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Showing posts by: Laurie Gold click to see Laurie Gold's profile
Tue
Feb 17 2015 11:15am

Sleepy Hollow 2x17 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Crane and Abbie hide in Sleepy Hollow 2x17Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 17, “Awakening”
Ships: Crane/Abbie (Ichabbie)

Sleepy Hollow 2x17 Ichabbie Captain's Log**Reader Beware: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Sleepy Hollow, including last night's 2x17, “Awakening.”**

Ichabbie decide to make their own rules now that the knowledge contained in the Fenestella is gone. The solemnity of their roles as Witnesses requires they find ways to keep things light, and the balance they strike is at the core of Ichabbie ship. And so, their rules...

Abbie: “Never fight a land war in Asia.”
Crane: “We must refrain from spoiling the end of motion pictures...thank you, Rosebud.”

[A little humor makes the end of the world seem a little less bleak...]

Tue
Feb 3 2015 11:45am

Sleepy Hollow 2x15 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: The Mystery of the Grand Grimoire

Ichabod and Abbie in Sleepy Hollow 2x15Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 15, “Spellcaster”
Ships:Ichabbie

**Reader Beware: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Sleepy Hollow, including last night's 2x15, “Spellcaster.”**

Sleepy Hollow 2x15 Captain's LogThere’s lots of shippy Ichabbie banter and teamwork in “Spellcaster,” which begins as the Man in the Black Hat appears in an auction house, steals John Dee’s sought-after Elizabethan journal, then incants a spell while cutting his arm with a knife. His blood sizzles as it hits the floor and before you know it, two auction house’s employees are dead. The Cause? Boiled Blood.

Before hearing about the crime, Crane learns Realtor-Speak from Abbie, whom he called to take a look at a nifty three bedroom/two bath Craftsman. “‘Cozy’ is code for too small to live in, ‘rustic’ is needs a little landscaping.” Abbie tries to explain the importance of marketing in the modern world as he happily, and without irony, nabs a few mini-muffins from the Realtor.

The book stolen by Man in Black Hat (MIBH) is the Grand Grimoire, a volume of forbidden black magic collected by John Dee. He wanted to understand evil and keep it, like the Tsar, far, far away from us. (There’s never a bad time to reference Fiddler on the Roof.)

[There really isn't...]

Tue
Jan 20 2015 11:51am

Sleepy Hollow 2x13 Heart-to-Heart: Do Those Crazy Kids Actually Stand a Chance?

Date Night for The Cranes in Sleepy Hollow 2x13Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 13, “Pittura Infamante”
Ships: Ichabod Crane/Katrina (Ichatrina)

**Reader Beware: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Sleepy Hollow, including last night's 2x13, “Pittura Infamante.”**

Sleepy Hollow 2x13 Captain's LogTonight’s episode is Latin for “defaming portrait,” and the Tarot deck’s Hanging Man card is like the Renaissance’s version of an urban myth—though thought to have been painted on frescoes, none have ever been found. The Hanging Man, BTW, is actually an upside down hanging man.

It’s date night and the Cranes are preparing to attend an exhibit of John and Abigail Adams’s personal belongings hosted by the Sleepy Hollow Historical Society. Katrina the Grown-Up Witch developed a close friendship with Abigail Adams after serving as her midwife, and she tells Crane that when the Don’t forget the ladies First Lady wasn’t raising their children by herself or advising John on matters of state and diplomacy, she solved mysteries.  You know, in all that spare time.

[Loads of it...]

Tue
Dec 2 2014 11:45am

Sleepy Hollow 2x11 Ichatrina Heart-to-Heart: Apocalypse Delayed

Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow 2x11, The AkedaShow/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 11, “The Akeda”
Ships: Crane/Katrina and Katrina/Abraham (Katless)

**Reader Beware: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Sleepy Hollow, including last night's 2x11, “The Akeda.”**

Captain's Log Ichabod/KatrinaAt a critical juncture during “The Akeda,” Crane and Katrina agree to set their relationship aside for the duration of the battle against Moloch and act as soldiers in a war rather than as husband and wife. It is Katrina who quietly suggests this after Ichabod questions her loyalty, and it was then that I realized she really isn’t playing some bizarre game of slap and tickle with Abraham. Because this is the moment in romance novels when the heroine shows herself a woman of quiet strength, grace, and dignity. In so doing she proves to the reader that her husband is nothing but an asshole for accusing her of taking up with a) his brother, b) his best friend, or c) a Horseman of the Apocalypse.

