This week is extra special because we’re doing a double feature of Books with Buzz! As many of you know, Tessa Dare burst onto the scene last year with Goddess of the Hunt, and was our readers’ pick for Best Debut Author. I enjoyed reading that book as a reviewer, and readers have been thrilled with Dare’s storytelling ability as well as the mixture of humor and deep emotion found in her stories. She creates interesting, distinctive characters that really grow over the course of her stories and in One Dance With a Duke, she kicks off a new trilogy based around the members of the Stud Club.
I was able to read an advance copy of the book, and am anxious to read the rest of the trilogy now. Even better, thanks to Tessa Dare and the wonderful folks at Ballantine Books, 10 lucky winners will be able to get copies of One Dance With a Duke for themselves! Just comment below to be entered in the contest. And, now – here’s Tessa Dare!
1. Would you tell our readers a bit about One Dance With a Duke?
During my book club’s latest meeting, a friend who’d seen the play version of a novel most of us had read, showed around some leaflets of the production and asked whether the two actors who played the leads were in accordance with how we’d imagined them. This lead to a rather funny moment, because of the six women present, three instantly claimed they never visualize the main protagonists of any novel they read, whereas the other three said they visualized them without fail, and that watching a stage or movie production later with actors that didn’t fit with their expectations, could ruin the play or film for them.
I never ever fully visualize people in books. I do kind of register their attributes – what hair color, tall or tiny, a scar etc. – but I never give them a real face. As a result, while I am bothered by actors (or even cover images) not fitting the descriptions in the books, like Emma Watson’s hair being all wrong for Hermione, as long as the actors’ looks don’t contradict what is said about these people in the book, I’m fine with about any actor.
Warm weather is here, or at least it is in my part of the world! I’ve been having fun looking over the new releases for summer and picking out books I’d really like to read. There are new treats to look forward to from Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Hoyt, Meredith Duran, Carla Kelly and Tessa Dare, among others. There’s Kaki Warner’s sequel to Pieces of Sky which I’m dying to read as well as a new medieval from Kris Kennedy whose novel, The Conqueror, I greatly enjoyed. And then there are the debuts that are catching my eye.
Those of you who read here regularly see that each month we post future releases that we want to read. They’re not books we’ve gotten for review; just the books that we as readers very much want to add to our TBRs and hopefully enjoy. For some of these books, we get a chance to interview the authors, too, and that’s always a thrill for me. I love seeing how authors put stories together and with so many, their love of what they do comes through when we talk to them.
So, what books are coming up in the months ahead that you are very interested in reading? And, is there anyone you’d like to see us interview here? We can’t promise anything, but we’re always open to suggestions!
We 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.”
I came across a link to an article from last year that still annoys me, so it got me thinking about a topic that comes up in romanceland from time to time – the placeholder heroine. This idea seems to come from two main sources. There is the discussion in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women primarily based around Laura Kinsale’s essay(“The Androgynous Reader: Point of View in the Romance”) which is really more a thoughtful discussion of viewpoint rather than an argument centering on the perceived uselessness of developing the heroine’s character and/or giving her a lot of individuality. Unfortunately, this latter argument is what many people discussing the placeholder heroine seem to mean when they get on the topic.
There are certain books with which I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. Perhaps love-unease might be a better way to describe it, because I’m not sure my feelings ever quite fall to the level of hate. My love-hate books tend to be those which are unabashedly retro in their outlook, so I suspect my unease comes more from who I am rather than from the books all by themselves. I don’t speak here of the rape and/or abuse romances of old that I’ve discussed, but of some of the books I like that really are throwbacks to a very old-fashioned view of relationships.
For example, I’ll willingly confess to my Harlequin Presents habit. However, as a rather independent professional woman, I have to admit to a certain amount of discomfort with the whole “alpha billionaire sweeps dainty heroine off her feet and into a life of luxury” fantasy. Though there are definitely exceptions, the heroes in this line tend to be quite domineering, the settings exotic, the heroines delicate and fluttery. The plotting features over the top drama (think secret babies, forced marriages, dramatic business takeovers, amnesiac pregnant mistresses – well, you get it), and the dynamic between hero and heroine has a definite retro feel. And that’s not even getting into the bizarre plot acrobatics sometimes required to ensure that most of these heroines hold on to their virginity so that the hero can be swept away by magic virgin sex and they’ll live happily ever after.
At one point, pretty much every reader has that moment of finding a wonderful, delightful book that doesn’t seem to be getting any love anywhere. It’s not flying off shelves at the bookstore, it’s not getting buzz all over the internet, it just doesn’t make sense. And that’s what our Buried Treasure column is for – it’s our time to mention the books that we really liked this year that just didn’t seem to get nearly as much attention as we thought they deserved. These may be books by midlist or small-press authors who should be better known or they may be lesser-known books by authors readers are more familar with. Either way, these books just haven’t gotten the attention we feel they deserve.
Before Harry Potter swept in and defined my generation, two books left remarkable impressions on me. Two very different books, but they had a strong impact on me and many of my peers. I’m going to look back at these books in two blog posts. The first is on my introduction to romance. It was 1997. I was eight years old. The book was Ella Enchanted.
This past week, I read The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston. About halfway through the book I realised the heroine’s best friend was black and though she had previously struck me as slightly annoying, I finished the book eagerly anticipating a sequel with a romance story for her.
Why was I all of a sudden so interested in this character? The long and short answer: it’s because she was black. A slightly annoying white best friend would have garnered no more than cursory interest for me, but once I learned that Blayne – in the most superficial of ways – “resembled” me, I was invested in her story.
I have existed for most of my literate life on a steady diet of romance novels and ninety-nine percent of the characters in these novels are Caucasian – and American. I expect that for the rest of my literate life, my diet will remain pretty much unchanged. African-American romance novels are hard to come by in my neck of the woods and because I don’t read with race in the forefront of my mind, it is very easy to accept the status quo. That said, my reaction to Blayne (with whom I had absolutely nothing else in common apart from skin colour) highlighted for me a subtle but present undercurrent of need for recognition in my romance.
On the whole, I don’t mind seeing variations of the same old plot in what I read. Well, I do read plenty of genre literature after all! The finesse and/or psychological depth in which a well-known plot is handled can actually enrich my pleasure in reading a great deal. That said, there are a few plotlines out there that I would really like to retire for a couple of years or so, and which may very well keep me from buying a new publication unless it’s by an autobuy author.