News and Musings

Sometimes, instead of one long blog post, I find myself with lots of smaller things I want to share. Today is one of those days.
- Earlier this week, I read an interesting piece in Forbes comparing Harlequin with Harvard Business Publishing. What could they have in common? Well, according to Nick Morgan, both have put lots of time and effort into community building. There are folks that just buy the occasional book here and there, but the most dedicated readers I know love to talk about books, so I’m all for having communities where we can do that. Reader-oriented sites and publisher sites obviously offer different things, but I know I’ve visited both and I suspect many readers have as well. Personally, I first discovered the online book world just as I was emerging from the free time-less fog known as law school and I’ve so enjoyed the people and ideas I’ve encountered there. Things have evolved a lot, particularly in the past few years, and I’ll be curious to see where publishers go in their community building. I think Harlequin has a headstart on most, but I see others getting into it as well, with blogs, Facebook pages and sites such as Heroes and Heartbreakers.
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Sometimes Lavender, Sometimes Purple: A Love Affair With Adjectives and Adverbs

While many of you are aware of “copywriting boobos”, I tend to be more aware of descriptive information. I want it to seep into my subconscious setting the scene, showing me the action but not be a part of the story. I think of adjectives and adverbs as the structure or foundation of a novel. You know that it there and it makes an impression but it doesn’t scream out at you.

I am not saying that stark and unadorned writing doesn’t have its place, but adjectives and adverbs are wonderful things when used correctly. They take you from, “See Leigh run,” to “See exhausted but unwavering Leigh stagger wheezily to the finish line.” They change a simple black and white thought by adding vibrant color to it(albeit sometimes purple color), and crafting an image that comes alive in our mind. And having stories come alive is of critical importance.
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Is This Our Collective Fantasy?

My workout playlist runs to guilty pleasures, and Whatever You Like is among the guiltiest. I prefer this more indie, Joan as Policewoman version to the TI original. In case you’re not interested in listening – or unfamiliar with the words – the message in a nutshell is “I find you attractive and want to sleep with you, so I will buy you stuff. Expensive stuff.”

I got to thinking about this during the summer when I read two books with uber-rich heroes back to back. Both of them are household names: Roarke from the long running J.D. Robb series, and Johnny come lately Christian Grey from Fifty Shades. Roarke is of course the classic. He owns half the planet and plenty of stuff off the planet. In the earlier books, he was always working, wheeling, and dealing. Lately he seems to have enough time to own the world and serve as expert consultant, civilian on Eve’s cases. It’s a nice gig, if you can get it.
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Pandora’s Box: A Lady Never Lies

ladyneverlies And Pandora’s Box is back again! This time around, Blythe Barnhill and Jean Wan are taking on a European historical by debut author Juliana Grey. In A Lady Never Lies, Lady Morley has fled to Italy to escape creditors and there she meets inventor Phineas “Finn” Burke. Each of the two, and their traveling companions, are staying in a remote castle in Tuscany. With an unusual setting and a backstory involving the invention of motorcars, this book stood out among recent historical romance offerings.

Blythe: I chose A Lady Never Lies by debut author Juliana Gray for two reasons: 1) she was a brand new European Historical author I’d never tried and 2) I happened to have two copies on hand. Well, from my end, it was a happy accident. I really loved the book. I had no idea that it was set in 1890 – in Italy, no less – and featured a hero who designed electric cars. I am predisposed to like novelty, so this suited me down to the ground. Then I ended up liking the hero and heroine as well. But what did you think?
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TBR Challenge 2012 – And Now for Something Completely Different…

indian_bride I read across a wide variety of genres, so choosing a non-romance book for this month’s TBR Challenge proved rather tricky. In the end, I went with a mystery, because I really wanted to get back into Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series. Set in rural Norway, this series follows Inspector Sejer on his investigations and stands apart from many other mystery series in that it focuses much more on the psychology and the human side of the various crimes presented. The Indian Bride comes 4th in the portion of the series that is available in English, but it works well as a standalone. Though it starts off slowly, this book still holds the attention and as it progresses, it becomes almost compulsively readable. It’s not the most exquisitely perfect mystery I’ve ever read, but I’d give it a very solid B+.

The book centers around Gunder Jomann, a shy, simple salesman from a small Norwegian village. The middle-aged bachelor Gunder is spellbound by the beauty of the Indian women he sees in books and finally one day he decides to travel to India and hopefully meet a woman to marry. He lives simply, so he has enough money saved up for the trip and he even purchases a beautiful silver filigree brooch to give his future bride. Continue reading

Speaking of Audiobooks: Julie James Interview and Giveaway!

