<i>A Scandal to Remember</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Scandal to Remember: Exclusive Excerpt Elizabeth Essex "Stranded on a remote island, passion blazes between them as hot as the sun..." Now Win <i>This!</i>: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s <i>Son of No One</i> Now Win This!: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Son of No One Team H & H Enter for a chance to win the Collector's Edition and read an exclusive excerpt! H&H Reads <i>First Grave on the Right</i> (5 of 6) H&H Reads First Grave on the Right (5 of 6) Darynda Jones Grim Reapers are people too! Join us as H&H Reads First Grave on the Right <i>Heroes Are My Weakness</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Heroes Are My Weakness: Exclusive Excerpt Susan Elizabeth Phillips “Okay, this is what I want. Sex and lots of it.”
From The Blog
August 21, 2014
Best Reads of August 2014
Team H & H
August 19, 2014
Top 5 Things I Learned from Doctor Who
Victoria Janssen
August 18, 2014
Men in Uniform: Hot or Not?
Kristi Rose
August 15, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Swimsuit Edition
Team H & H
August 14, 2014
Best Bi Short Stories Anthology
Victoria Janssen
Showing posts by: Laurie Gold click to see Laurie Gold's profile
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?...]

Mon
May 6 2013 9:30am

May We Read That Again? This Month’s Digital Reissues

A Counterfeit Betrothal and The Notorious Rake by Mary BaloghEach month, I’ll focus on a variety of digital romance reissues. This month readers will find a two-in-one from Mary BaloghA Counterfeit Betrothal and The Notorious Rake—available by the start of May, two anthologies from Megan Hart (downloadable on May 1 and May 15), and the entire MacGregor series (ten novels and a short story) from Nora Roberts (available May 7).

The MacGregors Collection: Volumes One & Two: Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts’s MacGregor series encompasses just over half of the 20 digital reissues InterMix is releasing of her work in May. The series, originally published between 1985 and 1999, feature seven Silhouette Special Editions, two anthologies with three stories each, a Harlequin Historical, and a short story in a historical anthology.

Last year I helped write Publishers Weekly’s annual Romance feature, and editors at almost each publishing house mentioned the importance of small town romances, with their emphasis on community and family. Though Roberts’s MacGregor books are not set in small towns, nothing captures family and friendship like this series.

[So let the family reunion begin!...]

Thu
May 2 2013 9:30am

The Americans Season 1 Finale Top Scenes: If This Goes Bad...

Phil and Elizabeth in The Americans 1.13, The ColonelThis post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of The Americans, including last night's Season 1 finale, episode 1.13, “The Colonel.”

Your regular recapper for The Americans, Heather Waters@redline_, is in Kansas City this week at the Romantic Times convention. I’m filling in during her absence to recap the show’s finale.

Last night the finale for season one of The Americans aired. It was intricate, exhilarating, and exhausting, all at the same time. Nothing went according to plan, one marriage further disintegrated while another got off life support, Grannie got revenge for Viktor Zhukov, and an epic car chase (alright, it didn’t quite rival The French Connection, but...) ensued. Let’s count down the Top Five and celebrate the weirdness of hoping the bad guys get off.

5. “The kind of man who did what was done to you, Nina, is weaker and more vulnerable than he seems.” So says Arkady to Nina when he tells her she has two choices: 1) Return to the U.S.S.R. to face charges of treason (but not execution) or 2) Continue to spy on Stan Beeman, perhaps plant a bug on him, and eventually turn him...into a Soviet asset. She decides to turn double agent and spy on Stan, the man so willing to move heaven and earth to protect her from the KGB that he tells John-Boy Gaad, “the Rezidentura is going to go ape-shit [when we catch the illegals]. We need to do right by our source.”

[Wait till you see No. 1...]

