<i>Sweet Little Lies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Sweet Little Lies: Exclusive Excerpt Jill Shalvis "The way her name rolled off his tongue had her knees wobbling." <i>Body Rocks</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Body Rocks: Exclusive Excerpt A. M. Arthur “You can sit beside me when the world comes down.” <i>No Master</i>: Exclusive Excerpt No Master: Exclusive Excerpt Christine d'Abo "With his free hand, he caressed the side of Zain’s throat." <i>Bad Bitch</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Bad Bitch: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Saunders "I pulled him toward me, guiding him to my center."
From The Blog
June 29, 2016
Swedish Import: Simone Ahrnstedt's All In
Maggie Boyd
June 27, 2016
Books to Read If You Like Friday Night Lights
KC
June 24, 2016
Friday Beefcake Love Letter to Aidan Turner
Team H & H
June 23, 2016
Boone and Sierra Get Their HEA in Lorelei James' Unbreak My Heart
Tiffany Tyer
June 21, 2016
Romance Reading Virgin: Let’s Travel Through Space Together
Teddy Pierson
Showing posts by: Maggie Boyd click to see Maggie Boyd's profile
Wed
Jun 29 2016 5:00pm

Swedish Import: Simone Ahrnstedt’s All In

All In by Simona Ahrnstedt

Swedish author Simona Ahrnstedt makes something old new again in her contemporary romance All In. Set in the cutthroat world of Sweden's financial elite, this is a tale where the stakes are high and the greatest commodities are love and loyalty.

As a precocious tween I was a big reader of the epic romances of the Nineteen-eighties. Stolen from the bookshelves of my mother’s friends, these novels were stories with such scope and magnificence it took 500 sweeping pages to reach our HEA. They often involved rich, glamorous people leading dazzling, decadent lives. All In is just such a tale.

David Hammar is a self-made man. A corporate raider who has climbed to the very top of his profession, he is set to make the biggest hostile take-over of his life – Investum. A company owned by an old, aristocratic family whose home is a castle, this firm is ripe for the picking and David is determined to be the man to do it. However, one piece is missing from his perfect plan. He needs one member of the family to turn traitor. To that end, he arranges a meeting with Natalia De la Grip.

[High stakes romance...]

Mon
Jun 13 2016 4:30pm

“I Think I Need You, Too”: Pat and Tiffany’s Unconventional Love Story in Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook

Sometimes great love stories don’t come packaged as romances. While the traditional route to the epic romantic novel is a female author spinning a tale of a hero and heroine charting the course to a happily ever after, sometimes a man will write a tale that tugs perfectly on the heartstrings. Such is the case of The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. A book about lost souls and second chances, Mr. Quick takes hero Pat Peoples and heroine Tiffany on a bumpy, rocky, perilous trip to a happy right now ending that will leave the reader breathless, not from its’ perfection but its’ poignancy.

Both Pat and Tiffany have loved and lost before. Each of them had believed that the stars had aligned, the gods had been good and that their lives were on the course they were meant to be on. When tragedy strikes, their reactions are deep and scarring, destroying all they had built before the world spun on its axis and took everything they had ever dreamed of away from them. Damaged is a good day for them; decimated and destroyed is their average.

[But even in darkness there's a silver lining]

Wed
Jun 8 2016 9:30am

This Won’t Be the Best Day of Your Life: When Weddings Go Wrong in Romance Novels

Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

In the brilliant and witty How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, the author assures us that wedding days are not the happiest days of our lives. “Weddings,” she tells us, “do women no good at all. They’re a viper’s pit of waste and despair.” While most romance novels celebrate perfect days, several recent books seem to highlight just what Ms. Moran is saying. These fictional brides might indeed wind up with Mr. Wonderful but getting through their special day is nowhere near as fun and easy as Brides magazine would have you think.

