Archive for the ‘Jane AAR’ Category

Getting Rid of Those Pesky Unwanted Spouses

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

NOTE: This piece contains slight spoilers for Christmas with the Duchess by Tamara LeJeune, as well as for Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series.

divorceOh, divorce. It’s all too common these days, and many a protagonist in contemporary romances has an ex-husband or-wife. It can be a key point in the plot, but it’s not always dramatic or significant. It just is. But things haven’t always been this way.

Despite a few notorious historical examples, you don’t hear too much about people in England divorcing each other back in the day. For many — especially women — it wasn’t legally an option, or at least not a viable one without having your name dragged through the mud and your entire personal life made public.

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When Anachronisms Work

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

anachronismAnachronisms are the bane of historical fiction readers. Modern diction, technology, or mindsets can pull someone right out of the story. But sometimes I sort of like it.

In Tessa Dare’s Three Nights With a Scoundrel, one of the characters makes a comment that made me laugh out loud — literally. And that doesn’t happen often. I’ll not give too many details as it happens at the end of the book, but shortly after being confronted with homosexuality in an acquaintance, one man says to his (straight) friend, “We’re not going to hug.” “I should hope not,” he replies. “Er… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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National Book Festival 2010

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Outlander One of the joys of living in Washington, DC is that a lot of things are happening and a lot of people are there to talk about stuff. This past weekend, the thing that was happening was the National Book Festival, and one particular person who was there to talk was Diana Gabaldon, author of the very popular Outlander series.

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Ah, Young Love?

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

kiss I had my first crush when I was in kindergarten. I was convinced I would marry the lucky boy, and gushed about him to my sister and mom who, in turn, teased me mercilessly. Then in first grade, my kindergarten beau Lenny was forgotten when I met Matthew. So on and so forth through elementary, middle, and high school, where feelings change daily and relationships rarely last.

Meanwhile, I started reading a historical romance in which the heroine falls in love with the hero when she’s six years old. This isn’t an unfamiliar plot, though perhaps this affection started earlier than most. Frequently does one protagonist (usually the heroine) develops feelings for the other in childhood, perhaps around ten or eleven years old, and spend their lives between that first strike of Cupid’s arrow and marriage pining over the other. And we’re expected to believe that ten, fifteen, or even twenty years later, that love is still as pure and strong as it was then.

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Reader Prejudice, or Don’t Knock It Until You Try It

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

daniellesteelbooks As readers of romance, we’re familiar with literary prejudice– the Fabio jokes, the scoffs and eye rolls, the shame in reading one in public. I always defend my preferred genre, and berate people for making such judgments about an entire genre that they’ve never read. Woe be they who dare disparage a romance novel without having read it.

And then there’s Danielle Steel. When talking about romance novels, I’m careful to distinguish between what I read, and her “family dramas.” I hedge when they’re lumped together. I roll my eyes. I scoff. And I’ve never read a single one of her books.

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The Historical Dress Fantasy

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

regencydress The other day, I was sitting in the car and I realized just how little clothing I had on. My outfit wasn’t strange or extraordinarily scandalous. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

But at the time, I was reading an historical romance novel. Those of us who enjoy Regency or Victorian era settings have read many times that even the sight of an ankle (the horror!) could be titillating or scandalous, and a man and a woman touching bare hands outside of marriage was just not done in polite society. And here I was, sitting cross-legged, my legs totally bare. I could practically hear all of my favorite dowagers and Society matriarchs calling for salts and fanning themselves.

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Redeeming Bad Boys – Does it Really Work?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

perrybrand I’d be wary if one of my friends started dating a guy with a shady rep. Yeah, everyone deserves a second chance, but that doesn’t mean I want to test that myself, or have one of my friends be the ones to see if a jerk has reformed. At the same time, I love redemption stories. I think seeing a dark character get turned around by love is one of the best characterizations and plots an author can create (at least when it’s done right). This is why The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favorite novels: the quiet and non-violent Lucy wins over the dark and revenge-focused Simon. It’s a story that will always be at the top of my list, even if in real life I would probably have warned Lucy away from him.

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Drawing the Line

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

noWe thank everyone for the lively discussion.  Commenting to this post has been disabled.

I’ve been thinking about Voltaire lately. Specifically, one of his most famous quotations: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Last Monday, my campus newspaper printed a column by a male writer. In this piece, he called feminists and gay activists “a sniveling bunch of emotional cripples,” declared that date rape is an “incoherent concept,” and essentially that drunken flirtation is consent.

As a result, the internet exploded. Angry Facebook statuses and comments on the article grew. Some people said they were ashamed to go to a school where such views would be espoused, and that it was a sad day for the campus. Apparently threats were made against the writer, and the story grew until it got picked up on some major feminist websites and the local news, including the Washington Post. A quick google of my school’s name comes up with headlines along the lines of “’Rape Apology’ Angers Students.”

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Public Declarations of Love – Modern Style

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

facebookmarried For my generation, there is a very public way to declare a serious relationship. It’s not a class ring or letter jacket. The question “Have you been pinned?” died long ago.

Today, the question is, “Is it Facebook-official?”

Facebook offers several relationship options: Single, It’s Complicated, In an Open Relationship, and In a Relationship. When you’re “In a relationship” with someone, it’s for real. You’re committed.

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Stargirl: Introducing Myself to Romance, Part II

Friday, February 12th, 2010

stargirl A few weeks ago, I blogged about how I discovered romance in the exquisite pages of Gail Carson Levine’s classic children’s novel, Ella Enchanted. A few years later came a different book that showed me another side of life and love.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli tells the story of a new girl in a small Arizona high school, a girl who confounds everyone by being just who she wants to be and doing just what she wants to do, and the boy who falls in love with her in the face of scorn from his classmates. Leo, the narrator, is a typical teenage boy who, like everyone else, is at first puzzled and curious when Stargirl shows up, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to strangers on her ukulele, wearing strange outfits, congratulating random people for their large and small achievements, and just being nice to everyone. The students, as high schoolers often are, are fickle. While Stargirl and Leo fall for each other, the student body swings from adoration to open hostility, and Leo is faced with the choice: her or them.

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