<i>Forever His Texas Bride</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Forever His Texas Bride: Exclusive Excerpt Linda Broday "With a low moan, she slid her hand around his neck, drawing him closer." <i>Make Me Stay</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Make Me Stay: Exclusive Excerpt Jaci Burton "She wants a real, permanent, forever kind of love." <i>Midnight Wrangler</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Midnight Wrangler: Exclusive Excerpt Cat Johnson "He thought about doing more than kissing her." <i>For His Pleasure</i>: Exclusive Excerpt For His Pleasure: Exclusive Excerpt Suzanne Rock “Stop worrying and enjoy the moment.”
From The Blog
November 21, 2015
Gothic Romance Movie Night: 3 Classics
Lauren Smith
November 20, 2015
Love for Bibliophiles in Whispers in the Reading Room
Maggie Boyd
November 19, 2015
A Ranking of the Lunar Chronicles Series Couples
November 18, 2015
Victoria Dahl Plays Your Heartstrings Harlot
Rebekah Weatherspoon
November 18, 2015
Romantic Suspense to Get Your Heart Racing
Dolly Sickles
Showing posts by: Laurie Gold click to see Laurie Gold's profile
Nov 20 2015 11:00am

Sleepy Hollow 3x08 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: Tis Because We Care

TV Recap: Captain's Log Sleepy Hollow 3x08 Ichabbie

Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 3, Episode 8, “Novus Ordo Seclorum”
Ship(s): Ichabod/Abbie (Ichabbie)

The Witnesses face off against an actual god in the fall finale of Sleepy Hollow. Let me break it down for you.

That hooded guy with the scythe? None other than Pandora’s husband The Hidden One, not a monster, but “a living, breathing god” she summoned from the underworld to restore his power, power derived from a gem and known as The Hidden Eye. Paul Revere encased the gem in a sphere to protect mankind from its destructiveness, and there it remained until Nevins broke the sphere and its power entered Jenny.

If The Eye looks familiar, remember that Sleepy Hollow is lousy with Freemasons. They’re the reason—specifically, Benjamin Franklin, the Freemason and Founding Father who continues to confound Crane—the Eye of Providence ended up on our currency. But unless you’re a high-level Freemason, good luck putting it all together. Crane, however, is a high-level Freemason and realizes the answers they seek are found in a Colonial treatise whose sole copy is in an Old Masonic lodge that is part of a university in Albany. Team Witness arrives on campus and secures the book in the midst of a toga party very much like the one in Animal House, including a black singer belting out “Shout.”

[What is going on here? ...]

Nov 18 2015 11:00am

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3x08 FitzSimmons Heart-to-Heart: Side-by-Side

TV Recap: Agents of Shield 3x08 Fitz and Simmons

Show/Episode: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 8, “Many Heads, One Tale”
Ship(s): Fitz/Simmons (Fitzsimmons)

FitzSimmons is one of the few things that kept me attached to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for three seasons, regardless of the fact that 1) I’m not into Marvel comics, and 2) Season 2 was so heart-breaking, what with Fitz’s traumatic brain injuries and Simmons leaving him to save him. That all changed in this season’s second episode, when a buffed up and sexy Fitz figured out how to bring Simmons back six months after the monolith claimed her. And Then He Did. His bravery and those scenes directly after the rescue, when she sought out his comfort and allowed him to comfort her convinced me they would finally be together.

Of course, it all changed again during episode five, Elizabeth Henstridge’s amazing, often-solo episode on the other planet. Fitz’s friendship was her lifeline until she sought solace with NASA astronaut Will Daniels before the pulse-pounding rescue. That episode was traumatic; I ship FitzSimmons, but was practically screaming “No!” at my TV when Fitz rescued her and left the Man from NASA behind. How can I ship FitzSimmons but also kinda like Simmons with her lover from another planet?

[Fitz/Simmons is back on ...]

Oct 30 2015 12:00pm

Sleepy Hollow 3x05 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: Crane on the Brain

Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 3, Episode 5, “Dead Men Tell No Tales”
Ship(s): Ichabod/Abbie (Ichabbie)Wait … a two-part crossover with … Bones?

Yes, possibly the mostly unlikely crossover ever conceived; one series predicated on science and another built on myth, and yet they didn’t mess with the integrity of either series. Then too, the characters aligned well. Booth and Mills, for instance, are both FBI agents, and to take it a step further, Sheriff Corbin actually spoke about Abbie to Booth.

