Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Swift Kick in the Pants

I finished reading WHITNEY, MY LOVE last night. I had mixed feelings about the romance, deemed by many as groundbreaking. Reviews for the novels range anywhere from the “this was the best book evah” to the less sugary “this book sucked ass and the heroine was a moron.” I, for one, found the book very much deserving of the B grade given by AAR. However, I cannot honestly say that it was due to the heroine’s antics and initial hoydenish behavior. The hero provided much of the animosity and “argh” feelings that took control of me a couple of hundred pages before the conclusion (the book is a whopping 700 pages). I both loved and hated the romance. In the end, I would highly recommend the novel. The frustration the last 100 pages of the novel will cause you may lessen your overall enjoyment of the romance, but the love depicted in the preceding pages will make you willing to forgive the author for very nearly fucking up an almost perfect book.

Whitney Stone has been in love with Paul Sevarin since she was a child. At 15, her father sent her to France to live with her aunt and uncle in the hopes of them making a lady out of her AND to get this Paul chap out of her head and heart (I'm sugar coating here...the father is a real jerk to her, probably because she reminds him of his dead wife or something like that...I skimmed it a little, so I have no clue why he dislikes her). In Paris, Whitney flourishes and becomes the catch of Parisian society; she meets various gentlemen, among which the hot hot hot Nicholas DuVille (whom I hear has his own romance in an anthology, although dude deserves 700 pages more than Whitney, to be sure). She gets proposed to a great deal and even Nicky manages to fall in love, but Whitney’s thoughts and heart all belong to Paul Sevarin, whom she hopes to swindle into marrying her once she returns to England.

Anyhow, Clayton Westmoreland, the Duke of Claymore, meets Whitney during a masquerade ball and instantly is hit with a severe case of permanent arousal whenever she’s around. He must have her and decides to pay her father an astronomic sum for her hand, unbeknownst to dear Whitney (her father is broke and has lost all of Whitney's inheritance and dowry). When Whitney returns to England, Whitney manages to get Paul to propose to her. While this is all going on, Clayton, who pretends to be a mere neighbor, fondles her and kisses her every chance he gets. She’s totally lovin’ it, but she’s gotta marry Paul and show everyone who ever doubted she could get him to love her. Clayton knows about Whitney and Paul but hopes she’ll see reason. WRONG! When she tells her father of her intention to marry Paul, the shit hits the fan and he informs her of the marriage contract with Clayton. She’s furious and plots to elope with Paul…Paul, who is no where to be found. Paul who’s busy spending money he doesn’t have because he thinks Whitney is loaded. Fortune hunter anyone?

Anyhow, Whitney realizes what a jerk Paul is and ultimately is set to tell Clayton that she will marry him. Sounds simple? WRONG! Clayton is in London. Whitney goes there and figures she’ll surprise him and give him the good news. She realizes that she cares about him and that he cares about her. However, Clayton goes back early to see Whitney, not knowing she’s in London and hears from the entire village that Whitney and Paul are now engaged (a rumor spread by Paul’s mother and a bunch of other gossipmongers). He’s pissed. Not only that but some jealous twit who’s got the hots for Clayton insinuates that Whitney is a slut and has slept with both Paul AND Nicholas DuVille. He won’t believe this skank, right? AGAIN WRONG. He believes her, looks for Whitney in London, forces her to his house and proceeds to have sex with her…but oops, he soon learns that she’s a virgin. And while he’s thinking MY BAD, I AM SUCH A DOUCHE BAG, she’s apologizing to him because it’s her fault. Ultimately this is cleared up, they get married and all seems great, until Clayton believes that Whitney cheated on him and doesn’t love him. This gets cleared up soon enough, with Whitney apologizing to him again and Clayton feeling like shit over it and promising never to do it again.

Whatever, dude! Clayton is a total asshole to this woman, who I felt really sorry for. Here is a maybe 20 year old girl who is now pregnant and accused of sleeping around, when it’s obvious she’s not and she loves no one but Clayton. She’s also the same woman this retard almost raped (I hear the previous edition has him actually rape her) simply because he’s insecure and has issues. I felt sorry for Whitney and for myself because I had to witness this once spunky woman undergo a lobotomy at the hands of a man with ½ a ball.

The book started off with such a bang, too! Whitney had such fire, such a lust for life and then, once she married her fool, she turned into a sappy apologetic old woman with a severe case of Battered Wife Syndrome. Each time Clayton promised to cease his infuriating accusations and be good the next time, Whitney would apologize to him and say it was not his fault…it was hers, all hers! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Is she kidding? The last 100 pages or so were the saddest I’ve ever read. I could totally picture this as a Lifetime movie starring Valerie Bertinelli and that Italian guy from Dallas. I was appalled!