I think Ichabod came to the same realization himself, but before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning. Surprisingly, even the apocalypse can’t stop Ichabod and Abbie from bickering about the weather. 

[Oh, Ichabod...]

Tue
Nov 18 2014 11:45am

Sleepy Hollow 2x09 Heart-to-Heart: Rooting for the Mills Sisters

Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 9, “Mama”
Ships: Ichabod/Abbie (Ichabbie), Crane/Katrina/Abraham, Katrina/Abraham (Katless), Hawley/Abbie/Jenny

**Reader Beware: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Sleepy Hollow, including last night's, “Mama.”**

Captain's Log Hawley/Abbie Sleepy Hollow 2x09I never miss Sleepy Hollow. Tom Mison manages to pull off sexy with cranky (Ichabod Crane is older than a roomful of grandpas), and Nicole Beharie as his Co-Witness to Save the World is smart, vulnerable, and has the good humor to teach Ichabod how to live in the 21st century. In a perfect world, Crane and Abbie would take their partnership to the next level, but for now he’s relatively happy with Katrina while Abbie and Hawley take two steps forward for every one painful step back. Only time will tell if Katrina is honest and true, or if she should be knocking boots with Abraham, with or without heads.

Sorry, Ichabbie shippers:

Those who shipped “Ichabbie” during season one were doused with cold water after Katrina left Purgatory. Ever since, she’s repeatedly escaped Abraham, the now headful (headified? re-headed?) Headless Horseman, AKA the Horseman of Death. Which means she and Crane are like other married couples who bicker over The Bachelor. Although she might stay with her husband, Katrina determines to return to Abraham’s home to spy on her former fiancé and Henry, her son with Crane—who is AKA The Horseman of War—and to discover what plans exist for bringing Moloch into the corporeal world. While Crane says he’s over his suspicion over her secrets motives, which cropped up more than once this season, who knows what other secrets she’s keeping, let alone how far she’ll believe a mother’s love knows no bounds. All of which sets up a potential triangle between Crane, Katrina, and Abraham, who looks better shirtless than he ever did headless. It also leaves room for the eventual return of Ichabbie.

[We'll keep our fingers crossed then...]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 12:30pm

Justify My Love: The 12 Best ’90s Romance Novels

Paradise by Judith McNaughtThe ten best romances of the 1990s...who can possibly say?

Should I choose one book per year?

How about titles with tons of buzz for what now seems just a moment in time (The Lover by Robin Schone, Mine to Take by Dara Joy)? Or books like Katherine Sutcliffe’s Dream Fever or Judith Ivory’s The Proposition? Unlike Schone and Joy, Sutcliffe and Ivory (aka Cuevas) have reasonably sized backlists, though neither has been published in a decade.

Should all subgenres be represented? On the Western front, for instance, Lorraine Heath’s Always to Remember amazed readers with its subtle intensity, and the Only series from Elizabeth Lowell was hugely popular (my own fave is Winter Fire).

Should I choose a book from both J.D. Robb (Naked in Death) and Nora Roberts (Seaswept)? What about Amanda Quick (Rendezvous) and Jayne Ann Krentz (Trust Me)?

In the end I put on my sorting hat and let it do the choosing, the result being a list of ten twelve books that leaves off as many “bests” as it includes. My only absolutes were not to choose the same author more than once, or to let a particular subgenre overtake the entire list (which is why Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens or any of three titles by Connie BrockwayAs You Desire, All Through the Night, My Dearest Enemy—do not appear). But the list is stacked with titles from authors who were/are big sellers as opposed to those lesser known (Deborah Simmons’s The Vicar’s Daughter, Diane Farr’s Fair Game, Catherine Archer’s Velvet Bond).

