<i>Taming the Highlander</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Taming the Highlander: Exclusive Excerpt May McGoldrick "Conall and Innes must take the ultimate leap of faith..." <i>Rookie Move</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Rookie Move: Exclusive Excerpt Sarina Bowen "When he looked at her like that, the years just fell away." <i>A Scot in the Dark</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Scot in the Dark: Exclusive Excerpt Sarah MacLean "His gaze fell to her waist, where a large gold belt..." <i>Dirty Little Lies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Dirty Little Lies: Exclusive Excerpt Lora Leigh "Will surrendering to Zack end up being the biggest mistake of Grace’s life?"
From The Blog
August 25, 2016
Sosie Frost Makes Secret Babies Fun Again
Tori Benson
August 24, 2016
Mythology and Magic in Amanda Bouchet's Promise of Fire
Carol Malcolm
August 24, 2016
Now Win This!: Christina Dodd’s Because I'm Watching Sweepstakes
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August 23, 2016
Why Ever After is the Best Fairy Tale Adaptation
August 23, 2016
Cover Tuesday: Exclusive Reveals from Cutler and Witt!
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Showing posts by: Kate Nagy click to see Kate Nagy's profile
Jul 5 2016 10:00am

Susan Howatch and the Wheel of Time

Penmarric by Susan Howatch

Fellow Readers of a Certain Era, let’s say it together!

I was ten years old when I first saw the Inheritance and twenty years old when I first saw Janna Roslyn, but my reaction to both was identical. I wanted them…

Thus begins Penmarric, the first of the remarkable family sagas of British author Susan Howatch. These novels were book club and Literary Guild staples in the 1970s and 1980s, and with good reason. Using the lives of the members of the royal House of Plantagenet as a jumping-off point, Howatch recasts the Kings and Queens of England as Victorian and Edwardian landowners who share an unusual penchant for passion, madness, questionable behaviors of various stripes, and elaborately plotted vengeance. Even forty-odd years after their initial publication, these books hold up well: It’s easy to sink into them and all too hard to put them down.

Howatch had already published a number of gothic novels with delicious titles like The Devil on Lammas Night when she wrote Penmarric in the early 1970s, but Penmarric was something altogether different. In this hugely entertaining saga, two generations of the wealthy Castallack family, owners of a once-thriving tin mine in windswept Cornwall, battle for ownership of the Inheritance, Penmarric, the magnificent family home. Penmarric represents different things at different times to different people – the past, the future, justice, power, acceptance – and there’s plenty of scheming and underhandedness on the part of patriarch Mark Castallack and his various children (by various women) as they jostle for position within the family.

[Family drama ensues...]

Jun 16 2016 4:30pm

We’re Nuts About Kate Lowell’s Squirrel Shifter Romances!

Nuts About You by Kate Lowell

These days, shifter romances are hot. (In more ways than one.) You’ve probably read one or two: Blade (or Rock...or Nick), a werewolf or wolf-shifter (sometimes, less commonly, a bear- or mountain cat-shifter), who is also a Navy SEAL (or sometimes just your average, everyday firefighter…who also happens to be a werewolf), is the Alpha of his pack (inevitably). He is six-feet-four, with eyes like chips of blue ice, biceps the size of cantaloupes, and cut-from-Baccarat-crystal abs off of which one could bounce a basketball. Sparks fly when he meets Lexi (or Jess or Callie), who is usually an investigative reporter or a detective of some sort. Sexytimes ensue.

Then there are the “Nutty Romances” of Kate Lowell.

These unusual tales relate the saga of Nathan, whose soft blue eyes, sweet smile, short stature, and love handles belie the stalwart heart and unshakeable courage of a born were-squirrel.

[Things are about to get a little nutty...]

Jun 13 2016 9:30am

First Look: Grace Burrowes’ Jack (June 14, 2016)

Jack by Grace BurrowesGrace Burrowes
Jack (Jaded Gentlemen #4)
Grace Burrowes / June 14, 2016 / $6.29 print, $3.99 digital

The highly prolific Grace Burrowes has written over 50 books, most of them set in the English countryside of the early nineteenth century (with frequent forays into London, of course). Although the sun never set on the Empire in those days, England itself just isn’t that big, and between her Windhams, her Lonely Lords, her True Gentlemen, and now her Jaded Gentlemen, Burrowes has populated her version of the Regency with a web of families and their familiars who know one another, care about each other, and look out for each other.