Mon
Apr 8 2013 2:00pm

Spring Marches into E-Books: Newly Digitized Titles for Your E-Reader

Slow Heat in Heaven by Sandra BrownAs the number of those of us reading digitally continues to grow, more and more backlist titles are becoming available in e-book form. Grand Central, for instance, recently began to digitally publish 25 of Sandra Brown’s backlist titles. Slow Heat in Heaven, a much loved romance first published in 1988, was published as an e-book at the end of February, along with four other titles from her backlist. Four of her suspense/romantic suspense backlist books go on sale in April: Where There’s Smoke, Standoff, French Silk, and Charade, with four more on sale in June, and four more in August. In December, nine of her romance backlist titles will be reissued as e-books, including her very first book, Love’s Encore (originally published under the name Rachel Ryan in 1981). I’m not a particular fan of Brown—I thought Slow Heat in Heaven incredibly overwrought—but according to Publishers Weekly, Grand Central is pricing these reissues well, from $1.99 to $4.99.

In digital terms, Diana Gabaldon is also having a big month in April. Random House has bundled together her three Lord John books—Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and The Scottish Prisoner—and Lord John and the Hand of Devils, her Lord John anthology. The cover image shown for this compilation at Amazon indicates it’s on sale for 20% off, but it doesn’t look like a particular bargain. Random House has set the price as $31.99, but it may actually sell for less once it’s actually on sale on April 8th.

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

Wed
Mar 20 2013 12:45pm

Cold as Ice: The Americans’s Deliciously Twisted Romance

Philip, Elizabeth, Paige, and Henry in The AmericansIf you’ve not seen The Americans—currently showing on FX—here’s the premise: Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are two travel agents living in the suburbs surrounding Washington D.C. at the start of the Reagan presidency. They are KGB sleeper agents, sent to the U.S. more than fifteen years earlier. Their two children are U.S. citizens, their marriage is in name only, and they are damn good at their job.

Elizabeth (Keri Russell) long ago took a lover, and both use sex as just another tool in their spy arsenal. In one such scene, an asset of Elizabeth’s begins to whip her with his belt. Though she could easily kill him by “twist[ing] the guy’s neck like a Stoli bottle cap,” she meekly endures the S&M interlude.

Of the two, Elizabeth is more dedicated to her job as a KGB agent; she inhabits the role like, say, Isobel Lambert, the very Alpha and ice-veined head of the secretive Committee in Anne Stuart’s Ice series. Her beef with Philip (Matthew Rhys) is that he likes the U.S. too much. In fact, when it got dangerous earlier in the season, he suggested defecting.

Traditional, Reaganesque gender roles are reversed in The Americans. Early on Philip listens to a recording of Elizabeth boinking an asset for information. It’s part of the job, but he does not like it...at all. Were the situations reversed, I don’t think at this point Elizabeth would be nearly as bothered. She is more dedicated to the motherland—Philip is more invested in the “marriage.”

This changes when they capture a high level Soviet defector who had raped Elizabeth when she was a youthful KGB recruit. After Philip learns why she’s beating the hell out of him, he takes over and brutally snaps the man’s neck like a twig. She generally slays her own dragons, but is turned on that he would slay one on her behalf. So much so that after they dissolve the rapist with acid (the family that slays together stays together?), they Do It in the car. The Cold War may continue, but for now their cold marriage is thawing out.

[And when things thaw, they might get hot!]

Fri
Mar 15 2013 11:00am

Book Quests: Adding to Your Digital Shelves

Day Dreamer by Jill Marie LandisMy husband calls them quests. My quest to build a digital library as a replacement for my actual library started five years ago, when I received my first Kindle for Mother's Day. At the time we were traveling a lot under fairly grim circumstances, and the notion of having my favorite comfort reads on a single portable device greatly appealed to me.

As they tend to, my quest grew larger in scope over time. First it was comfort reads...then all my absolute favorites...then almost favorites...then backlists. And so on.

Ever since Jill Marie Landis’s Day Dreamer went digital in October, my personal holy grail became Deborah Simmons’s The Vicar’s Daughter. Of the books filling my four actual (ie, not virtual) Keeper Shelves, it’s the only one for which I still have no digital copy. In reverse, I have five digital keepers without a print counterpart. My inner anal-retentive finds this incredibly annoying, although it would be pretty easy to simply buy print copies of Breathless, How to Talk to a Widower, Middlesex, Beautiful Boy, and Promises in Death. But since this is not my blog post on Why Should I Have To Buy Books Twice, that’s for another day.

Instead, this is my blog on filling in digital libraries.

[You have my attention completely...]