I’m super excited about the sleek and sexy new cover for At Any Cost, my romantic suspense thriller featuring a Secret Service agent and his protectee. The release date is May 28. What do you think?
I made a vow to myself to only buy Kindle books from now on, with two and a half exceptions: cookbooks, and art books, and any other book that seems like I’d want to have it in physical form to either have as a memento for the wonderful emotional experience of reading it, or because I want to underline and make notes in it. I’ve failed miserably. It is just so hard to resist books! Especially when they leap into your hands and you have them RIGHT THERE, teasing you with a tempting plot and scrummy characters. I think I need to make a new vow: to read however I want to read, whether e-book or physical book or both.
Dear Author recently published a controversial article calling for the death of the historical romance novel. The central idea was that the historical needs to die and be born again into something less predictable and formulaic.
I’ve been mulling over this proposition for a week, trying to figure out how I feel about it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t love the idea. I find that with the historicals I love, I found because I want exactly what historicals have traditionally offered: the landed gentry, the restrained courtship of the day, the lovely subtlety that the Regency period in particular provides.
There are some who manage to produce amazing, vivid, beautiful, wrenching novels from these constraints. Authors like Sarah MacLean, Meredith Duran, and Sherry Thomas have lifelong fans in me. They respect the era while also delivering fresh stories. Other authors take the trope and try to infuse a modern sensibility into it and it fails. I’ve read historicals that really should be contemporaries. That’s always frustrating – I pick up historicals because I want historicals, not because I want a revised historical, sterilized of all controversy (i.e., the lack of women’s agency, slavery).
I concede that Regency novels may be overdone. But whose fault is that? The way I see it, if readers craved steampunk historicals or novels about Revolutionary America publishers would publish them.
Maybe authors are locked into the Regency period because that is such a romantic period, the low hanging fruit of lovely dresses, pretty balls, and rich, gallant dukes. Maybe it is lazy, but those books sure do go down easy.
And they’re not just fluff, at least not always. Meredith Duran’s A Lady’s Lesson In Scandal brought to life London’s East End poverty in a way I’ve never experienced before, even through my own research. I actually learned something in that book. I’m not sure I could have really pictured the grittiness of Bethnal Green without that book. That book really stands out as an example of what historical romance can be.
I’m still waiting to find a romance set in the medieval period that would affect me the same way. I’ve read a lot of time travel romance from that era, and it is nearly always disappointing, but that means the market is wide open for both authors and publishers. And how about we move away from England and look at the rest of Europe? I’ve been craving some great French historicals and have found little to satisfy. The rest of the world – from China to the Caribbean – is also untapped. Secrets of Sin by Chloe Harris, an erotic romance, took place in the Caribbean, and while I enjoyed the book, it didn’t feel very historical.
There is a lot of room for expansion and improvement in the genre, but to see it wither before that great reformation? No way. I believe that I will try my hand at a Regency within the next three years. I might not actually succeed at it, but I have an idea brewing and I’d like to try.
I just hope the genre doesn’t die before I get my hands on it.
I’ve been really lucky this past week-to-ten days. I’ve read some truly excellent books.
Star Island by Carl Haaisan. Funny and ridiculous. I will read anything he writes.
Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings (AKA Lisa Marie Rice). Wow. This was a shockingly good romantic suspense – better than the other Lisa Marie Rice books I’ve read. I loved it. Will definitely read more of her.
Rush Limbaugh, An Army of One by Zev Chafets. A good bio, though I felt like I knew most of the material because Rush Limbaugh is a pretty open guy on his radio show.
Sea Fever by Virginia Kantra. This was the second of the “Children of the Sea” series and I loved it. Her writing is just delicious. So good and so specific. I have bought the rest of the series.
Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing A Lord by Sarah MacLaughlin. I love her, I will read anything by her, and I loved this funny, smart, sweet follow-up to Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake.
Making Waves by Tawna Fenske. Not my favorite, but very cute. A quick, light read.
