A Stella Review: A Bond of Three by KC Wells
  • Draven St. James Wolf’s Sacrifice Tour and Contest

Wednesday, January 21:

  • Down Under Day 21: Welcome, Isabelle Rowan, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day
  • Down Under Author: Isabelle Rowan
  • A Melanie Review: The Red Heart by Isabelle Rowan
  • A Melanie Review:  A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan
  • A Mika Review: Love Lies Bleeding by Remmy Duchene
  • A Sammy Review: Dirty Dining by E.M. Lynley

Thursday,, January 22:

  • Down Under Day 22, Welcome, Maggie Nash, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day
  • Down Under Author Maggie Nash
  • A Mika Review: We Found Love by Kade Boehme & Allison Cassatta
  • Tame a Wild Human by Kari Gregg book tour and contest
  • Amanda C. Stone ‘Adventures of Cole and Perry’ Virtual Tour and Contest
  • A MelanieM Review: Eoin’s Destiny by RJ Scott

Friday, January 23:

  • Down Under Day 23, Welcome, Penny Brandon, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day
  • Down Under Author Penny Brandon
  • Meredith Russell’s Jack Frost Book Tour and Contest
  • Iyanna Jenna’s  ‘Just A Little Unwell’ Book Tour and Contest
  • A BJ Review: Natural Instincts by M Raiya
  • A MelanieM Review: A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger

Saturday, January 24:

  • Down Under Day 24:  Welcome Lily Velden, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day
  • Down Under Author Lily Velden, Wayward Ink Press
  • Mika Review: The Harvest: Journey’s End by M. A. Church