<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...?"
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Showing posts by: Keira Soleore click to see Keira Soleore's profile
Sep 21 2017 1:00pm

3 Books That Put the Romance Back in Fiction

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

The earliest readers of Heroes & Heartbreakers know that I used to write opinion articles here. This is my first piece in a long time, and I am so delighted to return here. The Romance in Fiction column will feature books that have a strong romantic subplot. While I read widely and enjoy fiction of all kind, I find that the stories that resonate with me best are the ones with a love interest in them. I don't necessarily mean only romance genre fiction, but also general fiction with a touch of romance.

For example, I love C.S. Harris's long-running Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series for the detecting elements and the era, but also for the thread of Sebastian's romantic entanglements that, to me, is the heart of the series and the driving force of the series.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey through the romance to be found in fiction as I explore which books spoke to me vividly.

The three stories I have chosen below are stories of bravery, where the protagonists have to take courage into their hands to achieve happiness.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

This book is set in the English countryside. There is all the insularity and peculiarity of living in close quarters with a few families. Everyone is in everyone else's business and gossips about whoever is not there. Bossy women run the social life of the village. Old spinsters run the gardening clubs and book clubs. Middle-aged men play golf. But then comes this Pakistani-British family in the midst of all this country whiteness. They're “othered” and treated as foreigners even though they were born in England, and they forever disturb the homogeneous harmony of the village.

[Read more...]

May 10 2011 12:00pm

The Trial Scene in Carrie Lofty’s Scoundrel’s Kiss

Scoundrel’s Kiss by Carrie LoftySometimes, there comes a story that seems to find no way to redeem itself to end in a happily ever after for the hero and heroine. They face insurmountable odds within each other, between them, and due to outside events. Carrie Lofty's Scoundrel's Kiss is one such book.

The story opens with Ada of Keyworth willing to enslave herself for one more dose of opium. Gavriel de Marqueda, a novitiate of the Order of Santiago and former hated slave of his father, is charged with saving her life and ridding her of her dependence on the drug. While Ada wishes for what she should not have, while Gavriel does not know how to wish for what he cannot have.

Both are so damaged that overcoming their own demons seems to be out of their hands. The keyword here is seems, because not only do they do that, but they also manage to defeat the problems standing between them and beyond them.

[Love comes softly...]

May 2 2011 9:00am

Fresh Meat: Vanessa Kelly’s My Favorite Countess

Vanessa Kelly
My Favorite Countess
Kensington, May 3, 2011, $6.99

Spirited, stubborn, and entirely irresistible...

She is difficult, demanding, and at times, quite fierce.  And Dr. John Blackmore can't take his eyes off her. The Countess of Randolph is the most striking woman he has ever seen...and the most infuriating patient he has ever tended.

Mired in responsibility, Bathsheba doesn't have time to convalesce in the country. She should be in London, hunting for a wealthy new lover to pay off her late husband's vast debts, not dallying with a devastatingly handsome doctor.

But it is only a matter of time until the good doctor and the obstinate countess will have to contend with the sparks that fly between them. Once their bodies surrender, their hearts may follow...

[Sparks! Bodies! Hearts!...]

Apr 19 2011 12:30pm

Why Are Medievals Less Popular Than Regencies?

The Coat of Arms of Henry IV and 5 of England

I adore medievals. I read them. I write them. I consume them.

And yet, the honest part of me admits that there are reasons why medievals are not as popular with readers as Regency-set historicals.

Thesaurus.com says that the synonyms for le bon ton, the Regency nobility, are: civility, correctitude, restraint, decency, decorum, good breeding, orderliness, properness, rightness, seemliness, fashionable, high life, and smart set.

If I were to likewise write the synonyms for the medieval period, they would be: honor, loyalty, tradition, fierceness, oaths, fealty, passion, valor, battle prowess, strife, God, and kingmaking.

Life in medieval times was brutally short. Men and women, even the knights and the nobility, grew up fast and lived hard, swift, intense lives. In that short time, they managed to eke out a long life’s worth of living. All life revolved around warriors and battles, even after the widespread advent of the chivalric code.

[Those were the days!...]

Apr 8 2011 4:00pm

The True Measure of a Book: Great Characters in Romance

The Measure of a Man by Sidney PoitierIn his recent memoir, celebrated actor Sidney Poitier wrote, “The true measure of a man is how well he provides for his children.” Similarly, as a reader and a writer, the true measure of a fiction book to me is how well it provides for its characters and its readers.