And one really bad one:
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg by Susan Donovan. I have a spotty relationship with Susan Donovan’s books. Some of her earlier books are still my favorites. And some are just … not. This one falls into the latter. I found it cliched, unsexy, with a hero and a heroine who are both too stupid to live. I was glad when it was over. I have one more of these books from the Dogwalker series. The first one was a delight. I’m praying the next one follows the trend of the first one, and not this rather unfortunate book.
1. Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra. I loved this book. The selkie legend is fresh – not too overdone in today’s crowded paranormal market. I loved the heroine and the hero. There were no TSTL moments. Sex was hot. The emotion was real. The setting was three-dimensional Definitely loved it – I’ve bought the others in the series.
2. Making Waves by Tawna Fenske. This one has had a lot of press; I’ve seen it mentioned all over Twitter and blogs so I bought it. There are some cute lines – really cute lines – and it’s a cute, fast read. I thought it was perhaps a little too slight, though. I skimmed some of the last pages, and didn’t feel like I missed anything when I picked it back up at the end. I gave it three stars on Goodreads – it’s not my favorite, but this is a new author with a lot of promise. I’ll buy her next one.
3. Fade to Black by Shannon McKenna. I should preface this by saying I love Shannon McKenna’s books. I’ve read all of them, and I plan to continue reading them. That said, I want my money back for this book.
Before I get to the substantive stuff, I’ll point out that McKenna is in dire need of an editor. This book had typos all over the place. “Lights shown from his eyes.” “He as dead.” “Have gave.” “Incounter”. Are you effing kidding me? I paid $8 for this book – I expect it to be a little more polished than your average internet rant. Also, my version of the book isn’t listed on Goodreads – this was a mass market and it was 616 pages, about 200 pages too long.
Unfortunately the bad presentation could not be assuaged by an amazing book. The premise was wonderful and I loved the “idea” of the book. But the execution failed. There was a weird lack of heat between Edie and Kev. Normally McKenna’s sex scenes are scorching. Not so in this book. What really drove me crazy was the inconsistent characterization. Kev was an amazing character at first . He was gentler and more relaxed than his brothers from the other books. Not an alpha asshole hero. But then one time, he pulls that “I don’t want to have sex with you because I won’t be able to stop” crap and it just ruined it for me.
Their fights were ridiculous and stupid. Completely contrived to give conflict to the plot; I didn’t believe a word of them.
Ugh, I’m just so frustrated with this book. What happened to Shannon McKenna? Where is the Shannon McKenna of the almost perfect prose? The Shannon McKenna who grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go? The Shannon McKenna who makes you swoon? Where ever she is, she’s not present in this book at all.
I have Blood and Fire, the book after this, in my TBR pile and frankly I’m afraid to pick it up.
4. Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing A Lord by Sarah MacLean. I fell in love with this series with Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake, which was only the second five star rating I’ve given to fiction on Goodreads (the first was to 1984 by George Orwell.)
This sophomore book did not fail. As richly detailed as the first, Ten Ways To Be Adored absolutely delivers believable characters, a scorching hot romance, and shocking tenderness.
One particularly appealing aspect was though the characters from the first book made an appearance, it was not overdone. Nor was it the treacle we get from a lot of follow up books.
I could not have asked for more from this reading experience. It just totally works for me.
Eleven is in my TBR pile and MacLean’s next book (release date in April, I believe) has been pre-ordered. She is an auto-buy for me. Love her, love her, love her.
I rather thought this delivery would bear more fruit. Alas, I’ve two more shipments en route for this one order. I love the cover of “A Lady’s Lesson In Scandal” by Meredith Duran. Very dramatic and lovely. The cover for “Eleven Scandals To Start To Win A Duke’s Heart” is a rather lurid shade of pink; I don’t think I’ve encountered hot pink on a historical romance before. The Carl Hiaasen is for comic relief; is books are always absurd and I love them.