TBR Challenge 2012: Holiday Fun!

Wow – we’ve reached the end of TBR Challenge 2012! This month’s theme was holiday romance, so I had no trouble finding a book in my TBR pile to fit it. In the end, I decided I was in the mood for something contemporary, so I went with Harlequin Superromance’s 2010 anthology, That Christmas Feeling. I read the whole book, but it was definitely a mixed bag. Overall, I’d put it in the B-/C+ range.

The first story, A Dundee Christmas by Brenda Novak, was the most unique but also the most problematic. As it opened, I could tell this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill Christmas story and I found myself looking forward to what might unfold. The heroine, Cierra Romero, is a young woman who came to the States from Guatemala on a visa to marry a much older man. Continue reading

TBR Challenge 2012 – Series Catch-up Edition

in_close I’ll admit that this month of the TBR challenge was a hard one for me, as it required me to catch up on a series I’ve neglected. I have almost an embarrassment of riches in my TBR pile as I have a bad habit of starting series and not finishing. Since I really wanted to finish a series, I picked 2011′s In Close by Brenda Novak because it was last in the series. Well that, and I was in the mood for good suspense, which is exactly what I got. I had enjoyed the previous books in this trilogy, but I think this one was my favorite. Were I reading it for review, it would get a B.

In Close is a lovers reunited story, and it’s also a tale about a fairly ordinary small-town woman who stumbles into one heck of a conspiracy. Fifteen years ago, Claire O’Toole’s mother Alana went missing and it’s pretty easy to see from the beginning of this book that the disappearance sent Claire’s world into something of a tailspin. Instead of going off to college, Claire has stayed in Pineview, Montana, where she operates a beauty shop and helps her wheelchair-bound sister. Haunted by the loss of her mother, Claire still returns to her painting studio every six months or so. Claire had always wondered what happened to her mother, but it wasn’t until her husband’s mysterious death, about a year before this book begins, that she really starts looking into things.
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What Makes Romantic Suspense Work?

karenrose I know there are romantic suspense workshops out there for writers. I’ve seen them mentioned at RWA, among other places. But what makes romantic suspense good for the reader? In reviews, we often mention the balance between romance plot and suspense plot, but I don’t think that’s really all we can go by. After all, you can have a romance that splits the plotting 50-50, but it just never gels. And then there are books like Viper’s Kiss or like many of Karen Rose’s romantic suspense thrillers where the suspense portions of the plot really dominate the story. However, the romance still works. It may get less time and fewer pages, but the leads still have plenty of chemistry.
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Rumors of Death Greatly Exaggerated?

graveyard Lately (as in during portions of the past few years when I haven’t been too dazed from work to notice), I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer actual romantic suspense books out there. I see urban fantasy and paranormal romance with suspense plots worked in, and historicals with their suspensey and/or spy-related subplots, but not a lot of actual romantic suspense that takes place among humans. I read across a variety of genres, so I almost didn’t notice it at first. However, as I scanned my bookshelves recently, I noticed that I’d been reading plenty of straight mysteries and thrillers, including some with romantic subplots, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of romantic suspense.

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