Posts filed under ‘Suggest Me Something: Lists’

Loving Lisa: Three Reasons to Read Lisa Kleypas

I’ve been busy. Super busy. Sure I’ve been doing productive things that deal with productive details and result in productive business. But the real reason I’ve failed to post anything in FOREVER can be summed up in two words: Lisa Kleypas.

She’s addicting. Terrible, terrible woman. And by terrible I mean awesome. See, I’ve read the lovely Ms. Kleypas’ books before, but to my everlasting shame, up until this last week, I’ve only read her contemporary romances. Bad Lizzie! Oh no, see Kleypas’ real talent is for the historical–that random time period between Regency and Victorian. And man are those books good reads. So after devouring her Wallflower and Hathaways series–a total of nine books–here is my List of Lisa, three BIG reasons why Lisa Kleypas is an author to read and a paragon of romance-hood.

1. Her unexpected heroes!

In a world filled with dukes and earls and viscounts, Kleypas’ heroes are bold, unconventional, and sexy as hell because of it. Out of nine heroes, only 3.5 of them are titled nobility (one is a second son who becomes titled so he only partially counts). I know right? Dukes are like the bread and butter of this genre, and Kleypas instead choses to write about Gypsies, Americans, and self-made men. Thank god.

2. Her nicely flawed heroines!

She’s smart and pretty and accomplished and rich and dazzling and perfect and blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I want to attach romance heroines with a spork. They are just too perfect it makes my teeth hurt. Thankfully, Kleypas’ heroines are nicely grounded and likable. They don’t faint, swoon, giggle excessively, nor do they rush into danger, lack the ability to reason, or live the lives of virginal femme fatals. Evie has a stutter. Daisy is vertically challenged. Poppy is just fun. Readers will actually like these heroine!

3. The sex!

Nicely done. Not gonna lie. But more than the actual love scenes in these books, I really liked how Kleypas handles them. All of the characters involved realize the scandal of being compromised–aka having sex before marriage–and how disastrous it can be. So guess what? Most of them wait for the bonds of matrimony, which some people might claim is not sexy at all, but it really is, mainly because it’s the two of them learning to live and love after the clichéd “happy ending.” In Tempt Me at Twilight, she actually writes, “The London season is like one of those Drury Lane melodramas in which marriage is always the ending. And no one ever seems to give any thought as to what happens after. But marriage isn’t the end of the story it’s the beginning. And it demands the efforts of both partners to make a success of it.” Kleypas shows us those stories. And they are funny, dangerous, and sexy as hell.

October 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm 3 comments

Who You Calling A Spinster?

Juliette married her love at 13. Ariel swam into the arms of her Eric at 16. Bella fell irrevocably in love with some dead dude before her 18th.  Hell, even my literary soul mate, Lizzie Bennet, snagged her guy before she reached 21. Do you see a pattern here? Cause I do. And it’s a “Lizzie may be a spinster according to romances” pattern.

Spinster:(spnstr)

n.
1. A woman who has remained single beyond the conventional age for marrying.
2. A single woman with many cats and no love.
3. A person whose occupation is spinning–as in Spinning Class? As in Cougar? Maybe
_______________________________________________________________

Now look at that definition, look at the “conventional age for marrying” according to romances in general, and now look at your own life.  Is it just me or is anyone feeling mildly annoyed at the idea that they have to find True Love before they reach 25?

Cause I do.

Here I am, 22 years-old and unmarried, and according to some of the books in the genre I love so much, I am practically a spinster.  More than that–I am a willing spinster. Jesus, imagining myself married is like imagining a train/car/airplane wreck all into one. It’s scary.

Which is why I have to say, I love me some love stories featuring older characters. Not like Titanic-lady Old. That’s just crazy, but something a little more mature. My HS infatuations didn’t last more than a week much less All Time, and it’s silly to only read romances where they do.