Not historical accuracy, not plot, not craft, nor language; a story's characters should always form the first impression, be the focus, and create a lasting impression. Whether this is the dimpling sweetling in a Regency-set historical, a kickass brainiac of the twentieth century, the loathsome evil-doer, or the downtrodden and huddled masses, the story needs to deliver these characters in full technicolor glory: the accolades and the shortcomings, the insalubrious and the salacious.

[Damn! Those are some fifty-cent words! Back 'em up, sister . . . ]

Mar 29 2011 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, et. al. It Happened One Season (March 29, 2011)

It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Candice Hern

Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Candice Hern

It Happened One Season

Avon, March 29, 2011, $7.99

Readers were asked what story they would most like to see from four bestselling authors. They replied and then voted on the top four. This is what was the final result...

A handsome hero, younger brother of a titled lord, returns from war, battle-scarred and world-weary. He lives like a recluse, but family duty calls. The older brother has only daughters and so for the sake of the succession, the hero must find a bride and beget an heir.

A young lady, shy or unattractive, facing yet another season without a suitor never expects to find herself the object of anyone’s affections. Receiving a marriage proposal within hours of meeting the hero was definitely something she’d never anticipated.

Four different authors, same premise, four different stories.

[All delicious historical romance goodness!...]

Mar 27 2011 2:00pm

The “Whey Water Version of Love”: Christina Dodd’s Candle in the Window

Candle in the Window by Christina DoddChristina Dodd’s RITA-award winner Candle in the Window is a reread, but what keeps me coming back the most is a pivotal scene where the hero’s taken the leap into love but the heroine's terrified of doing so.

At the beginning of the story, Saura and William are both blind; she, from birth, he, from injury. Blindness is a part of her life, part of who she is. She doesn’t let that stop her from doing everything that she wants to do. William, on the other hand, rails against the injustice of having his sight taken from him. His constant struggle between wanting everything to be exactly the way it was before his injury and not being able to, is wearing away his humanity.

They slowly come to terms with each other; William comes out of his self-pitying stupor and learns to re-navigate the world. She stops haranguing him and learns to accept and give affection.

[Gotta love a slow build...]

Mar 23 2011 9:00am

Hot for the Scots: Top Three Julie Garwood Medievals

Pennant Bearer

Julie Garwood’s stories were the first medievals I read, which led me to becoming enamored with the medieval sub-genre: Hardy warriors and strong women eking out a living in a harsh environment in harsh times with grace and honor—what’s not to admire?

Those same fierce warriors brought to own up to their feelings for their stalwart women make for scenes that touch the heart and the mind with that swoony feeling.

Garwood’s medievals have become keepers on my shelves, my go-to comfort read of remembered pleasure and renewed appreciation. Her characters brim with personality and passion—and they don’t do anything halfway. They’re fully immersed in life, whether they’re making love or cutting off a man’s head.

[Yikes! . . .]

Mar 20 2011 10:00am

The “Confronting the Quakers” Scene from Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm

Flowers from the Storm by Laura KinsaleOnly Laura Kinsale could take on a victim of stroke and make him into a worthy hero.

Christian, Duke of Jervaulx, the hero of Flowers from the Storm is by no means to be pitied; oh, he’s a victim of circumstance, but not a pitiable creature.

In fact, perhaps he is an admirable character: His own formidable intelligence and determination, combined with the patience and perseverance of heroine Archimedea Timms help reverse many of the speech issues that a stroke leaves Christian with.

But in times of stress, the words get as muddled up in his head as at the beginning of his illness. As duke, Christian is used to getting what he wants when he wants it. And he desperately needs his Maddygirl, as he calls her, because she’s the only one who stands between sanity and madness, hope and despair.

So in desperation, he forces her to marry him, to renounce her Quaker upbringing, and brings her to pleasure time and time again.

[Naturally! . . .]

Mar 1 2011 5:00pm

Manly Men in Red High Heels: Alistair and Rothgar Bring It!

Jo Beverley’s DevilishAll fictional stories involve world building. Historical stories require world introduction, the conveyance of a sense of place and time that the characters are going to inhabit.

The further you go back in the mists of time, the more imaginative the knitting together of the bare (and barely available) facts needs to be to make the world seem plausible.

Take the Georgian period, which for the purposes of the historical romance novel is the mid- to late 18th century to 1811. The glittering world of the nobility in Georgian England was symbolized by lavish fashions for men and women, culinary marvels, soaring architecture, and every other excess imaginable.

[How delicious! . . .]