Ms. Dora Debbins from Only Beloved by Mary Balogh never expected to marry. A music teacher in a country village she is happy with the life she has built for herself. Then George Crabbe, the Duke of Stanbrook surprises her with a proposal. Dora is delighted to accept and soon finds herself in London, planning a society wedding and celebrating a deliciously warm and friendly relationship with George. Her wedding day dawns bright and clear and seems likely to be a wonderful experience. And then:

A voice broke the silence from far back in the church before the Bishop could resume –a male voice, distinct and loud and slightly trembling with emotion. It was a familiar voice, though George had not heard it for a number of years.

“I can show just cause.”

And somehow it seemed to George that he had been expecting this, that it was inevitable. There was a collective gasp of shock from the pews and a renewed rustle of silks and satins as the members of the congregation, almost as one body, swung about in their seats to see who had spoken. George turned too.

[Duh duh DUH]

Sat
Jun 4 2016 10:30am

Missing Downton Abbey? Try Doctor Thorne

Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey was an important part of my television life for the last six years. Always eager to know what was going to happen, I would read Naz’s recaps here at HeroesandHeartbreakers as the shows aired in England. This meant I knew what was going to occur long before the shows aired in America but I didn’t care. Downton is enriched by multiple viewings. On occasion a few of the important details of an episode are lost in the large story line. When you know that story line and focus on the background, a whole new level of magic shines through.  

Amazon Prime is now offering Fellowes fans a new experience in the pride and pomposity of the British upper classes.  Adapted for the small screen by Mr. Fellowes and directed by Niall MacCormick, Doctor Thorne, an 1858 novel by Anthony Trollope, is a Victorian era story which will feel familiar to any romance reader. Similar in style and tone to a Jane Austen novel, Doctor Thorne examines the role of money in marriage and whether or not love should be a part of that equation. This is a fabulous, not to be missed production, with all the beautiful settings, period charm, and fabulous costuming that Mr. Fellowes is known for.

[Pretty women in pretty dresses...]

Thu
May 19 2016 9:30am

First Look: Jeffe Kennedy’s The Pages of the Mind (May 31, 2016)

The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy
The Pages of the Mind (The Unchartered Realms #1)
Kensington / May 31, 2016 / $9.95 print, $7.99 digital

Jeffe Kennedy stunned me with her powerful tale of a magical people in her novel, Mark of the Tala. A story of promised mates and hidden sorcery, it is one of my favorite fantasy romances of all time. She returns now to that world with the first book in a new series, The Pages of the Mind, which introduces us to a beautiful tropical island, fated mates, and dragons.

Readers will remember quiet but strong castle librarian Dafne Mailloux from the author’s The Twelve Kingdom Series. When the story opens she is fretting over a prophecy regarding four armed men who are to appear before the newly crowned queen of the Twelve Kingdoms. They are harbingers of change but whether for good or bad the prophet didn’t know.

[We're guessing it's going to be easy to figure out, either...]

Mon
May 2 2016 11:15am

Here Comes the Baby Carriage: Mothers to Look Up to in Inspirational Romance

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

We are doubtless all familiar with the playground chant that describes the road to maternity—first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes you with the baby carriage. While modern mothers may choose to forgo the second part of this childhood rhyme, most roads to motherhood do still start with the initial step: first comes love.

Reminding us of just how wonderfully fun and exciting that first step to parenthood is are some recent releases from Inspirational romance authors, just in time to celebrate Mom on her special day.

First Comes Love

Two people burned in the past find that love can be an Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin’s latest novel. Lillian Avery is a woman in a man’s world. One of the few female pharmacists to graduate from her class she knows she only got a job because Pearl Harbor meant the men are all enlisting for the War. She heads to Boston determined to prove that the she may have gotten the position because the boss was desperate but she’ll keep it due to merit.

Ensign Archer Vandenberg went against his family’s wishes when he joined the Naval Academy and set out to sea. A rich man, he wants nothing to do with the trappings of wealth and is bitter that women seem more interested in his pocketbook than his character. Then he meets Lillian and begins to hope that not all women are gold diggers.

