Do you ever find certain types of characters difficult to like? I wouldn’t say that any particular type of hero or heroine is completely a “no go” for me. I firmly believe that, in the hands of a good author, just about anything can be made to work. However, when I come across certain character types on a book blurb, the description is not going to have me clamoring to pick up the book – often because it’s something I’ve seen handled less than skillfully way too many times before.
Pirates definitely fall into that category for me. I don’t know if it’s my background of having studied European and Middle Eastern history, but nothing I know about pirates makes them terribly romantic to me. Most historical accounts I have read make them sound uneducated and brutal, and conditions onboard ship sound filthy and unappealing. While I will admit that Jennifer Ashley’s pirates worked for me, the first pirate hero I remember encountering came in Joanna Lindsey’s somewhat infamous A Pirate’s Love. If you look up “rapey ‘hero’” in the dictionary, you just might find an image of Tristan there.
Other pirate/privateer novels I read over the years tended to have similar issues. However, even among the ones that didn’t feature rapist “heroes,” I just couldn’t move beyond the difficult life of a pirate to see the story as particularly romantic. Various authors, including Meagan McKinney, wrote pirates or privateers that one could consider dashing, but Jennifer Ashley was the first author I found who managed to humanize that sort of hero and make him truly appealing.
On the heroine side, while I haven’t found too many in recent novels, I used to run across gypsy heroines in older books and I have to admit that they have yet to work for me. As any of us who cut their teeth on Barbara Cartland novels knows, Cartland had a huge interest in gypsy culture that extended to founding several gypsy camps in England. This interest seems to have extended to a hugely romanticized view of gypsies in her novels. Continue reading →
When I discovered that Tantor was set to release Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie on March 26th, I enthusiastically shared the news far and wide. Published in 2009, it’s a favorite among romance readers winning Best Romance of 2009 in AAR’s Annual Reader Poll and ranking #10 in AAR’s 2010 Top 100 Romance Poll. In print, we were mesmerized by hero Ian Mackenzie and, in audio, we hope to move the entire experience up a notch by actually hearing him interact in his matter-of-fact manner as he determinedly pursues Beth.
Today, we are celebrating the release of this much loved book with a giveaway and interviews with both author Jennifer Ashley and narrator Angela Dawe.
We are giving away FIVE MP3 CD copies of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie courtesy of Tantor Audio. Place your name in the hat by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, March 22nd. Due to the cost of postage, the giveaway is open only to listeners in the U.S. and Canada. We encourage multiple comments in our discussion, but you will only be entered in the contest once. If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter. The winner will be notified by email on Friday morning and will have 24 hours to respond. Another winner will be selected on Saturday morning if the winner has not responded. Audiobooks will be mailed to the winners upon release of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.
In the wake of this news, one of Dorchester’s most popular horror writers, Brian Keene, announced on his blog that he was leaving Leisure Books, a division of Dorchester. In the horror field, this is big news because the only mass market press that puts out
horror on a regular basis is Leisure Books. Horror is like traditional Regencies or Westerns — always on someone’s endangered species list.
I had fun seeing the RITA and Golden Heart award nominations go up yesterday. There were some really good books up there! At first, I was just noting that I had read more of the nominees(and had more in my TBR) than in past years. But then, as I pondered this list of books that stood out in the minds of RITA/Golden Heart judges, it made me think on a more subjective level about what makes a book really stand out in my mind.
Certainly polished writing helps. If the reader is constantly slogging through poor punctuation, clumsy phrasing, and the inveterate abuse of homophones, it’s hard for the story to speak to one. However, beautiful words without heart just won’t do it. And that’s where I find things hard to quantify.