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Showing posts by: Rae Alley click to see Rae Alley's profile
Mar 6 2014 5:30pm

The Milan Effect: Courtney Milan’s Brilliant Writing

The Duchess War by Courtney MilanI have a small confession to make: Courtney Milan writes my flavor of book addiction. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this issue, based on the way my twitter feed looked after her latest book posted to Amazon before Christmas. But in trying to explain just what it is that draws me back to her titles and keeps them permanently on my e-reader, that is harder to explain.

Reading romance novels is like being a member in a giant club, and like many clubs you have factions. Some of these factions are determined by type, such as historical romance, suspense, paranormal and so forth. Other factions get to cross-genre ideas like dominant male voiced, socially conscious and female empowerment. Milan’s books hit on a range of these subgenres, which may be why she is a favored author for so many of us.

When you start looking at the books themselves though, that’s when you really start to see examples of why people come back again and again. Take the current series, which starts with a duke who isn’t what he seems at all. When his mother confronts him about a potential scandal concerning our heroine, we get a picture of just how our duke feels about his father and how he behaved:

[And we're sensing it wasn't well...]

Dec 23 2013 2:00pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best of 2013, Day 3

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae CarsonMay 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 1Day 2, and Day 4.

Rae Alley:

Bitter Kingdom (by Rae Carson) would be my top read. It's billed as a YA, but like so many YA titles lately it isn't just for young adults. There's a bit of finding yourself and making sure you know your purpose in the world throughout this book (and the previous two in the trilogy) but what was interesting to me was seeing how we got to the happy ever after for our heroine and her captain. You start the novel with her running to his rescue and him unaware of whether or not she really is coming to save him as it might mean her trading places with him and how does he really feel about that...and this pace of action stays throughout.

[Action-packed is the way we like it!...]

Jan 25 2013 10:30am

All the Novel’s a Stage: Theater Settings in Romance Novels

We will gladly be the players...

~I once picked up a mystery novel solely based on the fact that it happened in a theater that may have been haunted. I was between productions and wanted a small taste of the world I wasn't experiencing on a nightly basis. The main characters were not part of the acting company, so they had to have people and positions often explained to them. I remember laughing out loud as some of the job descriptions sounded like they were pulled out of a high school level book of “so you want to work in theater” and then these people promptly acted in ways that were convenient for the novel, but didn't suit who they should be if they really were that role, that position. It was then I decided to avoid the entire theory of theater in books.

Reading romance made it very hard to avoid that idea. Desolate dukes patronize opera singers. The theater is the place to be seen and to trade the latest gossip. Theater, and all the cast of characters involved, started creeping back into my reading. Most of the incidentals were never developed enough for me to object, and before I knew it I was picking up novels with deeper theater roots. Some were more well done than others, but three stick out. These three had a very different approach to my profession playing out in between princes and dukes dodging death or magistrates tackling the seedy underworld.

[Let the show begin!...]

Nov 11 2012 2:00pm

Stitching it All Up: Loretta Chase’s Dressmakers Series

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta ChaseThe Dressmakers series is the most recent series offering from veteran author Loretta Chase. The third book, Vixen in Velvet, won’t be available until next June but I am already curious about what may happen next. The series revolves around the three Noirot sisters and their world class dress shop bringing a taste of France’s style to dreary, conservative London.

The first two novels are filled with beautiful clothing descriptions of fancy ball gowns; in fact, a recent Library Journal article comments on the clothing descriptions, and Chase confesses she spent many hours studying 1830s clothing and picking the brains of the milliners and tailors in Colonial Williamsburg, so it would be fair to guess that a lot of what is covered is very accurate. You have a sense of place with the shop and a sense of the people who interact with the sisters. The first book sets us up for the second, but Scandal Wears Satin, the second book, felt incomplete, even after finishing it. What you do not have a sense of is any idea what may happen for our third sister.

[Anticipation is making us wait...]

Sep 6 2012 5:00pm

Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace Series, Featuring the “Go in the Basement” Heroine Sirantha Jax

Grimspace by Ann AguirreWithin the first few pages of Ann Aguirre's Grimspace series, I found a heroine in Sirantha Jax I couldn’t quite shake from my mind.

The series begins with Jax in a rough equivalent of a psych ward. She’s been accused of causing the crash that killed her partner and pilot, as well as the delegation they were transporting. She’s broken out by rebels and then kidnapped by them to help with a covert mission, which ends with her destroying the company that caused the crash and set her up to take the blame. The ripples of those actions and others while she finds her way stretch through the rest of the series with battling pirates, returning a hatchling, and fighting a guerilla war to fulfill a promise to a lost friend.

[And now *I* want to be Jax's BFF...]

Aug 21 2012 2:30pm

First Look: Anna Scarlett’s Degrees of Wrong (August 28, 2012)

Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett

Anna Scarlett
Degrees of Wrong
Samhain / August 28, 2012 / $4.73 digital

Dr. Elyse Morgan’s mission: find the cure to the HTN4 virus. The compensation, courtesy of the United Nations: a lab stocked with hi-tech goodies, limitless resources and enough chocolate to make her rear look like a cellulite farm. Bonus: she gets to live.

Rescued (kidnapped) and secreted (imprisoned) on an undersea warship, Elyse adjusts to her assumed identity as a cadet with the finesse of a toeless ballerina. Her sulfuric temper and blatant insubordination capture the unwanted attention of the ship’s captain, the gorgeous, infuriating, engaged Nicoli Marek.

From the first page, Anna Scarlett's Degrees of Wrong immediately kicks into high gear with the intrepid heroine in the middle of a war zone—one that is being fought over her. The life she has always known is being ripped apart, and she responds by fighting back with her best tools: her intellect and wit. Disguised as a cadet, she's taken aboard a ship, where she is warned to remain anonymous—tough for a woman who likes to respond with snappy comeback lines.

[Talk about an in media res opener...]

Jul 19 2012 5:00pm

SF/F as the Gateway Drug to Romance Novels: McCaffrey, Carey, Lackey, Feehan and More!

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffreyEvery summer my parents would pack up the family to set off on a family vacation. Each of these trips were preceded by several magical hours spent in the local Waldenbooks acquiring paperbacks to keep us quiet and entertained for the hours of interstate we’d have to endure. My mother would head for the suspense; my father would get lost wandering through the entire store while I was inevitably drawn to the back right hand corner where the science fiction/fantasy took up twelve feet of realms to explore.

My dad is the one who initially introduced me to science fiction. While I was still in elementary school, he handed me Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong. He wanted me to see strong female characters who could accomplish anything they put their minds to, and this seemed to occur over and over in science fiction. As I devoured these and started making other choices for myself, he stopped guiding me and started stealing from my collection of books. What drove me to wear out the binding on my copies of the books of Pern, Valdemar and Westeros was not just the amazing world building, but also the relationships within these worlds.

[Where’s the love?...]