This woman wasn’t like the society girls angling for the best husband or the shopgirls digging for gold.

Not Lillian Avery. She’d gone to college to learn, not to snag a man. She had a career and plans and dreams and didn’t need Arch Vandenberg or his wealth. And his good looks and charm didn’t seem to affect her.

If he could win the heart of a woman like her, it wouldn’t be due to his name or looks or money, but due to who he was inside.

[Isn't that what we all want?...]

Sun
Apr 3 2016 10:00am

First Look: Simone St. James’s Lost Among the Living (April 5, 2016)

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James

Simone St. James
Lost Among the Living 
NAL (Penguin Group) / April 5, 2016 / $15.00 print, $9.99 digital

Since 2012 Simone St. James has been the gold standard for gothic romance. Her novels—full of ghosts, ghouls and romance—always provide a sensual yet chilling read. With Lost Among the Living she cements her position as one of the top writers in this market.

There are several factors which make up a good gothic: a haunted house, a ghost with something to say, an independent, isolated heroine, and family secrets. Lost Among the Living takes that formula and makes it fresh and exciting by adding an unexpected twist.

Like many other women, Jo Manders lost her husband in the Great War. Unlike many of them, she has no benefits to make getting along without him any easier because Alex has never officially been declared dead, just missing. To make ends meet she has been forced to accept a job from his Aunt Dottie, who treats her with scorn, condescension and backhanded affection in equal measures. Jo had feared the job would last only the length of that esteemed lady’s trip through the continent so it is with a mixture of surprise, joy and trepidation that she receives the invitation to continue on as companion in Dottie’s home, Wych Elm House.

[Gothic romance golden award goes to ...]

Fri
Mar 25 2016 9:30am

1001 Nights with Scheherazade-Inspired Reads!

Alberto Vargas, Scheherazade (1921)

The song “Arabian Nights” from Disney’s Aladdin tells us “Arabian Nights, like Arabian days, are hotter than hot.” One of the hottest tales to come out of the desert is the story of Scheherazade, the storyteller who saved her own life by weaving tales of such enchantment that for three years the king spent just one more night with her so he could hear one more story. When she ran out of tales, she found she no longer needed them. The king who killed each wife at dawn after their wedding night had fallen in love with his enthralling word smith.

Of course the modern woman would have a lot of trouble finding this tale romantic. The “hero” of the piece is a mass murderer who holds his heroine’s life hostage to his whims. Fortunately, that is no stumbling block to a clever author! They look at the whole of the love story and see something which is worth cherishing: At the heart of the tale is a clever heroine who volunteered for a dangerous job, because she wanted to help her people and save her hero from himself. All of which is definitely the stuff of a romance novel plot.  Several books dealing with Scheherazade have been released recently. Here are some of the best:

[Arabian Nights with these beauties ...]

Thu
Mar 17 2016 9:30am

First Look: Sandra Byrd’s Bride of a Distant Isle (March 22, 2016

Bride of a Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd
Bride of a Distant Isle
Howard Books/March 22, 2016/$14.99 print, $10.99 digital

Many dream of a handsome prince who will come to their rescue, a fantasy which is the impetus for Sandra Byrd’s Bride of a Distant Isle.

Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Annabel Ashton has spent her whole life being above reproach. Her mother’s family has grudgingly supplied a stipend for her that supplements what she earns as a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester but it has been ages since her cousin invited her to the family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. When she does visit it is for a sad occasion indeed; it seems her cousin is in deep debt and the house must be sold.

She quickly discovers, however, that this is not her cousin’s only plan to alleviate his financial problems. His good friend Mr. Morgan is at the house party as well and seems to be confident that he will be spending a great deal of time with Annabel.

He closed the costly gilt-edged book from which he’d read and handed it toward me. “A gift. You can read it as we travel to London.”

“Thank you.” I twisted the cameo ring on my first finger, as I often did when discomfited. “You will accompany us?”

