<i>Infamous</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Infamous: Exclusive Excerpt Jenny Holiday "Hunter is all Jesse can think about..." <i>Courtly Pleasures</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Courtly Pleasures: Exclusive Excerpt Erin Kane Spock "Can they create a second chance at love before it’s too late?" <i>Roomies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Roomies: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Lauren "Will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?" <i>A Duke in Shining Armor</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Duke in Shining Armor: Exclusive Excerpt Loretta Chase "So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him...?"
From The Blog
November 20, 2017
Insight into MaryJanice Davidson’s Deja New
Lucy Dosch
November 19, 2017
Helena Hunting: A Sexy, Angsty, Funny Superstar
Nicola R. White
November 17, 2017
3 Pets from Romance We Wish Were Ours
Tara Leigh
November 15, 2017
The Return to Mystral in C.L. Wilson's The Sea King
Maggie Boyd
November 15, 2017
A Virtual Tour of Regency England
Rachel Hyland
Showing posts by: Kate Nagy click to see Kate Nagy's profile
Apr 19 2017 12:30pm

First Look: Tessa Bailey’s Too Hard to Forget (April 25, 2017)

Too Hard to Forget by Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey
Too Hard to Forget (Romancing the Clarksons #3)
Forever / April 25, 2017 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

Is white-hot drama featuring damaged protagonists your jam? Have I got some splendid news for you! Too Hard to Forget, the third installment in Tessa Bailey’s scorching Romancing the Clarksons series, is here, and it definitely brings the sizzle. And it brings the pain. And it also brings the painful sizzle. Gentle readers should be aware up front that this novel chronicles a second chance at love as experienced by a self-loathing college football coach and a four-times-engaged woman who can only achieve sexual satisfaction while her partner is spanking her and rasping the Lord’s Prayer into her ear. (There are kinks and then there are kinks.)

But if you can take it? Tessa Bailey can dish it out. Oh, boy, can she ever.

Three years ago, Elliott Brooks was the powerful, recently-widowed coach of a highly successful college football team. Peggy Clarkson was a gorgeous undergraduate cheerleader. She chased Elliott until he caught her, and they had a brief, clandestine relationship fueled by lust and guilt (hence the prayer and spanking) – Elliott, a devout Catholic, couldn’t forget the circumstances surrounding his wife’s untimely death and was tormented by the utterly sinful bad wrongness of his illicit relationship with a student. Accordingly, he ended up smashing Peggy’s heart into a million little pieces.

[Read more...]

Feb 25 2017 11:00am

What Are the 7 Most Romantic Scenes in Fiction?

There's never not a good time to celebrate love in Romancelandia. Your mileage may vary on some of these, of course, so after you read this, be sure to share your favorites in the comments!

This post contains spoilers.

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes

Most Literary: Joseph the Poet

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes

(Amazon | Kobo | B&N

I love Grace Burrowes’ Regencies, and my absolute favorite, without competition, is Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight. And one reason I love it so is because of a scene near the beginning when the scholarly Louisa is taking an early-morning constitutional in the park and encounters her neighbor, Joseph Carrington. The brusque and plainspoken Joseph is a successful farmer who served with distinction alongside Louisa’s late brother in the Peninsular Wars, so she’s already predisposed to like him. But she’s astonished when he begins to quote Wordsworth’s “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,” a poem that evocatively begins “Earth has not anything to show more fair.” (Is Carrington talking about the Bridge here, or about Louisa? Discuss.)

Joseph Carrington’s voice was made for poetry. Like a violoncello switching from lowly scales and droning exercises to solo repertoire, when he put his voice to poetry, Sir Joseph spoke lyrically, even beautifully…

Joseph, for his part, is immediately overcome with confusion – why would he, a mere pig farmer, dare to start “blathering about domes and ships and whatnot” to the wealthy, titled, and obviously scarily smart Louisa? But Louisa, for her part, is enchanted. I was, too.

[Read more...]

Nov 1 2016 2:00pm

First Look: Sharon Shinn’s Unquiet Land (November 1, 2016)

Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn
Unquiet Land (Elemental Blessings #4)
Ace /  November 1, 2016 / $26.00 print, $12.99 digital

Leah Frothen has returned home to rebuild the life she’s avoided for years. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned to meet with the regent, Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in...
Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago. Leah is simultaneously thrilled, terrified, hopeful, moved, and almost undone as she slowly attempts to become part of her daughter’s life.
But when the regent asks her to spy on ambassadors from a visiting nation, she develops a dangerous friendship with a foreign woman and finds herself falling in love with a man from her past. Soon Leah learns that everyone—her regent, her lover, and even her daughter—have secrets that could save the nation, but might very well break her heart.