In Jack, the latest Jaded Gentleman to find himself under the spotlight is one John Dewey Fanning, most recently seen advising Axel Belmont (who only very recently found his own HEA, with Jack’s able assistance, of course). Jack is a magistrate out in Oxfordshire (the term “rusticating,” which I love, applies here) and has found his district plagued by the most bizarre streak of petty crimes. For example, someone has covertly allowed a prized ram from one farm to romp among the ewes in the adjacent farm. The ram’s owner would have charged an exorbitant stud fee to breed the ram to the ewes, but if said ram just happened to find his way in there, well, the ram is happy; the ewes are happy; and the ewes’ owner may flounce and gripe about the importance of locking up one’s rams, but she’s unlikely to be complaining when the ewes give birth to valuable new lambs in the spring. The only one who isn’t happy is the rams’ owner, but lacking hard evidence of a crime, what’s a single, lonely magistrate to do?

[Something tells me we're about to find out...]

May 17 2016 12:15pm

The Best Jane Eyre Adaptations Based on Mr. Rochester

As we observe the recent bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë’s birth (April 21), it is appropriate to take a critical look at the many filmed adaptations of Jane Eyre, her best-known work. Specifically, it is right and proper to assess, soberly and judiciously, the efforts of the many brave men who have undertaken the challenging role of aspiring bigamist Edward Fairfax Rochester. We embrace our duty to celebrate those individuals who have successfully grasped the brass rings (so to speak) of brooding intensity, towering presence, and smoldering hottitude, while also recognizing those who, for whatever reason, are perhaps less likely to haunt our dreams at night (and noting that there has never been a really bad Rochester). Here, in reverse-ranked order, is one such list.

7. George C. Scott (1970/Susannah York as Jane)

Scott brings the requisite gravitas, but might just be the slightest bit…not young for the role? (I know that he may have been technically younger than some of the other fellows listed here, but his Rochester sort of looks like Jane’s grandpa. A smoldering and particularly attractive grandpa, yes. But the age difference is unusually striking in this adaptation.) Also, in what universe was Susannah York ever “plain,” or even unusual-looking in a way that would have pegged her as “plain”? But that’s its own separate issue.

[And on we go...]

May 10 2016 9:30am

Reader, I Married Him (Again): Jane Eyre Retellings You Haven’t Read Yet

It’s sometimes easy to forget how influential Charlotte Brontë was (and continues to be). Serious and intense where Jane Austen was sprightly and funny; wordy and oblique where her literary descendants tend to be forthright and concise; and relatively sparse in output where other authors were and are prolific, Brontë and her work are easy to admire but not always easy to love.

Nevertheless, her best-known novel, the classic Jane Eyre, casts a long shadow, continuing to influence authors even today. This tale of a plain, quiet, governess who catches the eye of her wealthy, brooding employer, only to be forced to flee when he attempts to (er, spoiler, I guess) lure her into bigamy, has inspired countless prequels, sequels, retellings, and related plots of romances we all know and love.

First, of course, we have the whole “Governess and Rake” plot. Now, Jane Eyre was by no means the first “governess novel”—Brontë was working within a more or less established literary tradition with that particular trope—but it’s probably the best known, and I would guess (without a shred of hard evidence, admittedly) that it’s what most authors have in the backs of their minds when they write about a governess, nanny, or companion.

[Who wouldn't think about it, it's a classic...]

Apr 22 2016 11:00am

This Time It’s Personal: Cheryl St. John’s Harvey Girls Series

Cheryl St. John’s Harvey Girls series curated by Wendy the Super Librarian

In the 1880s, the Great American West was a wild and untamed land. In fact, some said that there were “no ladies west of Dodge City and no women west of Albuquerque.” Enter entrepreneur Fred Harvey, who took note of the deplorable services for passengers along the booming Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and, in response, established the Harvey House chain of restaurants and hotels. For the first time, weary travelers along the ATSF could stay in safe and clean rooms and enjoy tasty meals at reasonable prices throughout their journey west.

Harvey initially hired men to staff his properties, but his servers turned out to be a rough and unruly crew, so he had a brainstorm: Why not hire women? He placed ads in newspapers across the Midwest and East, looking for bright, articulate, attractive young women who would be hired as servers in his restaurants. “Harvey Girls” were required to have an eighth grade education and be of “good moral character.” The hiring process was competitive, but for ladies who made the cut, the rewards were substantial. Initially, they could earn up to $17.50 per month, plus free room, board, and uniforms – a generous salary, particularly for a woman, in those days. But also, they entered a new world of adventure, independence, and not infrequently romance.

