Laurie's News & Views

April 2, 1996 - Issue #3

Welcome back to Laurie's News & Views. This issue will be full of items from my mail bag, as well as some snippets from authors we've been talking to lately. I will update you on our latest survey question, but will leave it open-ended for now in the hopes that more readers will respond. And, we will also peel another leaf from our delectable romance artichoke.

A READER WANTS TO KNOW:
I received a fascinating e-mail from reader Catherine Allen. She wrote asking whether the hero should be loyal to the heroine from the moment they meet. She added, "It may just be me but I don't like the idea of him sleeping around after they meet. I have no problem with an experienced man, but I prefer that he get said experience prior to their association. I think it adds another aspect of romance to think that after meeting he there could be no other."

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We need to explore Catherine's question. I have read books where the hero attempts to continue his association with his mistress. This "other woman" seems to realize his heart (or something else) isn't in it and helps him discover his true feelings for the heroine. Other books feature a hero who finds himself unable to "perform" when with another woman after meeting the heroine. At this juncture, he realizes he is in love with the heroine and proceeds to woo and win her.

In the historical arena, it is well known that many or most marriages in the upper classes (which most authors use as leads in their stories) were those of convenience. Indeed, a good number of historicals are based on that fact and use it to drive the plot. I have read good examples of both types of books described above, including Catherine Coulter's Midsummer Magic and Alexis Harrington's A Taste of Heaven. Although this theme is not generally my preference, it does have its place in the genre.

Let's flesh this out. Send me your thoughts on this subject as well as titles that have been successful in handling this to your satisfaction.

DESERT ISLAND SURVEY: In our last issue, I put forth the following scenario -- We are our favorite heroine, stranded with our favorite hero. Who are we, who is he, and which books did we save when the ship went down?

To help things along, I revealed my choices as Princess Alessandra from Julie Garwood's Castles, Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne, from Julia Quinn's Splendid, and shared with you that my list of books had 29 titles. Several of you e-mailed me for my list, which I gladly provided.

Very few of you responded completely to this survey, but I did chuckle when I read this response from Julia Quinn:

"I'm so honored that Alex is your fave hero! I think I might need to go back and reread that. I think I went through a little phase where I thought he was a bit too much of the classic rake, and I wanted to branch out with other characterizations. But now I'm feeling like I need to get back to the rake! (g)"

Other readers provided me with their list of books and/or their choices of hero and heroine, but very few intrepid and diligent readers answered the entire question. One reader, Angela Els, said, "I could go without clothes but never without books! She took her responses so seriously that she even e-mailed me an addendum, changing her hero from one of Jude Deveraux's to one of Linda Howard's. (Actually, she's not the only one with second thoughts - I had a devil of a time choosing between Princess Alessandra's husband Colin and the Duke of Ashbourne. I'm not too superficial to admit that I chose the Duke for his physical attributes, namely his black hair and green eyes.)

Reader Laurie Shallah said, "If I were on a desert island my hero would definitely be Pasqual from Katherine Kingsley's No Sweeter Heaven, and I would be Splendor from Rebecca Paisley's Basket of Wishes (I've always had a thing for faeries)."

Angela Els would be either Princess Alessandra from Julie Garwood's Castles or Lady Sarah, from The Gift by Julie Garwood. She added, "Now, about that hero. . . man, that's a difficult decision. Couldn't I have a few hidden around the island?" She settled with Grey Rouillard from Linda Howard's After the Night.

Our island is going to be sizzling from the book choices I received. Mentioned most often, and among my choices as well, were:
  • Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood
  • Too Deep for Tears by Katherine Lynn Davis
  • Basket of Wishes by Rebecca Paisley
  • Bewitching by Jill Barnett
  • A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

I think the lifeboat is going to feel like Lovey and Thurston Howell were on it from the weight of the other book titles I received from readers. I would say that newer books were represented more than older, classic romances in general, but here is a smattering of selections. I will be keeping a full compilation; please e-mail me for that list if interested.

  • Sunflower by Jill Marie Landis
  • Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
  • Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
  • Dark Champion by Jo Beverly
  • Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney
  • Annie's Song by Catherine Anderson
  • The Witness by Sandra Brown
  • Sunshine & Shadow by Tom and Sharon Curtis
  • Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts
  • McKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard
  • The Wolf & the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss
  • Highland Rogue by Arnette Lamb
  • No Sweeter Heaven by Katherine Kingsley
  • No Brighter Dream by Katherine Kingsley
  • The Bride Wore Spurs by Sharon Ihle
  • Stealing Heaven by Kimberly Cates
  • Outlander by Diana Gabalden

Please keep those responses coming. I'd most like to hear who you wish to be and who you wish he were.