Sharon Shinn has many strengths as a writer, but one of her biggest must certainly be her world-building abilities. In her Samaria novels, her Twelve Houses books, and most recently her Elemental Blessings series, she creates vibrant and magical universes that are wholly relatable while being just exotic enough to be interesting.

[Read more...]

Sep 25 2016 1:00pm

Once Upon a Time’s Belle/Rumpel: Should You Be Shipping Them?

Belle and Rumpelstiltskin, Once Upon A Time

We know you're probably shipping Belle and Mr. Gold a.k.a. Rumpelstiltskin... but should you?

One of the most compelling plot threads in Once Upon a Time is the on-again, off-again romance between Belle and Mr. Gold, a.k.a. Rumpelstiltskin. In Season 1, we watched as the bookish young beauty melted the heart of the beastly conniver back in the Enchanted Forest. We hissed in disgust once we realized that Belle had been incapacitated and hidden away by the (at that point) evil Mayor Regina in Storybrooke—more or less beneath Gold’s nose. And we rejoiced when it looked as though the two were going to reunite, with a bit of an assist from Sebastian Stan’s righteously aggrieved Mad Hatter.

But the course of true love never did run smooth, and the pair has encountered their fair share of obstacles, most of which can be laid directly at Mr. Gold’s magical feet. (More on that in a minute.) In fact, I think it’s fair to say that if Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin didn’t have such incandescent chemistry together, many of us would be less willing to overlook the fact that in many respects, this is a very problematic relationship indeed, featuring—as it does—a significant power imbalance, a fairly vast difference in goals and worldviews, and some behavior that no woman should tolerate from any man.

[Read more...]

Sep 21 2016 8:30am

First Look: RaeAnne Thayne’s Snowfall on Haven Point (September 27, 2016)

Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne

RaeAnne Thayne
Snowfall on Haven Point (A Haven Point Novel)
HQN Books/ September 27, 2016 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

It’s been two rough years since Andrea Montgomery lost her husband, and all she wants is for her children to enjoy their first Christmas in Haven Point. But then Andie’s friend asks a favor—to keep an eye on her brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, who’s recovering from a hit-and-run. Andie will do anything for Wyn, even park her own misgivings to check on her grouchy, wounded bear of a brother.

Marshall hates feeling defenseless and resents the protective impulses that Andie brings out in him. But when a blizzard forces them together for the holidays, something in Marshall begins to thaw. Andie’s gentle nature is a salve, and her kids’ excitement for the holidays makes him forget why he never wanted a family. If only he and Andie can admit what they really want—each other—their Christmas wishes might come true after all.

This time of year, most people are thinking about falling leaves, football, and pumpkin-spice everything. But one specific group of people seems to leap directly from the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer to the ho-ho-holidays. These people are popularly known as “publishers,” and they typically flood the market with Christmas fare beginning in mid-September. This practice has brought us more than one highly enjoyable novel, most recently RaeAnne Thayne’s charming Snowfall on Haven Point.

[Read more...]

Sep 16 2016 12:30pm

Heroines Who Find Their Power: From Jane Eyre to Game of Thrones’s Sansa

Some romantic heroines kick ass from the get-go and that's that. They may have moments of vulnerability, but their essential badassery is never in question. Think Claire from Outlander, for example, or Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. These remarkable women are usually at least one step ahead of everyone around them, they take no guff from anyone, and they call the shots in the bedroom and out of it.

Other heroines, though, start out in a much less powerful place, and only discover their own tremendous strength and resilience along the way. Their spirit animal and patroness is Lady Sansa Stark, who has (at least in the t.v. series; the Seven only know what George R.R. Martin has planned for her in the novels), at this writing, been engaged to a sociopathic boy king, married against her will twice (once to a decent man – Tyrion – and once to the vile and dangerous Ramsay Bolton), and is currently indebted to the craftiest, slimiest dude in Westeros, the odious Petyr Baelish, for his role in pulling her brother Jon Snow’s bacon out of the fire at the Battle of the Bastards.

[Read more...]