That leaves us with Brennan and Ichabod … what could they possibly have in common? Well, there’s the gorgeous nerd factor to begin with, on full display even when she doubts his rationale for his handwriting matching that in Colonial documents:

Brennan: “If you eliminate all other possibilities, what remains must be true.”

Ichabod: “Sherlock Holmes”

Brennan doesn’t need to say a word; the big smile on her face says it all.

Their take-no-prisoners attitude toward getting at the truth is something else they share in common. Dog, meet bone. Add to that social issues—Brennan’s are personality-linked while Ichabod’s obviously derive from time traveling more than 200 years into the future—but both don’t always “get it,” and neither are they always understood by those around them. Booth often acts as her interpreter, as does Abbie for Crane.

[See the parallels here, writers?...]

Oct 23 2015 10:45am

Sleepy Hollow 3x04 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: “It’s Not Your Time, Dear Friend”

Researching with Ichabod and Abbie

Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 3, Episode 4, “The Sisters Mills”
Ship(s): Ichabod/Abbie (Ichabbie), plus some great Abbie & Jenny sister bonding

Ichabod and Abbie Season 3, Episode 4 Captain's Log

Sleepy Hollow giveth and Sleepy Hollow taketh away. During Crane’s recovery scene last week, shippers rejoiced at the fist bump Ichabbie shared … isn’t a fist bump equivalent at least to holding hands in Colonial days, if not an actual kiss if we’re going to go the Shakespearean route (remember that whole palm-to-palm thing in Romeo and Juliet?)? Even better was his telling Abbie, “I am most grateful, Leftenant, that you and I have found one another once again.” All great stuff, even if it required that Crane be hopped up on pain meds. Unfortunately, Pandora spying on them through her magic cam kinda put a damper on the whole thing, made even worse when another black flower bloomed on her Treevil.

Sadly, shippers, this is more of a monster-of-the-week episode than an episode of shipping Ichabbie, although it does allow Crane and Joe to get to know one another (and demonstrate some pretty fine rapport), and for the Mills sisters to share secrets.

[We can deal with a light shipping episode... NOT]

Oct 9 2015 10:00am

Sleepy Hollow 3x02 Ichabbie Heart-to-Heart: Good Neighbor Policy

TV Recap: Sleepy Hollow 3x02 Ichabod/Abbie and Joe/Jenny

Show/Episode: Sleepy Hollow Season 3, Episode 2, “Whispers in the Dark”
Ship(s): Ichabod/Abbie (Ichabbie), Joe/Jenny

TV Recap: Captain's Log Sleepy Hollow 3x02

Ichabbie returned in last week’s season premiere sporting dazzling new hairstyles and having put their pasts behind. With one tribulation down, the countdown toward seven began anew when Pandora, who looks to be this season’s baddie, captured Death by putting Headless in her box. Wow … that sounds strange, and in so many ways.

By the end of last week’s episode, Abbie agreed that evil had returned to Sleepy Hollow. An even bigger deal: The ancient tablet Crane discovered back in England depicts a duo that looks like Ichabbie, so now they know their job as witnesses is literally written in stone.

Their tasks this week … First, how about thrilling shippers? Take the opening scene, for instance, which begins with Crane tidying up Abbie’s home to thank her for taking him in as a roomie, and continues with his being flummoxed when confronted by one of her unmentionables as he sets about doing laundry. And when his specially prepared meal is left too long in the oven, they order take-out and talk about Abbie’s “good fences make good neighbors” policy for being good roommates. Crane is utterly delicious here, but the takeaway is that Ichabbie is back. And they’re sweeter than ever.

[It's like they never left ...]

Feb 17 2015 10:15am

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...]

Feb 3 2015 10:45am

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”

**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...]

Jan 20 2015 10:51am

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...]

Dec 2 2014 10:45am

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...]

Nov 18 2014 10:45am

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...]

Jul 10 2014 11:30am

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...]

Apr 24 2014 11:00am

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?...]

Dec 25 2013 10:00am

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!...]

Oct 22 2013 11:30am

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?...]

Oct 3 2013 3:30pm

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?...]

Sep 26 2013 3:00pm

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?...]

Sep 10 2013 2:30pm

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?...]

Aug 13 2013 1:30pm

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...]

Aug 9 2013 1:30pm

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?...]

Aug 6 2013 2:30pm

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?...]