One of my favorite Love Outside of Teenage Years romances is Nora Robert’s The Villa, a fun, suspenseful romance where love spans three generations of Giambellis women: Tereza the grandmother, Pilar the mother and Sophie the daughter. All three women are completely relatable and aren’t perfect when it comes to love.  Tereza was widowed at a young age.  Pilar’s husband left her for a younger woman. And Sophie is married to her work. Yet by the end of the book, all three women find their happy ending.

That’s why I personally enjoy romances that feature older characters. Because let’s face it, sometimes Regencies and Medievals … they can make you feel like an old spinster with no suitable prospects. Reality check? There is still hope and I can still find love after the ripe old age of 20.

September 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm 1 comment

I’m Addicted to Love

I have this theory that so far has proven to be quite possible that Iris Johansen is actually a gateway drug to the amazing and life-altering addiction that is the romance genre.

It’s a bold statement, I know.  One, I am saying romances are addicting.  Two, I am blaming Iris Johansen, but again I want to stress that this is just a working theory.  See, you pick up a Johansen book thinking everything is innocent enough–after all she writes mysteries, you say. Mysteries are a completely legitimate form of literature.  Agatha Christie wrote mysteries. Yes, you should be perfectly fine.  What could happen? I mean it’s just reading for goodness sake.

Wrong.

The next thing you know Iris Johansen leads to Linda Howard and Linda Howard leads to Nora Roberts and Nora Roberts leads to Julie Garwood in a chain of increasingly romantic plots.  They start out mysteries and end up romantic suspense.  And after a while you start to crave the passion, the romance, the fire, the possession.  You need a new book, a new author, a new hit, and so you slowly begin to fall deeper and deeper into the romance culture.

Look both ways before crossing the aisle

By the time you get to Garwood, there’s no going back.  Julie Garwood’s romantic suspense novels really hook you in. Her great mysteries keep you craving more, so you start on her backlist, but as you move further and further down that list, you realize that you are also moving genres.  Romantic suspenses slowly become historical romances.  And you find yourself walking past the mystery aisle in the bookstore.  Creeping furtively towards that shrouded back section—lured there by your own addictive need for more passion, danger, love and those brightly colored covers, dangerous men and spitfire women. One day you are safe and sound in mystery, the next you are in romance.  And as anyone who has ever been hooked knows: you never recover from the romance genre.

Within the historical romance subgenre you move from medievals to Regencies to Victorians.  Scottish lairds, dashing dukes, innocent ladies, and compelling hoydens.   Next thing you know you are reading contemporary: Crusie, Phillips, and Gibbson.  From there it is only a short fall into category romances. Harlequin Blaze titles like Slow Hands appear on your bookshelf along with classics like Pregnant by the Boss! and Secretary by Day, Mistress by Night.  By then you are good and hooked, and there is nothing you can do about it.  Moreover, there is nothing you want to do about it or even should do about it.

It starts so innocently.  One day you pick up a mystery, and the next you are deeply involved in the romance subculture, which is why when you, my sweet, innocent friend, ask me for a book recommendation, I tell you to try reading Iris Johansen’s The Ugly Duckling.  It was my gateway into the best thing that has ever happened to me—despite my previous drug metaphor—and it really is a gateway into romance for the romance-illiterate.  The plot is suspenseful, the tale of a vengeful mother on a quest to bring down the men who took everything away from her: her husband, her daughter, her identity, her security, and even her face.  Readers emphasize with Nell Calder, relate to her and her pain and burning desire for revenge, and in this emotionally and thrilling plot of danger and intrigue, Johansen cleverly weaves romance.   The Ugly Duckling doesn’t start out as a romance, but by the end, you mainly remember the narrative’s searing, possessive, passionate, steamy, uncontrollable, shudder-inducing romance between dangerous Alpha hero Nicholas and determined Nell.

I have recommended The Ugly Duckling to six people in the past four years—numerous others in the nine years since I first picked the book up in middle school.  Of those six people, four of them have actually read it, and out of those four, three friends now read romance novels exclusively.  I blame—or credit—Johansen with their addiction to romance.  She manages to include the best of both mystery and romance in her novels, tempting unsuspecting readers into one of the biggest genres in publishing and tricking narrow-minded readers into accepting a romantic plot.