HEARD FROM LATELY:
Julia Quinn is not the only author we've heard from lately. Contributor Dede Anderson passed along this tidbit from author Maggie Osborne aka Magaret St. George, author of the wonderful Love Bites, among others. Dede works in a book-store and asked why Maggie was buying a copy of her very own first work Alexa. Maggie responded that wherever she goes she looks for that book, because she thought it was so terrible she's buying up all the copies!

HOW IS A ROMANCE LIKE AN ARTICHOKE?
So far we've peeled off two leafs on our delectable artichoke. Beyond laughter, beyond tears, what other leaves cover the heart of the artichoke? One of the most obvious leaves, indeed, some might consider this the "heart", is the writing of love scenes.

LUSCIOUS LOVE STORIES - Well-written, these scenes can lead to heart palpitations, perspiration, and an immediate search for our mate. Poorly written, these scenes can cause us to laugh, skim, or throw a book across the room.

Some writers leave a great deal to the imagination while others are as graphic as letters to Penthouse. We here at the Romance Reader rate sensuality from "G" to "NC-17". There are times when a "G" or "PG" book suits fine. At other times, an "R" rating hits the spot. My personal preference is generally in the vicinity of an "R" rating.

What are your preferences in this area? Do you prefer the relatively chaste style of love scenes written by Dorothy Garlock? Do you lust over the slightly-more risque style of Amanda Quick? Do you eagerly anticipate the love scenes penned by Julie Garwood and Stella Cameron? Or do you yawn unless presented by the erotic writings of Susan Johnson and Bertrice Small?

Some books adhere to a "3-scene" rule. Others end with the marriage bed. Still others seem to be love scenes strung together by plot. What is your preference? How much is too much? Is there such a thing as too much?

Are some of your favorite books favorites because of the love scenes? Come on, remember growing up and reading a book you weren't allowed to because of page 13? (In my case, my whole crowd from junior high had memorized the "dirty pages" of The Godfather. I know I'm not alone.)

I have not as yet compiled my personal list of luscious love stories. I'd like you to think about the issues raised under this heading. And, after you've thought about that, think again. This time about what books are the most luscious love stories you've read. When you're all done thinking, drop me a line with your answers and your list. I'll be thinking and compiling my list as well.

FAVORITE FUNNIES - We've added another title to our listing of favorite funnies. Newest on the list is Lady Reluctant by Maggie Osborne. It joins the following:

  • Bewitching by Jill Barnett
  • Basket of Wishes by Rebecca Paisley
  • The Vicar's Daughter by Deborah Simmons
  • Splendid by Julia Quinn
  • The Gift by Julie Garwood
  • Knight of a Trillion Stars by Dara Joy
  • What the Lady Wants by Jennifer Crusie
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • Once Upon a Pirate by Nancy Block
  • The Bride Wore Spurs by Sharon Ihle
  • Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
  • Heartstrings by Rebecca Paisley
  • Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi

THE TWO-HANKY READ - The twelve titles I listed as sad yet wonderful romances grew as well. Reader Cheri Johnson expressed that, "Fern Michaels makes me cry way too much, and after For All Their Lives, I quit reading her." Have any others out there given up on an author because her books are too painful? I haven't gone to this extreme, but will juggle the reading of such intense books with ligher fare.

Adding that Michaels' title, our list is now as follows:

  • Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
  • Velvet Bond by Catherine Archer
  • Basket of Wishes by Rebecca Paisley
  • The Warlord by Elizabeth Elliott
  • Too Deep for Tears by Katherine Lynn Davis
  • All We Hold Dear by Katherine Lynn Davis
  • A Taste of Heaven by Alexis Harrington
  • Bewitching by Jill Barnett
  • Once an Angel by Teresa Medeiros
  • Pearl Stallion by Rae Muir
  • Fire in the Heart by Katherine Sutcliffe
  • Dream Fever by Katherine Sutcliffe
  • No Sweeter Heaven by Katherine Kingsley
  • Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi
  • Stealing Heaven by Kimberly Cates
  • Outlander by Diana Gabalden
  • Love Bites by Margaret St. George
  • Beauty & the Beast by Hannah Howell
  • Lord of the Storm by Justine Davis
  • Wings of a Dove by Elaine Barbieri
  • Another Dawn by Sandra Brown
  • A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

FUTURE VIEWS: In upcoming issues of Laurie's News & Views, we will discuss covers, the length of books, favorite plot-lines, over-used plot contrivances, among others. Please check back with this site in two weeks for the next issue.

TTFN, as Tigger said to Winnie the Pooh,
Laurie Likes Books

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