As for ranking the list, my poor brain simply cannot contemplate it, particularly since I’ve read just eight of the twelve and consider only three to be personal favorites. Take a look at the chart (in order of publication), read my thoughts on each title, then post your own list.

[A chart, you say...]

Thu
Apr 24 2014 12:00pm

Anticipating Laura London’s The Windflower: Really Real Old School

The Windflower by Laura London

“Merry Patricia Wilding was sitting on a cobblestone wall, sketching three rutabagas and daydreaming about the unicorn.”

Thus begins The Windflower, Laura London’s classic 1984 romance about a man consumed with revenge who kidnaps and takes the wrong young woman aboard his half-brother’s pirate ship.

Author Deborah Simmons (The Vicar’s Daughter, The Devil Earl) used to rave about this book. By then the name Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis) had permeated my consciousness because everyone raved about this book, but it was just an '80s pirate romance, wasn’t it? “No,” she responded, “not in the way you’re thinking about it. Really...would I steer you wrong?”

I pressed her. “So you’re promising me it isn’t just another bodice-ripping romance like The Flame and the Flower (Kathleen Woodiwiss, 1972) or A Pirate’s Love (Johanna Lindsey, 1978)? She assured me that it was not. And so I asked her to write a review of it for me, which in turn led me to scrounge a copy at one of many UBSs I called or visited (this was back in the day, when that’s how you looked for OOP books).

[What sets Laura London books apart?...]

Wed
Dec 25 2013 11:00am

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best of 2013, Day 4

SECRET Shared by L. Marie AdelineMay old friends be forgot? We don't think so! We're celebrating our favorite reads with four days of the Best of 2013. We asked our bloggers for their favorite books of 2013, with one stipulation, they had to be new to them and not necessarily new to 2013. We know we got a few recommendations to add to our to be read piles and it's a great way to feed those readers you hopefully get for Christmas!

Check back every other weekday between now and Christmas for all of the blogger recommendations! See the picks from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Rachel Kramer Bussel:

S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared by L. Marie Adeline
I loved this continuation of her trilogy about women fulfilling their sexual fantasies. It was a perfect sequel and contained one of the hottest sex scenes—on a plane!—I’ve read. After I wrote the First Look, I found out that many of the New Orleans settings, including the protagonist’s clothing store, are real.

When The Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke
I loved the entire premise about this smart and proud professional matchmaker who doesn’t want to lust after a bad boy, but does, and a man who’s in search of a rich wife but doesn’t know the perfect one is right under his nose. Their avoidance tactics, jealousy, stolen kisses, and verbal sparring add up to a perfect historical romance.

[Sounds like a perfect formula!...]

Tue
Oct 22 2013 12:30pm

Reading All Through the Night: October 2013’s Digital Reissues

Promise Me Heaven by Connie BrockwayOctober offers quite a variety of digital reissues. For lovers of historical romance, a classic from Connie Brockway, one of the subgenre’s masters, becomes available, along with her debut novel. For those who like romantic suspense, another of Lisa Gardner’s category romances written as Alicia Scott is an option, and for those who read paranormals, the fourth and final book in Keri Arthur’s first series will go on sale at the end of the month. Finally, the third in Tara Sue Me’s erotic romance Submissive trilogy goes mainstream after having previously been a fan fiction hit. All of this month’s books are also available in print; release dates may vary.

Connie Brockway: All Through the Night (first published in 1997) and Promise Me Heaven (first published in 1994)—digital release for both October 1, 2013

Connie Brockway has long been a romance maverick. She dared to set books outside of Europe. She dared to write a hero with a learning disability without it screaming “Issue Book!” She dared to have a hero take himself in hand before most authors touched upon masturbation. Those things, though, pale in comparison to her biggest achievement: She dared to vary the tone of her writing from book to book. Eventually this created problems with mainstream publishers and is among the reasons she turned maverick in another area: She left mainstream publishing and was the launch author for Amazon’s Montlake imprint in 2011.

[What else is new to digital?...]

