Thursday, January 28, 2010
It's pre-launch week. Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch at 4:39 AM EST on February 7th. It's the last night launch for the Shuttle program, which is kind of cool.
Know what's less cool?? 4:39 AM.
On Super Bowl Sunday. It's totally fine though. I'm not bitter.
Not at all.
Anyway, it's doubtful there will be any blog-love from me until I get back from the launch on Monday, February 8. 'Til then, y'all behave!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
TV: I checked my DVR last night, I have twelve, count them twelve episodes of TV on it that need to be watched. And that's after I watched Private Practice (why am I sticking with this show when it's perfectly wretched?!) and an episode of The Big Bang Theory last night. I also just read that How I Met Your Mother was renewed for a sixth season. Is anyone else starting to really think it's time to, you know, actually MEET the mother?
Reading: Truth, I've got a review due at the end of this week, and I'm not enjoying the book at all. It's not that it's not well written. Oh no, it is gorgeously crafted. I just...don't really enjoy the author's style. Which means the review is going to be tough for me to write. Unless my level of interest in the story increases. Anyway. To combat the listlessness I feel about this book, I keep picking up OTHER books. First was Kristan Higgins' new release The Next Best Thing. I quite enjoyed it. But it's not my favorite by her. I believed the heroine's issues, but DAMN the hero was perfect and she was all "no thanks, I'm good" which I found frustrating (as usual). Now I'm finally reading Hard to Hold by Stephanie Tyler. And no surprise, I find the hero, Jake to be delicious. I love, love, love me some Navy SEALs. Thank goodness I've got the second book sitting on my shelf.
eReader: My eReader should be delivered tomorrow (Hurray!). I can't wait to load up a couple of ebooks on it and get to reading. First will be Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh (smooches to Nalini for sending it to me early). I'm beside myself to get started. I'll be playing with it all weekend, I'm quite sure.
Movies: I withstood ALL the Twilight drama, refusing to pay good money to see it in the theater or to rent it on Pay-per-View. But it's now on Showtime. I see a viewing of it in my very near future. I really enjoyed the first book, so I'm expecting to enjoy the movie too. Plus, I loves me some broody teen angst.
What's going on with you guys? Anything good? What are you reading?
Monday, January 25, 2010
Anyway, we had some very good fashion for the SAGs with only a couple of misses (by two lovely women), so on to the fashion:
I thought Christina Applegate's dress was truly lovely. Gorgeous color, fitted perfectly, showing the appropriate amount of skin and just beautiful.
I find Diane Kruger to be very hit or miss. Besides the fact that she does have delicious arm candy (Joshua Jackson), she can sometimes go a little far out. This dress is lovely. Beautifully fitted and she looks very statuesque in it. I'm not sold on the color, but think that it probably doesn't translate as well in photos as it did live.
ETA! I totally forgot Christina Hendricks. This dress was actually chosen by fans. This isn't the most flattering picture of her, but she looked absolutely luscious in it.
She's young, and she has a glorious body, but I just don't understand why Anna Pacquin is constantly in the plunging necklines. This one in particular left me a bit cold. The shoes are fantastic with the dress. But again, I dunno, I just, didn't love it.
I think this dress is risky. The fabric is such that every bump and nook and cranny shows. And there was a shot from behind Kate Hudson on stage where I was like, "Her ass looks kind of lumpy", which of course, it's not. I like the look of it, and I think that it's lovely, I just wish the fabric had been of a different material.
Grade: C +
I think Julianna Margulies must be kind of shocked at how well The Good Wife is being received. It's one of my favorite new shows on TV. But I'm irritated with the fact that she continues to choose dresses that do nothing to flatter her seriously bangin' bod. This dress is just wrong. Good color, wrong fabric, weird neckline = Unflattering
Memo to Carey Mulligan: Contact Keira Knightly's stylist immediately. No seriously. Because even if you don't love Keira Knightly, the girl knows how to dress on a red carpet. This dress looks like she pulled the curtains down from her living room windows and attached a brooch to them. It's a very, very bad look on a tiny, waiflike girl who is definitely adorable.
