Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

The Other Guy’s Bride: Exclusive Excerpt from Connie Brockway

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

brockwayI am really excited about this one, so fair warning.

On November 22nd, The Other Guy’s Bride, the long, long, long(!) awaited sequel to As You Desire will finally hit your Kindle, with the print version following one month later.  I’ve read the book and it’s fair to say that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited.  I’ll have more to say later, but this new book is a worthy successor to a book so fondly remembered by so very many of us.

You know, there was so much controversy over how this book is being published and now we’re down to what really matters.

We’ll be back in a few weeks with a giveaway, but, in the meantime, Connie offered us an exclusive excerpt from the book to whet your appetite.  So, read it, enjoy – and leave a question or your reaction for Connie in the comments.

- Sandy AAR


Buy These Books…Even If They’re Awful

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

One message I kept hearing during this summer’s RWA conference was that publishers were finally ready to look at books that are different. Not every publisher was saying it, mind you, but I heard it a lot more than I had the year before – when the message seemed to be: “Take a look at what we are already publishing…and write something just like that.” But at the same time, I had an author tell me that her slightly different historicals (I mean really, they were still set in England) weren’t selling as well as she – or her publisher – had hoped. Consequently, she will probably have to switch back to Regency or Victorian set historicals. Which really made me think that those of us who are informed, internet-savvy readers need to vote with our pocket books.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Regencies as much as the next person, and probably more than the next person. I hope that the people who love writing them continue to write them. There will always be room in my heart for spies, spinsters, poor relations, and Almacks. But I don’t just want to read about that. People have been successfully falling in lust and in love and populating the planet for some time now, all over the world – not just in nineteenth century England. And those of us who have been reading and reviewing romance novels for years start craving variety like we crave air.


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Friday, July 29th, 2011

eblWith the relentless bad news lately, what better time for a little pick me up in the form of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton contest winners announced just this week?

For the last 29 years, San Jose State University has held the annual contest that asks contestants to submit opening lines for imaginary novels with the goal that they be as bad as possible. The contest was inspired by the great Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who penned the immortal “It was a dark and stormy night.”

So, without further ado, let’s enjoy the grand prize winner:

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Sue Fondrie

And the runner-up:

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

Rodney Reed

The Bulwer-Lytton contests also chooses winners in genre categories.


Embracing My Inner Fangirl

Friday, July 15th, 2011

You know, the veil between publishing and authors and readers is pretty much kaput these days.  And, frankly, I kind of miss it.

I miss the days when I didn’t know anything about authors and just picked out the books I wanted to read while browsing in the bookstore before author names started to leak through.  I miss the days when books took place all over the world in exotic places and times. Some were in Regency England, but we all had a taste for diversity back then.  I particularly loved stories set in the Gilded Age in New York and Rhode Island.

This was all brought back to me in New York at RWA recently.  I was in an elevator with Bertrice Small.  Yep, that Bertrice Small.  We did that thing you do at RWA where everybody is always looking at chests to read your badge and she spoke to me first and remarked that she very much enjoyed All About Romance.  I told her that “I used to read her” which, frankly, was the best I could do.  After she thanked me, we began one of those conversations about RWA being very tiring and she indicated that she’d had it and that this would be her last conference.

Anyway, it was a thrill to meet her and it brought back to me those thrilling days of yesteryear.  I remember reading Ms. Small and her harem girls and rapes and truly skanky sex when I was in high school.  I must have read three or four – or maybe more.

For a moment or two or three, I was back in high school and secretly reading my romance novels, knowing nothing about the industry or authors.

I’m not saying I want to go back because I don’t.  I just want to remember for a moment the way it used to be.

What about you? Do you miss those days?

- Sandy AAR

The Big “I”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

2421311-LI don’t remember much from Psych 101, but I do remember Sternberg’s Triangle of Love.  Sternberg sees Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment as the three corners of love.  Pick any one or two components and you have various kinds of relationships; combine all three, and you have what he calls the Consummate Love.

Which is sort of what 99.99% of romance novels is about.  Except in the romance world, there’s a fourth corner: Fidelity.

Wait.  Isn’t that the same as Commitment?  Well, not according to Dan Savage, the love and sex columnist who was featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine two weeks ago.  He recognizes that monogamy is right for most couples, and that’s great.  What he doesn’t like is our society’s assumption that monogamy is right for all couples:

Folks on the verge of making those monogamous commitments need to look at the wreckage around them (Schwarzenegger, Clinton, Vitter)…and have a conversation about what it’ll mean if one or the other partner should cheat.  And agree, at the very least, to getting through it, to place a higher value on the relationship itself than on component of it, sexual exclusivity.”

