Confessions of a Settings Junkie

I feel like I have been waiting on Connie Brockway’s The Songbird’s Seduction forever even though the truth is I have only had it on order since early June. I’m not typically a fan of Ms. Brockway’s but my keen desire for the book comes from three key factors: It involves a treasure, foreign locations and the Edwardian era. While one of those is an issue of plotting (treasure), the other two factors are issues of setting. And the fact is I’m a settings junkie. Continue reading

A Formula for Romance… Novels

Math_FormulaCritics of romance novels often cite a long list of problems with the books and one of the most frequently used is that the books are formulaic. Some authors embrace that idea and give a guide to what they think of as “the formula” such as Paula Graves or Rita Clay Estrada and Rita Gallagher. Others like Anne Gracie heartily reject the idea. Harlequin calls it a format and insists that all genres use such a tool. Continue reading

Max de Winter: Dreamboat or Douchebag?

movie-Rebecca-rebecca-1940-10778558-500-380When I was preparing to write this column I was of the firm opinion that Maximillian de Winter was a definite douchebag. My vague memories of him, from reading the book years ago, were of a cold man who married a mouse of a girl and then began to coolly neglect her as she was bullied by those around them. In many ways he was to me the epitome of a romance alphahole – proud, rich, and full of himself. It was surprising when I went back to the text to see how differently the heroine saw him. Continue reading

You Want Me to Do What?

Strangers on a TrainHow is going all the way defined between friends? Well, according to Jerry Seinfeld if it is a male/male friendship going all the way is defined as asking a guy to help you move. The biggest favor of all? Jerry: That’s what death is, really: it’s the last big move. The hearse is like the van, the pallbearers are your close friends, the only ones you can ask to help you in a move like this, and the casket is that one perfect box you’ve been looking for your entire life. The only problem is, once you find it, you’re in it. Continue reading

Is that a sword in your pocket?

Michael-Douglas-and-Kathleen-Turner-in-Romancing-the-Stone-1984-Movie-Image-200x277In the early days of romance adventure stories were a fairly standard part of the landscape. One need look no further than Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women edited by Jayne Ann Krentz to read all about the risk takers and adventurers who peopled the books of the late eighties and early nineties. Then the tide changed and books which had once been full of daring exploits in exotic locales began to revolve around balls, spies, and familiar locations like Western Europe or America. The disappearance of the swashbuckler occurred so long ago I had actually forgotten how much I loved those old tales. Continue reading

50 Shades of Readers

VanGogh woman reading“All sentences are not created equal,” Jenny Davidson tells us in Reading Style: A Life in Sentences. Her tale is not so much about “which books must be read than about how to read.” Her main conversational point is the “sentence, sometimes the paragraph, its structure and sensibility, its fugitive feel on the tongue.” In other words, Ms. Davidson is talking about the value of a book derived not from the book’s life lessons or even overall cohesive tale but its structure – the beauty and efficacy of its prose. Continue reading

The Hachette vs. Amazon Battle: Quality vs. Quantity

book-and-firecrackersIn the battle between Hachette and Amazon, Hachette and those who support it have based their argument upon two simple “facts”. The first is that Amazon is too big. A retailer that large is dangerously close to being a monopoly (or so they say). The second is that Amazon, with their (evil) devotion to pleasing the costumer will destroy the quality of books. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – Back to the Classics

seventearsforapollo This month’s TBR challenge, reading one of the classics, had me scratching my head for a little bit. Did I want to reach for one of those books that could be considered part of the romance canon(to the degree we have one), or did I want to pick a classic trope or author? In the end, I decided on Seven Tears for Apollo. When we start talking about old school romantic suspense or gothics online, certain names tend to pop up. Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels – all have their fans. However, Phyllis Whitney is one of those names that seems to be mentioned almost as an afterthought.

I’ve read a few Phyllis Whitney novels, all historicals, and I did enjoy them. However, I had yet to read one of her contemporaries and so I gave this one a whirl. Written in 1962, it captures a world that for 21st century readers feels like a curious blend of old and new. Continue reading

Hachette vs. Amazon: Show Me the Money

Blam-Pow160I am no Amazon fangirl. In April 2013 I blogged about my concerns when they took over Goodreads. On the other hand I have what is probably an unhealthy attachment to my Kindle and I visit their site several times a week vis-à-vis books. Amazon seems to be one of the few companies aware that the book world is changing and certainly acts interested in helping readers navigate that world. They not only provide new books cheap but help you get old books and books from overseas. While I may not want Amazon to take over the book world, I certainly want them to be a large part of it. Continue reading