Oh Julie Bowen. Oh Julie. What am I going to do with you? This dress is unflattering in the extreme. Did you buy it off the rack? Is that why it's fitted so badly to your bod? Which I happen to know, having just seen you in your undies in last week's episode of Modern Family, is FANTASTIC! So, why? Why would you do this to yourself?
Drew Barrymore is known for doing a "look" on the red carpet. And I sort of get what she's going for here. But doesn't her dress look a bit like the rings of Saturn? And did she have sex in the limo on the way over? Why does her hair look so bad. I'm just, at a loss.
What fashions did you like from the SAG Awards? Who did I miss?
Friday, January 22, 2010
Today I bought a Sony eReader Pocket Edition (the pink one, of course). I figured to start small. I'm not even sure how I'll like this e-book thing. I've read a few e-books, but always on my computer, which I've always found ponderous. So this is a new leaf for me. I popped over to the Sony site this morning and discovered they were having a sale until tomorrow. So the eReader that would normally cost $199 was discounted to $179. It was serendipity.
So now I enter the world of the e-book sophisticates. I'd imagine I'll spend some time this weekend perusing Calibre and pouring over Teddy Pig's site to figure out what the heck it is I'm doing. I can hardly wait to get started! Yay!
So, eReader sophisticates, what advice do you have for me? Any programs I should check out immediately? Any other advice? Do you have an eReader? And if so, which one? And do you love it?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The book, published in 1995, has a definite old school feel to it. First, there is a rape in it. No, this is definitely NOT forced seduction. The hero absolutely rapes the heroine. It is an act of power, and an act of sheer brutality. He does it because he can. And it's harrowing to read. Second, the story is completely character driven. There is quite a conflict between the characters, but there is no ancillary nonsense going on. It is strictly a love story, which is wonderful. Third, and I think most compelling for me, is the redemption of the hero. Sebastian Verlaine is a Very Bad Man. And the route that Gaffney takes to attempt to redeem him is one that was fascinating to read.
Suave, cynical, and too handsome for his own good, Sebastian Verlaine never expects to become a magistrate judging the petty crimes of his tenants and neighbors. Nor can the new Viscount D’Aubrey foresee that, when a fallen woman appears before him, he’ll find himself beguiled against all reason to alter her terrible fate....
Rachel Wade has served time in prison for her husband’s violent death, but she soon discovers that freedom has its own price. For no one will offer her a second chance but a jaded viscount who needs a housekeeper. Scorned by the townspeople of Wyckerley as D’Aubrey’s mistress, tempted beyond her will by the devilish lord, Rachel risks all she had to claim a life of her own...and a love that will last for all time.
Rachel is has been released after 10 years in prison, but is arrested again for indigence. She claims to have been robbed of her money, and was returned to Wyckerley, the site of her first trial to stand trial again. Sebastian is immediately fascinated by this woman. She's tall and thin, she has dark hair, except for a thick strand of gray at her temple. She refuses to make eye contact, she's practically concave, she's so determined not to offer any offense. More than that, she shows absolutely no emotion. She's a blank slate. And with that, Sebastian finds his newest distraction. He decides to take her into his custody as his housekeeper. There she'll work off her fine and report to the sheriff once a week to check in on her parole. But more than that, Sebastian will seduce her, and toy with her, and make her his entertainment.
Rachel is fully cognizant of his plan. She realizes that by accepting the posting, she will be subject to both Sebastian's whims and to his use of her body. She feels she has no other choice, despite the fact that she has no experience as a housekeeper. She agrees to his offer, and they travel to Lynton Hall.
They begin a tortuous relationship, with Sebastian constantly pushing Rachel to do things that make her uncomfortable, constantly trying to break down that facade of emotionlessness. It's all a game to him. Except that there is the tiniest inkling of interest in him, which of course, he squashes.
Rachel suffers from nightmares about prison. One night, when she wakes from one, she goes to the library to find the dullest book possible to put her to sleep. Sure enough, the book works, but when she awakes, moments after falling asleep Sebastian is there. And with little to no feeling he tells her that it's time. And then he rapes her. The scene is brutal, horrible, and truly shocking. The entire time I was reading it, all I could think was, "You bastard!" and "No possible way Gaffney can redeem him."