Sep 14 2016 1:00pm

When Your Favorite Ship Sinks: Friends Forever (Gosh Darn It)

Ruby & Dorothy from Once Upon a Time

Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for fans who are not caught up on (or have never read) Once Upon a Time (especially FrankenWolf shippers), Little Women, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and J.R. Ward's The Shadows

In the most recent season of Once Upon a Time, the showrunners made good on the promise that had been implicit ever since Mulan (Jamie Chung) first gazed longingly into the limpid blue eyes of Princess Aurora (Sarah Bolger): They introduced a lesbian romance into the plot. However, to the surprise of pretty much everyone, that romance did not involve either Aurora or Mulan. Instead, werewolf Ruby (Meghan Ory) fell in love (over the course of a single episode) with Kansas farm girl Dorothy (Teri Reeves), and the two ended the episode–having achieved the fastest HEA ever recorded on OUAT, the producers of that show being noteworthy for the glee they take in separating lovers for seasons at a time–living the dream back in Oz.

I mean, yay! Great! Love is love is love is love is love! But at the same time…a tiny part of me (okay, maybe not such a tiny part) admits to some abashed disappointment. You see, I’m one of those crazy folks who shipped Ruby and the womanizing Dr. Whale (David Anders)…hard.

[Read more...]

Jul 5 2016 9:00am

Susan Howatch and the Wheel of Time

Penmarric by Susan Howatch

Fellow Readers of a Certain Era, let’s say it together!

I was ten years old when I first saw the Inheritance and twenty years old when I first saw Janna Roslyn, but my reaction to both was identical. I wanted them…

Thus begins Penmarric, the first of the remarkable family sagas of British author Susan Howatch. These novels were book club and Literary Guild staples in the 1970s and 1980s, and with good reason. Using the lives of the members of the royal House of Plantagenet as a jumping-off point, Howatch recasts the Kings and Queens of England as Victorian and Edwardian landowners who share an unusual penchant for passion, madness, questionable behaviors of various stripes, and elaborately plotted vengeance. Even forty-odd years after their initial publication, these books hold up well: It’s easy to sink into them and all too hard to put them down.

Howatch had already published a number of gothic novels with delicious titles like The Devil on Lammas Night when she wrote Penmarric in the early 1970s, but Penmarric was something altogether different. In this hugely entertaining saga, two generations of the wealthy Castallack family, owners of a once-thriving tin mine in windswept Cornwall, battle for ownership of the Inheritance, Penmarric, the magnificent family home. Penmarric represents different things at different times to different people – the past, the future, justice, power, acceptance – and there’s plenty of scheming and underhandedness on the part of patriarch Mark Castallack and his various children (by various women) as they jostle for position within the family.

[Family drama ensues...]

Jun 16 2016 3:30pm

We’re Nuts About Kate Lowell’s Squirrel Shifter Romances!

Nuts About You by Kate Lowell

These days, shifter romances are hot. (In more ways than one.) You’ve probably read one or two: Blade (or Rock...or Nick), a werewolf or wolf-shifter (sometimes, less commonly, a bear- or mountain cat-shifter), who is also a Navy SEAL (or sometimes just your average, everyday firefighter…who also happens to be a werewolf), is the Alpha of his pack (inevitably). He is six-feet-four, with eyes like chips of blue ice, biceps the size of cantaloupes, and cut-from-Baccarat-crystal abs off of which one could bounce a basketball. Sparks fly when he meets Lexi (or Jess or Callie), who is usually an investigative reporter or a detective of some sort. Sexytimes ensue.

Then there are the “Nutty Romances” of Kate Lowell.

These unusual tales relate the saga of Nathan, whose soft blue eyes, sweet smile, short stature, and love handles belie the stalwart heart and unshakeable courage of a born were-squirrel.

[Things are about to get a little nutty...]

Jun 13 2016 8:30am

First Look: Grace Burrowes’ Jack (June 14, 2016)

Jack by Grace BurrowesGrace Burrowes
Jack (Jaded Gentlemen #4)
Grace Burrowes / June 14, 2016 / $6.29 print, $3.99 digital

The highly prolific Grace Burrowes has written over 50 books, most of them set in the English countryside of the early nineteenth century (with frequent forays into London, of course). Although the sun never set on the Empire in those days, England itself just isn’t that big, and between her Windhams, her Lonely Lords, her True Gentlemen, and now her Jaded Gentlemen, Burrowes has populated her version of the Regency with a web of families and their familiars who know one another, care about each other, and look out for each other.