Thu
Oct 3 2013 4:30pm

Murky and Glorious Pasts: Authors Who Switch Genres

Heartbreaker by Julie GarwoodOver the summer I wrote a blog entry at All About Romance listing my top ten romances. Among the responses was one from a reader unfamiliar with “historical Garwoods.” It reminded me of an old Billy Crystal joke about his daughter’s dismay that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings.

It’s hard for me, as a romance reader since the 1990s, to reconcile that readers who came to the genre less than a decade later might know Julie Garwood only for her romantic suspense novels, never realizing she wrote twenty historicals romances beginning in 1985, primarily set in Medieval Scotland, Regency-era England, and occasionally—and less successfully—the old American West. Which is an incredible shame, really, because she was among the pioneers of the funny historical romance. The ten of her historicals you see below (ETA: at the bottom of this post) are all among my all-time favorites, on a list of just under one hundred books (only Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, whose own switching began in the mid 1990s, tops Garwood, with eleven titles).

When Garwood switched gears and moved into romantic suspense, she returned only once to her historical roots, with 2007s Shadow Music, which I’m ashamed to say I never read (my interest in romantic suspense is almost nil). When she made the decision to move into the then-burgeoning romantic suspense market, I never begrudged her, but knew my days of buying Garwood were over. She’s done fine without me; her now eleven-book Buchanan series of romantic thrillers regularly lands on the NYTimes Bestsellers List.

[Have your favorite authors switched things up?...]

Thu
Sep 26 2013 4:00pm

Gallant, Precious, and Sometimes Strange: The Waif Archetype in Romance Novels

Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of OzMuch has been written about the character type of The Waif. Tammy Cowden, who writes about fictional archetypes, calls her the “original damsel in distress, [whose] childlike innocence evokes a protective urge in the beastliest of heroes.” Cowden points out that The Waif also has a very strong will. If she can't fight back, she'll simply endure her lot, which kicks up those protective urges. Likely because she's often a bit on the plucky side, like Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Many a Disney heroine, particularly early ones, are also waifs; think Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. It it gets a little trickier with more recent Disney heroines. Ariel from The Little Mermaid, for instance, is plucky, but she loses her power by giving her voice to Ursula. Belle from Beauty and the Beast has even more pluck, but she's at the mercy of The Beast in much the same way as every orphaned or governess heroine who takes up residence—often on a dark and stormy night—in the manor of a man said to have murdered his wife.

In movies, it's not just the characters who are waifs. It is also the actresses. Think Demi Moore with her short hair in Ghost, or Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, or even Liza Minnelli. She may not have portrayed a waif in any particular film, but for years she sure looked the part with her huge eyes and short hair.

[Now you're seeing waifs everywhere, aren't you?...]

Tue
Sep 10 2013 3:30pm

Do You Remember?: September 2013’s Digital Reissues

Chasing the Shadows by Keri ArthurThis month I bring you a variety of ebook reissues in terms of genre and age (the earliest was first published in 2000).

First up is the next in Keri Arthur’s Nikki & Michael series, which I’ve been writing about here as each book is digitally reissued. Next is a much, much more recent reissue from Maya Banks—a boxed set of contemporary erotic romances published individually earlier this year. Finally, I’ll tell you about a quartet of Kristin Hannah novels that straddle the line between romance and women’s fiction.

Keri Arthur: Chasing the Shadows (first published in 2000, digital reissue September 24, 2013)

When Hearts in Darkness ended, Nikki and Michael were reunited as a couple. With her boss Jake out of commission, and Michael continuing to refuse to allow her to work with him on assignments from the Damask Circle, she’s lonely, bored, and seriously reconsidering her commitment to the vampire she loves. When a friend of Jake’s wife goes missing in San Francisco, she agrees to help. Other women have already been kidnapped, drained of blood, and horribly mutilated. And when I say “horribly mutilated,” think body parts cut off and you’ll have an accurate mental picture.

Michael, of course, is not far behind. The vampire responsible for these murders is seriously twisted, and the Damask Circle wants him stopped. Then too, Nikki’s psychic powers continue to grow, and as he soon discovers, his own powers are mutating, which freaks him out.