9780425246955_AboutThatNig_CV.indd After getting a taste of the winning combination of author Julie James and narrator Karen White with Penguin’s release of Just the Sexiest Man Alive in 2010, romance audio fans have been begging for more from this talented team. After all, Julie’s A Lot Like Love won the Best Contemporary Romance award in AAR’s 2012 Annual Reader Poll and Something About You won that same award in 2011. And since Karen’s narration of Just the Sexiest Man Alive, she has been praised throughout the romance audio community for her performances.

Tantor Audio delighted those same fans by releasing Something About You this past June followed by A Lot Like Love in August. About That Night releases today and we decided that’s reason for a celebration. Continue reading

Melting Pot Challenge: Hispanic Characters

aztec_gold My very first romance novel was Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe, an old Harlequin Presents title. It starred a naïve British girl and an arrogant Argentinian cattle rancher. She had come to Argentina for a dancing job and instead found herself facing the possibility of working at a less savory profession. He had to be married in the next three days in order to inherit some land. The two make a bargain to marry without love but at some point – well, I’m sure you know what happens from there.

So it’s no exaggeration to say that romances with Hispanic characters have always been a part of my reading, even if some were drawn in somewhat stereotypical fashion. For many years Harlequin was my primary source. Along with novels by Kay Thorpe there were literally dozens of others published every year by authors like Anne Mather, Kim Lawrence, and Lynne Graham. As I began reading single titles, these characters stayed with me. From older books like Judith McNaught’s Tender Triumph to newer books like Regina Jennings’ Sixty Acres and a Bride, I’ve been able to enjoy excellent novels that celebrate the diverse cultures that make up the Latin American world.
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Release Dates and Non-US authors: A Reader’s Take

kindlebooks Remember the early days of eBooks? I do. I was so excited about my Kindle. No more waiting until the books were shelved. I could just wake up on the release date and there it would be, ready to read. Except it wasn’t that way -so many of my favorite author’s books weren’t available as a digital release. Sometimes I had to wait a couple of weeks, and sometimes months. Then when that issue was resolved, I had to deal with the fact that I could buy the paper copy of the book for less than the digital copy. Now that these issues are getting taken care of for the most part, I have another request, simultaneous book release dates. Oh, I know it a pie in the sky wish right now, but surely it can be done.
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The Dollars and Sense of Heroes and Heroines

money A report was just released that revealed that in Washington, DC, the childhood poverty rate is higher than that of Mexico. In Washington, DC, my former home and our nation’s capital, more than 30% of children are growing up in impoverished families. Thirty percent.

This is not meant to be a political blog (though how sad is it that just stating childhood poverty rates can become a political debate?). Rather, I present this information as a reality that many of us don’t want to face: some Americans are poor. But reading romance novels – particularly contemporary ones — won’t let you in on that fact.

I’m not talking just the richest of the rich that are far too common in romance novels — the Roarkes, the movie stars, the billionaire bosses — but also the extremely healthy upper-middle-class that it seems almost everyone in romance novels belongs to. No one is living paycheck to paycheck. No one is working two jobs to make ends meet. No one has eschewed vacations in favor of paying school loans.
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Eagerly Awaited October Books

It’s still warm as I write this, so it’s a little difficult to think about fall. The list of October new releases makes it a little easier, though. I think it’s safe to say that many of us are eagerly awaiting the release of Sherry Thomas’ newest novel to complete the Fitzhugh trilogy. In addition to this historical, we’re also keeping our eyes peeled for a number of other books. What do you want to read this fall?

Title and Author Reviewer
Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas Blythe, Sandy, Lynn, Rike, Lee, Elizabeth C.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton Lynn, Dabney
Rapture by J.R.Ward Rapture by J.R. Ward Jean,Heather S.
The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne Leigh, Lee
All Things New by Lynn Austin All Things New by Lynn Austin Maggie,Lynn
Mischief and Mistletoe anthology Mischief and Mistletoe by Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott, Anne Gracie, and Susan Fraser King Lee, Rike
Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson Maggie
Two Wrongs Make a Marraige by Christine Merrill Two Wrongs Make a Marriage by Christine Merrill Rike
The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens Lynn
The Woman who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde Pat
Reflected in You by Sylvia Day Reflected in You by Sylvia Day Heather S.
Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel Maggie
Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander LinnieGayl
The Angel by Tiffany Reisz The Angel by Tiffany Reisz Lynn
In This Town by Beth Andrews In This Town by Beth Andrews Rike
A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery A Fool’s Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery Lee
No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig Maggie
No Matter What by Janice Kay Johnson No Matter What by Janice Kay Johnson Heather S.
Tarnished Rose of the Court by Amanda McCabe Tarnished Rose of the Court by Amanda McCabe Lynn
From Notting Hill With Love...Actually by Ali McNamara From Notting Hill With Love…Actually by Ali McNamara Leigh
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden Maggie
Practically Wicked by Alissa Johnson Practically Wicked by Alissa Johnson Lee
The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley The Shadowy Horses(reissue) by Susanna Kearsley Lynn