Every month, the staff here at AAR send me their lists of books on the new release list that they are eager to try. Going over the July list was extra fun because there were four new releases that clearly caught the attention of many. As I went through my emails, I wondered which book was going to hit the top slot. Would it be the new release from Loretta Chase or would it be Anne Stuart, Mary Balogh or Meredith Duran? In the end, Mary Balogh’s book won out with 11 AAR staffers declaring their anticipation of its arrival, but the books by Loretta Chase, Meredith Duran and Anne Stuart followed closely on its heels. In addition, as you can see from checking out the release list and our picks, July is looking like it could be a pretty good month.
Over the years here, we’ve said quite a bit about the TSTL(Too Stupid To Live) nutter, one of the heroines we love to hate. And I have long been among those who have hated them most fervently and vocally. The mere letters of this acronym bring to mind so many rage ridden reading moments it’s hard to think of them without boiling blood. My favorite TSTL moment to hate remains the moment in Elizabeth Adler’s Sailing to Capri when Daisy, who had been told by Sir Robert to trust noone but Harry begins to trust everyone around her except Harry – with whom she cleverly verbally spars throughout the rest of the book. Which brings to mind other moments, like when Tristan, Duke of Shelbourn, agrees to the most ridiculous idea ever proposed in Regency bride hunting — a sort of The Bachelor style situation in which he was dating/courting an entire room full of women at once. For that I almost threw Vicky Dreiling’s How to Marry a Duke against the wall. Yet last night, on my millionth or so watching of the movie Charade with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, I realized that there are moments when TSTL lends itself quite well to romance.
Yes, I’m one of those romance readers who fits the cliché: Just give me a box of bon bons and a shirtless duke in a cape and I’m all set.
Okay, so I’m not quite that clichéd. Bon bons have w-a-a-a-a-y too many carbs and just slapping the title on any wallpaper character doesn’t cut it.
I like dukes when authors make me actually believe they are dukes.
A sterling example is Mary Balogh in Slightly Dangerous. Much of the book is told from Wulfric’s POV and the reader knows that every fiber of his being is consumed by the responsibilities of his rank to his family, his tenants, and his servants. The life and livelihood of hundreds – and maybe even thousands – depend on him and he never forgets it even for one moment.
As so many of us have blogged about our reading preferences lately, I began thinking about my own romance likes and dislikes. As I’ve gotten older or simply have read more, I’ve noticed differences in my reading preferences and have often wondered why those tastes change. Way back in the day, I loved the pregnant heroine, but now, not so much. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve passed that period in my life – a been there, done that attitude - or maybe it’s simply that there aren’t as many pregnant heroines in Romancelandia these days.
When I began reading in my early teens, I could only get my sneaky little hands on my mom’s books and, sadly, those were the old bodice rippers of the 70s, 80s, and even into the 90s. The ones I remember the most were mainly the Woodiwiss and Lindsey books where the heroines were usually pregnant or at least ended up that way for a good portion of the book. They weren’t the only ones, of course, but those are the ones that standout in my memory because of the pregnancies, or maybe even because of the violence. I’m not terribly scarred – I promise. Regardless, for a younger me marriage and pregnancy were the goals I wanted to obtain after I completed my education and established my career and I gobbled up those books.
If you spend much time around romance, particularly historical romance, you know that mistresses show up fairly often. Many, especially in older books, take the form of the woman that was kept by the hero before he met his special virgin snowflake and who inevitably compares unfavorably to the heroine. I still remember (and cringe) over my days of reading Barbara Cartland in high school. Her mistresses weren’t always evil, but they did have a tendency to appear fake and tawdry next to her innocent little dewdrop heroines.
It’s always a treat to feature Mary Balogh here at AAR and today we have a double one: A short interview with the author about A Matter of Class, her upcoming release and a chance for a lucky reader to win a signed copy of the book direct from the author. To enter for your chance to win, all you need to do is comment to this post by 11:59 pm eastern time on December 17th. The winner will be announced here on Friday morning.
The usual caveats apply. This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only and, since the goal is to get a book into the hands of a reader who wouldn’t otherwise have early access, if you review for another site or blog, please don’t enter.
Rike’s post yesterday on plotlines that could use a break got me thinking. I’ve got plenty of kvetches, believe me – many of them mentioned already by Rike – but, to put a Pollyanna spin on things (and, okay, so I am not often Pollyanna-ish, but let’s just run with it) there is at least one plot device that works for me always every time. Put an uptight brainiac seriously in need of having some pins pricked in his or her pretentions together with a casual, laid back type who knows how to deliver a zinger and I’m done for. Totally done for.
A friend of mine says I like “goofball” heroes and, to some degree, I think she’s right. But humor takes fierce intelligence (Jon Stewart, anyone?) and I find it incredibly attractive when someone is confident enough in himself that he doesn’t need to hit others in the face with his brains. It’s fun (not to mention sexually exciting) to discover that someone you initially underestimated is w-a-a-a-a-y smarter than you thought, right?
So, forthwith and with no more verbal diarrhea, here are my fave brainiac/goofball romances:
Before I get to actual books, I have to begin with celebrity gossip, about a very famous German soccer player. Some time ago, while she was pregnant with their second child, he left his wife of many years and very publicly fell for a much younger blonde. He dated this younger woman for several years, yet never divorced his wife, spending part of his holidays with her and their children every year. Last year, the relationship with his girlfriend came to an end, and since then he has been accompanied by his wife to public appearances. Though it is not confirmed they are together again, the public – including the yellow press – wishes them well and applauds their effort at reconciliation. This reconciliation is, in fact, considered romantic. Continue reading →