Cheryl St. John’s historical Harvey Girls series—now available in a Book Bundle curated by H&H blogger Wendy the Super Librarian!—transports readers back to those days with three novels about the women who worked at the Arcade, a Harvey House property in Newton, Kansas. All three are well worth the attention of any reader of historical romance.

[Let's take a look at the series ...]

Mar 28 2016 9:30am

Revolutionary Sagas: Laura Frantz’s Inspiring Historicals

The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz

Is it just me, or is anyone else baffled by the fact that there are remarkably few romance novels set in colonial America? Bookstore shelves groan beneath the weight of books that depict that general time frame…in England, with various Dukes and Duchesses (and associated wallflowers, bluestockings, pirates, and gentlefolk) cavorting around England. “Her Marriage of Convenience to A Cowboy in the American West”—settled substantially later—is basically a subgenre unto itself. Amish-themed “bonnet books” even bring the trappings of the distant past right up into the modern age! Flappers, billionaires, doctors, vampires, professional athletes, Navy SEALS, and angels all have had their moment in the sun, but other than a few old-school “Claimed by the Indian Warrior”-type books (which tend to raise all sorts of unfortunate issues around racism and cultural appropriation), the men and women who bore witness to the very birth of the good old U.S. of A. get no love at all.

It’s entirely possible that more authors, inspired by the runaway success of Hamilton: The Musical, will decide to explore this rich and fascinating period in history a little more closely. Until that happens, though, fans of the American Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary eras will need to content themselves with one remarkable Broadway show…and with the inspirational novels of Laura Frantz.

[The very best of America ...]

Feb 8 2016 12:45pm

“It Suits You”: Embrace the Foe (Finn/Poe) in Star Wars

Foe Star Wars Finn and Poe plus Rey

Star Wars: The Force Awakens burst into theaters in December to near-universal acclaim. After the pretty but somewhat lackluster prequel trilogy, fans celebrated the return of iconic characters such as Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca; the introduction of an unusually complex and layered villain in the brooding (and hair-tossing) Kylo Ren (Adam Driver); and the emergence of a strong, brave, and altogether compelling heroine in Daisy Ridley’s scrappy Rey.

Of course, by the end of the first screening, enough fanfiction to wallpaper the inside of Starkiller Base had already been produced, much of it involving—naturally—Rey and her mysterious origins. Other stories paired Rey with various men in the Star Wars universe, including both Kylo Ren and her likely eventual love interest, soulful ex-Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega). But another potential pairing has sparked many imaginations: that of Finn and cocky, magnetic Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).

[Finn and Poe plus Rey ...]

Jul 19 2015 2:00pm

Fifty Shades of Clay: A Movie Night with Old Fashioned

Clay and Amber in Old Fashioned

On Valentine’s Day 2015, as Fifty Shades of Grey was raking in bushels of cash at theaters around the country, a quiet revolution was brewing at a couple hundred theaters, mostly in the Midwest. A gentle little film–which, coincidentally, also featured a hero with a penchant for control in his romantic life–began to catch the attention of faith-based audiences and others who didn’t feel that watching Jamie Dornan whack a college student with a riding crop would be their precise cup of tea. The movie was called Old Fashioned, and it broke the record for ticket sales for a film opening at under 300 theaters and has continued to pick up steam now that it’s available on DVD. In fact, at one point the movie, which was filmed on a shoestring budget featuring a cast of largely unknown actors, occupied the #1 spot on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases: Romance” list–above, it’s worth noting, Fifty Shades. So what’s the deal with this odd little phenomenon?

The debut feature film of writer/director/leading man Rik Swartzwelder, Old Fashioned is earnest, charming, and occasionally deeply insightful. Swartzwelder plays Clay, a furniture restorer/antique dealer who underwent a religious conversion as a young man and has spent the subsequent decade atoning for his debauched youth, including production of a series of cheap DVDs in the “Girls Gone Wild” vein. He's basically an honorable guy, but his faith is an airless, joyless thing, mostly concerned with rules and list-making. He won’t even go to church, being disgusted with what he sees as the “hypocrisy” among the churchgoers.

[So he's a tad bit grumpy about his faith...]