He nodded. “Perhaps it will be better put to say that you’ll finally be coming with me.”

[Court me, Court me! ...]

Tue
Mar 1 2016 10:30am

First Look: Siri Mitchell’s Flirtation Walk (March 1, 2016)

Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell

Siri Mitchell
Flirtation Walk
Bethany House/ March 1, 2016 / $14.99 print &  digital

Growing up with a reprobate has left Lucinda Pennyworth looking out for a hero in Siri Mitchell’s Flirtation Walk. Her dad had worked every con there was, always promising her big riches and a new life after one last swindle. When she receives a letter while at finishing school advising of his death she is both frightened and relieved: Frightened because she has no money, relieved because she can do what she has always wanted to do and marry a respectable man and settle down into a mundane daily existence. Having no other recourse she heads to Buttermilk Falls, home of her mother’s people. She’s never met them but she’s hoping they will have mercy and take her in anyway.

She arrives just in time for Sunday lunch. And since her uncle teaches at West Point, she arrives just in time to meet two of the senior cadets.

[She needs him and he needs her ...]

Sun
Feb 21 2016 11:00am

Out of This World Sci-Fi Romance Novels Set in Space!

Starflight by Melissa Landers

I’m a big fan of shows like Star Trek and Firefly and movies like Star Wars.  Unfortunately the one thing these shows often lack is a central love story. Sure, there are hookups and the occasional romance but they aren’t the focus of the tale. Since I’m also a big fan of romance novels I’m always on the lookout for books which remind me of my favorite sci-fi series or movies but rectify that fatal flaw. The last five years or so have been the ideal time for that as romance authors have been getting their geek on and delivering some scintillating science fiction romance reads. Here are a few of my favorites.

Fans of Firefly aren’t going to find a better book to love than Starflight by Melissa Landers. In this story rich kid Doran Spaulding was the pretty-boy quarterback who made Solara Brooks’ life miserable in school. But she hadn’t needed him to put the cherry on top of her bad luck sundae—her first boyfriend is the one she can thank for the prison ink that permanently marks her as one of the scum of society. When her only chance to get off planet and rebuild her existence is to work as Doran’s indentured servant on a luxury liner, she accepts the challenge. When some sarcastic banter leads to an unfortunate stun gun incident, both teens find themselves on board the SS Banshee, a far cry from the first class opulence of their last berth.

On the Zenith, furniture could be moved, but that ship was larger than most high-rise hotels. The Banshee offered only four levels, and the combined engine room and cargo hold occupied one of them.

[Sci-fi romance that takes you of of space ...]

Wed
Jan 27 2016 3:00pm

Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder and John Tomasetti: Romance Power Couple!

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Romance has its share of crime fighting super couples. There’s the dynamic duo of Eve and Roarke from the In Death series by J.D. Robb;  There’s Francesca Cahill and Calder Hart of Brenda Joyce’s Deadly Series; Brisbane and Lady Julia from the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn and Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves from Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series.  All of these couples have the advantage of having their romance grow over the course of many books. I’d like to add another long running couple to that list: Kate Burkholder and John Tomasetti from the Kate Burkholder mystery series.

In the first novel, Sworn to Silence, they are not happy to meet each other. Fifteen years after she left the small town of Painters Mill, Kate has been asked to return as Chief of Police. Soon after she arrives she finds herself working the case of a serial killer. Such a case is never easy but Kate’s own past history and the lack of support from the town council make the situation even more difficult. She is not pleased when the City brings in additional help in the form of John Tomasetti.

“Kate.” The mayor pushes away from his bagel and rises. “This is Agent John Tomasetti with BCI.”

I make no move to approach him or shake his hand. Flushing, the mayor turns his attention to the man. “Agent Tomasetti, this is our Chief of Police Kate Burkholder.”

