Tuesday 26 May 2015


Title: Matronly Duties
Author: Melissa Kendall
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Release Date: 21st May 2015

BLURB from Netgalley
Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.

Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the last twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.

Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.

But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.

Amazon UK

Being totally honest after taking a look at the cover and reading the blurb I wasn't immediately attracted to reading the book. Though I was feeling ill at the time and now blame that a little. For some reason that I can't even remember now I was unsure about this title. However after a nights better sleep, I re-read the blurb and decided I had been a little hasty and wanted to give the book a go.

The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House actually emailed me the details of this book and asked if I could be part of the tour. After reading the blurb I wanted to read the book but didn't feel well enough with my health issues to sign up to read the book by the set date. They generously offered me a free Arc e-copy of the book anyway, to read when I could. Then I re-read the blurb and decided to just perhaps read the first chapter and see what I though. Well I read the Prologue and decided I had to read the book straight away. This book really hooked me after just reading the Prologue. 
The cover shows the inside of a tunnel. A tunnel which turns out to be far underground within the sanctuary that is called Oceania. The tunnel is part of a series of catacombs, and is highly relevant to the plot of the book  The other item featured on the cover is a brooch or pin that is gold and is the emblem of the Matron, who is the head of the relevant sanctuary they are in. Would the cover make me pick this book up from a book shelf in a book store? I'd like to think I would, as I'm now writing this after reading and loving the book but I would I have picked it up just on the cover alone? I'm 50/50 on whether I would have picked it up.
Now where to start with this book? The Prologue (which I should reveal had me totally captivated by it's end) which gives you the background of what events have occurred to lead up to the situation that is this society. So I guess I should begin there,  the G7 leaders announced on TV that an asteroid was on a collision course with earth. The asteroid was so large that it caused a catastrophic explosion that plunged earth into another Ice Age. This news both brought humanity together yet at the same time also drove it apart. Five underground shelters had been built, America, Europe, Oceania in Western Australia (where this brilliant book is set), Asia and Africa. Obviously with only five shelters available places in them are limited. Priority is naturally given to those experts in fields that are necessary to ensure the success of the sanctuaries. For a non expert to secure a place, they must be aged between 13 - 35 and have their name drawn via a lottery system. There is so much turmoil going on that these "Invitations" have to be delivered by military personnel. Those "lucky" chosen ones have to provide identification and are whisked away and moved into the sanctuary in secret.
In Oceania the whole way of living is changed, with twice as many men than women of child bearing age there is a procreation issue. Laws have had to be made to prevent society from in-breeding. Now a woman is expected to have children with more than just one male. The whole procreation act is changed and babies are created scientifically in test tube rather than conceived in the natural way. People who disagree with this way are branded as fornicators and put in jail and worse!
The position of "Matron" is created. A female figure to head this society. A Matron is chosen from a group of young women who have been specially trained at Matron In Training Insitute since they took and passed the FMAT .
The main character of this book is Miss Bethanie Greene, who is the next Matron. However before she can begin her duties, future Matron Bethanie Greene is kidnapped during her Sunday run. The men that take her are the rebels of the community called Trad's. Bethanie is rescued by a young male named Howard James. He takes her back to his home on  the outskirts to meet his family, Rhonda (his mum), Anthony(his father), and all his siblings, Margie, Tim, Twins Bradley & Jean and the youngest Claire. Bethanie is surprised by such a large family and even more shocked to learn that mother & father live together and do not have other partners or offspring as she has been taught at MITI. Rhonda welcomes Bethanie into her family and answers all of the questions that Bethanie asks. Bethanie stays overnight at the James's home, and goes off for a romantic walk with Howard. Bethanie wonders if she could be falling for Howard in the "old fashioned" way that her parents did and Howard's parent did too. Before she can explore this budding relationship they are surrounded, Howard is arrested and she is whisked back to the Matron House. Bethanie is told that Howard is the leader of the Trad's and he planned the whole kidnapping. Naturally Bethanie is confused and doesn't know who to trust anymore, she has a lot of work ahead to find out who can and cannot be trusted to help her. Bethanie soon learns the whole truth of her kidnapping when a letter is smuggled to her from Howard. During the book letters are exchanged by the pair. It's the way they learn more about each other and set the wheels in motion for an elaborate plan of escape. . . . but for whom and to where? . . and how?
So I could truly go on and on evermore about this book, I loved it so much. The pace is fast, there is always something happening, making this a high speed read, you really can't wait to find out what is going to happen next.
I love the main character, Bethanie begins almost totally indoctrinated in the ways of the government, but soon learns how little power the Matron actually has. Blackmailed into signing documents she is not even allowed to read. What Bethanie, or Matron Greene as she is usually addressed does have is plenty of time to think about what Howard and his family showed her, and how she felt when she was with them. Bethanie soon see's the cracks in the way things are run soon realising that Howard and his family are right about how unjust the government is. Howard is of course also a favourite character, undeniably #BookBoyfriend material! He is also a true gentleman and both patient and protective of Bethanie.
There are lots of fantastic characters within the pages of this book including Margie, April, Red, Mark and Estelle too.
There's so much more I could tell you but I want you to discover them as I did by reading the book. I've tried to give you information on the society and how it works without giving away too much of exactly what happens. The society and it's dynamics are complex but the prologue explains the basics you need to know going further into the book and you learn the rest as Bethanie does as time goes on.
There are some scenes of an adult nature, but they are well within the context of the plot and are both beautiful and well written. I'd say this one is for mature teens upwards.
So did I enjoy the book? I loved it, it had the post apocalyptic element with the asteroid, the dystopian society, rebellion, mystery, suspense, and a little romance too. 
Would I recommend this book? Yes, it's great read.Would I want to read more books in this series? Well this book has an epilogue attached to it so I'm not sure there will be another book. I'd like there to be, I mean Bethanie & Howard and the Trad's do still have unfinished business with the government of Oceania, but would they risk their newly found peace to further the Trad cause? They do also still have "connections" on the inside of Oceania such as Gail, April and Red, and other people that live on the outskirts too.
Would I read other titles by this author? Yes I'd checkout any book written by this author, I loved her writing style and descriptions etc.