Jul 15 2015 9:30am

A Vacation at Your Desktop: Fall in Love with Telenovelas

There exists an amazing world in which passion reigns supreme and the extraordinary is almost commonplace. The men are (mostly) eye-searingly handsome and the women are (usually) preternaturally gorgeous, and they have their adventures (and what amazing adventures they have!) amidst scenery of astonishing natural beauty.

The downside of this charmed existence is that abduction is commonplace, as are forgery, poisoning, embezzlement, faked paternity test results, faked property records, faked wills, and even murder most foul. Motherhood is a particularly fraught enterprise: it’s not unusual for one’s newborn to be fraudulently switched with another infant from the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum, and if one is blessed with twins—as are an unusually high percentage of new mothers—it’s a safe bet that the twins will be separated, possibly until they’re old enough to unknowingly vie for the love of the same woman (or man). The good news is that when someone dies, they don’t usually stay dead for very long, unless someone gets tossed over the edge of a cliff into the ocean or something—and even then, the erstwhile killer would be well advised to make sure that their intended victim isn’t an unusually strong swimmer.

[Welcome to the world of latin telenovelas...]

Jun 11 2015 2:30pm

A Forgotten Treasure: Norma Johnston’s Keeping Days Saga

A Nice Girl Like You  by Norma Johnston

“As soon as I awoke on the morning of my fourteenth birthday I knew it was going to be a Keeping Day.”

So begins The Keeping Days, the first of six books in Norma Johnston’s charming series of the same name. Supposedly based on family stories told to the author by her aunts and uncles, these books follow two generations of a close-knit family in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx in the years leading up to World War I. Together the family copes with an array of challenges, from the death of their patriarch to the somewhat surprising birth of a child, as well as romances, illnesses, estrangements, and a scandal whose echoes will reverberate across a generation. Although these are not new books—they were first published between 1973 and 1981—they remain surprisingly readable and relevant today.

The first four books in the series deal with passionate, romantic Letitia Sterling, middle child in a large, boisterous family. “…I’m sensitive,” Tish confides to the reader, early on. “I might as well tell you that straight off, because Mama always does. She seems to think it explains a lot.” Tish cherishes Keeping Days—days that are so special and memorable that they will live in her heart forever—and dreams of being a writer someday, a goal that no one but her much-loved grandfather seems to understand or appreciate.

[Dive in to a classic series by Norma Johnston...]

May 19 2015 11:00am

Keeping Warm on a Cold Scottish Night: Highland Knits for Outlander Fans

Claire from Outlander in her knits

Fans of the Starz network’s ongoing adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular Outlander saga – and they are legion – tend to wax rhapsodic over three particular aspects of the show. First, the sizzling chemistry between series leads Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as time-traveling Claire and her strapping Scottish protector-turned husband Jamie. Second, the cinematography, which superbly depicts the beauty and wonder of the Scottish Highlands. And third, the absolutely delicious knitwear flaunted by many of the major (and not-so-major) characters.

So popular have these gorgeous designs become that entire blogs, Pinterest boards, and Facebook pages have sprung up to honor the costumes themselves and their indefatigable designer, Terry Dresbach (who, it is said, had less than two months to develop and create all the costumes for the show). And while purists may sniff that many of these knits are seriously anachronistic – evidently, eighteenth-century Scotswomen favored neither capelets nor shrugs – many if not most fans who knit merely shrug their shoulders and say “Whatever. Where can I find the pattern?”

…Many places, as it turns out. A number of knitwear designers have produced patterns or collections that were directly inspired by Outlander; others have published patterns that evoke Scotland or the turbulent era in which Jamie and Claire have their adventures. Here are some of the best.

[Find your favorite knits from the TV show Outlander...]

Jan 11 2015 2:00pm

Aral and Cordelia Reveal Their Souls in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cordelia’s Honor

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster BujoldCommander Cordelia Naismith of the Expeditionary Force of the cosmopolitan, highly enlightened planet Beta, has experienced a singularly eventful first command. She and her team—a scientific survey—have managed to stumble upon a war zone, where she has been taken captive by the fearsome Captain Aral Vorkosigan. Vorkosigan is from Barrayar, a planet with a reputation for backwards attitudes and occasional outright barbarism, and he is known throughout the galaxy as the Butcher of Komarr for having (allegedly) perpetrated some particularly vile war crimes. Cordelia quickly realizes, however, that Aral is in a somewhat delicate and complicated position with respect to his own troops, and as they trudge across the countryside en route to a hidden supply cache, she begins to suspect—correctly, as she will learn—that certain aspects of his legend may be, let us say, overblown.