However, I didn’t hate the book. As much as Clayton’s jumping to conclusions frustrated me, I didn’t completely hate him. WHITNEY, MY LOVE was a purely enjoyable experience for 550 pages or so. McNaught should have ended the novel then and there. The continued misunderstandings and jealous rages of Clayton really tired me after a while and I started believing that if the book were 900 pages, instead of 700, he would continue to accuse his wife of cheating on him, possibly even with his brother.

The characters are not perfect and that’s what stands out. Perhaps this is even why the novel garnishes so much praise. As you read, you realize that Clayton is not at all the perfect arrogant duke of the early pages; he’s insecure and so afraid of losing Whitney, that he constantly puts his foot in his mouth. He loves Whitney with an intensity that is almost obsessive. As much as you want to hate him for his treatment of her, you can’t. At least, I couldn’t…not completely.

Whitney is a brat in the first pages of the novel, but she is also very young. As the novel develops, so does Whitney, growing up and becoming more and more a woman. Whitney's love for Clayton and need for his acceptance push her to constantly cover for him and blame herself each time he is unhappy. (I was surprised McNaught never completely covered why both characters acted the way they did…normally there’s always an explanation that follows). In modern times, all these two would need are a few therapy sessions to deal with their inner child and some couples counseling.

Clayton was depicted as the biggest jerk on the face of the earth. I did want Whitney to make Clayton grovel a lot more....a whole lot more...hey, maybe even dump his ass and make him suffer ON HER TERMS. There was none of that here. No revenge attempts to make him jealous. Nothing! It hurt me to see her apologize for his psychotic ramblings and accusations of adultery. If I had the ability to change anything about the book it would be having Whitney kick poor little Clayton in the balls with her Doc Martens!

In the end, despite all this, I would recommend WHITNEY, MY LOVE.

Shocking, huh?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Chance Encounter

I was very close to leaving my favorite UBS today. I had purchased several books, wanted to leave and enjoy the good weather. The owner (who absolutely loves me, by the way), before I left, mentioned an old Jane Feather classic she was sure I would love: THE WIDOW'S KISS. I told her about my experience with ALMOST A BRIDE (bad...really bad) and with VICE (very very good). She told me she'd let me borrow the book, so I walked back to the romance section and scanned the Feather books. The book wasn't there, so I began to walk towards the exit when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of heaven: Lorraine Heath's TEXAS SPLENDOR. Finally, after rummaging through a dozen dusty bookstores in the hopes of not having to spend an arm and a leg for the old classic, I found it! I now have all three TEXAS books and can now discover why Kristie and so many others shy away from Heath's new novels. I am beyond excited. more thing...the book cost me only...drum roll...drum roll...$3.00!!! Yes, I kid you not. This UBS is a gold mine.

What else did I buy?

Deborah Martin's (aka Sabrina Jeffries) BY LOVE UNVEILED

Porter's THE SEDUCER - I hate the cover, but the story seems promising.

I've never heard of Patricia Waddell. I grabbed this one by chance. TBR bound, of course. I have too many books to read. The amazon reviews are good, but I learned the hard way not to trust them. Time will tell.
Supposedly, Hern's book is quite dark. It's supposed to be really good; has won awards and all. I hate the cover, to be honest. It's ridiculous! Love how it's winter, snow's everywhere, probably below zero AND the hero and heroine are both half naked. Me thinks they're frozen to the ground. What a bunch of idiots! I do look forward to the story though. I'll just have to picture Gerard Butler and a brunette (i.e. myself) during those love scenes. LOL.

Organizing Books

My TBR books are in a big yellow Target storage bin. Unfortunately, it's not big enough. I have other books in a drawer, which is also not big enough. I need a room dedicated to only TBR romance novels. It's gotten so bad and it's about to get worse. I'm going to do some heavy book shopping today. I really need to cool it, but books are better than drugs and alcohol, right?

My read books are in my new library (it was originally a dining room), locked in a beautiful built-in glass cabinet. My apartment is in an older type building. I have no idea how old it is, but I'm hoping it'll one day survive THE BIG ONE San Franciscans have been waiting for for decades. I turned my dining room into a library for hardcover classics and historical biographies. What else is a book lover to do?

Where are all your books, both TBR and already read? Do you sell them back immediately and only keep a chosen few or do you keep them forever, just in case the author decides to write a sequel? I'm a bit of a pack rat. I'm trying to change, but it's impossible when it comes to books. I'll buy books I won't even read, only because I want it in my future two floor library. Romance novels I can't get rid of at all, unless I'm forced to destroy it and the memory of having read it because it stunk so bad.