As regular readers of this blog know, I'm a proud member of the romance old school. While I understand the complaints that many readers have about forced seduction scenes, I love many old school romances that have forced seduction in them. But this scene pushed at my limits. There was no emotion. No eventual capitulation. Rachel never felt anything except horror at what was happening to her.
Soon after this, Sebastian invites some of his most dissolute acquaintances from London to visit him. He forces Rachel to act as his hostess. One of his guests, Sully, is actually the heir to Rachel's dead husband. And quickly, the guests begin looking at Rachel as a game. Sebastian allows them to toy with her, asking horrible, invasive questions, and forcing her to answer. Until Rachel finally flees the room. Sully asks Sebastian whether Rachel is his, to which Sebastian answers no. And Sully leaves to go find Rachel, to force her to have sex with him.
No one spoke for a moment, then they all spoke at once, in low voices full of lewd enjoyment and manufactured shock. Sebastian couldn't hear the words over the soft buzzing in his ears. Something was tearing inside. Something was coming completely apart.[...]
He felt the tear down the middle of himself widening, and that was wrong it shoudl have been narrowing. He'd just done a thing to make himself whole again. [...]
Something happened then. He wasn't on the piano bench with Kitty on his lap. He was halfway across the room. He heard a snap in his head, exactly like a bone breaking, and at once the eerie fugue state evaporated. His past and his future had broken cleanly in two. This, now, was the present, a violent limbo he had to smash his way out of to survive.
And with that, Sebastian goes and rescues Rachel from Sully's attempted rape.
It is after this, Sebastian realizes what a bastard he has been. And he slowly, gradually begins to attempt to befriend Rachel. For her part, Rachel has literally never had someone take an interest in her. Her experience with her husband and in prison has left her emotionally scarred and bereft. Sebastian begins to woo her. By apologizing for his treatment of her, by giving her small gifts, by nurturing a friendship that would encourage her to confide in him. And as they get to know each other, their attraction grows. Soon they are lovers again, and are both truly happy and are falling in love. Rachel knows that Sebastian will leave Lynton Hall at some point, and she keeps telling herself to enjoy what she has now. But Sebastian keeps pushing at her barriers, and wants to know Rachel completely. And soon she's fallen for him utterly.
I liked Rachel tremendously. In fact, if I were to do my favorite heroines again, I believe I would list her. But I couldn't get over how Sebastian victimized her. And in the end, I'm not able to say that I completely loved this book. I admire the prose and the characterization, the pacing, the setting and the plot. But Sebastian's brutality just isn't something I can forgive.
Final grade: C-
I'm playing with the fabulous Carolyn Crane (better known to me as CJ). We're talking about one of my all time favorite romances, All Through The Night by Connie Brockway, which I forced CJ to read. Come join us at The Thrillionth Page.
I'm also playing with Kate today, reviewing Beyond the Night, the first in Joss Ware's new Envy series. Come see whether I loved the book at Babbling About Books.
I hope you'll come join us!
Monday, January 18, 2010
All of that changes when William Chase walks inter her office. Chase runs Extreme Excavation, and, well, he blows things up for a living. He's got tattoos, and drives a pick-up truck, and is everything she does NOT want in a man. He takes one look at Jane and is intrigued. She's all buttoned down and uptight, and he's just sure there's more to the story. He asks her out, and she politely declines. He shrugs it off, but gives her his number anyway.
A few nights later, Jane decides (after a few adult beverages) that she's going to have one night of trashy sex to celebrate her birthday. She decides that Chase is the guy. She calls him, he accepts and they end up having decidedly steamy sex at his place. But when he gets up to get in the shower, she bails. Unfortunately, Chase is thinking this is the beginning of a possible relationship, and Jane is thinking that perhaps they can use each other for sex. Will they ever be able to work it out?
I was thrilled to read this book and truly enjoy it. The first two this series just didn't work for me, when they seemed to work for every other romance reader in the world.
OK, I'll be willing to admit it, Chase just totally worked for me on every level. No really. EVERY level. He was hot, self-aware, protective, apparently excellent in the sack, and had tattoos. He's everything I love in a romance hero. And I loved how he worked to thaw out Jane and help her through her issues. I actually enjoyed Jane, and usually, I end up having a high level of annoyance with heroines who push perfect heroes away. But I understood Jane's reluctance, and I thought that Dahl gave her a terrific back story that was completely credible and justified her actions throughout the book. This book was entertaining, quick and wonderfully engaging. I'm thrilled to be able to say I'm on the Victoria Dahl bandwagon.
Final grade: A
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Here's the book blurb:
It was a gamble she was born to make…
Raised in a brothel at a young age, Allegra Synnford quickly learned that survival meant taking charge of her destiny. Now, a renowned courtesan skilled in the pleasures of the flesh, she chooses her lovers carefully—vowing never to be vulnerable to any one man. Until a mesmerizing Sheikh strips that control from her…
With a man who wasn’t used to losing.
Sheikh Shaheen of the Amazigh has been hiding from his past for a long time, but not enough to forget how another courtesan made him abandon his life as the Viscount Newcastle. It’s why the yearnings this dangerous temptress ignites within him are so troubling. Worse, thoughts of Allegra pervade every fantasy, threatening to undermine his cover. With old enemies circling, experience tells him he must resist her charms at all cost. In fact, he’s betting on it. That’s a risky wager when it comes to a woman of pleasure. But Allegra has her own reasons for playing games…with a man who can’t afford to lose.
What happens between them is Kismet…
First, thanks to Kati for asking me to come chat on her blog. I’ve known Kati for a while now, and she continually amazes me with her knowledge about romance and her ability to analyze a book. So on with the post.
Valentino. Does that name conjure up any images to mind? Perhaps Valentino as the arrogant lover in that silent movie classic The Sheik? It’s a famous flick, and it solidified Valentino’s star quality. The guy was bigger than Brad Pitt or Gerard Butler in his own time. More than 100,000 women attended his funeral. So what was it about the guy and his portrayal of a Sheikh that had women gaga over him?
I’m not sure, because I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie
and I confess the acting doesn’t impress me all that much, nor does the Valentino’s looks, and I’m Italian!! LOL Still, I can appreciate the movie and his reputation as classic. Over the years, I’ve seen or read several books and movies involving a Sheikh (this is the accurate spelling). Lawrence of Arabia is one of my favorite. In fact, I listened to the theme regularly when I was rewriting my Berkley Sensation release Kismet. I don’t know why, but I found Alec Guiness delicious as a powerful Sheikh. Then there’s Oded Fehr who played the Arabic Medjai warrior in the Mummy movies. The hero in my book Mirage was inspired by Oded Fehr . So I guess you could say that I have a thing for the desert and hot-blood alpha males dressed in flowing robes.
And in Kismet, my Sheikh is a hot-blooded alpha all the way. Shaheen, aka Robert Camden, Viscount Newcastle, is a man who was thrown into the desert to die, but a Bedouin finds him and saves his life. Over the years, he’s come to love the simple life of the nomad, and Allegra, the heroine of Kismet, throws a major kink in his plans for helping his adopted family, not to mention his ability to control his lust. As for Allegra, she’s always controlled her destiny, but Shaheen rips the control of her fate out of her hands. It puts her in a vulnerable position, something that Shaheen finds not only alluring, but it arouses his protective instincts. The push and pull between these characters is something I love. Check out my excerpt for an example.
So tell me, do you find Sheikh heroes appealing? If so, why? If you don’t think they’re all that, that’s cool too, just tell me why. You never know, I might be able to coerce you to the dark side. *grin*
Visit Monica at: www.MonicaBurns.com
Buy Kismet here (Amazon)or here (B&N). You'll be glad you did!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I remember at the time being all "Whoa!" and at the same time "No!"
Now look, I am *not* someone who is particular about the classics. I'm FAR more likely to get outraged by someone re-doing a classic song than I am a classic book. But the premise of her book seemed to be taking things a step too far. Especially when we're talking about book as well-beloved at Pride & Prejudice. My roommate reads almost any tale that adds on to an Austen book. She loves sequels and books that continue the stories. Mostly because she adores Austen and will stop and watch any Austen movie, special, documentary, etc. And she'll buy just about anything that takes an Austen story a bit further. But I know she'd be horrified by this premise.