In Jack, the latest Jaded Gentleman to find himself under the spotlight is one John Dewey Fanning, most recently seen advising Axel Belmont (who only very recently found his own HEA, with Jack’s able assistance, of course). Jack is a magistrate out in Oxfordshire (the term “rusticating,” which I love, applies here) and has found his district plagued by the most bizarre streak of petty crimes. For example, someone has covertly allowed a prized ram from one farm to romp among the ewes in the adjacent farm. The ram’s owner would have charged an exorbitant stud fee to breed the ram to the ewes, but if said ram just happened to find his way in there, well, the ram is happy; the ewes are happy; and the ewes’ owner may flounce and gripe about the importance of locking up one’s rams, but she’s unlikely to be complaining when the ewes give birth to valuable new lambs in the spring. The only one who isn’t happy is the rams’ owner, but lacking hard evidence of a crime, what’s a single, lonely magistrate to do?

[Something tells me we're about to find out...]

May 17 2016 11:15am

The Best Jane Eyre Adaptations Based on Mr. Rochester

As we observe the recent bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë’s birth (April 21), it is appropriate to take a critical look at the many filmed adaptations of Jane Eyre, her best-known work. Specifically, it is right and proper to assess, soberly and judiciously, the efforts of the many brave men who have undertaken the challenging role of aspiring bigamist Edward Fairfax Rochester. We embrace our duty to celebrate those individuals who have successfully grasped the brass rings (so to speak) of brooding intensity, towering presence, and smoldering hottitude, while also recognizing those who, for whatever reason, are perhaps less likely to haunt our dreams at night (and noting that there has never been a really bad Rochester). Here, in reverse-ranked order, is one such list.

7. George C. Scott (1970/Susannah York as Jane)

Scott brings the requisite gravitas, but might just be the slightest bit…not young for the role? (I know that he may have been technically younger than some of the other fellows listed here, but his Rochester sort of looks like Jane’s grandpa. A smoldering and particularly attractive grandpa, yes. But the age difference is unusually striking in this adaptation.) Also, in what universe was Susannah York ever “plain,” or even unusual-looking in a way that would have pegged her as “plain”? But that’s its own separate issue.

[And on we go...]

May 10 2016 8:30am

Reader, I Married Him (Again): Jane Eyre Retellings You Haven’t Read Yet

It’s sometimes easy to forget how influential Charlotte Brontë was (and continues to be). Serious and intense where Jane Austen was sprightly and funny; wordy and oblique where her literary descendants tend to be forthright and concise; and relatively sparse in output where other authors were and are prolific, Brontë and her work are easy to admire but not always easy to love.

Nevertheless, her best-known novel, the classic Jane Eyre, casts a long shadow, continuing to influence authors even today. This tale of a plain, quiet, governess who catches the eye of her wealthy, brooding employer, only to be forced to flee when he attempts to (er, spoiler, I guess) lure her into bigamy, has inspired countless prequels, sequels, retellings, and related plots of romances we all know and love.

First, of course, we have the whole “Governess and Rake” plot. Now, Jane Eyre was by no means the first “governess novel”—Brontë was working within a more or less established literary tradition with that particular trope—but it’s probably the best known, and I would guess (without a shred of hard evidence, admittedly) that it’s what most authors have in the backs of their minds when they write about a governess, nanny, or companion.

[Who wouldn't think about it, it's a classic...]

Apr 22 2016 10:00am

This Time It’s Personal: Cheryl St. John’s Harvey Girls Series

Cheryl St. John’s Harvey Girls series curated by Wendy the Super Librarian

In the 1880s, the Great American West was a wild and untamed land. In fact, some said that there were “no ladies west of Dodge City and no women west of Albuquerque.” Enter entrepreneur Fred Harvey, who took note of the deplorable services for passengers along the booming Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and, in response, established the Harvey House chain of restaurants and hotels. For the first time, weary travelers along the ATSF could stay in safe and clean rooms and enjoy tasty meals at reasonable prices throughout their journey west.

Harvey initially hired men to staff his properties, but his servers turned out to be a rough and unruly crew, so he had a brainstorm: Why not hire women? He placed ads in newspapers across the Midwest and East, looking for bright, articulate, attractive young women who would be hired as servers in his restaurants. “Harvey Girls” were required to have an eighth grade education and be of “good moral character.” The hiring process was competitive, but for ladies who made the cut, the rewards were substantial. Initially, they could earn up to $17.50 per month, plus free room, board, and uniforms – a generous salary, particularly for a woman, in those days. But also, they entered a new world of adventure, independence, and not infrequently romance.