[What other reissues are coming up?...]

Tue
Aug 13 2013 2:30pm

Series Finales: Finding the Happy Balance

The Sopranos series finale final sceneWhat did you think of the Seinfeld finale? What about the final episodes of The Sopranos and Lost? Do you worry about how Breaking Bad or Mad Men might end? It's the same with romance series. Think about some of the series you’ve loved, and whether they ended on a high note or landed with a disappointing thud.

Some of my favorite series have ended disappointingly, while the endings for others have left me wanting more. Once in awhile there will be one that ends a series “just right.” One “just right” ending was Castles, which ended Julie Garwood’s Regency historical quartet and was preceded by The Lion’s Lady, Guardian Angel, and The Gift. Not only is Castles my favorite books from the series, it’s my favorite historical romance...ever.

Earlier this summer I prepared a top ten romances list for the website I use to publish, in preparation for a poll they had planned. The first book on my list was Castles, which I love for its to-die-for—not to mention slightly too stubborn—hero and its gorgeous, list-making heroine who, like other brilliant people, has slightly skewed thought processes. The love scenes are “just right” in terms of length and number, with a how-can-it-be sexy-and-funny? defloration. I love the secondary characters, in particular their reactions in a scene involving Colin’s brother Caine (Guardian Angel) and his father in which he shoots down every prospective husband they name for more and more ridiculous reasons.

[There's nothing like a satisfying end to the story...]

Fri
Aug 9 2013 2:30pm

August 2013 New Reissues in Digital: Krentz, Gardner, Johansen, and More!

Wildest Dreams by Jayne Ann KrentzThose of you looking to enter a digital way back machine will be happy this month. A couple of very early releases from Jayne Ann Krentz under her Stephanie James pseudonym are being reissued, as is an early book from Lisa Gardner when she wrote as Alicia Scott. You'll also find an early Iris Johansen, and as with last month, I’ll tell you about the second Nikki & Michael books, Keri Arthur’s first series.

Jayne Ann Krentz: Wildest Dreams (Velvet Touch, Renaissance Man first published in 1982 under the name Stephanie James, digital reissue August 27, 2013)

Krentz’s two newly digitized reissues will be available as a two-in-one at the end of August as Wildest Dreams. Both were originally published very early on in Krentz’s career and though they are not stay away from, I beg you bad, neither are they very good. Both suffer from their age, and what the early reader Silhouette targeted at that time must have liked.

Not all of Krentz’s early books are meh. She published Whirlwind Courtship—which I read and liked a great deal when it came out in a 1996 two-in-one with Dara Joy’s High Energy—in 1980. Unfortunately, it’s not available digitally. Neither are her other early, recommended-by-me category romances, but then again, neither are her real wallbangers.

[What else is being re-released in e this month?...]

Tue
Aug 6 2013 3:30pm

Sometimes You Just Need a Good Cry: Unhappy Ever Afters in Books

I read JoJo Moyes’s Me Before You a couple of weeks ago, and after I finished explaining it to my husband, I asked him, “What would make an author write such a sad book?”

His response was, “Really...that’s your question? How about what would make you want to read such a sad book?”

The story revolves around Lou, an aimless woman in her mid-twenties who lives in the English countryside. After losing her job, she takes a position as care assistant to Will Traynor, a wealthy, good-looking, 35-year-old quadriplegic. Prior to a motorcycle accident two years earlier, Will had been a successful businessman with a penchant for dangerous sports and hot women. Now he’s pissed off and in constant pain.

Lou’s lot isn’t easy. She and her father are the only two employed members of her family, and his job hangs by a thread. She lives at home with her parents and grandfather, moving into a closet when her unwed sister came home from University with a baby in tow. Lou must make a go of this new job, even if her employer, Will’s mother, is a suspicious sort, and Will’s sarcastic, cutting behavior results in her feeling foolish and clumsy.