It also got me to thinking about Colette Gale's books. I remember there being a ton of hoopla over Unmasqued, her first book, which reimagined The Phantom of the Opera. And Christine ends up with the Phantom. People seemed to either love it or hate it. Me? Loved it. But then again, I don't have strong feelings about that particular work. She also reimagined The Count of Monte Cristo (Master) and the Robin Hood tale (Bound by Honor). I enjoyed all of those stories, but I also really understood why they made some readers react virulently.
Here's the book blurb for Pride/Prejudice: A Novel of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and Their Other Loves:
A Pride and Prejudice for the twenty-first century.
Jane Austen's most popular novel has enthralled generations of readers, as proud Mr. Darcy meets his match in witty and prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet. But only now can the hidden story be told, of the two parallel loves that complicate this ideal romance: Darcy's controlling affection for the gentlemanlike Charles Bingley; and the sympathetic intimacy between Elizabeth and her more practical friend, Charlotte Lucas.
Pride/Prejudice "fills the gaps" in Austen's story, daring to imagine the full truth suggested by the original. What is Darcy's real motivation for preventing Bingley's marriage to Elizabeth's beautiful and virtuous sister Jane? How can Darcy reconcile his desire for Elizabeth with his determination to save his friend from a similar entanglement? And what is the disturbing history behind Darcy's tortured relationship with his foster brother, George Wickham?
Now P/P brings to light all the buried secrets, weaving a tale of intertwined passions that must be resolved through honesty and forgiveness, the humbling of pride and freedom from prejudice.
In this retelling of a classic work, love truly conquers all.
So, what do you think? Is it ever OK to re-imagine a classic? Are there lines that shouldn't be crossed?
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Last night I had drinks and nachos with the ridiculously adorable Charlotte (AKA: Lusty Reader). First, Charlotte's one of those crazy smart people. Second, she and I have both been reading romance a long time (much longer for me because I'm at minimum a decade older than her). But we agree about our love of the old school. Anyway, the conversation was wide ranging, but at the end we got to talking about the Black Dagger Brotherhood. She hated the first book and didn't go any further, but wondered about all of the hoopla about Butch and V and their relationship. Given that Butch's book is where I began my disenchantment with BDB, I was telling her about my email exchange with the lovely Stacy, who I practically share a romance mind with. I remember so vividly finishing Butch's book and being so pissed off I wanted to throw it and then sending a fully realized hissy fit to Stacy via email.
You see, the first three books had been near perfect reads for me. Sure the names were silly, as was the brand dropping, and gangsta rap name checking, but the love stories worked for me on every level. And then Butch happened. As I was telling Charlotte about the book (the whole relationship between Butch and V), I could hear how ridiculous it all sounded. But that the time, I'll never forget how bitter I was. I'd been SO invested in that series, and then she wrote Lover Revealed, and I was...disenchanted. Then she wrote Lover Unbound, and I was even more pissed off. I ranted, I raved, I bitched. OK, sure I've kept reading, but not spending dollars on her books. Now I see them more for what they are: a combination of compulsively readable and eminently frustrating books.
Why am I so disenchanted with Ward? Mostly because she really has a deft hand with romance, and yet, she insists on not writing romance. Any more, the romances in the series get barely a nod. Which is frustrating to me.
Anyway, there are a number of authors who I've become frustrated with. Christine Feehan, whose books I loved when I first discovered them, but I stopped reading years ago when I realized there are other authors who do it so much better. Laura Lee Guhrke is another. I adore Guilty Pleasures and His Every Kiss. And even some of her others. But lately her writing does nothing for me. Linda Howard is another. I own all of her older stuff. I've long considered her to be among the best at writing sexual tension. But her new stuff doesn't work for me on any level. It's romantic suspense with a very minor emphasis on "romantic." I've been buying Howard's books in hardcover for years. But this last book, which I got as an audiobook was my last.
So it got me to thinking, how many chances are enough for a beloved author? When do you stop buying them, and either start renting or borrow them from a friend? When do you stop reading them altogether?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I've blogged before about my all encompassing love for The West Wing. First, it speaks to my politics. Second, it speaks to the higher calling that I truly believe those who serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States feel. Third, it got Bradley Whitford on my television screen on a weekly basis.