I have to start organizing my romance novels...a good way to say is this new feature I discovered today on Sybil's blog. Don't know how long it's been up, but it looks awesome. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Unloved Whitney

At lunch, eating a Moroccan Eggplant dish I got at the health food store yesterday..not bad, but not as good as I expected either. I've been really out of the loop lately...overworked beyond belief and tired. I also just realized that I own none of the books on my April Wish list and it's almost May, so I need to decide what other books coming out I MUST BUY! Decisions decisions...

I did, however, purchase McNaught's WHITNEY, MY LOVE, apparently a re-release. So, if you've never read this book and want to know what the hype is all about, get thee to a book store. If you can't find it, don't be discouraged. The official re-release date is May 2006. I've heard so many opinions...some hate it, others love it. I'll get around to reading it soon...hopefully! Anyone else want to discourage me? So far, the owner of my fave UBS has told me to skip it; the ladies of Sanctuary's Finest tell me to not even go there. If so many hate this book (and the heroine), why is it considered one of the best romances of recent years?

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Kingdom of Nightmares

Thank you to those of you who advised me not to read Judith McNaught's A KINGDOM OF DREAMS. You said I would hate the heroine; you said I would nearly pull my hair out in frustration. Unfortunately, I did not listen to you. I read A KINGDOM OF DREAMS. I hated the heroine; pulled all my hair out. I kept on putting the book down; I skimmed.

I loved the hero, but the heroine's treatment of him really turned me off. If you're looking for a heroine who will stand by her man, this is not the book. If you're, however, looking for a heroine who will try to stab the hero, make him feel guilty for killing another in self defense, tell him she hates him even though she clearly loves him, makes a fool out of him in front of his people, then BE MY GUEST, read this book.

Had the heroine displayed a bit more back bone with her family, instead of merely having cajones with the hero, I would have loved the book. However, due to the fact that she was blind to her family's faults, allowed them to use her for their own gain and caused trouble for the hero every chance she had, I cannot honestly say I would ever read this book again.

The fact that the heroine didn't grovel enough after nearly getting the hero killed with her psychotic antics forces me to throw the book in the TO BE SHREDDED AND BURNED PILE.

Friday, April 21, 2006

For Judith Ivory Fans

News on Judith Ivory's November release - According to AAR, "Angel in a Red Dress (October 1) is essentially a reprint of Starlit Surrender, the author's first book. Ms. Ivory says that she had the opportunity to rewrite the first pages and she's quite happy with them."

Cool! I've never read that one before. Love Judith Ivory. Cannot wait for this one, but wait...I guess it's not a new release...what happened to the new series she started writing a couple of years ago? Don't ask anyone at Avon. No one has a clue!

Apparently, Ivory wanted to rewrite this story a few years ago, but Avon wouldn't let her. Check out this discussion board tidbit with Ivory responding to writer Katy Cooper's questions and comments about the novel back in 2002. Nice to know patience does indeed pay off!

The story is about Christina Pinn and Adrien Hunt, Earl of Kewischester. The hero is a libertine who's slept with every female in sight. The heroine tries to fight the attraction because she fears getting hurt, but it's a lost cause. I can't find much else about the plot. It's an older Ivory that I'm sure most of you have read. Unfortunately, I haven't.

For Ivory fans, check out this cool article I found on AAR. Contains some information on Starlit Surrender.

And Another One..Another One..Another Bites the Dust...

Connie Brockway's leaving historicals to write contemporaries? When did this happen? Why am I always the last one to know? Brockway's website says zilch about anything these days except mention previous books and that horrendous WEDDING DRESS anthology (ok...not completely horrendous...I did enjoy Nicola Cornick's short story). I'm beyond upset. Brockway's AS YOU DESIRE gave me goose bumps, it was so good.

Book will be out this November. I'm not too sure what the plot is. Judging from the cover, I bet it's about a twenty-something New Yorker who likes to shop and have sex ala Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. I'll need more info before I decide whether to buy or diss.

Fantastic...another one bites the dust!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Aroused or Constipated?

I don't normally have issues with book covers, but the cover Heath posted for her new book A DUKE OF HER OWN made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I don't understand it. The hero looks constipated and the heroine...well, she looks like she's trying to stick something up his butt to ease his pain. I'll still buy the book, but I see how the cover could turn someone off it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Heathitis, You Say? Is it Fatal?

Heathitis: a condition in which readers are unable to settle for mediocrity, once presented with perfection.

People presented with the extraordinary can never settle for the ordinary. Readers of Lorraine Heath and Julia Quinn can probably relate to this.