Mr. Savage doesn’t support thoughtless infidelity, but he’s asking for smarter boundaries and honesty, an acknowledgement that: (more…)

Romance Novel Covers: A Rant

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

coverThey’re like bad relatives.  You can’t avoid sleazy Uncle Bob or foul-mouthed Cousin Betty, because Uncle Bob married to Aunt Emily (the loveliest auntie in the world), and Cousin Betty is sister to Cousin Mark (who’s like a brother).  But you’d really, really prefer not to have to see them.  Ever.

Give a romance detractor a romance novel, and I’ll bet that nine times out of ten, they’ll look at the cover and grimace.  Hell, give a romance reader the same book, and you’ll probably get the same reaction.  So much for not judging books by their covers, but really – really, can you blame them?

Creamy bosoms and hairless tanned chests.  Serifs gone mad.  Florid colors.  And the clinches – oh, the clinches.  Shudder.

Let’s ignore the fact that they’re totally generic.  Hey, romance is a genre book, and all genre books, to a certain degree, are generic.  That’s the point, so that readers can spot them from a mile away, and go, “Oh, a romance/sci-fi/fantasy/mystery novel!”

And let’s also ignore the fact that there can be serious discrepancies between the cover models and the characters.  How many plus-sized, curvy heroines are depicted like Nicole Kidman?  Or the blonde heroes, drawn with black hair?  We’re told that black hair and thin women sell; I’d argue, but there are worse crimes, so I’ll leave it there.


Casting the AAR Top Ten Romance Novels

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

ioanIn 2010 readers voted on their Top 100 favorite romance novels. Some of these have been made and remade into films, but many of the top 10 haven’t. Isn’t it time to give Hollywood a nudge and help the powers that be to cast the crucial roles in our favorites?

That’s today’s game: Cast the Top Ten.  Let’s start from number ten and work our way to the top. I’ll explain my picks, but the real question is whom you would cast in your favorite book.  In case you’ve forgotten who’s who in the books, there’s a link to the AAR reviews to jog your memory. And the actors’ names are linked to their IMDB pages.


Fun With Romance Titles

Friday, May 27th, 2011

I’m willing to go a few rounds with anyone who criticizes romance novels. Usually they haven’t read any, and have no basis for their criticism that they’re all the same, or they’re female porn, or – well, whatever. But sometimes I have to admit that certain titles invite a snicker or two. When someone asks you what you’re reading, do you really want to answer “Guarding the Notorious Lady?” That particular title is easy to pick on because a) I just read it b) It wasn’t very good and c) as another reader pointed out, the lady in question was not at all notorious. I told Scarlett (my daughter and fellow reviewer) that the title was probably from the Random Romance Title Generator.  “Is there such a thing?,” she asked. “If not, there should be.”

Actually, I think we did do one before, but time and conventions have marched on, so we’re probably due for another one.  Choose one part from each list, mix and match, and let the titling begin!


The People We Hate to Love

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

During my life I’ve been a critic and/or a reviewer of books, movies, theatre, live events, and art.  I’ve written a weekly book review column as well as a weekly art critic column.

Everywhere I’ve worked and for everyone who edited my writing, what a critic or reviewer is and should do has been a bit different.

In the early ‘70s, my editors saw the job as that of critic, the point being to give an honest critique of art pieces I saw in local galleries. Critique, in this case, meant being harsh. I tended to write my columns only about pieces I liked and avoided technical art language in favor of the language used by everyday people. I tried to describe the art in terms of how the piece made me feel, not how the various art elements worked in the piece. Oddly (to me), my columns produced positive letters to the editor, which, of course, made my editors happy.

When I switched newspapers, I became a critic at large, being assigned various entertainment events to cover. This included people like Tony Orlando and Dawn or Liberace, family events like the Ringling Brothers Circus, and generally any event other critics couldn’t cover.


Books with Buzz: Colleen Gleason Interview and Giveaway (Contest Closed)

Monday, March 14th, 2011


On March 22nd, those of us who’ve missed Colleen Gleason’s historical vampires will have reason to celebrate.  On that date, The Vampire Voss, the first in her new Regency Draculia series, is released.  The next two entries will follow in May and June.

To mark the occasion, we’ve got an interview with the author and five early copies of The Vampire Voss to give away.  To enter for your chance to win, simply comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 17th.  A few rules: Due to high postage costs, this contest is open only to readers in the U.S. and Canada. Multiple comments are welcome, but please note that you will be entered only once.  This giveaway is designed to get early copies of books into the hands of readers who otherwise wouldn’t have access, so if you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  Winners will be notified by email on Friday morning and if no response is received within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Before we hear from Colleen, a personal note from me: I read a digital ARC of this one without the cover. Lucky me because this one just blows. Voss is a handsome and seductive vampire, not a young Boris Karloff with really bad contact lenses.  I don’t know what the publisher was thinking, but I’m just saying, don’t let the cover scare you.

Now, here’s Colleen: