Often at Romantic Reads, BN.com's all-romance, all-the-time community board, I'm asked to recommend authors. And on my go-to list of any historical writers is Lisa Kleypas.
I've always appreciated Lisa's twinkling, witty dialogue; her ability to write characters who seem of their time period but also are identifiable in terms of their goals, wishes, secrets, and affections; and, in the delectable Wallflower series, to capture the importance of female friendships, even when (and maybe especially when!) falling for your one true love.
So I was thrilled when our Romantic Reads posters chose Lisa's Hathaway series as our Featured Reads for the month of August. Kicking off with Mine Till Midnight (Hathaway Series #1), Kleypas pairs Cam Rohan [introduced in The Devil in Winter (Wallflower Series #3)] with the practical, problem-solving Amelia Hathaway. Amelia's got her hands full with a grieving, drinking, despairing brother named Leo, a trio of sisters each with specific issues, and a sudden uptick in their family circumstances. Leo recently inherited both a cursed title and a crumbling castle, and it's up to Amelia to make their new life inhabitable. Then there's Cam, a half-gypsy with a knack for numbers and a hankering for the road, who can't ignore his feelings for Amelia.
The second in the series is Seduce Me at Sunrise (Hathaway Series #2), and as in the first book, Kleypas tackles the issue of prejudice.The hero here, Kev Merripen, is also a gypsy, and he has been in love with the sickly Winnifred Hathaway since he was a boy. Not only that, but he's got a new family connection to deal with - Cam. We're discussing these two beautifully crafted love stories all month, so come on over and tell us what your favorite Kleypas titles are - and don't worry, you're allowed to list her contemporaries (regulars at Romantic Reads know how gaga I am over those books too!)
If you missed our August visitors, you can still read our conversations with them here: Christina Dodd, Karen Hawkins, and Sandra Hill. And looking for ways to hide/store/proudly display your hundreds of romance books? We've been sharing war stories of mollifying husbands and mothers who aren't quite understanding our affair with our book collections. And of course, every Tuesday I post a list of new romance releases.
Missing Michelle? You don't have to! Head on over to Unabashedly Bookish to read her column about the connection between romance and opera, and what happens in our favorite genre when one gender masquerades as another.
So when BN.com Romantic Reads boards moderator Melanie Murray yesterday posted a comment on my Unabashedly Bookish column about romances featuring PTSD in characters, I knew I had today's H2H column in the bag.
"All of the heroes in Elizabeth Hoyt's Legend of the Four Soldiers series are damaged by their wartime experiences in the Colonies," Murray writes. "Alistair in 'To Beguile a Beast ' is physically scarred, but it's Samuel in 'To Taste Temptation' who bears the emotional scars that force him to run through the town to escape his horrible memories."
You may remember Sir Alistair Munroe from a column about "beastly" heroes I wrote a while back. In fact, read on as I repurpose a tad of it and inform you that, working as a naturalist, Monroe was taken captive and tortured during the French and Indian War, then returned to Scotland to hide away where his burned, mutilated face - missing an eye! - won't frighten children and missish chits. It takes the earnest, yet lusty love of a courtesan hiding her beloved children from her keeper, their father, to get Munroe to believe, not that he has a future, but that he may be able to give her a future and love.
To Desire a Devil . " But before I tell you about that novel's hero, dark n' broody Reynaud St. Aubyn, let me tell you about Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale. BTW, it's vEYE-count. No American romance reader emerged from the womb knowing how to enunciate it, though they may like you to think so.
Anywayz, Vale's jilted on his wedding day, but luckily Melisande, the kind-of-hot spinster pal of his un-betrothed, steps in to fill the bill. In that most scrumptious romance construct, she'll not give the happily cynical Vale her heart - but will offer her body. In the process, Vale has trouble hiding from Melisande the effects of his experiencing the nearly wholesale slaughter of his comrades on Colonial soil during an ambush - a raid which Vale's sure was set up by a traitor.
Vale and his fellow Hoyt heroes are struggling most with survivors' guilt, a part of their PTSD; they watched their fellow soldiers murdered and a friend tortured and burned alive by their Indian captors.
Or did they. For that man, Reynaud St. Aubyn was tortured brutally and marked to be burned alive by his captors, but wasn't the man Vale and the others saw immolated. Instead, St. Aubyn spent 7 years as a slave within an American Indian family.
After escaping and returning to England to reclaim his ancestral title, he's stricken with periods of dissociation and flashbacks in which footmen become foot soldiers and Mayfair streets become bloody American frontier battlefields. Soon his hyper vigilance becomes necessary when the one lovely English miss not cowed by his periodic ravings is threatened, and along with her his hold on what has become a hopeful, and sensual, link to what we'd call "recovery."
Hoyt's Legend of the Four Soldiers series is very cool, not just because it's really entertaining and sexy, but also because she uses a nifty little device of telling the actual soldiers' ‘legend' at the head of each chapter in each book. It adds a fairy tale-like flavor to the novels that enchants the struggles for hope and happiness within.
What do you like about Elizabeth Hoyt's novels? What did you dig about her Prince series; which are your faves? Should more historicals be written with some or all action set in America?
Greetings, Romance lovers! If you're like me, when you're done with a great novel you have a million questions about it. That's why one of my favorite things at Romantic Reads, BN.com's Romance forum, is our Author Visits.
So Into You is Sandra's latest Louisiana Bayou contemporary. For those of you familiar and in love with her Viking romances, I urge you to give this series a try. They all feature a wise crackin', matchmaking, folk healer named Tante Lulu. This go-round Tante Lulu's got her hands full with a pair of former best friends who've been burned by each other. Hijinx ensue but you know it'll resolve happily. She'll be at the board tomorrow, August 12th.
The next day, Thursday, August 13th, we'll be talking to Karen Hawkins, the author of
Sleepless in Scotland. This new MacLean series entry is about a canny English lady and the strapping Highlander who compromises her thoroughly, Hugh MacLean. Karen will be sharing everything, her inspirations, what's coming next, what inspired this book, and her thoughts on those Alpha Heroes we love.
Not to sound like a pitchman, but that's not all! We're compiling a list of our fave Vampire romances, because more often than not people come asking us for recommendations. So add your favorite blood-sucking romance to the list, then check in our discussion of Lisa Kleypas's Hathaway series and our wrap-up of today's hot new releases.
And don't forget that Sherrilyn Kenyon is visiting CenterStage all week long.
Interested in romances that tackle the topic of PTSD? Go to Unabashedly Bookish and see what Michelle has to say about this meaty trend.
If you think authors have become rock stars to readers, who do you think writers worship? I'll tell ya: Book buyers.
Enter Barnes & Noble Romance Buyer Tommy Dreiling, albeit not sporting eye liner or package-cupping leathers.
Nope, this intelligent and engaging guy knows that to move among thousands of worshipping women who'd kill for a slice of his time, it's better to go conservative and have a big knowledge of the genre - and confident understanding of what romance-reading chicks want.
"Romance popularity and sales have increased dramatically in the 13 years I've been buying romance for Barnes & Noble," says Dreiling, whose commitment to the genre is clear in the understated, yet still intense and animated ways in which he talks about his job. "And what's very exciting is that for September, we've bought 159 romance titles - and that doesn't include series."
It's his familiarity w/ readers and book trends, as well as his rep for being a stand-up guy in the biz, which made me jazzed about meeting with Dreiling on a recent trip to B&N's NYC digs. There, he told me a bit about his journey from BN bookstore manager to his current gig.
"Barnes & Noble's buyers are unique in that they have bookstore backgrounds first," Dreiling noted. He spent five years as a B&N manager before moving to corporate to work as assistant to Bob Wietrak, VP of Merchandising. Dreiling was thrilled to be given the opportunity to score romance as his first venture into buying, and he currently purchases all romances by bestsellers and "soon to be" stars.
"There sometimes is a misconception that we don't buy ‘midlist,'" says Dreiling of novels that may not become bestsellers but will make money and help develop a following and future book sales for an author. "We buy everything great that comes our way, something for lots of our stores, if not all of them. " For example, often Dreiling will buy more of a midlist book to place in the author's hometown area or another store that makes sense.
Since everyone wants to be a rock star, I wondered what Dreiling thinks is the coolest thing about his hi-visibility position. "Probably to watch as new authors in romance have a chance to become very big, very fast," he said, after giving the question a bit of thought.
"Word sometimes spreads in zero to 60, and in about one-to-two years, a large number of new romance authors break out. It's fun to see something good happen, to have an opportunity to really put authors out in the market in front of readers."
What trends do you see in romance books? What would you suggest Tommy consider taking a look at in the future?
You've got the rest of today to hook up w/ Suz Brockmann at Center Stage to talk "Hot Pursuit," Troubleshooters, Izzy, SEALs and anything else! BN mod Becke Martin's your hostess, so head over to have some fun!
Don't forget Eloisa James' manly mens @ her Review column: "Alpha Allure":
Please: Join me on twitter @michelle_rbtb! And check out my romance stuff Tuesdays at "Unabashedly Bookish!"
Before there was Edward
Cullen... And HBO hadn't yet decided that
what wasn't TV didn't include undead who weren't gorgeous... There was a time when vampires' names still
were mostly void of extraneous consonants.
That's when Sherrilyn Kenyon began writing a series of singularly clever novels about "Dark Hunter" (DH) vampires, heroes and heroines who upon death become immortals sworn to protect humanity from a race of blood- and soul-stealing vampires called Daimons. Outrageously attractive in human-like bodies, Dark Hunters wear cool clothes and use slick moves and weaponry to poof the Daimons to dust before those bad guys can suck the human race dry.
Soon, the Dark Hunter world Kenyon built - and the mythology she created from weaving whole cloth with the Greek canon - included other paranormal beings including a QVC bling-obsessed demon and bands of shapeshifting animals.
The place 2B for most of the
Dark Hunter action? Why, N'awlins, chere.
Which is "were" most everything goes
down in "Bad Moon Rising (Dark-Hunter Series) " (BMR), the hot new Dark Hunter shapeshifter novel
released this week. It features fave
wolf and bear clans Kenyon fans've come to know and love/love not so much
throughout several DH reads, and tells the star-crossed-lovers tale of Fang and
Kenyon says she, like readers, has been expecting their hook up for awhile. "[W]e've been working up to and it continues what was set up in ‘One Silent Night (Dark-Hunter Series #17) ,' ‘Dream Warrior (Dream-Hunter Novels Series #4) ' and Shadow of the Moon .' As for Fang and Aimee's story, it's what I knew would happen from the moment they first met."
as so often is the case in Kenyon's aggressive and action-packed novels, the
meeting in DMR happens when Fang saves the
Aimee at Sanctuary, the bar her folks own and a kind of neutral territory for
warring shapeshifting factions.
Turns out Aimee'll have her chances to scrape Fang's furry self off'a some walls he gets backed against later. But their families' mistrust of each others' ‘breed,' as well as each lover's responsibility to familial duty, will have Fang and Aimee off their Daimon-fighting games - and in that gorgeous, sensually tense kind of angst that makes for delicious story on the way to HEA.
Kenyon's a phenomenal, one-of-a-kind storyteller. Her down-to-earth dialogue and wickedly keen ability to develop threads that tease and torment until they're introduced, expanded and wrapped up in future novels is maddeningly addictive - and the reason she's a fave of millions worldwide. Plus, she's one of the most accessible authors around.
What do you love about Sherrilyn Kenyon's novels? Why are shapeshifters hot? What are your fave vampire mythologies?
Check out my Exclusive interview with Sherrilyn at "Unabashedly Bookish!"
For more on "untamed" characters, this time, wild-at-heart heroes, click here for Eloisa James' BN Review column, "Alpha Allure!"
There's always a flurry of activity over at Romantic Reads the first week of the month, and though the lazy days of summer are upon us, August is proving to be busting with romantic possibilities!
Today we're discussing Eloisa James' fantastic new column on Alpha Heroes. Why are the muscle-bound, take-charge men of romantic fiction so appealing? Eloisa opines on this and gives great examples of current books that will satisfy your desire for these manly men. What alpha heroes are your favorites? We want to know!