If I had a penny for every time I've heard that Lorraine Heath's recent books, compared to her older Westerns, SUCK, I'd be a very rich woman. Unfortunately, having started reading Heath only a couple of years ago, I have no concept of what I've missed. I don't find her novels set in Victorian England all that bad. A MATTER OF TEMPTATION was a stinker, in my opinion, but I'm fine with the rest of them. In fact the Victorian novels were the ones that put Heath on my auto-buy list. Can she get any better? I never thought it was possible, but lately, more and more, I'm being told differently. Fans of Heath today are saddened by what they claim is the loss of a great talent. Lorraine Heath may be alive and well, but her talent, as demonstrated by her Victorian England set novels, is long gone, or at least, terribly misplaced. So I'm see, I loved PROMISE ME FOREVER; loved AS AN EARL DESIRES; even loved AN INVITATION TO SEDUCTION, my very first Heath book. Fans of Heath's earlier works tell me I'm nuts, that I would think differently if I had read the early books. Are they right? see I might be experiencing the same with Julia Quinn.

I love Julia Quinn's love love them...or at least, I loved them up until she published WHEN HE WAS WICKED. The book was so so, but it was mostly because the heroine, part of the Bridgerton clan, was never fully introduced in previous Bridgerton books and I never really cared much for her. When IT'S IN HIS KISS came out, I knew something was terribly wrong. The book lacked the luster of THE DUKE AND I and THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME. I kept on hearing that IT'S IN HIS KISS was amazing, a masterpiece...the best book EVAH and I thought "Did I buy a different edition of the book?" I thought the book lacked a love story and was honestly irritated with Gareth, the hero, someone I believed too immature and hormone driven for a Bridgerton. And Hyacinth, the heroine with so much potential for a truly hilarious and amazing story? Bleh! She stunk and was not depicted as the strong minded, humorous hoyden we were made to believe she was OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN in past Bridgerton novels. What happened? Well, I soon realized the gushing and awing for IT'S IN HIS KISS came mostly from readers who had not read Quinn's earlier Bridgerton books, so they had nothing to really compare the story to. Perhaps, if they had read THE VISCOUNT, their gushes would be more like laments and their awes would be more out of pain.

For readers who have not been presented with the extraordinary, it's quite easy to settle. Maybe this is why Heath fans cannot stomach her recent works and I can. Maybe this is why I cannot stomach Quinn's recent works and others can. I don't know...I guess I won't know until I read an older Heath novel. At this point, I can't see what all the fuss is about...I am curious though. The beauty of Heath's westerns is legendary and I can only hope to experience it soon and hope, if it's all it's cracked up to be, that it resurfaces once again. Until then, I can only speculate as to why Heath fans are so upset that Rawley Cooper will not get a novel anytime soon.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Some Heroines Just Deserve a Good One...

A good beating, that is...

What is about heroines who feel the need to destroy the men they "love." I don't understand it.

Ladies, meet Sarah Van Horne, the heroine from Debra Dier's DECEPTIONS AND DREAMS. I recently discovered Dier's works and have enjoyed them immensely ... until now. Maybe it's because Sarah Van Horne has no self esteem, allows her little sister and stepmother to treat her like shit, yell at her, call her a slut and literally push her down the stairs. Hmmm...or perhaps it may be because she finds an amazing man who can't get enough of her, professes his love for her, proposes, marries her, makes sweet and passionate love to her and THEN allows her brother (who is a psychopath and murderer) to convince her in less than two seconds that the hero doesn't love her. You think that's it? Nope, not enough...not even close. Sarah's a kinky one; at her brother's orders, she ties the hero up, stuffs a sock (or cravat) in his mouth and who knows what else would have happened had the hero not freed himself. Nice job, Sarah! Real sweet!

You would think once this dimwitted beeyotch realizes that her brother is a lying piece of shit, she would come crawling on her hands and knees. Well, she does...for about a second. You see, once the hero tells her to get lost and that maybe they shouldn't have gotten married in the first place because she doesn't trust him to even put a pair of shoes on, she verbally assaults him, tells him he doesn't really love her and then goes nuts with the leave me alone and I'm going and you don't care and blah blah blah blah blah. Fuckin' idiot! I'm going nuts here. Do authors give us no credit at all? Why do some heroines make love so complicated. The man loves you, ya moron! Take it and run! Don't question it. HE. LOVES. YOU. Gosh, the heroine from Balogh's SILENT MELODY didn't have this much trouble hearing the news.