I adore Brad Whitford. More than that, I adored Josh Lyman. Lyman encompassed the ideals, the drive, the little bit of dirty that I think a lot of political operatives have. Plus, his tension with his assistant, Donna Moss is some of the best on TV (Casey and Dana from SportsNight notwithstanding). I always loved that Bradley Whitford was married to Jane Kaczmarek, who I thought was such a strong comedic actress. I was truly sorry to hear that they were getting divorced. Even more so when I saw that he's grown what can only be described as truly unfortunate facial hair, because I truly believe if he had a wife, she would have said to him:
"Oh Brad. Honey, no. No, no, no, no, no!!"
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I decided to read Till the Stars Fall Down first. The book was published in 1994, and while it has a slightly dated feel, the writing is still fresh and compelling. The book tells the story of Krissa and Danny French, brother and sister who live in Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota. They come from a mining community, and they live in a very tense household. Their father has been injured in a mining accident and has been relegated to a light work position within the mine. This has made their father, always a difficult man, even surlier. Danny and Krissa are very different kids. Danny is a loner, a musician and someone who is very independent. Krissa is a people pleaser. A straight A student and a girl who just wants to get through school and fulfill her future, which is probably getting married to a miner and having a bunch of kids. But Danny dreams of getting off the Range and making a future for himself that is bigger and better than anything he can achieve at home. He resolves to improve his studies and go to an Ivy League college. Krissa helps him improve his study habits and do what he needs to so he can fulfill his dream. Soon Danny is accepted at Princeton, and it is there that his story really begins.
Danny meets Quinn Hunter, the golden child of a wealthy family, Quinn is pretty much just coasting through life, loved but neglected by his parents, until he meets Danny at an audition for Princeton's elite singing group. He and Danny have perfectly matched voices, and they begin to realize that their gifts complement each other. Soon the only thing they want to do is sing. Quinn writes the lyrics, Danny writes the music. And together, they form a band, Dodd Hall. In no time, Dodd Hall is touring up and down the east coast and increasing in popularity.
In the Spring, Krissa comes to visit Danny at Princeton and meets Quinn for the first time. Quinn is spellbound. He wants nothing more than to be alone with Krissa. Of course, she's his best friend and partner's little sister, so she's completely out of bounds. But the more time he spends with her, the more he wants her. Krissa is not immune to Quinn, but she's determined to have her own life. But she's accepted into Bryn Mawr and is soon put to work for Dodd Hall keeping their books and helping keep things organized for the guys. Soon Dodd Hall is signed to a record contract and the band begins to take off. Krissa stays in school and but flies each weekend to meet the guys wherever they are. At this point, she and Quinn have begun a relationship and she's becoming more and more integral to the operation of Dodd Hall. Quinn wants her to drop out of school and marry him. But she refuses knowing that she needs to keep some part of herself separate from the band. The more Dodd Hall's popularity grows, the more difficult it becomes for the guys to live a regular life. They're recognized everywhere, and they become more limited in what they can do, even as their wealth rises and they rely more and more on Krissa to keep it real for them. Krissa begins to feel her life is being consumed by Dodd Hall. And she informs the guys that she will be taking the last semester of college off from the band. She will not be traveling with them, and she will not be meeting them. They must operate without her.
It quickly becomes evident that Krissa is imperative to Dodd Hall's operation. She keeps peace between Danny and Quinn and she mediates disagreements. Both Danny and Quinn are calling her daily, airing grievances and expecting her to fix their issues. Krissa begs their manager to tell them that she doesn't want to hear from either of them. She decides to escape both of them by going home for Spring Break. While there, she rekindles a friendship with Jerry Aarensson, a guy she knew in high school. Jerry is everything Quinn is not. He's calm, and confident, and kind. He puts Krissa first, and is a much simpler guy. Their relationship becomes more serious after they sleep together on the last night of Spring Break.
Danny receives a phone call from Krissa telling him that she's married Jerry. Of course, this is a shock to Quinn who thought that he and Krissa were still together. It sets off a series of events that leads the band to its downfall.
