Notes from the Underground, written by Fyodor Dostoevsky begins with the famous opening line, “I am a sick man… I am a wicked man”. In the novel, Dostoevsky creates a hero who possesses all the characteristics of a villain: sarcasm, disillusionment, and a general lack of care for the well being of others. The hero is in actuality an anti-hero, a man who acts like a villain, but who ultimately possesses a core of goodness to redeem himself through words and actions. Continue reading →
Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I can feel spring around the air. Unlike many people, I mourn the loss of the winter when spring comes – I’m not really one for rain and flowers. So as I was happily shoveling the snow the other day, I thought about my favorite winter romances.
Except I couldn’t really think of any, except one: Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas. The story of Evie Jenner and the utterly ruined Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is one that has remained readers’ favorites since it came out five years ago – it climbed four spots to land at #3 on the recent Top 100 Romances poll. It’s pretty hard to ignore the appeal of St. Vincent, who is so deliciously, unrepentantly bad, but who learns to love the stuttering Evie over a backdrop of frigid winter. Their race up to Gretna Green remains memorable for those thick sandwiches of thinly sliced meats and cheeses; the hot bricks and fragrant wine that St. Vincent procures for the freezing Evie; and their quick growth to intimacy while cuddled for mutual warmth in the rocking carriage. I love this section every time I read it, and I spent a happy fifteen minutes with my shovel on the driveway while I thought of Evie and St. Vincent.
I’ve been thinking lately about what is it about some writers that make their books magical for readers in ways that others aren’t.
First, a confession: I read contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormals, but historical romance was my first love and remains my absolute favorite. So, with my bias fully admitted and setting aside the continuing gush of wallpaper historicals in which you can’t even tell the time period a book is supposedly set in unless the author tells you, there are some talented writers out there I’ve come to admire and who have become auto-buys for me. Still, the ones I’m watching have yet to come up with one of those scenes.
I’m talking about those hit-you-in-the-heart scenes. The kind you remember. The kind you share with other readers who very often respond “Yes!” The kind that make you feel what the characters are feeling.
I love the scene in which Bobby Tom realizes that Gracie made an “X” over his heart in Heaven, Texas. Equally, the “you are my Egypt” scene from Connie Brockway’s As You Desire has to rank as one of the greatest declarations of love in all of romance. And I’ve sighed since I was 14 over the scene in Devil’s Cub in which Mary attempts to break up hotheaded Vidal’s sword fight by stepping in the middle of the action. Vidal’s reaction makes Mary realize for the very first time that her spoiled and haughty Devil’s Cub really loves her. I felt it too and I will never forget the first time I read it.
But, for me, three scenes stand out that perfectly exemplify just what I’m talking about.
I’m a romance reader who loves series books. Give me books for all the brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, pack mates, or even coven members and blood brothers an author can come up with; I’m good with’em all if they’re well done of course. Luckily for me, my three most favorite series books will all soon to be released installments and while I’m looking forward to the releases, each one will be somewhat bittersweet. My love for them, tied to my angst and worry over seeing them end, makes me wonder if I’ll find other books to take their place and who else out there feels the same way about these books and others.
I’ve written about Karen Marie Moning’s Feverseries before and I’m still just as addicted to it today as I was when I read Faefever for the first time. I’m sad to see it end. I began with the third in the series and it didn’t take me long to get sucked into MacKayla Lane’s world of Seelie and Unseelie Fae. The first person narration, suspense plot, and unique setting work for me in almost every way. With four books already released in the series, the final installment, Shadowfever, will be released on January 18, 2011. Hopefully, as many questions as possible will be answered and Mac will finally be with Barrons, but if not, I won’t be completely surprised because I have visions of the Lost finale with it’s lack of answers and have a feeling this will be similar since there are so many questions that need answers. Plus, I read on Moning’s site that she’s signed with Random House for three more books set in the Fever World, so while Mac’s story arc may conclude the problems may continue. Regardless, I’ll miss Mac and Barrons and hate to say goodbye.
The giveaway is over and here are the winners: socalgal51, LisaA, Kathy, elainec, Lynda X, Kim in Hawaii, Jessika, Jane O, marcela, and Debbie. Winners have been notified by email.
We thank Lisa Kleypas for taking the time and St. Martin’s for so generously donating the advance copies of Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. Thanks as well to everyone who commented. The good news is that if you didn’t win, the wait is short. Lisa Kleypas’ next book – and her last until 2012 – will be released on October 26th.
And stay tuned for more interviews and giveaways. We’ve got some great ones coming up soon.
It’s been a while since we had our Buzz on here at AAR and we’re happy to break our drought with a good one: An interview with Lisa Kleypas and a 10-book giveaway courtesy of St. Martin’s of the author’s October 26th release, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. To enter for your chance to win, simply comment to this blog by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 14th.
Before getting right to the interview, a few caveats to the giveaway. Due to high postage costs, only U.S. and Canadian readers are eligible to enter. Since this giveaway is designed to get early copies into the hands of readers who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to get them, if you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.
I sat down to write something kind of snarky about language use in historicals after having come across some particularly heinous examples lately, but I soon found myself thinking about something entirely different: Are we in the midst of a renaissance of the historical romance?
I think we may be getting there. Recently I read – and was blown away by – Anne Stuart’s Ruthless. The novel is a great one any way you choose to judge it, but it’s also noteworthy for taking place in 1765 in France. Yes, that’s right, I said France. But, refreshing as that different time and setting may be, I loved this book because it is a voluptuous (and, yes, I really think that word applies), full-bodied (yes, I like it, even if it is redundant), lush romance between a truly dissolute rake and a strong, self-reliant woman. And, even better, it reminded me of a classic of the author’s from a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time ago that I have saved since I first read it – Lord Satan’s Bride. And I am excited – oh, my, am I excited – about the remaining two books in the trilogy.
We’ve discussed how we listen, why we listen, and, on a continual basis, what we listen to. But one aspect we have yet to formally address is where we choose to obtain our romance audiobooks. Do you find most of your audiobooks through your library system? Do you regularly rent audiobooks? Do you buy your audiobooks in CD format through your local bookseller or an online outlet? Or do you buy and download your selections from some online source and listen to those books on a MP3 player?
Often in discussions, one of our listeners will mention that their “go to” source for audiobooks is their local library. If a particular library does not have a specific title, it can often borrow from affiliated libraries thereby increasing your selection.
I’ll admit that my experience with borrowing audiobooks from my library system is limited although it was a resource I used back in my days of cassette tape listening. While their selection of romance titles was limited, I still found an occasional audiobook to supplement my need for more. And often a library is the only reasonable place to access those “too hard to find” or “too expensive to buy” books such as the unabridged versions of Diana Gabaldon’s fifth and sixth entries in the Outlander series, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
Lynn wrote earlier this week about how she never, ever visualizes actors as characters in a novel she’s reading. Truth is I rarely do either.
But sometimes something just clicks and the pairing of an actor with a character feels totally right.
The list of favorite characters that I haven’t cast is far (far, far, far) longer than the characters I have.
In fact, I’ve really only cast three.
Clive Owen as Derek Craven:
I’ve loved Derek Craven since he first crossed my path w-a-a-a-a-y back in 1994 when Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas was first published. Back then, as is typical with me, I never pictured him as having a particular face.
Then I saw Clive Owen. I forget what film – maybe Croupier – first introduced me to his wonders, but by the time Gosford Park was released in 2001, I knew he was Derek. Just knew it.
The fact that he isn’t in jail somewhere is hard enough to reconcile, but that his career is still viable? I’m truly shocked. Worse yet, prior to his assaulting Rihanna, he was a “good boy” in the music industry and now it appears he’s being marketed as a “bad (but sexy and non-threatening) boy”.