Cheryl St. John’s historical Harvey Girls series—now available in a Book Bundle curated by H&H blogger Wendy the Super Librarian!—transports readers back to those days with three novels about the women who worked at the Arcade, a Harvey House property in Newton, Kansas. All three are well worth the attention of any reader of historical romance.

[Let's take a look at the series ...]

Mar 28 2016 8:30am

Revolutionary Sagas: Laura Frantz’s Inspiring Historicals

The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz

Is it just me, or is anyone else baffled by the fact that there are remarkably few romance novels set in colonial America? Bookstore shelves groan beneath the weight of books that depict that general time frame…in England, with various Dukes and Duchesses (and associated wallflowers, bluestockings, pirates, and gentlefolk) cavorting around England. “Her Marriage of Convenience to A Cowboy in the American West”—settled substantially later—is basically a subgenre unto itself. Amish-themed “bonnet books” even bring the trappings of the distant past right up into the modern age! Flappers, billionaires, doctors, vampires, professional athletes, Navy SEALS, and angels all have had their moment in the sun, but other than a few old-school “Claimed by the Indian Warrior”-type books (which tend to raise all sorts of unfortunate issues around racism and cultural appropriation), the men and women who bore witness to the very birth of the good old U.S. of A. get no love at all.

It’s entirely possible that more authors, inspired by the runaway success of Hamilton: The Musical, will decide to explore this rich and fascinating period in history a little more closely. Until that happens, though, fans of the American Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary eras will need to content themselves with one remarkable Broadway show…and with the inspirational novels of Laura Frantz.

[The very best of America ...]

Feb 8 2016 11:45am

“It Suits You”: Embrace the Foe (Finn/Poe) in Star Wars

Foe Star Wars Finn and Poe plus Rey

Star Wars: The Force Awakens burst into theaters in December to near-universal acclaim. After the pretty but somewhat lackluster prequel trilogy, fans celebrated the return of iconic characters such as Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca; the introduction of an unusually complex and layered villain in the brooding (and hair-tossing) Kylo Ren (Adam Driver); and the emergence of a strong, brave, and altogether compelling heroine in Daisy Ridley’s scrappy Rey.

Of course, by the end of the first screening, enough fanfiction to wallpaper the inside of Starkiller Base had already been produced, much of it involving—naturally—Rey and her mysterious origins. Other stories paired Rey with various men in the Star Wars universe, including both Kylo Ren and her likely eventual love interest, soulful ex-Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega). But another potential pairing has sparked many imaginations: that of Finn and cocky, magnetic Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).

[Finn and Poe plus Rey ...]

Jul 19 2015 1:00pm

Fifty Shades of Clay: A Movie Night with Old Fashioned

Clay and Amber in Old Fashioned

On Valentine’s Day 2015, as Fifty Shades of Grey was raking in bushels of cash at theaters around the country, a quiet revolution was brewing at a couple hundred theaters, mostly in the Midwest. A gentle little film–which, coincidentally, also featured a hero with a penchant for control in his romantic life–began to catch the attention of faith-based audiences and others who didn’t feel that watching Jamie Dornan whack a college student with a riding crop would be their precise cup of tea. The movie was called Old Fashioned, and it broke the record for ticket sales for a film opening at under 300 theaters and has continued to pick up steam now that it’s available on DVD. In fact, at one point the movie, which was filmed on a shoestring budget featuring a cast of largely unknown actors, occupied the #1 spot on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases: Romance” list–above, it’s worth noting, Fifty Shades. So what’s the deal with this odd little phenomenon?

The debut feature film of writer/director/leading man Rik Swartzwelder, Old Fashioned is earnest, charming, and occasionally deeply insightful. Swartzwelder plays Clay, a furniture restorer/antique dealer who underwent a religious conversion as a young man and has spent the subsequent decade atoning for his debauched youth, including production of a series of cheap DVDs in the “Girls Gone Wild” vein. He's basically an honorable guy, but his faith is an airless, joyless thing, mostly concerned with rules and list-making. He won’t even go to church, being disgusted with what he sees as the “hypocrisy” among the churchgoers.

[So he's a tad bit grumpy about his faith...]

Jul 15 2015 8:30am

A Vacation at Your Desktop: Fall in Love with Telenovelas

There exists an amazing world in which passion reigns supreme and the extraordinary is almost commonplace. The men are (mostly) eye-searingly handsome and the women are (usually) preternaturally gorgeous, and they have their adventures (and what amazing adventures they have!) amidst scenery of astonishing natural beauty.