Another clear winner in this little game called love is Miranda Mabberly (one of the worst last names to grace a romance novel EVAH), the heroine of Elizabeth Boyle's THIS RAKE OF MINE. I generally enjoy Boyle's novels. SOMETHING ABOUT EMMALINE brought me many hours of enjoyment last year. I was looking forward to reading THIS RAKE and finally when I bought it, I quickly began devouring it...and soon suffered a severe case of indigestion. How does Miranda reward her hero's pronouncement of love? The answer is simple! Like any woman in love, she accuses him of murder and proceeds to call the authorities so he can be hanged. Nothing says true love like a hanger's noose (well, maybe in some circles it does...)!

Why can't heroines just accept that the men in their lives love them? I realize that sometimes even I am skeptical of a man's love, after been hurt so much in the past, but I've got to draw the line somewhere. If a guy were to announce to the world that he loved me and then, to prove it, risked his life for me and clearly demonstrated his love in a million and one ways, I'd shut him up with a kiss (or two or three...) and lock myself in a room with him for weeks. These ridiculous women are rejecting their men left and right and the men...THEY TAKE IT!

I want a hero who will not take it any longer! I want to see heroines get their comeuppance NOW! I want heroes that make their women beg for forgiveness if they dare pull stunts like this. I'm sick of the whole DON'T CRY, LOVE! YOU HAD JEAN-CLAUDE BEAT ME UP FOR LIKE THREE HOURS WITH A NAIL RIDDEN PIECE OF WOOD, BUT THAT'S OK. FORGIVE ME AND LOVE ME FOR HOURS speech heroes make. The woman doubted you, possibly ran away with your unborn child (this is another plot I just looooooooooove) and all you can do is hug her, forgive and forget? Is something wrong with this picture? Whatever happened to some good old telenovelas attitude? How about some MARIA, NO TE QUIERO ( Spanish is kinda rusty, so I apologize).

I'm not saying the hero should beat the heroine to a bloody pulp (although some sure deserve it). I don't condone violence against women. All I'm asking is that the hero give her about two chapters of uncertainty; let the hero get engaged to some other woman even. We see this all the time whenever the hero screws up. Authors..please..give us something. I'm begging. I'm just asking for two or three chapters, instead of two or three paragraphs (if I'm lucky). I mean...are there NO books in which women are given a hard time?

Romance novels are written for a female market, but give women a bit of credit. We're not stupid and we don't want amazing men getting emotionally beat up by women who don't even deserve to walk next to them. It's upsetting!

I promise you I will burn the next book with such a heroine.

Back from the UBS...

Danelle Harmon

Katherine Sutcliffe

Mary Balogh

Samantha James

Lorraine Heath

Teresa Medeiros

They're mine...all mine. Oh, happy day!!!

Billy Hufsey? Is That You?

AAR's recent segment of THE BACK FENCE asked a few great questions which, strangely enough, I've been pondering for quite some time.

1. Have you re-read a book you didn’t care for? What was your experience? A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh. I hated the heroine the first time I read it; thought she was snotty and annoying. I seriously thought the hero was playing her; there was no way, in my mind, that anyone as hot and magnetic as him could want a woman like her. She bored me to death and the sex scenes did zilch for me. My fellow Balogh loving friend loved the book; others thought it one of Balogh's best. Where had I gone wrong? I asked myself. So, a year later, I reread it and was glad I did. I now consider it one of the best Balogh books out there. A DO NOT MISS!!!

2. Are you predisposed to like books more from your favorite authors or do you find you are more critical if they fall short? Hmmm...honestly, I'm not sure. I tend to be critical of anyone AND anything that doesn't meet my expectations.

3. How have your romance reading tastes changed? I used to read only contemporaries by Harlequin. Charlotte Lamb was my favorite writer. I loved her Barbary Wharf series books. With the years, I felt more and more like I was living in the wrong era. I adored English literature and history and soon became caught up in romances based in the regency and Victorian age. I still have trouble going back to contemporaries. I'm too obsessed with aristocratic families and the Brits...if only I could get that time machine to work....

4. What is your experience with re-reading your favorite books? Do they usually perform for you again or do they fall short of their favored status? I reread Balogh's MORE THAN A MISTRESS and Foley's THE DUKE a couple of weeks ago. I loved them more than the first time I read them. There's no mistaking why fans love these books so much. The emotion and passion between the characters took my breath away...and the sex described ... wow wow and wow!!! I don't think I'll ever tire of reading these books. They simply melt me!