His gaze is level as he crosses to me. I notice several things about him at once. His eyes are as dark and hard as black granite, beneath heavy brows. He’s got a poker face, his expression is impossible to read. I guess him to be about forty years old. He’s looking at me as if I’m some standup comic whose jokes are falling flat. I don’t want him here and he knows it.

[The Kate Burkholder series is one to fall in love with ...]

Mon
Dec 21 2015 3:00pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of 2015, Part 2

Radiance by Grace Draven

Each month, we ask our bloggers to share the best thing they’ve read (or things, plural, if our bloggers declare a tie ’cause they just can’t choose). It doesn’t have to be a new book, as evidenced below; just something that made the month sparkle a bit more.

It's the end of the year now, and so we've asked them for their top three books that made the year in reading so memorable. Without further ado, here's Part 2 (of four parts) of our bloggers best reads of 2015—and don't forget to check out Part 1, and stay tuned for Part 3 and Part 4:

Maggie Boyd:

My number one pick for Best of 2015 is Radiance by Grace Draven. I've re-read this book numerous times since purchasing it and have recommended it to anyone who stands still long enough to listen. It's the story of an arranged marriage between two different species - Brishen Khaskem is a prince of the Kai, a second son whose only marital worth is to secure an allegiance. Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, is valuable only as a pawn in a strategic marriage. To the Kai, the Gauri look repellent with their round eyes, square teeth and mollusk colored skin. To the Gauri the Kai look like monsters with their razor sharp claws, fang like teeth and eel like coloring. But brave hearts and compassionate souls are the makeup of our hero and heroine and they forge a bond that transcends cultural boundaries and resonates with love.

[More greats reads for the end of the year ...]

Mon
Dec 14 2015 10:30am

Centuries, Countries, Cultures: Epic Romances Lead to Epic Loves

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughHeroic, long, grand, monumental are the words used to describe an epic. Webster’s tells us that epics tell a story about a hero/heroine or about exciting events or adventures which are very great or large and usually difficult or impressive. In the '80s, epic romances such as The Far Pavilions by M.M. KayeThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughPrincess Daisy by Judith Krantz, or Evergreen by Belva Plain abounded. Covering the life span of a single character, these huge volumes recorded the loves and losses of men and women leading thrilling, turbulent lives.

In the '90s, the genre moved toward shorter books which concentrated on the courtship period of a couple. There were fewer separations and lots more emphasis on the HEA. But for readers still longing for that over-the-top, majestic, sweeping saga-style story there is good news. Epic romances are still on the shelves, in more abundance than you might think.

The first story that comes to mind is one that is undoubtedly familiar to most readers—the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. In Outlander, heroine Claire Randall is told “Some individuals are chosen by God to affect the destinies of many.” When Claire travels back through time she finds herself falling in love with Jamie Fraser, a Scots warrior and their epic, enduring love story changes the future of many. Their romance is far too epic for any one novel and is told over the course of eight books (so far).

[Sink your teeth into one of these babies...]

Wed
Dec 9 2015 5:30pm

Angels We Have Read on High: 14 Inspirational Christmas Romance Novels

The Lopsided Christmas Cake by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter

During the holidays it’s easy for the two most common emotions to be stress (How will I ever get it alldone??) and exhaustion (How did I get it all done!!!) Adults who plan, shop for and cook for the holidays often lose our own seasonal spirits to the hustle and bustle. We forget the why behind the “to do” list. This year I thought I’d put together an assortment of seasonal Inspirational Romance readings that can reconnect us with our love of faith, family and friends and give us back some of that holiday cheer.

For those who love Amish romance there are several that will go perfectly with a hot cup of cocoa.

The Lopsided Christmas Cake by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter is a tale of sisters, sweets, and surprises. When Amish twins Elma and Thelma Hochstetler learn that their grandparents left them their home and store, they determine to move from Illinois to Indiana and build new lives. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with their old ones—unless you count the lack of men. At thirty, the ladies are rapidly approaching old maid status in their community. To announce the reopening of the store and introduce themselves to the community, fun loving Thelma signs them up for a live baking show and has them baking their grandmother’s famous Christmas Cake. But when the cake comes out lopsided and they find themselves with only half the frosting needed to cover it, what will happen?