When I first started The Ugly Duckling, I laughed at the thought of reading romances.  They were low, embarrassing, bad.  I scoffed at the notion that intelligent people would read such trash.  Johansen’s book led me down a path that changed my mind and now my life.  Therefore, I suggest The Ugly Duckling to you.  I go by the old phrase, “the more the merrier,” especially when it comes to people reading romance novels, and I won’t ever underestimate the power Johansen has as a gateway drug again.  Maybe it will lead you down a similar path to the best addiction of your life.

September 2, 2011 at 8:04 am 2 comments

The Diary of Lizzie P.

I was recently packing up my childhood room in one of those symbolic, “graduated college and now moving away to the Big Bad City” kind of moves, and while packing up clothes and books and more books and then some more books, I found an old box under my bed where I kept all my old diaries and journals.  Can you say Memory Lane?

Well, I can! And while reading those entries–dated from age 6 all the way up to high school–I learned three things.

Number 1: I have always been “wored about my futur” which since I couldn’t spell at all apparently translated as “worried about my future.”  Yes, once upon a time a little 8 year-old Lizzie poured out her heart into the pages of her diaries and along with wishes for a boyfriend and a playhouse–one she got and one her parents still refuse to give her–there were numerous mentioned of how she was “worried about her future.”  Because what would she do career-wise? What about college? Yes, college was a huge concern for me.  When I was 12, I confessed in another diary that I was very concerned about what school I would attend, my GPA, and whether I had the grades after all “college is only 5 years away.”

Number 2: I do not have a future as a children’s book author or a Spelling Bee champ. Oh man, I found a collection of stories written for class projects.  And they were…yeah.  One was about a missing cat,  just look at that picture to the left. That should say, “I bet he may be upstairs in the bathroom.  That’s where he always hides. No he is not there but I did find my…”  The other image is from my original picture book, The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Butcher because apparently, I thought the butcher was the new wolf. And a great idea for a children’s book.

Number 3: I really wanted two things: a play house and a boyfriend. Almost every other entry was about either some crush I had at school or my ever-present desire for a place of my own. I wanted my own crib and a man to go with it. Or well, boy in this case.  First I loved Lee, then I loved Chad, and then I loved Everett, and the lists went on and on about how cute they were and how awesome and how funny.  And to combine #1, 2, and 3 by the time I reached 13, I started writing about how worried I was because I liked the same boy as my BFF.  I actually commented that I knew “it was just a crush and nothing serous like love (bec I don’t think I have the maturty for love yet) but still.”  Even if I couldn’t spell it at least I recognized my age and “maturty” level!

So in honor of my walk down memory lane, my worries about my future, and the most unlikely children’s books ever, I give you my list of 5 Essential Childhood Reads.  The five books that I read over and over and over again from 6-13–discounting the whole HP series because that’s really not fair. I think you may understand why I was so strange after reading this list.

  1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. What little girl doesn’t love a fairytale? Apparently, I thought they were true.
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien .  These book were so worn out by the time I reached high school that I had to buy a new set.
  3. Anna and the Duke by Kathryn Smith. In my defense, this romance novel was cleaned-up and meant for teens. Or in my case pre-teens.
  4. Moonlight Becomes You by Mary Higgins Clark. I really wasn’t a fan of picture books so by the time I was 11, it was like Adult Fiction here I come.
  5. Sabriel by Garth Nix.  I still read this every year. Sometimes more than once. Necromancy is so fascinating.

August 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

It’s a Love/Hate Kinda Thing

There are very few things I actually hate in life. Honestly, the list is pretty short… seaweed, mushrooms, that guy from that class that time who thought just because my hair was blond–at the time–that I was like some kind of like idiot or something. Yeah, I do hate all of those things, but really that’s not a whole lotta hate going on there. I dislike yellow jackets–both the bugs that sting you and make you cry and the kind people wear that just aren’t cool–and I don’t care for Vince Vaughn because his characters are always assholes, but I don’t hate him. Yet.