One night at the campfire, they start to talk. Aral has been injured, and Cordelia is worried about both Aral and a gravely wounded member of her team whom they are bringing with them (against Aral’s better judgment). They’re both surprised at what they learn.

[Let's be surprised, too...]

Jan 6 2015 4:00pm

First Look: Grace Burrowes’s A Single Kiss (January 6, 2015)

A Single Kiss by Grace BurrowesGrace Burrowes
A Single Kiss (Single Hearts)
Sourcebooks Casablanca / 
January 6, 2015  / $7.99 print & digital

Hannah Stark has set her sights on corporate law to assure her a career of paperwork, predictability, and conservative suits. Contracts, finance, and the art of the deal sing to her, while the mess and misery of the courtroom do not. But her daughter needs to eat, so when Hannah is offered a temporary position in a small town firm's domestic relations department, she reluctantly accepts.

Trent Knightley is mightily drawn to his newest associate, though Hannah is as protective of her privacy as she is competent. When their friendship and attraction heat up, Hannah's secrets put her heart and Trent's hopes in double jeopardy.

Fiction writers are often admonished to “Write what you know.” Most of the time, they interpret this to refer to the inner emotional lives of our characters. After all, if they took this advice strictly literally with respect to plot, character, and setting, there would be no science fiction or fantasy; little historical fiction (barring the existence of an author with an unlimited research budget—an entity I’ve heard of, but rarely encountered); no time travelers; no vampires; and no hot billionaires under the age of thirty. And that would be no fun at all.

[A single shame, to be sure]

Dec 7 2014 11:00am

Happily Never After: Romances Without a HEA

Recently, H&H’s Jennifer Proffitt took some time to speculate upon the likely fate of The Hobbit’s Kili and Tauriel. Although the adorable, mismatched dwarf-and-elf pair are not precisely canon—Tauriel is an invention of movie director Peter Jackson and his team of scriptwriters—anyone who has read the book is aware of Kili’s fate, and, well, suffice it to say that his future does not involve a tribe of pointy-eared elf babies who are equally proficient at mining and archery. Still, true believers are continuing to hold out hope for the unlikely pair, noting that merely by creating Tauriel, Jackson has shown a refreshing (or perhaps alarming, depending upon your perspective) willingness to play fast and loose with the canon, and that marrying Kili off is hardly as egregious an offense against J.R.R. Tolkien’s oeuvre as creating a girlfriend for him to begin with.

[True, but why give us hope to begin with!]

Oct 25 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Alexis Hall’s Prosperity (October 27, 2014)

Prosperity by Alexis HallAlexis Hall
Riptide / October 27, 2014 / $16.99 print, $6.99 digital

A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!

Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart. Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.

Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe. This volume (available in print, and for the first time on mechanical book-reading devices) contains the complete original text of Piccadilly’s memoirs as first serialised in All the Year Round. Some passages may prove unsettling to unmarried gentlemen of a sensitive disposition.

The above book description, which I will forever deeply regret not being the one to have written, gives you a pretty good idea what to expect from Alexis Hall’s wildly entertaining new novel Prosperity. When the marketing team behind Prosperity’s promotional activities informs us that “some passages may prove unsettling to [whatever] of a sensitive disposition,” well, you can consider that fair warning. Part heart-pounding adventure story, part coming-of-age tale, and part unconventional romance, Prosperity is what the loquacious narrator, Piccadilly (aka Dil), might call a “ripping good yarn.” In other words, you really need to read this.

[Tell us more!]

Sep 13 2014 12:00pm

Outlander: Unpacking a Controversial Scene

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon**Spoiler Alert! If you have yet to read Outlander or are new to the show, do NOT read ahead. This post is unpacking a very controversial scene from the book. Reader beware!**

When I first picked Outlander up, nearly fifteen years ago, my love for it was immediate, overwhelming, and complete. I devoured every page—the plot, the setting, and above all the unconventional romance between Jamie and Claire, whose love story would go on to form the backbone of so many sequels. I was certain that this remarkable book was destined for a spot in my all-time Top Five…

…and then I got to the part where Jamie beats Claire.

Hello, needle-on-a-record-album screeching sound!