Joseph Beechy and his friend Delbert Gingerich happen. They might not be impressed with the cake but they are interested in the pretty bakers. Before long there are dates and special moments spent Christmas caroling—and slightly over-browned cookies. Humorous and sweet, this tale of love amidst baking mishaps is sure to warm your heart—and invigorate your appetite!

[Baking, snow, joy rides, and more with these Christmas reads ...]

Fri
Nov 20 2015 3:00pm

Love, Bibliophile Style: Shelley Gray’s Whispers in the Reading Room

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Love between bibliophiles is the delightful theme squarely at the center of Shelley Gray’s Whispers in the Reading Room.  

Librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself riveted by a patron who defines the words tall, dark and handsome but it is not his pleasing features that capture her attention; it’s the expression they convey that wins her interest:

She still remembered the expression on his face last week when he’d finished and closed the last tome. He’d looked pleased and just a bit melancholy. She knew those dual feelings well – the satisfaction of completing a well-written piece of literature while also coming to terms with the fact that those few moments of pure bliss would soon be replaced with a longing for more.

For his part, Sebastian Marks has noticed certain things about Lydia as well:

Only when he was alone again did Sebastian dare to let his mind drift back to Miss Lydia Bancroft. The way she rarely chattered on like most females of his acquaintance. The way she shelved books like they were old friends. How she seemed to be more at ease with a room full of books than with people.

Sebastian’s life as a gambling den owner has made him tough and cynical. To him, the reading room is a place of sanctuary:

The lending library gave him some solace. For a few hours’ time he was able to be the man he had wished to become – back before he realized his life in the slums wasn’t about being smarter than the bullies on the street but about being stronger.

[Two book lovers find love ...]

Thu
Nov 12 2015 1:00pm

Speak Plain: Top 10 Amish Romance Authors and Books

Sunshine and Shadow by Laura London

Amish romance is currently one of the bestselling subgenres of Inspirational romance fiction; three of the top five Christian/ Inspirational romance books for October 2015 were Amish Romances. It’s definitely come into its own this past decade—according to the Wall Street Journal between 2003 and 2013 publishers have gone from producing one Amish romance per year to 86 per year. Clearly the market for these books has never been hotter; which is striking given that the books are known for turning down the heat and stirring up the sweet. While there are many theories as to why the books have the popularity they do, one thing is clear; With TV shows like Breaking Amish, the popularity of mysteries revolving around Amish communities such as Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder books and books on Amish baking and quilting cropping up everywhere there has never been a better time to satisfy your curiosity about these intriguing people.

As a newbie to these fascinating books, I’ve had fun discovering my own favorites among the popular and beloved stories that make up this group of unique novels. To help you separate the chafe from the wheat, here’s a list to get you started on reading what many consider the best Amish romances.

10. Sunshine and Shadow by Laura London (aka Sharon and Tom Curtis)
Why? This is a rare Amish romance in that it isn’t an Inspirational and doesn’t follow the typical rule of kisses only physical contact. It also doesn’t have any of the common evangelical Christian doctrine which permeates many of the books. The story of a young Amish widow and a cynical Hollywood movie director this tale is a heartfelt look at choosing between love, family and faith.

[What are your top Amish romance reads? ...]

Mon
Oct 19 2015 12:00am

Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On Continues Her Ode to Fandom

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl will be familiar with the fact that the heroine of that book, Cath, wrote Harry Potter fan fiction. Cath’s fan fiction is now a book titled Carry On. A fun take on a Draco/Harry pairing, this is the story of Simon and his hero Baz who inhabit a place where sayings and song titles are spells and vampires and magicians attend a magical school called Watfords.

