<i>Force of Attraction</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Force of Attraction: Exclusive Excerpt D.D. Ayres "Her pulse ticked up with equal amounts of excitement and anxiety." H&H Quickies #8: Lavinia Kent Presents... H&H Quickies #8: Lavinia Kent Presents... Lavinia Kent "And then the woman was naked, the robe falling in a puddle of silk behind her..." <i>Under the Lights</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Under the Lights: Exclusive Excerpt Shannon Stacey "That fruity scent of hers was the smell of forbidden fruit." <i>Instinct</i>: Excerpt Instinct: Excerpt Sherrilyn Kenyon "Nick has just embraced the one person he should never have trusted."
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Showing posts by: Darlene Marshall click to see Darlene Marshall's profile
Nov 13 2014 10:30am

Before The Flame and the Flower: Romance from Back in the Day

It is a truth pretty much universally acknowledged that the modern romance genre as we know it came into its own with the publication of The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss in 1972. The market erupted for historical romance with fairly graphic sex scenes, giving rise to all the offshoots we cherish today—paranormal, graphic Regencies, erotica and so on.

But what did romance readers read before The Flame and the Flower to satisfy their yearning for great stories leading to a Happily Ever After?

We can, of course, reference Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer and the classic Mills and Boon stories, but a lot of readers wanted something more. Here’s a highly subjective, dredged from decades old memories account of what we read before Old Skool Romance.

In the middle of the 20th century there were writers whose stories gave satisfaction both in terms of craft and in delivering the idea of a HEA. Some of these authors who were bestsellers in their day are seldom read now, others continue to be enjoyed.

[Maybe we can reinvigorate them...]

Jul 31 2014 11:10am

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs: Reviewing the Black Moment from Balogh, Howard, Phillips, and More!

Cry No More by Linda HowardAh, despair! We all love a funny romance with rakish pirates, but every now and then we want an author to rip out our heart and stomp all over it with pointy little stilettos.

When you read any other genre, the despair, the “black moment,” can be beyond painful. In romance, it can be cathartic because the reader knows when that forbidden box is opened and death, destruction, disease and despair fly out, at the end there’s a small fluttering instance of hope. It’s hope of a HEA, or at least a Happy For Now, which keeps us turning pages even as the tears roll down our faces.

The problem with discussing our favorite angsty novels is sometimes—usually—the despair moment is linked to a betrayal, or a disaster, or a Huge Reveal that would be a spoiler. I’ll discuss the black moments when I can without giving too much away, but if I just say, “Read this for a good weepfest!” you’ll have to trust me.

Linda Howard’s Cry No More begins with despair. A child is ripped from its mother’s arms and she spends the rest of the book trying to regain her lost son. This may be the ultimate despair moment. You can survive betrayal, you can survive the loss of your one true love, but can anyone survive not knowing her child’s fate? You will need your tissues. There is an amazing love story in this book, and it hits a lot of readers’ keeper lists for good reason. Even if you’ve had some less than positive experiences with this author’s novels, you’ll want to read Cry No More to experience despair.

[Grab a box of tissues now...]

Jul 3 2014 4:30pm

I Melt with You: Top 10 ’80s Romances

The Windflower by Laura LondonAh, the '80s! A decade of big hair, Miami Vice, MTV, Duran Duran, shoulders padded out to there, and an explosion of over-the-top, lush, blooming romances that came to be known as bodice rippers.

That pejorative term for a genre we love lives on well into the 21st century, but it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the novels that defined that decade of romance. After all, the '80s also ushered in some serious study of the genre, including Carol Thurston’s The Romance Revolution: Erotic Novels for Women and the Quest for a New Sexual Identity (1987).

It began, as we all know, with the publication of The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss in 1972. While the '70s saw some of the biggest authors come into their own, Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers being two notable examples, it was the '80s when iconic authors we still enjoy today made their mark in publishing. It was also an era of books featuring words like “savage, devil, splendor, surrender” in the titles, and covers designed to get truck drivers to give them prominent placement on drugstore spinner racks. It was all about the racks, in case you’ve ever wondered why books marketed to women had so many bosomy cover models falling out of their bodices. So here is a list of ten of the top romances of that era:

1. The Windflower by Laura London (a.k.a. Tom and Sharon Curtis), Historical (1984)
For some readers, this mid-decade novel is the historical romance to end all historical romances. Now that it’s back in print, a new generation is discovering what we all loved about the book. It wasn’t just that Merry and Devon’s story was so well done, the writing flowing so lyrically, but secondary characters like Cat and Rand Morgan continued to haunt us long after we’d closed the covers.

[That's the best kind of book...]

May 16 2014 9:30am

“I’m Not Bad, I’m Just Drawn That Way": Top 5 Bad Girls in Romance Novels

I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way

I read a lot of comic books when I was a youngster. While I admired Wonder Woman and thought it would be neat to be an Amazon princess and carry a sword, the person I really wanted to be, the one I thought was absolutely the coolest, was Catwoman. I didn’t identify with the 1950s bonked-on-the-head delusional stewardess Catwoman, but the real Catwoman, the Selina Kyle who saw bright, glittery things and said, “Mine!” Catwoman wasn’t like Poison Ivy, who went around killing people. Catwoman was a thief, one who happened to be so good at her profession that there was only one crimefighter capable of reining her in.

As you might imagine, when I grew up enough to realize there was a thing between naughty Catwoman and dark hero Batman…oh yeah, that just added a whole new special awesomesauce to reading about her exploits robbing jewels and antiquities and rappelling down skyscrapers and driving Batman batty! Putting an adult spin on their “catch me if you can” games was quite entertaining.

[Bad girls have the most fun...]

Apr 14 2014 10:54am

Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 2 Recap: A Wedding to Remember

Joffrey and Margaery in Game of Thrones Season 4, episode 2This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Game of Thrones, including last night’s Season 4, episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose.” Enjoy!

It’s official. “Rains of Castamere” is the worst earworm ever. If you hear it, grab your wine and leave the wedding at once. Also: In Westeros this season, purple is the new red for weddings.

More on this later…

We start with Ramsay Snow trying to beat out Joffrey for most disgusting human being in the kingdom. He’s hunting a servant, Tansy, who was kind to “Reek” (Theon Greyjoy) but was just following Ramsay's orders, and while the first arrow is put in the girl's leg by Ramsay’s jealous squeeze, he’s the one who releases his hunting hounds to tear Tansy to pieces.

[Charming lad, that one, isn't he?...]

Jul 19 2012 1:30pm

Author Darlene Marshall on Admirable Castaways

Castaway Dreams by Darlene MarshallToday we welcome author Darlene Marshall, whose new novel Castaway Dreams is now available, to talk about the enduring appeal of castaway stories, and some of her favorites. Welcome, Darlene!

We’ve been fascinated by stories of castaways on desert islands ever since Odysseus washed up at Calypso’s feet. The idea of being out of place, struggling to survive against the elements, reinventing yourself, is a theme explored again and again in literature from The Odyssey to The Tempest to Robinson Crusoe to Lord of the Flies. Many of us read Island of the Blue Dolphins in American schools, a somewhat unique castaway story in that its protagonist is a woman.

It’s also a theme explored on stage and in film from the earliest days of silent pictures, with too many films to mention here. From literature we have a hand-tinted film of The Tempest in 1905, the first Robinson Crusoe movie in 1926 (my personal favorite is 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars with Adam West in a very small role as the hapless 2nd astronaut), and Lord of the Flies in 1963. 

[Everyone loves a good castaway story...]