5. Must you cast your characters visually? Does it ever backfire on you? I always picture Gerard Butler when reading a romance novel, even if the hero happens to be blonde. I cannot help it. Gerard is the sexiest piece of British booty I've ever seen. Why shouldn't I picture him? As for the heroine? I tend to always picture a red head or brunette...weird, I know. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a brunette. I don't know. Perhaps I'm subconsciously picturing someone who closely resembles myself. Has this ever backfired? Well, once I bought a book whose cover had a woman who looked very much like an ex friend of mine. That ruined it big time! The hero wasn't any better. He looked like that guy with frizzy hair on the 80's hit show FAME! Nastiness! I struggled throughout the book and eventually had to put it away.

6. Are you able to accept less favorable plots elements if you have been forewarned? Depends on what the "less favorable" plot is. I won't read anything in which the hero cheats on the heroine AFTER they get together. I don't think any warning would make me accept such a novel. If I wanted to read non-fiction, I certainly wouldn't be roaming the romance section!

7. Do you believe mood shifts affect your reading enjoyment or make you less/more tolerant of undesirable plot elements? Without a doubt. Sometimes I think a major mood swing was probably the cause of my initial hatred for Balogh's SUMMER TO REMEMBER.

So...have you had similar experiences?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Brotherly Love

Nothing says romance like a good dose of incest.

Imagine stumbling upon a book in which the hero returns home after a few years. He soon discovers that his estranged SISTER is not really his sister. He sees her from afar and is immediately hot for her. He wants her; she wants him. I'm sure they do it eventually. I don't know exactly. The back blurb was enough to make me sick.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the book. Can't remember the author's last name either. All I recall is her first name...Gail. I hope I misread the back blurb. I reread it a few times. Couldn't believe my eyes. How can anyone find a romance like that sexy? Is it even a romance? I know the characters aren't technically related but if you grow up believing someone is your brother, how can you even think about having sex with him, once you discover he's not? Sick!

Thank you, Mailyn!

Ok...first of all, sorry for the above picture. I was desperately looking for a good celebrity clapping picture and all I could find was Michael Jackson. This was back when he was normal.

In any case, as you all can see, I have a new template. Mailyn from IMAGINARY ORIGIN is the creator; she totally rocks. If you have not read her blog, please DO SO NOW!!! Mailyn's blog is original, funny, definitely kick-ass, if I may say so myself. She's also a great gal! You'd be foolish not to check out her blog! Do it TODAY!!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Not Diered Yet

I discovered Debra Dier a couple of weeks ago and last weekend managed to find more of her books. I love her writing. She's a cross between Lisa Kleypas and possibly...I don't know...Liz Carlyle, maybe. I recommend her books. I've read three already and I've really enjoyed them. Can't find anything about her though. It's frustrating because I hate to discover an author and then realize they've stopped writing or have fallen off the face of the earth. Dier's last work was in 2002.

Read Anne Stuart's THE DEVIL'S WALTZ. Loved it and highly recommend it. The hero was a real rake, real scum of the earth; he needs money and tries to ruin the heroine's charge so he can obtain it. Of course, he ends up becoming obsessed with the very proper heroine who tries to fight the attraction as much as possible. It was my first Stuart and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Tracy Anne Warren's THE HUSBAND TRAP received a B review on AAR. I read the book a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it. The review is pretty accurate. Definitely try this one out!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

You Kudo Mine, I Kudo Yours

I feel like I have to vent a little more about what happened recently on the Avon Board, primarily because it all started with a simple posting by yours truly.

Sybil has very eloquently depicted the snarkfest that hit the Avon message boards yesterday. I myself am still in a state of utter disbelief (yeah, right) as to why anyone would attack another poster for expressing their own opinions. Message boards are communities in which posters are supposed to feel comfortable asking questions, giving opinions, being themselves. No one ever said the opinions have to be well-liked or conform with the norm. Or did they and I wasn’t informed? I am still new at the message board thing, so anything is possible. I’m learning though…quickly!

Avon Authors is a forum paid for by authors associated with Harper Collins Publishing Company (a.k.a. Avon), in which authors get in touch with fans, inform them of upcoming releases and gain insight into what a reader likes and dislikes.

I started posting on the board a little bit more than a year ago. I enjoyed getting advice from fellow fans on what books to read and what to avoid. It saved me time and money and I appreciated it greatly. Sometimes discussions would ensue on controversial topics, such as what turns you off a romance novel, an author and the like. Each time, at least one poster would come out, appalled that anyone would dare not like a book by one of the avon authors. I’m not surprised when people get defensive about their favorite writers; I am surprised though when these same people lash out and viciously attack other posters.