So when I was talking to a friend the other day and I mentioned how much I just loathed, hated, despised this one person who I had been going on and on and on about–and no it was not That Guy from the first hate list–she looked at me and asked, “Really? There’s a thin line between love and hate.” Good point, my friend, good point.

But no, wrong.

I do not love said individual who is honestly a huge jerk, but it got me a thinkin. Is there a fine line between love and hate?  Looking at romance novels, it sure seems so. Heroine hates hero. Hero hates heroine. Misunderstandings. Passion. Boom, an epic event. Sex. Love. Some more sex. The End.

This baby scares me

Hmmm….it makes you wonder. Could my new nemesis The Jerk be my One True Love without me knowing? Could our arguments, snippy comments, and general dislike actually be the basis of Love?

Probably not. Cause while I am not a fan of The Jerk, I realized that I really don’t actually hate him, I just think he’s a bit of a jerk.  But maybe there’s something to Hate/Love relationships.  They do tend to involve Great Passion.

Looking for a story with a lotta sexy Hate turned to Love sizzle?

Try Iris Johansen’s romantic suspense The SearchSearch and rescue worker, Sarah Patrick is sure she hates John Logan, the wealthy, conceited, arrogant millionaire that seems to bulldoze his very way into her life and blackmails her into working for him on a project, but when a determined killer targets Sarah as his next victim, she just may find that her hate is a lot closer to love.

Romantic Question: Do you think there’s a fine line between love and hate? And what about in your books, do you like a little turbulence?

August 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

One Serious Romance

When most people think “romance,” they tend to envision a cheesy cover, tons of sex, and a mildly silly plotline.  They also tend to think that all romance novels are created equal — which they’re not — and that they all look like category/series romances.  Now, I know I’ve talked about series romances in the past (you can click here for a refresher course), and yes, I know that sometimes –okay oftentimes–their plots are a little cliche, but I simply adore category romances.  So in honor of those quick, steamy, sweet, and silly reads, I’ve compiled the Greatest Series Romance Ever: a combination of plots, titles, and characters from some real life Harlequins. Enjoy…

The Billionaire Cowboy’s Secret Baby Bombshell and Inconveniently Proper Mistress!

By A Whole Bunch of People

Anna Berzani moved halfway across the country to get away from her overprotective family. When old friend and notorious playboy Henry James Randolf III shows up in San Francisco one cold December night, wanting to escape, Anna feels that same nothing-but-trouble attraction she’d felt at sixteen.

Henry is relentless in pursuing his desires–and intent on bedding wide-eyed Anna–the seductive girl from his past. But he has one condition: it’s to be a temporary romance only. Marriage is not an option. However, their passionate nights together lead to…a nine-month countdown! Unintentionally, Henry’s mistress is pregnant with his forbidden baby….

A year later, when she shows up at his Texas ranch with her bombshell, two adorable twin boys, Henry can’t believe his eyes. The boys look just like him. Was their night of passion a premeditated snare or a Christmas surprise? But when shots ring out, his instincts take over. He’ll stop at nothing to keep Anna and the boys safe. And he just may recognize where his true wealth lies, if it isn’t too late for them all.

So there you have it! A new bestseller right there waiting to be sold.  To read the actual books that inspired this EPIC story, check out these classic Harlequins. You’ll love them. Even if you never admit it out loud.

Baby Bombshell (Harlequin American Romance) by Lisa Ruff

Anna Berzani moved halfway across the country to get away from her overprotective family. When old friend and notorious playboy Evan McKenzie shows up in San Francisco, Anna feels that same nothing-but-trouble attraction she’d felt at sixteen. A night on the town leads to a few kisses, which leads to…a nine-month countdown!

Practical Anna suggests marriage, but the gorgeous bachelor turns her down flat. He’s anything but good daddy material.