What Lou doesn’t know is that Will wants to kill himself, but he’s agreed to give his mother three more months before going through with it. His mother hired Lou to lift his spirits and though she doesn’t realize it, he does seem happier and more lively once she appears on the scene. He enjoys teaching her about literature, watching subtitled films together, and forcing her to see that she could have a bigger life with a small amount of effort.

[Why ARE we addicted to such angsty romances?...]

Thu
Jul 11 2013 4:00pm

First Look: Lisa Kessler’s Moonlight (July 15, 2013)

Moonlight by Lisa KesslerLisa Kessler
Moonlight
Entangled Edge / July 15, 2013 / $3.99 digital

Rancher Adam Sloan is more than meets the eye. As the heir to his Pack, the sexy werewolf’s biggest challenge is keeping his kin’s true nature under wraps. But a group of jaguar shifters threatens to reveal the pack, blasting into town killing humans in plain sight. And when he smells one at the local diner, his standing orders are to take her out.

Lana Turpin doesn’t realize she’s a moving target. Raised in the foster system, she only knows that she blacks out during the new moon and wakes up without remembering a thing. But now she’s being tracked by some strange organization that wants her back—even though she’s never stepped foot inside their compound. And the stranger across the diner is watching her like an enemy.

It should be a simple mission for Adam, but when he touches the frustratingly beautiful Lana, his inner wolf howls…mate. Now, the two must find and stop the people who hunt her…and Adam must keep his own family from killing the only woman he will ever love.

One of the most intriguing aspects of romance novels revolve around the central conflict between hero and heroine. Because the classic “I hate you, I love you” gets old fast, authors must find different ways to separate couples before allowing them their HEA. The conflict may be internal to either the hero or heroine, as when a hero fears commitment. The conflict may come from the circle surrounding one or both of the leads—think the Capulets and Montagues, the Jets and the Sharks, or the Norman knight sent to secure a castle by marrying the daughter of its Saxon lord. The conflict might even grow out of danger, as when a hero leaves the heroine to protect her.

[Danger to the left of them, danger to the right...]

Tue
Jul 9 2013 4:30pm

Heating Up in July’s Digital Reissues

Innocence Undone by Kat MartinIf you’re like me, in years passed you probably packed a suitcase filled with books to read on your summer vacation. That’s no longer necessary now that ebooks are so prevalent, so many backlists available, and so easily on so many devices.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot from my phone, and facilitating that is a $2.99 app called Calibre Companion (available through Google Play or Amazon). Calibre Companion allows me to wirelessly upload from the Calibre ebook organization program I wrote about last year directly to my phone, where I may read any number of formats (epub, mobi, html, etc.) on FBReader. FBReader is a free app that maintains all the changes I make to an ebook’s meta data—”Moon Called” becomes “Mercy Thompson 1 - Moon  Called”—so that it’s easy to find books within a series.

That little tip aside, let’s talk about some of July’s ebook reissues. First up is a book that actually became available digitally at the end of June: Kat Martin’s Innocence Undone (1997), one of two backlist titles now readable on the device of your choice. (The other Martin title is Midnight Rider, first published in 1996.)

Another new e-book reissue is Exit to Eden, a 1985 erotica title from Anne Rice writing as Anne Rampling. You may recall the poorly received 1994 movie starring Dana Delaney and Rosie O’Donnell. FYI, long available for digital reading is Rice’s erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy, which she wrote under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure in 1983; I’ll talk about that a little later.

And if you read Keri Arthur (the Riley Jenson and/or Dark Angels series), her Nikki and Michael quartet, originally published between 2000 and 2004 by indie publisher ImaJinn, will be reissued between July and October digitally and in print by St. Martin’s Press. The first book, Dancing with the Devil, goes on sale at the end of July.

[So many choices...]

Fri
Jun 14 2013 2:30pm

First Look: Mary Alice Monroe’s The Summer Girls (June 25, 2013)

Mary Alice Monroe
The Summer Girls
Gallery Books / June 25, 2013 / $26.00 print, $10.38 digital

Three granddaughters. Three months. One summer house.

