Wed
Dec 7 2011 5:21pm

The Gateway Experiment: The Temptation of Christopher Morgan

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer CruiseI’m not going to throw out a cliché about what a “long strange trip it’s been,” but it has been a trip nonetheless, folks. I started in the comforting arms of Loretta Chase and the incredibly fun Rupert Carsington in the book Mr. Impossible. From there, I took a walk on the dark side of romance and read Meljean Brook’s Demon Moon. Both surprised me.

Where I was initially expecting some sort of bastardization of a Lisa Frank notebook, a Lifetime Movie, and just a dash of sexy-time thrown in, I found interesting stories with equally charming characters and plots that tended to suck me in.  Then I was handed my contemporary romance, and I found yet another layer to Romance.

This time around the incomparable Myretta Robens handed a copy of Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruise. I’m going to level with you, folks. I did not like any of the characters. They bothered me, irritated me even. I just screamed wanted to yell at the book ’til Sophie, Amy, Phin, and the rest heard me. As though I’m some sort of armchair quarterback to Ms. Cruise’s coaching of the Jets. The only one I liked was Phin’s daughter, and the main reason I did was that I would probably be a heartless asshole for not liking a girl that cute.

But I subscribe to the idea that any book that can inspire some sort of feeling for its characters, be they positive or negative, is a good book.  I mean really, odds are if you can spend more than an hour talking about how mad you got at a particular character, then the author is doing something right in my book.  But this isn’t what I want to talk about, even though I can go on at length about how stupid everyone involved is, except maybe Davie—haven’t figured what part of him is an act and what part is sincere.

No, the most important aspect of Welcome to Temptation I want to discuss is how smart it is. You may have checked out Megan Mulry’s awesome article about this very book. But I just want to build on it.

There is enough substance and commentary on sexuality and gender roles stuffed into the 400-odd pages of this book to make any lit major happy. Even now, I’m not sure the exact extent of the idea that the town of Temptation is really just high school round II for the characters. Or the reader, for that matter. Because I know that I disliked Phin in a way that I haven’t felt since I last dealt with a “popular” kid. There is simply way more to this one than just a straightforward read about a city girl falling for a small-town guy. Even if it is, it’s still better than anything Reese Witherspoon has starred in.

To wrap up, I feel that I have only begun to scratch the surface of this whole genre. I appreciate everyone’s patience while I talk about things I’m sure all of you are already well aware of—you have probably been reading these articles on the verge of an eye-roll followed by “duh, dummy."  The fans of romance catch a lot of flack and I think it’s largely undeserved. My primary genre is Sci-Fi/Fantasy and that genre’s reputation of being misogynistic is way more deserved (though both are making large strides in that department) than anything Romance has gotten, at least in my incredibly limited experience.

But for the most part I don’t understand the snobbery my fellow males throw Romance’s way.  There are good books that happen to have a bit—okay, in some cases, a lot—of sex involved. And any guy that says no to that needs his man card revoked.

At this point I’m probably going to read something easy on the sex and heavy on the dragon killin’/gun-fighting. But I am certainly going to return. Any thoughts on where I go after contemporary?


 

Christopher Morgan works for CriminalElement.com and HeroesandHeartbreakers.com. He lives in New York City, and may not be a romance virgin anymore...but he’ll always remember his first. Follow him on Google Plus.

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23 comments
Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
How about a fantasy romance? Shelley Laurenston has a dragon paranormal romance series under her pen name, G. A. Aiken. I feel she should come with a warning though: bawdy humor abounds!
Christopher Morgan
2. cmorgan
I couldn't call myself my father's son if I didn't appreciate bawdy humor. I have been considering Kushiel's Dart.
lynnd
3. lynnd
Kushiel's Dart is very good. You might also want to try Ilona Andrews' "Edge" series (starts with On the Edge) or her Kate Daniel's series. Lots of butt-kicking action to go with the romance :-).
Louise Partain
4. Louise321
Bawdy romance is always good! If you're up for some weird adventures into a twisted world, you might try Darynda Jones' grim reaper series which starts with The First Grave on the Right. Yeah, she talks to dead people and they talk back. Sometimes, some of the guys even get in the shower with her .
Myretta Robens
5. Myretta
Oh Christopher! I'm sorry this wasn't as successful as Mr. Impossible (but who could beat Rupert?). I thought you'd enjoy the humor. It never occurred to me that you wouldn't like the characters. But I guess these differences are, as they say, what makes horse races. Is that what they say? Thanks for trying it. Have you read Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon? A nice combination of historical fiction and fantasy. Not a romance. I loved the first book, but quit the series after the third.
Megan Frampton
6. MFrampton
Chris, I would second the Ilona Andrews rec, but I might say to go for the Kate Daniels series rather than the Edge series. But both are good--not very much hot sex action, much kick-ass action. And like Myretta, I quit the Novik series after the third, but that first one was amazing.
Ellen Hutchings
7. shadowmaster13
You should try Sherrilyn Kenyon's League series, it's futuristic novel and full of sarcasm and bloodthirstyness. Plus the romance is great.
lynnd
8. Kiersten
I actually adore Welcome to Temptation; it's the first Crusie I recommend to everyone. But the characters are polarizing to be sure. Many of Cruise's books/characters are. Fast Women and Bet Me are 2 Crusie novels I didn't like at first pass, but when I went back and reread them, I had a very different experience and now both remain some of my favorite novels of all time.