My body shakes at the thought of what could have happened to me yet again. I’ve heard stories about the slums, and I have to take a few deep breaths to calm myself.
“I was silly running away, I get it. I just couldn’t stay in your home any longer.”
Howard sighs. “Just because my parents raised us with traditionalist values doesn’t mean we are anything like the Trads. You accused us of being a drain on society, but you don’t even know us.”
“You’re right, I don’t. But you don’t know me either. If you did, you would understand why it’s hard for me to understand your way of life. It goes against every law, moral, and convention I’ve been taught. So I can’t be sorry for what I said, even if I’m sorry I ran out of the house.”
Howard takes a deep breath, then exhales long and slow. The expression on his face looks a bit like pity but with a dash of guilt mixed in. “Look, maybe I’ve judged you unfairly based on preconceived notions, but—”
A loud bang echoes outside. Howard glances at me with a panicked look on his face, and then pulls me off the crate onto the floor behind. I sit up, and turn to yell at him, but male voices outside keep my mouth closed. I instead huddle closer to Howard as he puts his hand around my shoulders. He pulls me in until I’m tucked against him.
“Did you see where she went?” a man’s voice asks.
“Nah, she just vanished.” The voice of this one sounds young.
“Damn, the boss isn’t going to be pleased about this.”
The crunch of shoes against pavement indicates they are on the move again. The sounds trail off until they’re no longer audible. I sigh in relief, all the tension fleeing my body.
“Are you okay?’ Howard asks, rubbing my shoulder.
I glance up, only then noticing how little space is between us. His blue eyes have flecks of grey in them, and there’s a smattering of freckles covering his nose and cheeks. His warm breath tickles my cheek almost like a caress, and his jaw has the barest hint of a five o’clock shadow. He really is captivating.
“I’m fine,” I eventually say, the words a mere whisper.
The butterflies in my stomach return with a vengeance. Howard licks his lips as they turn up ever so slightly in a smile.
I can’t stop the sigh that slips past my own lips. Howard leans forward a little, then moves closer still until his mouth is pressed against mine. I don’t dare move. A zing of something, I’m not sure whether it’s pleasure or fear, shoots through me. His lips are soft and wet, and the sensation is unlike anything I’ve felt before. I can’t even decide if I want him to continue or stop. When he pulls away though, a feeling of disappointment bubbles up inside me.
My first kiss.
Goosebumps cover me from head to toe, and unbidden, my fingers move to my lips. Glancing at Howard, he stares at me for a minute, then moves to sit further away.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”
I shrug. “It’s okay.”
Howard frowns and then looks across the room.
Part of Matron training is learning not to form close relationships. It doesn’t mean it never happens. I’ve heard the odd story here and there from the other women, and I realise that’s probably what Gail was trying to tell me at breakfast the other day. But in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I had real physical contact with anyone, above all with a man.
We sit in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Tension rolls off Howard in waves.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Come on,” Howard whispers. “We need to get to the house before those guys come back.”