Speaking of which, Christina Dodd's new book,
Storm of Visions (Chosen Ones Series #1) is out in stores now. Not only is Christina's hero one of Eloisa's Alpha examples, but the book kicks off a tremendous new paranormal series called The Chosen Ones. Christina is visiting Romantic Reads tomorrow, August 5th, to discuss her new books and, in fact, anything you want to ask her! Ms. Dodd has written it all and is eager to answer any and all questions.
In July, Romantic Reads featured C. L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series. There's so much to talk about with these books that we're continuing the conversation throughout the summer. We're not skimping on August's pick though. Lovers of historicals will be pleased to know that we're reading Lisa Kleypas's Mine Till Midnight (Hathaway Series #1) and Seduce Me at Sunrise (Hathaway Series #2).
That's not all! Today there's a round-up of all the hot new releases for this week, including new books by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lora Leigh, and Luanne Rice.
And don't forget that Suzanne Brockmann is visiting with readers at CenterStage until August 7th. She'll be there, live and in e-person, all day, answering your questions and comments about her new book, Hot Pursuit (Troubleshooters Series #15).
Phew. So much romance, so little time!
I am a purveyor of intimacy, a hawker of happily ever after. So the only heartache I dig in genre fiction is the short-lived, angsty kind that crops up in romance long after "boy meets girl," somewhere between "boy loses girl" and "boy drops to his knees begging for girl's forgiveness, after which girl raises him up to become the equal partner in love boy was destined to be."
Or something like that.
It's true that most folks
don't understand how closely romance fiction has to follow real-life relational
intricacies for readers to buy into a novel's premise. Yet romance clearly is not in toto about
relational authenticity, that life-long journey through little hurts, small
joys, big desires and, often, really sucky interactions with folks we choose to
love and commit to for the long haul.
Long haul, of course, being subjective, since so many real-life love matches never make it through the short lug. So who'd want to dwell on that in their escapist leisure time? Not me, for sure...except for recently when I picked up an off-beat and enticing little tome by Kathleen Horan called "Relationship Obits : The Final Resting Place for Love Gone Wrong."
"Relationship Obits" is a compilation of selected entries from Horan's Website, RelationshipObit.com. She started the site after the demise of a three-year love connection - and the untimely death of her father just two weeks later.
While writing her father's obituary, the WNYC and internationally aired radio journalist wondered whether writing the story of the "life and death" of one's romantic relationship might be as cathartic and closure inducing. Soon after, RelationshipObit.com was born and took off, offering a cyberspot for folks to work out digitally the stages of their love affairs and grief in ways humorous, touching, bittersweet and sometimes just a smidge bitter.
And mostly entertaining, because these folks seem to want to share in fairly creative submissions some of the absurdities they couldn't see and maybe couldn't let go of until they laid them all out - and to rest - in their online obits.
I won't lie; when I saw the publisher touting this book as " a voyeuristic romp through the unexplored underbelly of love and life," I expected another craptastic exploitation of other folks' misfortune ‘cause, gee, online and off, that just never gets old. Yet I stood corrected when I learned from Horan's introduction the reasons behind her developing her site - and the empathy with which Horan approaches the project.
Why isn't "Obits" a wonking-great, misery lovers'
train wreck? First, Horan's got creds and chops; it doesn't seem her style. More important, the folks who experience the
pain control the information. So the
entertainment isn't at their expense, rather it's fun to read because we've
been there/done that and feel kindred with the obit writers.
And while one may read "Obits" with wry amusement, one also may feel a sense of hope, understanding most of us have walked through similar fires; ya' live/learn/get over it and, maybe, laugh about it with friends sometime in the future.
As a romance reader, what would make you want to read a book like "Relationship Obits?" Would it be fun -- or horrid! -- to make up obits for the way great romance novel couples' relationships -- horrors! -- ended? Lay some on us... I'll start:
Darcy and Elizabeth
Cause of Death: Excessive brooding
Survived by: Garrulous mil, silly sils and myriad sequels.
Are you reading H2H at a
Barnes&Noble store? Tell me which one,
and what romances you're reading!