Seidel is a remarkably strong story teller. Till the Stars Fall alternates between scenes throughout the 70s and the 90s, when Quinn and Krissa reacquaint themselves. The story unfolds slowly building from Krissa and Danny's childhood, to the formation of Dodd Hall, to the band's downfall, to Krissa and Quinn reconnecting. It's gorgeously written, offering beautiful inner monologues for each character. We immediately see Krissa's desperation at being consumed by Quinn and Danny, and her heartache at being pulled between the two of them. We understand Quinn's all consuming love for Krissa, and his need to have her near him always. We never really understand Danny, who is selfish, and difficult and slow to trust. The story has the feel of a saga, one that reminds me a bit of the books that Katherine Stone used to write. Except, much better. The writing is strong and deft and Seidel does a wonderful job infusing scenes with emotion and creating immensely likable characters. This book was a delight, start to finish and one that will immediately take its place on my keeper shelves.
Final Grade: A
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Payton Kendall, Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James - I'll be honest, Julie's heroines do it for me. They are smart, driven, kickass and always funny. They're also remarkably self-aware. I love Payton for one specific scene in the book. It's a courtroom scene where her skinny pencil skirt splits. She's in the middle of giving her closing arguments, and she handles it with humor and grace. It made me fall for her utterly.
Eve Dallas, in Death series, JD Robb - Ah, Eve. She's all dark and twisty. And she's troubled, and tough as nails, but with this soft gooey inside that makes me smile. I love that she's so un-girly most of the time. And yet, she's mush about her husband, and she is at her core, a generous and loyal friend and loved one. I love that she does the right thing, even when it's hard. It would be hard not to love Eve. She's one in a million, and Nora Roberts' best creation (um, other than Roarke, of course!).
Blair Mallory, To Die For and Drop Dead Gorgeous by Linda Howard - Now, alot of readers don't like Blair. She's manipulative, and canny, and devious, and fully southern. But I love her. I love how funny she is. I love that she is completely unashamed to use her sex, her petiteness, or any other tool available to her to get what she wants. She is totally high maintenance, and does not even remotely bother to hide it. She's all "Love me, love my attitude." I adore her. She never fails to make me smile.
Merry Patricia Widling, The Windflower by Tom and Sharon Curtis - Oh, I know this one is going to get some people going. Merry starts of as your typical missish historical heroine. But what makes The Windflower my favorite book is the Merry progresses throughout the book. She evolves. The story is over the top, and practically every bad thing you can think of happens to her, but by the end of the story, she's a stronger and more interesting person and it makes her a favorite of mine.
Lady Jennifer Merrick, A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught - I love me some Jenny. She's kidnapped by her father's sworn enemy and uses her wiles, intelligence and the limited resources available to her to antagonize the most dangerous man in England. She does things like sew the sleeves of all of his men's shirts shut, she takes advantage of her sister's allergy to get her sister to safety, and most of all she has this wonderful sense of humor and sauciness that tests and pushes at Royce constantly. This was the first romance I read where I found myself laughing out loud at passages.
Haven Travis, Blue Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas - Haven's journey is such an emotional one. She's independent to her core, but after finding the courage to leave an incredibly abusive husband, she finds herself in the difficult position of having to move on with her life and dependent on others to help her. Granted, she has a wonderful family support system, but she must find it within herself to recover and revitalize. Her journey is such an emotional one. One that brings me to tears every time I read it.
Katherine (Kate) Powell, Holding the Dream by Nora Roberts - Oh, how I love Kate. Adopted into a fabulously wealthy family, Kate is the ultimate "A-type" personality. She's an accountant, and her entire life is about order. Until she meets Byron de Witt, and executive with her family's hotel business. He turns her life upside down and makes her understand that order isn't the most important thing. What I love about Kate is that underneath her vibrating, A-type personality is someone who feels so much. It's a revelation watching her fall in love.
Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy, the Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Colleen Gleason - Victoria discovers on her the eve of her societal debut that she is aa Venator. One who is destined to hold back the vampire evil that menaces the world. Determined to continue with her debut, Victoria must balance the wishes of her ambitious Mama and her sworn responsibility to rid the world of vampires. What I like about this book is that Gleason never ever gives Victoria the easy way. She is constantly tested, suffers great losses and must choose between two delicious men. It is a brilliantly conceived series and Victoria is one of my very favorite heroines.