Now, in fairness, it’s possible that I would react to That Scene a little bit differently were I to encounter it for the first time today, when everyone has safe words and fur-lined handcuffs, while unassuming suburban split-levels are being outfitted with their very own Red Rooms of Pain. It’s possible…but it’s not likely. What Jamie does to Claire is not done in a fun, consensual, Fifty-Shades-of-Tartan kind of way. It’s done out of anger, frustration, desperation, and even in a sense necessity, as Jamie is in danger of losing the respect of his men for “allowing” Claire to behave in such an erratic and potentially dangerous manner:

[She might need to be put in her place...but this way?]

Aug 28 2014 3:00pm

First Look: Grace Burrowes’s The Laird (September 2, 2014)

The Laird by Grace BurrowesGrace Burrowes
The Laird (Captive Hearts)
Sourcebooks Casablanca
/ September 2, 2014 / $7.99 print and digital

He left his bride to go to war...
After years of soldiering, Michael Brodie returns to his Highland estate to find that the bride he left behind has become a stranger. Brenna is self-sufficient, competent, confident-and furious about Michael's prolonged absence.

Now his most important battle will be for her heart
Brenna is also hurt, bewildered, and tired of fighting for the respect of those around her. Michael left her when she needed him most, and then stayed away even after the war ended. Nonetheless, the young man who abandoned her has come home a wiser, more patient and honorable husband. But if she trusts Michael with the truths she's been guarding, he'll have to choose between his wife and everything else he holds dear.

In her most recent novel, The Traitor, Grace Burrowes accomplished the difficult challenge of rehabilitating Sebastian St. Clair, formerly a professional torturer in Napoleon’s employ.  The Laird is a book for anyone who found The Traitor too-light-hearted. The story of Sebastian’s boon companion Michael Brodie and Michael’s long-estranged wife Brenna, The Laird details sensitively yet frankly with a very dark topic indeed: the sexual abuse of a child. Although Burrowes is not gratuitous in her handling of this topic, neither does she pull any punches. This has been your trigger warning.

[We are warned...]

Aug 22 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Kristen Callihan’s Evernight (August 26, 2014)

Evernight by Kristen CallihanKristen Callihan
Evernight (Darkest London #5)
Forever / August 26, 2014 / $6.00 print, $5.99 digital

Once the night comes . . .

Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can't control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him-until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.

Love must cast aside the shadows

Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable-and she's the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead . . . or his only chance for redemption will be lost.

Ever since she burst on to the scene with the inventive and powerfully romantic Firelight back in 2012, Kristen Callihan has been turning out unique and gripping tales that put the steam in steampunk. Even beyond her dense plots and compelling love stories, she’s a master at world-building. Each of her novels is a magnificent edifice in which Victorian London, with its bustle and damp and grime and energy, forms the foundation; the supernatural, including werewolves, ghosts, and an array of other creatures, forms the walls, and the whole is topped off with clever mechanical innovation. Dirigibles float serenely across Callihan’s London sky, while on the ground ghosts with hearts that tick like clocks move with ease among the unaware populace, mingling with werewolves, fae, angels, and vampires.


Aug 7 2014 4:30pm

Dear Old Mum Taught You Better Than That: Outlander and Gender Politics

Outlander by Diana GabaldonAs pretty much everyone knows by now, Vanity Fair recently ran a short piece by one Joanna Robinson about Starz’s upcoming Outlander series. The piece was rather unwisely entitled “Does the New Outlander Series Have What It Takes to Be More than Just a Bodice-Ripper?” Ms. Robinson’s conclusion (as far as I can tell; this wasn’t VF’s finest hour by any stretch) was no, because based on a couple of clips she saw at ComiCon, it was obvious to her that the show was made for and marketed toward (gasp!) wimminz, which would perforce prevent it from being a bona fide hit.

The response was swift and merciless, even here. Last week, Megan Frampton offered up a furious but measured response; commenters were even more, let us say, passionate in their remarks. “Another idiot trying to validate her superiority by 'differentiating' herself from ‘those other females’ and putting down anything liked or valued by ‘them women,’” opined our own Bungluna. Over at Vanity Fair, responses trended positively savage: “Your sloppy, uninformed article can suck a duck,” said one. “I hope you can get a refund from whatever University doled out your degree, along with the free keychain,” said another. “How unfortunate that Vanity Fair allowed a two-penny hack to write this review.” “Too bad that Joanna Robinson was taught to string words together without actually learning to read.” “You are living proof that a horse’s arse has teeth.”

[Wee bit harsh...]