The post started like any other. A reader wanted to know if anyone could name any books or authors they didn’t like. Ok…ok…maybe the post wasn’t phrased in the most positive of ways. I admit…perhaps it did welcome exclusively negative views, but the posts following this didn’t quite fall under the definition of bashing, in my opinion. Posters gave a few names of books they didn’t care for. I threw in my two cents, mentioned Stephanie Laurens’ PROMISE IN A KISS because of the adultery issue I couldn’t get over and that was that. Or was it? A poster claiming to be the voice of reason came on and condescendingly told everyone to cool it (big big paraphrasing here). I didn’t think anyone was doing anything wrong. No one ON THE BOARD was saying anything derogatory or vulgar. Books were mentioned. Ok…I can see how an author could get offended, but I thought (maybe erroneously) that such discussion was also welcome, if done tactfully. I posted again; stated no one was trying to offend any of the authors; merely wanted to discuss books they didn’t care for and the like. Mayhem soon followed. The poster, apparently a reader of my blog since last July, proceeded to rip me a new one, stating that “that's NOT the sentiment you've been sprouting quite vulgarly, callously, ruthlessly and vociferously about Avon, it's authors and their books for the last 9 months. Your motto is "How Avon Publishing is slowly destroying the romance me in my quest to expose them!" but, I'm not going to tell people the name of your blog, they'll have to figure it out for themselves.” Which begs the question, if said reader was so offended by my alleged vulgarity, why was she reading my blog for 9 months straight?

Her post misrepresented my blog in so many ways; she seemed to almost thrive on “outing” my identity, like some sort of Enron whistleblower, as if I were trying to hide it. The blog is public. I’m not ashamed of my opinions. I write what I feel about books I’ve read. Some are good; others aren’t (and honestly recently I’ve been reading some pretty good ones). Anyone who’s ever read my blog should know by now that, as much as I say I HATE AVON, I spend more money on books by Avon authors than most people I know. Obviously, people with a sense of humor would see the humor in that and just chuckle. I know I do.

Poster continued with “Grumpy (that’s me on Avon Board) also says "These are only books, after all...not life or death situations that we can't get out of…" Just who are you trying to convince with this statement ~ YOURSELF? Anyone who reads your blog for 5 min. can figure out you have a Lisa Kleypas fixation and are sadly in need of a reality check!!!"

I found it very interesting that someone who called my blogging callous and ruthless would then proceed to fling poison at me (pot calling kettle black?). The comments above hurt my feelings (that time of the moment, you know…very sensitive lately) and shocked me because I didn’t do anything to deserve them, expect state my opinion. What amused me though was that the poster, with a couple of words, (LISA KLEYPAS FIXATION) managed to insult pretty much everyone on the board (don’t we all have a favorite writer? Aren’t we all fixated on romance novels?).

Am I in need of a reality check? I don’t think so…I think I’ve received enough in the last few years to keep me sitting still for a while.

My blog is my own, a venting tool and a way to connect with fellow romance lovers in the world. I’m not going to apologize for anything I’m said in it. I won’t like every single romance novel and, if I don’t, I’ll tell you so.

I want to say more…vent a little more, but it’s a done issue. Why am I telling you all this? Again I NEED TO VENT SOME MORE (been doing it a lot), want to understand what the hell happened the other day, and, since the poster made it SO DIFFICULT (sarcasm) to find my blog, I want Avon message board posters to hear my side and get the truth (not the distorted BS the poster was spewing) about my blog. Also, I want to express other frustrations…

What happened after the fiasco? The event forced the site administrators to set guidelines for posting. Initially, it sounded like negative comments were not acceptable because the site was created to promote, not diss, authors. Now they’re saying, negative reviews can be posted but only if they don’t encourage negativity and author bashing. What defines bashing? That’s another issue altogether…Ok…

Honestly, no matter what they say, the Avon Board will no longer be a place where readers, fans, posters go to express their true and honest feelings about a book they’ve read. No post will reflect an honest review of a novel. Be prepared for the big kudo party. If you’re not willing to bring in kudos only, then be prepared to have 1) your posts maliciously attacked eventually by a holier than thou poster or 2) the post immediately deleted by the site administrator, if it ignites another poster’s ire.

They can say whatever they want on that board, that no one is saying that negative reviews aren’t welcome, that they merely have to be phrased in a way that doesn’t invite negativity or bashing…whatever. Say what you will…no one is going to feel comfortable saying anything that remotely sounds like a set down. I myself will only go to check on excerpts, new releases and to occasionally ask an author questions. I don’t mind giving an author a kudo. I do plenty of it on my blog and when I post. I will continue to do it, but I’m not fooling myself. If I want to comment on something that bothered me about an author’s book, I’ll think not twice but five times the next time.

The Avon board is not what it used to be. A board in which adults cannot have free discussion about books read is just plain sad. Welcome to the RA RA RA board!