Chastity O'Neill, Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins - I love Chas. She comes from a family of fire fighters -- the only girl in the bunch. She's a big girl, smart and athletic. And has been in love with the same guy forever. I love that Chas embraces her size, and strength. And I love that she does stuff that scares her. I wish that the love story had been perhaps slightly more fleshed out in this book, but the book focuses on Chastity's growth as a character.
Lady Jessica Trent, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase - I've yet to ever read a heroine who outdoes Jessica for sheer backbone, strength and wit. She's smart, outrageous, loyal and rarely shocked by anything. Plus, she knows how to put a man in his place. She is easily my all time favorite heroine ever.
And there you have it. My 10 favorite heroines in romance. This list was harder to put together than the heroes list.
Who have I forgotten? Who are your favorite romance heroines?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?
Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.
That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.
For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.
A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.
Monday, January 4, 2010
I hope each of you had a fantastic holiday season. Mine was lovely and crazed, as usual. I actually didn't take the time off, and instead came to work each day. Which was fine, but weird. On New Year's Eve, there were exactly four out of about 30 people in my department in the office. It makes it quite difficult to focus when you know everyone else on the planet is off. Anyway, on to the New Year, whatever it may be called.
I really have no specific blog topic in mind, so I'm going to ramble.
1- Thank goodness football is over here in DC. This season was interminable, and awful and frankly reminds me that mediocrity is actually better than going 4-12. The good news is, the Skins have already fired Jim Zorn, and hopefully will bring in a coach with some, you know, experience. Plus, we get the fourth pick in the draft. Now, if we can just figure out a way to pick an offensive lineman, or a good QB, that would be delightful. Additional good news? I'm now no longer invested in how the rest of the season goes. Except that I'd prefer it if neither the Cowboys or the Eagles go to the Super Bowl. The fact that I just typed that, of course, means that one or the other will. SIGH.
2- I did no reading this weekend. Which is surprising because Scott spent almost all of the this weekend with his nose stuck in Stephen King's new book, Under the Dome. I spent most of it watching Indiana Jones movies on On Demand and chattering at him while he grunted in response. Which I should have expected, since that's what I do when people talk to me while I'm reading. I did get my review of Hidden Fire by Jo Davis done for Kate. I think it's going to be posted on Wednesday.
3- I bought two pairs of pants and two sweaters at Ann Taylor Loft this weekend. This makes me happy. I'm still slowly stocking my closet with "big girl" clothes and ATL is my favorite place to go to buy big girl clothes. But usually I walk in there, pick up a pair of black pants and go "$80? For a pair of pants? Please." But I always love their after Christmas sales.
4- The rumors are true. I'm not going to RWA this year. I know, I know, after I was all giddy after last year's conference. I do promise I'm going to go back from 2011. But this year, instead of the conference, I'll be going on a cruise to the Bahamas. I really will miss being at RWA. I'm just going to miss it with a fruity cocktail in my hand.
5- I've come to the conclusion that I need to branch out cooking-wise. I realized this a few weeks ago when Scott made me risotto. Seriously AMAZING risotto. Y'all think I'm kidding, but he could jar and sell this stuff, it's that good. I paid him back by making Chicken Florentine. Which has like five ingredients. I'm a very boring cook. So, I'm going to see what I can do about trying to find some new and more interesting recipes. We'll see how that goes.
6- If you don't have it on your buying list, please consider picking up Kismet by Monica Burns. Sure, Mon is a friend. And OK, I beta read this book. But it is a seriously fun sheikh romance, which there absolutely are not enough of. On top of that, it has one of the most glorious covers I've seen in ages. Click here to buy it from B&N. FYI, Monica will be here at Katidom on January 15th.
7- TV's back, yay! Now, if we can just get to the LOST premier, which can't come soon enough for me, I'll be good! But this means we should be getting Grey's Anatomy, the Good Wife, and new Modern Family episodes soon. I can hardly wait!
I guess that's it for me. I know, yet another boring post. I promise, I'm going to come up with something really good soon. In the mean time, help a girl out, what have you cooked lately that is delicious? Anything? I seriously need to expand my horizons!