The downside of this charmed existence is that abduction is commonplace, as are forgery, poisoning, embezzlement, faked paternity test results, faked property records, faked wills, and even murder most foul. Motherhood is a particularly fraught enterprise: it’s not unusual for one’s newborn to be fraudulently switched with another infant from the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum, and if one is blessed with twins—as are an unusually high percentage of new mothers—it’s a safe bet that the twins will be separated, possibly until they’re old enough to unknowingly vie for the love of the same woman (or man). The good news is that when someone dies, they don’t usually stay dead for very long, unless someone gets tossed over the edge of a cliff into the ocean or something—and even then, the erstwhile killer would be well advised to make sure that their intended victim isn’t an unusually strong swimmer.

[Welcome to the world of latin telenovelas...]

Jun 11 2015 1:30pm

A Forgotten Treasure: Norma Johnston’s Keeping Days Saga

A Nice Girl Like You  by Norma Johnston

“As soon as I awoke on the morning of my fourteenth birthday I knew it was going to be a Keeping Day.”

So begins The Keeping Days, the first of six books in Norma Johnston’s charming series of the same name. Supposedly based on family stories told to the author by her aunts and uncles, these books follow two generations of a close-knit family in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx in the years leading up to World War I. Together the family copes with an array of challenges, from the death of their patriarch to the somewhat surprising birth of a child, as well as romances, illnesses, estrangements, and a scandal whose echoes will reverberate across a generation. Although these are not new books—they were first published between 1973 and 1981—they remain surprisingly readable and relevant today.

The first four books in the series deal with passionate, romantic Letitia Sterling, middle child in a large, boisterous family. “…I’m sensitive,” Tish confides to the reader, early on. “I might as well tell you that straight off, because Mama always does. She seems to think it explains a lot.” Tish cherishes Keeping Days—days that are so special and memorable that they will live in her heart forever—and dreams of being a writer someday, a goal that no one but her much-loved grandfather seems to understand or appreciate.

[Dive in to a classic series by Norma Johnston...]

May 19 2015 10:00am

Keeping Warm on a Cold Scottish Night: Highland Knits for Outlander Fans

Claire from Outlander in her knits

Fans of the Starz network’s ongoing adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular Outlander saga – and they are legion – tend to wax rhapsodic over three particular aspects of the show. First, the sizzling chemistry between series leads Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as time-traveling Claire and her strapping Scottish protector-turned husband Jamie. Second, the cinematography, which superbly depicts the beauty and wonder of the Scottish Highlands. And third, the absolutely delicious knitwear flaunted by many of the major (and not-so-major) characters.

So popular have these gorgeous designs become that entire blogs, Pinterest boards, and Facebook pages have sprung up to honor the costumes themselves and their indefatigable designer, Terry Dresbach (who, it is said, had less than two months to develop and create all the costumes for the show). And while purists may sniff that many of these knits are seriously anachronistic – evidently, eighteenth-century Scotswomen favored neither capelets nor shrugs – many if not most fans who knit merely shrug their shoulders and say “Whatever. Where can I find the pattern?”

…Many places, as it turns out. A number of knitwear designers have produced patterns or collections that were directly inspired by Outlander; others have published patterns that evoke Scotland or the turbulent era in which Jamie and Claire have their adventures. Here are some of the best.

[Find your favorite knits from the TV show Outlander...]

Jan 11 2015 1:00pm

Aral and Cordelia Reveal Their Souls in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cordelia’s Honor

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster BujoldCommander Cordelia Naismith of the Expeditionary Force of the cosmopolitan, highly enlightened planet Beta, has experienced a singularly eventful first command. She and her team—a scientific survey—have managed to stumble upon a war zone, where she has been taken captive by the fearsome Captain Aral Vorkosigan. Vorkosigan is from Barrayar, a planet with a reputation for backwards attitudes and occasional outright barbarism, and he is known throughout the galaxy as the Butcher of Komarr for having (allegedly) perpetrated some particularly vile war crimes. Cordelia quickly realizes, however, that Aral is in a somewhat delicate and complicated position with respect to his own troops, and as they trudge across the countryside en route to a hidden supply cache, she begins to suspect—correctly, as she will learn—that certain aspects of his legend may be, let us say, overblown.

One night at the campfire, they start to talk. Aral has been injured, and Cordelia is worried about both Aral and a gravely wounded member of her team whom they are bringing with them (against Aral’s better judgment). They’re both surprised at what they learn.

[Let's be surprised, too...]