Nick is a romance hero. He’s never – no, never! – going to get married. You can see why, of course; you need conflict to drive a plot forward, and if Nick sees Elizabeth, falls in love with Elizabeth, proposes to Elizabeth, and marries Elizabeth without a hitch you’ve got one short (and probably not all that interesting) book. A hero (or somewhat less frequently, heroine) who is never – no, never! – going to get married can provide that hitch in the relationship that makes for a good conflict and interesting reading. Well, except when it’s totally lame. If there is one knee jerk conflict that authors like to turn to, this is it. I see it more often in contemporary novels, likely because birth control is widely available and modern sexual mores more permissive. But if pops up fairly often in historicals too, usually for different reasons. I can hardly open a book without running into Nick or one of his ilk. Since the my most recent read with a marriage phobic hero got on my last nerve, I decided to provide this helpful list of acceptable and unacceptable reasons to never – no, never! get married. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
It was the summer of 2008 and I, a passionate reader, had my first Kindle. It was magical–a device you could just push a button and get books, as many as you could find and afford, and read to your heart’s content. I’d had the thing for a couple of weeks and was perusing the Amazon Kindle page. I can’t remember if it was free or it was the most downloaded book of the day but that day I decided to buy Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever. At the time, I hadn’t read a romance novel for over thirty years. That book sucked me in and I still haven’t been spit out. I had a problem, however. I wanted to read more romance but had no way to figure out which ones sucked and which rocked. Thank the gods for the internet. A few clicks and, boom, I discovered AAR. For the next two years, nearly every romance I bought I found through AAR and its Power Search feature. I discovered quickly that I loved well-written romances that were, well, hot. (more…)
Well, October is shaping up to be the month of Rachel Gibson around here, it seems. Plenty of AAR folks are very excited to see her latest release hit shelves! That doesn’t mean that we’re lacking for historicals, series romances or erotic romance to tickle our fancy, though. And then there are the Christmas books which will start hitting stores nice and early…
|Title and Author||Reviewer|
|Run to You by Rachel Gibson||Heather S., Mary, Wendy, Jenna, LinnieGayl, Alexandra|
|Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait by Grace Burrowes||Rike, Caz, Mary|
|The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley||Lee, Lauren, Caz|
|Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding||Mary, Rike, Lauren|
|Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews||LinnieGayl. Lee|
|10 Shades of Seduction by Tiffancy Reisz, Portia Da Costa, Alegra Verde, Alison Tyler, Anne Calhoun, and Lisa Renee Jones||Dabney, Lynn|
|The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter||Mary, Lee|
|Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel||Maggie, Caroline|
|On Midnight Wings by Adrian Phoenix||Wendy|
|Possession by J. R. Ward||Heather S.|
|Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins||Lynn|
|Season for Scandal by Teresa Romain||Caz|
|In This Together by Kara Lennox||Rike|
|The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot||Lee|
|Spy’s Honor by Amy Raby||Caroline|
|King’s Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb||Pat|
|Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna||Dabney|
|The London Deception by Addison Fox||Lynn|
|Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander||LinnieGayl|
|Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley||Maggie|
|Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan||Pat|
|Aiding the Enemy by Julie Rowe||Lynn|
|The Unidentified Redhead(paperback release of eBook) by Alice Clayton||Mary|
There is absolutely no possible way that I can trim my favorite romance novels down to ten. Therefore, I am going to take a page from other reviewers’ entries and exempt those written in the 19th century (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell). I am also going to state that Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a given, but because the story continues and the end has not yet been written, it will be excluded from my top 10 list. I am also going to exclude A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught, because Jenna included it her list and I would not want to be redundant. So…in no particular order and with the caveat that I could exchange some books on this list at any time, here is my qualified Top 10 list: (more…)
As romance readers we like happy endings. I still remember the book that pushed me firmly away from historical fiction into the romance camp. The heroine was a New England ship captain’s wife. It started out with a romantic meeting and courtship, and ended with plummeting fortunes and marital discord. I closed the book and tried to think why I had wanted to read it in the first place, or why anyone would want to read it. If I’m reading for pleasure, I want it to end happily. But I have to wonder whether ending happily means it also has to end neatly.
Because we also complain about hackneyed epilogues. You know what I mean. It’s a year later, and the heroine has just given birth to the adorable heir (because I swear it is usually a boy). Our hero and heroine look at each other with gooey eyes and perfect happiness. There’s no hint that the baby in question might get sick, or their financial fortunes will undergo an abrupt reversal, or even that the beloved family dog will pee on the priceless Aubusson carpet. In other words, there’s no inkling that the hero and heroine are about to experience life as we know it. If there’s any hint of discord in an epilogue, it tends to be in the form of angst for the couple’s friend/relative/old school chum who will be featured in the next sequel.
What got me thinking about this in the first place? I read two with slipshod endings, both of which read as if the author got sick of writing and just ended the book with little thought or planning. One I have reviewed (and panned) already – Dusk with a Dangerous Duke. In this gem, the story ends with the hero and heroine professing their love as a house burns down around them (after bickering the book away), after which someone (no one ever says who) breaks down the door and presumably puts the fire out. The happy couple walks pout the door to live happily ever after (one assumes) without helping put the fire out, thanking the rescuer, or appearing in a happy epilogue with a dimpled baby in tow.