Set amid ancient live oaks and palmettos, overlooking the water, historic Sea Breeze is Marietta Muir’s ancestral summer home. Her granddaughters once adored vacations there, but it’s been years since they’ve visited. Mamaw fears once she is gone, the family bonds will fray. The Muir family is one of Charleston’s oldest and the blood of their pirate captain ancestor runs strong, so Marietta drops a subtle promise of loot—pearl necklaces, priceless antique furniture, even the house—to lure her “summer girls” back to the lowcountry.

For years, Carson Muir has drifted, never really settling, certain only that a life without the ocean is a life half lived. Adrift and penniless in California, Carson is the first to return to Sea Breeze, wondering where things went wrong . . . until the sea she loves brings her a minor miracle. Her astonishing bond with a dolphin helps Carson renew her relationships with her sisters and face the haunting memories of her ill-fated father. As the rhythms of the island open her heart, Carson begins to imagine the next steps toward her future.

Mary Alice Monroe is at her best with the first in her new trilogy, The Summer Girls. When she’s at the top of her game, she engages a reader’s emotions and makes intimate places and situations that may be far removed from personal experience. Southern Fiction evokes a laid-back, naturalistic lifestyle that keeps the focus on family and fighting personal demons. Romance is a lovely part of this, but it’s just one component. The most profound type of romance in Southern Fiction relates to its setting, nature, and often with Monroe, animals.

[Let it sweep you away...]

Wed
Jun 12 2013 12:00pm

Mooning Over June’s Digital Reissues

Heart of the West by Penelope WilliamsonThis month, readers will find all manner of digital reissues. First up, Heart of the West, a western historical from Penelope Williams, followed by Patricia Gaffney’s Victorian series, the Wyckerly trilogy, and, finally, a category romance—Against the Rules—from Linda Howard, reissued with digital-only 2010 release from newish author Marie Force.

Penelope Williamson: Heart of the West (First published in 1995, digital reissue June 25, 2013)

Two-time best novel RITA-winning Penelope Williamson wrote large, expansive romances. Heart of the West clocks in at 800 pages, with a time span covering twelve years in late 1800s Montana.

Clementine Kennicutt, the daughter of an abusive New England minister, dreams of a different future, away from the straightjacket of a life she foresees if she stays in Boston. With her mother’s approval, she elopes with cowboy Gus McQueen, wholly unprepared for her new home—a Green Acres type house in the middle of nowhere—and her reaction to his brother Zach. Gus is his family’s golden boy, Zach its black sheep.

[I'm sensing a love triangle and some angst...]

Sun
May 19 2013 12:00pm

New Adult is All That—In a Bad Way

The cast of All ThatPhilosophically speaking, I’m anti-New Adult fiction. I’m quite fine with Young Adult fiction, and over the years as a PW reviewer have read many a coming-of-age novel, but I’m genuinely annoyed by the notion of a genre of fiction for 18-26 year olds. What’s next? Not-Quite-New-Adult fiction, for the 27-30 set? How about Fiction for 30-Somethings, Unmarried Fiction, Menopausal Fiction, or...better still, Men in Midlife Crisis Fiction? Isn’t it bad enough that just the other week Wikipedia started removing women novelists from its list of American Novelists onto a separate list for American Women Novelists?

With New Adult Fiction, though, my grouchiness goes deeper. Blame it on All That, a variety show on Nickelodeon when my daughter was young. It aired on Saturday evenings, featuring comedy sketches and musical guests, supposedly in the tradition of SNL. If by “in the tradition of” you mean it was on television and it was on Saturday nights, then yes. If you mean anything else...well, then...no.

By the time my daughter started to watch All That, my husband and I had already spent far too much time watching Rugrats, Spongebob, Catdog, The Angry Beavers, and [my personal favorite] Rocko’s Modern Life. Anyone who grew up watching cartoons knows there’s generally something for everybody in them, regardless of your age, which is why as a family of three we could all survive the many, many re-runs. It’s why The Simpsons continues after more than 25 years on television. Unfortunately, All That was written specifically for your (and my) little kid at their most obnoxious, with no redeeming anything for anyone older than, say, ten years of age.

[Does every age group really need its own entertainment?...]