Evan always felt like an adopted member of the boisterous Berzani clan. Getting involved with Anna–irresistible as she is–won’t go over so well with his best friend, Anna’s brother. And when the rest of the family find out he refuses to marry her, he won’t just be disowned–he’ll be dismembered!

How can he marry her, though…when he knows marriage is nothing but heartache?

Ruthless Billionaire, Forbidden Baby (Harlequin Presents) by Emma Darcy

When Tamalyn Haynes agrees to be a bridesmaid, she doesn’t realize she will be dancing with the best man–notorious tycoon Fletcher Stanton!

Fletcher is relentless in pursuing his desires–and intent on bedding wide-eyed Tammy. But he has one condition: it’s to be a temporary romance only. Marriage is not an option. However, their passionate nights together lead to Tammy dropping a bombshell. Unintentionally, Fletcher Stanton’s mistress is pregnant with his forbidden baby….

The Cowboy’s Secret Twins (Silhouette Romantic Suspense) by Carla Cassidy

One cold December night, Henry James Randolf III wanted to escape. His money, his heritage, his lonely life. But when the blizzard drove the sexy Melissa Monroe into his arms he made sure to avoid that trap, too.

A year later, when she shows up at his Texas ranch with adorable twin boys, he can’t believe his eyes. The boys look just like him. Was their night of passion a premeditated snare or a Christmas surprise? But when shots ring out, his instincts take over. He’ll stop at nothing to keep Melissa and the boys safe. And he just may recognize where his true wealth lies, if it isn’t too late for them all.

August 18, 2011 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

A Softer Side of Romance

I am currently obsessed with a new show, and I’ll admit, it is a little shameful, but sometimes you have to have a guilty pleasure that you watch in your room, on your laptop, where no one can see you. And then you blog about it. See Oxygen, a completely random poppier and fluffier version of Lifetime, has this new show, The Glee Project, which is a reality show for the next Glee star.  I know. Really? How much can you milk Glee for before everything goes dry…because one TV show, touring concerts, and now a 3D movie? Those things just aren’t enough. You need a reality show. Duh.

But, back on track. See on TGP (The Glee Project), there’s this contestant, Cameron, and I think he is just dreamy. Too precious. Cute, great voice, hipster style, Christian extraordinaire.

And I have been a HUGE Cameron fan since Day 1. Literally. He was my fav. And then he was asked to kiss a girl and things started to spiral down hill from there.  Oh poor baby. Kissing can be scary. What if she had bad breath? What if she was a succubus? What if by kissing Hannah, he was thrown into a counter fairytale universe where he became a new Sleeping Beauty and the world ends? What then?!?

So Cameron, being a sensible young man, did what any ambitious contestant on a reality show would do. He quit. Because he was asked to kiss someone. And I just have to say: Bad Cameron, bad! Where does that leave me, the secret viewer with a voice crush on you? Huh? Huh?

But in Cameron’s defense…you can have love without the smut. Which made me think of two things: the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting which is not relevant to this blog at all, and one of my favorite types of romance: the Inspirational Fiction romance.

Yes, there are Christian romances.  People don’t tend to believe me when I tell them this.  They think, “Sex? Jesus? Romance? What?” But no. Misconception #1: Not all romances are smutty.  They are not porn thank you very much. They are love driven plots that can typically–but not always–include expressions of physical passion. Jeez. And Christian readers love love too.  It’s kinda a tenant of their faith. Love. So of course they have love stories. Read the Song of Songs.

Love. It can be sweet and nice and it doesn’t have to be all physical. So here’s to you all you Christian love stories! Keeping romance alive in a softer way! And if you want more inspiration try Courting Trouble by Deanne Gist. It’s cute, sweet, romantic, and about a spirited 30-year-old looking for love in the 19th century.  I loved it. I also didn’t realize it was inspirational until I was in over half way. Always a good sign!

Romantic Question: What do you think about inspiring love? Do you think Inspirational fiction can mainstream, or are you like Cameron and not see the two worlds merging?

August 5, 2011 at 12:08 am 5 comments

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