Melissa Kendall is an almost forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for writing, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is now the author of two published short stories. Matronly Duties is her first full-length novel.

How long did it take you to write Matronly Duties from the original idea to finishing writing it
I started it back in late 2010  and it was a WIP until early 2015

What genre would you place Matronly Duties into?
According to Amazon it is a Sci-Fi romance but I call it a Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian Romance.
[I'd have to agree with you on the genre, it's definitely more Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian, with a dash of romance within it all. A fantastic mix that I loved]

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I think it was purely by accident and idea just popped into my head one day and next thing I knew i had a novel.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre? 
There will definitely be a sequel to Matronly Duties but I also write Contemporary erotic romance so there will be some more of those in the future.
[I don't read erotica, but I'll certainly be looking out for the sequel to Matronly Duties, there's so much more to happen, and questions to be answered too! ~Jeanz]

Where did you get your book plot ideas from for Matronly Duties? What/Who is your inspiration?
No one specifically inspired this books it was more a and idea. what would have to happen to the world for women to be in charge the story kind of blossomed from there.

Did you basic plot/plan for Matronly Duties, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
Im definitely a write with the flow kind of gal though I may make a note of a few key plot points that have to happen.

Did you choose the title first, or write Matronly Duties then choose the title?
Definitely title, it was one of the first things that came to mind as soon as the idea popped into my head.

How did you come up with characters names and place names in Matronly Duties?
Names tend to pop into my head when the characters do.

Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
Character names and places are mostly decided before I start writing but I always add more as I write because places and characters I didnt even think of, will suddenly be pivotal to the story so I'll add them.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I have a base idea of what traits the characters may have but they usually evolve as I write.

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
No not really I've used friends and families names for characters but never based events or character traits around them.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in Matronly Duties? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I dont think so if there is it definitely isnt intentional.
[After reading the book I think the message I take away from it is that there are always two sides of an argument. Bethanie begins really indoctrinated with the ideals that have been instilled into her at Matron Training school. She really believes the whole "Duty" that women have to procreate with more than one male. Until she meets those who are considered the outcasts "Tags" and see's how happy and fulfilling a relationship and procreation the "old" way can be. There's also the message of things are not always as they seem. Bethanie is told everyone has food etc all they need until Howard shows her that life on the outskirts is very different from what she has been led to believe!~Jeanz]

Do you have a favourite character from Matronly Duties? and why are they your favourite? 
Although Matronly Duties is written from Bethanies pov I think my favourite character is Howard. He is a bit of a smooth talker. 

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in Matronly Duties which would you be? and why?
Ooo thats a hard one I'm not sure I'd choose to be any of them but if I was forced to pick probably Margie because she seems to have a bit of mischievous streak.

Do you think Matronly Duties would transfer to a movie well? Do you already have ideas for who you would like to play your characters?
I think it would probably make a pretty good movie and dystopian seems to be on trend right now. As for who would play my characters I think probably Dakota Fanning would make a great Bethanie and probably Liam Hemsworth for Howard.

Where can readers follow you?


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