As with everyone else here, I found it quite difficult to whittle my list of book loves down to 10. I could handle 50 or even 25, but 10 just seems like such a paltry number when compared with the sheer number of books and characters I truly adore. Just to keep things manageable, I kept my list to post-1970s romance, which cut out some classic favorites such as Persuasion, Venetia, my little stash of Betty Neels books, or Elswyth Thane’s wonderful Williamsburg novels. I also stuck with romance, rather than picking some of the books I’ve loved in other genres which have romantic elements, such as Julia Spencer-Fleming’s mysteries or Catherine Asaro’s science fiction. So, what did I come up with? Well, in no particular order, here they are:
To Love and To Cherish by Patricia Gaffney – The controversial emotional powerhouse that is To Have and To Hold tends to get most of the attention, but this first novel of the Wyckerley trilogy is the one that I’ve always loved the most. It’s a tender, touching love story and hero’s struggle over his love for a woman trapped in a horrible marriage is filled with such amazing tension. If you like your romances emotional and angsty, this is one not to miss. Continue reading →
Grading books is not always straightforward. For me, there is no rubric, no check-list of Do’s and Don’t’s. I have a few deal-breakers, but not many. When I assign a book a DIK grade, though, I often feel like it has to be perfect — or at least very, very close. The writing must be flawless. The characters, well-developed. The plot, exciting, believable, and interesting. But I’ve found that some of the books I go back to, the ones I re-read over and over again (the true test, in my opinion, of a DIK), are objectively problematic in some way.
“Problematic” can mean a lot of different things. Maybe there is a pretty huge logical fallacy upon which the plot hangs. Maybe there’s something that should be totally unromantic, unhealthy, or taboo. Recently, my fellow AAR reviewers and staff members got to talking about our favorite books that have some flaw or problem. Continue reading →
“I don’t like THOSE kinds of stories.” Admit it. You’ve heard those words or said something similar yourself at some point. Hang around any romance site long enough and people will start talking about their favorite plots or going on about types of plots they just can’t stand. One person just can’t enjoy secret baby books while another will proclaim that marriage of convenience plots are enough to keep her from picking up a novel. When I come across these discussions, I’m more than happy to dish on plotlines that just don’t thrill me. We all have our preferences, and the fantasies that work are as different as the readers who choose them. These conversations also make me think about good writing, though. After all, even if we don’t like a particular plotline, couldn’t there be an exception to our rules in the hands of a good author? Continue reading →
Earlier this year, Leigh blogged about liking lighter romance. I enjoyed her piece and it got me thinking about my own views on tone in the books I prefer to read. I certainly don’t mind humorous romance or laugh out loud slapstick in the least. The book within a book from What Happens in London is one of my romance reading highlights! However, I have a soft spot for the dark and angsty, or at least the dramatic and serious, and many books on my keeper shelf feature heroes and heroines who really had to work for that happy ending.