Here too villain and hero find their fates are tied. The prophecy says, “And one will come to end us. And one will bring his fall”.  Simon Snow is the Chosen One- or so he has been told. Chosen to be the “the one who brings his fall”. It seems odd, though, that the chosen one can barely control his magic. He either can’t work a spell or he works it so powerfully everything around him explodes. His magic is often uncomfortable and dangerous to those around him. The Humdrum is “the one who comes to end us”. A powerful being draining the magic from their world he seems to be doing a pretty good job of kicking Simon’s ass.

Fortunately, Simon isn’t facing the monster alone. There is also The Mage.

He’s the headmaster. And he’s more than that—he’s the head of the Coven, so technically, he’s in charge of the whole World of Mages.

And Penelope, Simon’s best friend and the brightest, most powerful girl in the school helps, too.

Penelope’s mum is Indian, and her dad is English—actually, they’re both English; the Indian side of her family has been in London for ages. She told me later that her parents had told her to steer clear of me at school. “My mum said that nobody really knew where you came from. And that you might be dangerous.”

“Why didn’t you listen to her?” I asked.

“Because nobody knew where you came from, Simon! And you might be dangerous!”

[We know you want more ...]

Thu
Oct 15 2015 4:30pm

You Make Me Want to Be a Better Man: James’s Change for the Love of Harry Potter’s Lily

“You make me want to be a better man.“ Spoken by Melvin (Jack Nicholson) to Carol (Helen Hunt) in As Good As It Gets this one statement perhaps defines what it means to be changed by love more than any other I’ve heard. The old saying that you can’t change someone is undoubtedly true. But someone can choose to change because they want to change, because something they see in someone they long to be with makes them want that change and that’s what the statement above is all about.

There are a lot of famous love stories about people bettering themselves for love but for today I want to concentrate on one outside the romance canon. I want to talk about the courtship of James and Lily Potter, the parents of Harry from the Harry Potter series.  When we first meet them there is an assumption that this charming couple knew from the start they were perfect for each other and that each of them was in fact as perfect as people could get. We learn throughout the course of the series, however, that this is far from true. From the first moment they meet, in fact, James makes a poor impression on Lily. He continues on that course for years and seems to solidify that low opinion in  Snape’s Worst Memory (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28), an occurrence which showed the nasty tempered Death Eater in a far better light than it did the father of our hero. In that moment we see James mercilessly mocking a helpless Snape and in a scene which echoes what Harry would have done, Lily saving him.  In the words of the then Lilly Evans, James behaved like “an arrogant, bullying toe rag.” (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).

[They created Harry! How can you not adore them? ...]

Wed
Oct 7 2015 2:30pm

Going Goth: 5 Signs You Might Be a Gothic Romance Heroine

My first experiences of romance novels were the terrific tales of Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Phyllis A. Whitney. I was disappointed when I realized that the delicious men who made me shiver in the most delightful way while reading these ladies books were not likely to play any part in my real life. Then again, I lacked all the most crucial traits of a gothic heroine. If I see a dark alley I tend to keep walking rather than run towards it. Brooders make me want to shake them and yell “Spit it out already!” My parents are happily retired and living in a cheerful suburban home. And I love the sun.

Still, I love to get caught up in a story where I can pretend to be another kind of woman entirely. One with a dark past and a mysterious present.  The kind of girl who finds herself looking at her beloved not just with desire but trepidation. Read on to find out what else it takes to be a lady of the (dark & stormy) night.

You might be a gothic heroine if:

You’re in Dire Straits

Any kind of gothic heroine worth her salt finds herself in a bad situation. Such is the case for Sybil Ingram from Amanda DeWees’s Nocturne for a Widow. As an aging actress Sybill knows her days are numbered but she is still taken by surprise when her theater troupe manager tells her she is facing unemployment:

“I could not think of a way to tell you without wounding you. And my dear nymph, I could never bear to cause you pain.” Unfortunately, this was just what his words were doing. How long had he been planning to replace me?

[Gothic heroines do this ...]