The second book is one I’m about to review (better than the first, but not by much), which leaves an ending with plot holes big enough to drive a semi through. My personal favorite was the way the hero’s brother had been grazed by a bullet and thought he was Russian. He stills thinks he’s Russian at the end of the book. Or was it the heroine’s brother, who was apparently kidnapped by Indians and renowned for his fiery red hair? Everyone knew about him (except the heroine apparently - she’d been trying to find him for five years). I’m pretty sure these loose ends will be addressed in the next book – which I will definitely not be sticking around to read.
Is there a happy medium somewhere? A non-gooey epilogue? A sunny – bot not completely unrealistic - ending? One where loose ends are tied up satisfactorily but not too neatly? One I can think of recently the struck all the right notes was Cecelia Grant’s A Gentleman Undone. The hero and heroine are happy, but their life is a modest one. Their immediate, pressing issues are resolved, but they aren’t exactly living in fabulous wealth - or bouncing a baby on both arms.
What kind of ending strikes the right note for you? Do you like the ooey-gooey love and babies? Do you need everything tied up in a bow?
– Blythe Barnhill
See, I knew that signing up for this blog would cause me a headache. How are you supposed to choose the top ten romances that rock your world? How? How? (At the back of my mind I have the Baha Men singing along, except it’s “How do you choose now? How, how, how, how?” Great. Hence the headache.)
Anyway, I figured the only way I can keep sane is a) recognize that I won’t hit them all, and b) acknowledge that if I am actually stuck on a desert island with only ten romance novels, I’d go crazy anyway, no matter what I chose. (Unless I chose, like, the Koran, Paradise Lost, and Journey to the West. Then maybe I’d not go all loopy.)
I decided that what I’d probably crave the most is variety, a little bit of every genre to suit every mood. It actually turned out to be relatively easy once I’d decided on this, looked at my Top 100 list, scanned my shelves, and sliced through the different categories. I’m happy with my choices – they’re all different in setting, subgenre, writing style, and character. I’ve also read each of them at least twice – I’m a serial re-reader, so I know when something works for me, when it doesn’t, and (most of important of all) when it stands up to the test of time. (more…)
I’ve heard it in various forms from many different corners. “Oh, literature is just too depressing.” “The difference between literary fiction and romance? Love stories in lit fic all end uphappily.” Stick around enough message forums and blogs, or simply talk to enough readers and you’ll hear variations on that theme. Then there are the the literary fiction “guidelines” Robin Uncapher wrote for AAR back in 2007, which definitely skewer certain authors and book trends rather aptly. But is all of it really that depressing for a romance reader?
I don’t read literary fiction all the time, but I’ll go on my occasional forays beyond the familiar genre fiction shelving. True, there are beautifully written but also tragic books such as The English Patient or Bel Canto, books full of ponderous words and perhaps an amount of pretension which seems to have an inverse correlation with the amount of actual plot action, and then there’s stuff that I quite frankly think is absolute dreck(Why do they shelve Nicholas Sparks with literary works? Why, why, why?) (more…)
Last June during June Is Audiobook Month, I penned a complaint here at Speaking of Audiobooks about the Audie Awards and how out of touch they were with the romance listening community. What are the Audie Awards? Sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association, they give recognition to those within the industry for excellence in narration, direction, and engineering. The 2013 awards gala is scheduled for May 30th this year.
Romance listeners in the past have talked very little about the Audie Romance Finalists here at Speaking of Audiobooks and at our Romance Goodreads group. Why pay attention to an awards ceremony that often doesn’t even fill the romance category with books actually categorized as romance? After all, the Romance winner in 2011(The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James) was categorized as general fiction. I understand that the list of romance finalists is not meant to be a statement of romance listeners’ favorites. However, generally those lists (and the winners) haven’t generated many warm fuzzies among the romance listening community. (more…)
This month’s TBR Challenge read is supposed to be one recommended by a fellow reader. In this case, I went for a 2003 paranormal historical(and RITA winner) recommended to me when I blogged about my hunt for something both romantic and creepy.
Shades of Midnight by Linda Fallon (aka Linda Winstead Jones) definitely fit the bill both for romance and for creepiness. This ghostly romance set in 1880s Georgia was one of those books that formed pretty vivid pictures in my mind. Though the book had its weak moments, lack of creepy atmosphere was not one of them and I would probably give it a B- if I were grading.
Here’s the setup: Lucien Thorpe has a gift for releasing earthbound spirits and when he receives a summons from Eve Abernathy to rid her house of a ghostly couple, he comes running. Lucien had stood Eve up altar a couple of years before, so things between them are strained at best. However, the compelling mystery of the ghosts in Eve’s home captivates them both and compels them to work together. All that Lucien and Eve know is that the home’s original occupants, Alastair and Viola Stamper, died thirty years before in a murder-suicide on Halloween night. Their spirits haunt the home, reenacting their last day alive, growing more vivid as Halloween approaches. (more…)