You made a good choice with Mister Incredible - a fantastic book.
Melissa Hammitt
9. Llaph
I highly reccomend Kate Daniels series, I tricked my husband into reading it... it does not really get romancy till the 3rd or 4th book. When my husband read the third book he asked me “Are Kate and Curran gonna do it?” He asked to read it after I had ran him outta the bedroom with my giggling... I have read way too many books in that genre to suggest just one. It depends on what you wanna read. Kick ass heroines? (Jennifer Rarden’s Jax Parks series) Sci-fi? (Ann Aguirre’s Jax series)Gushy stuff? )Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel series)
Christopher Morgan
10. cmorgan
@Myretta and others It's not so much that I disliked the book. I enjoyed the author and where she took the story. I loved the fact that on Page 2 you see quotes from Fear and Loathing and as soon as Sophie said "This is bat country" I should have realized the tone that was being set. The characters just acted so damn normal. It wasn't as though there was a kick ass heroine and a goofy sidekick. People were just stubbornly stupid and irrational, it was more like being at a family reunion than reading a story. So yes I didn't like the characters, but there are good things I like about not liking them, if that makes sense.

I've actually had His Majesty's Dragon on my TBR pile for a bit now. I picked up some scifi book at our last free book day that was a romance author trying to switch genres. But for the life of me I can't recall the title or author, I'll check later.
Christopher Morgan
11. cmorgan
@ Louise I was wondering about that series. Is it anything like the television series "Dead Like Me" cause I really enjoyed that.
lynnd
12. EC Spurlock
I'd recommend Suzanne Brockman's Troubleshooter series, starting with The Unsung Hero. My husband refers to her as "the female Tom Clancy". Tons of simultaneous subplots and lots of action tied in with complex relationships. Just overall great books that I think appeal to anybody.
stephanie foster
13. slfoster01
Chris, you could have sex and dragon killing; read Tessa Adams "Dragon Heat" series (3 books so far) or Bianca D'Arc's "Dragon Knights" series (6 books to date- warning: these stories contain polyamory!)
Christopher Morgan
14. cmorgan
Polyamory I can deal with, sounds interesting, though I'm wary of shifter dragons which I've heard is a rising trend. Dragons, like vampires, should always be a bad guy in my book. Call me old fashioned.
lynnd
15. tonidh69
Chris, I highly recommend Kate Daniels Series. In fact, I'm getting to reread the series right now...after my daughter gets finished with it. I'd also highly recommend Mercy Thompson Series and The Fever Series. I love series that continue with the same main characters. I just tend to get more connected over time than a single book that's over in 2 days. The Fever Series is complete, and the others have alot of stories out to make the experience last. Oh...add The Guild Hunters Series by Nalini Singh. Good Job...and welcome to the club.
lynnd
16. Aryn
Linnea Sinclair's Finders Keepers. Anne Aguirre's GrimSpace. Meljean Brooks's The Iron Duke. Susan Grant's Moonstruck. Especially The Iron Duke.
Gotta say it is refreshing to get a man's perspective on this. I got my son to listen to Crusie's Maybe this Time during a road trip to San Francisco (he doesn't do fiction, REALLY doesn't do romance, and hates audio books, so I expected to have to do some heavy guilt tripping to keep it cued up) and he actually enjoyed it, but there was no dialogue about it. Thanks for being both willing and VERBAL about the topic.
Melissa Hammitt
17. Llaph
I read the Downside series since I posted here, I reallyreally liked it. It is really original imo... there are a few posts about it floating around here. I would recommend them for something different. Stacia Kane is the author. I second the fever series, the series before it is all about time travel romance for the most part... not the old west kind the highlander kind. It loosely ties into Fever series because of the last few books dealing with the Keltor druids, Karen Marie Moning Is the author of those. The series before is more historical and romancy/girly? I have no idea how time travel stuff is categorized. I just read what sounds interesting half of the time I do not pay attention to the authors much less what category they go under. (One of the bad things about not being able to see a book you are reading.)
lynnd
18. Coleen K
Ok, I'm coming a little late to the party but I will second, third, and fourth the Kate Daniel's Series by Ilona Andrews. I will also second the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs. Both series are in my top 1o.

I'd also recommend Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan (The Hollows) books (Urban Fantasy). This series has it all and is probably second on my list of favorites to J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series (Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy). This will give you lots of killing things and the romance to boot! These books are my top two favorites and I will put down whatever I'm reading to read the new releases.

Happy Reading!
Victoria Janssen
19. VictoriaJanssen
@Myretta I always thought the Novik series was bromance...a Man and his Dragon. Or rather, a Dragon and his Man.

I'd put in another plug for the Downside series - atypical male characters for the genre, which you might like.
lynnd
20. hilly
Well, you certainly started with 3 of my favorite authors, if not their favorite works. I'd have suggested:
L.Chase - Captives of the Night
M.Brook - Here There Be Monsters short story prequels to the Iron Seas series]
J.Crusie - Bet Me

... and if you had enjoyed those, I'd have gone on to suggest:
Elizabeth Peters - Street of the Five Moons
Georgette Heyer - Talisman Ring or The Reluctant Widow or Sylvester

Oh, go ahead and try them anyway! ;)
Faye Lim
21. Faye101
Sorry to be so late to the thread, but I just finished rereading "River of Eden" by Tara Janzen writing as Glenna McReynolds and thought of your experimental foray. Janzen wrote the Steele Street series, if you are interested in trying something in the action/suspense subgenre.
Christopher Morgan
22. cmorgan
I may Faye, however for my next go round I have taken Coleen K's rec and am making my way through the first book of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. Stay tuned for my reactions.
Cristina P
23. krissapl
Really looking forward to seeing how you react to the BDB series. I've read the first 6 books in one week (there were only 6 books out at that time), so they really kept me interested. I don't appreciate the latest additions to the series though...
I enjoyed the Gateway Experiment articles so far! As I said, looking forward to the next one :)
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