Monday, April 03, 2006


Info on Karen Ranney's new book out in December - AUTUMN IN SCOTLAND.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

More Shopping and New Author Discovery

Purchased two books by DEBRA DIER over the weekend. The first is SAINT'S TEMPTATION. Ok...I'm not going to lie. The cover IS NOT what made me buy the book...the plot did. I love reading about heroes abandoned by women they pine for years over. Just love it..especially when they meet them again years later and discover the love never died. Gosh, can't wait to read it. The guy on the cover is a Fabio wannabe. Makes me ill. I'll have to picture Gerard Butler for this one.

Second book is DEVIL'S HONOR. Just started this one. Quite good. I think I've discovered a new author to obsess over. Poor me! Guardian/Ward story...something I normally am not too keen on, but the hero is a rake with a sense of humor and that gets me every time. Let's just hope the heroine isn't a moron.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Favorite Kleypas Heroes

Derek Craven - DREAMING OF YOU

Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent

To Diss or Not to Diss

Kathryn Smith's new book, out in July, sounds promising. I'm looking forward to it. Honestly though, it sounds like the heroine's going to bite the dust. I may be wrong. Read the excerpt. What do you think?

Big debate going on the Avon board as to whether board members should be allowed to openly "diss" an Avon author's work on the board itself. I think it's acceptable, as long as it's done tactfully. Others don't agree. Whatever...I had to throw in my two cents about Stephanie Laurens and how much PROMISE IN A KISS (or whatever it's called) sucked (I didn't say it exactly like that, of course). I don't hate the woman. Gosh, how could I? One, I don't even know her. Two, she wrote SCANDAL'S BRIDE, one of my favorite romance novels. The woman has some obvious talent...talent which, as of late, has been seriously untapped. Therein lies my disappointment and constant frustration with her (usually expressed by DON'T READ LAURENS rants). Why can't a reader express their opinion about an author's book? Why must all the reviews be glowing? Shouldn't the author want some constructive criticism? Wouldn't they want to know what it is about their books that makes readers cringe, as well as what elements make one sign in ecstasy? Beats me. Seriously, though..some on that board need to take a chill pill. I admire the woman who started the post. She had obviously just finished reading a few flops and needed to let it all out. Nice to know you can do that on the Avon board without getting attacked (add sarcastic snicker).

Discovered a new author by chance on Friday. Walked over to Stacey's, a small bookstore near work and noticed a copy of Tracy Anne Warren's THE HUSBAND TRAP. Bought it, of course (duh!). What? Did anyone honestly think I would abide by my earlier promises to hold off my book buying excursions? Yeah, right! Never gonna happen. I proudly give up. I'll cut down on some other expense if I want to afford going away somewhere this year. I read the book and enjoyed it. What I loved: the storyline. Something about twins switching roles...never read anything of the sort. I thought it would prove frustrating initially, I must confess. Believed I would be confronted by all sorts of silly misunderstandings. Miraculously, none of this occurred and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. What I hated about the book: the heroine's sister, who apparently will get her own book at the end of the month. She was the most obnoxious self-centered twirp. I wanted the heroine or even the hero to beat her down and shave her head. I cannot imagine how Warren will redeem her. She was vile! I'll be getting the book, so I'll be sure to let you all know.

Read McNaught's ONCE AND ALWAYS. I loved it. Loved the hero, despite some pretty detestable behavior on his part. One love scene, the first one, was particularly controversial. The author explained it away well enough to get me over it though. Judith McNaught has proven herself a KEEPER. So far, I've enjoyed all the books I've read by her. Of course, I've only read three, but still. That's pretty good! I must get WHITNEY, MY LOVE now though. The book has received some mixed reviews. Some find the heroine obnoxious and too much of a whiner! Hmmm...I hope she's not that much of a whiner! Moronic heroines tend to always ruin novels for me.

Re-read Foley's THE DUKE the other day. There's nothing like re-reading an old favorite. The book always make me smile and wish I were the heroine. If you haven't read it, please go out and get yourself a copy. It's one of the best novels I've ever read. Such romance, such emotion, such humorous and intelligent dialogue, passion...oh, gosh...ladies WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR?

I'm at my parents' for the weekend. My mom had an operation on Thursday and I'm sorta helping out (my mom is one of those women who can't sit still). Folks' computer is ready to crash at any minute. I'm surprised I'm able to blog. It's pretty bad. Pop-ups and firewall crap appearing every five seconds. Might have to take the modem over to Best Buy and get it checked out. My little sister tends to download everything in site. Who knows what's on this thing now?! It's very frustrating.