Posts tagged ‘book suggestions’

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.

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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

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

Call Me Emma: Or How I Once Signed A Friend Up For eDating.

Zoosk. Match.com. eHarmony. jDate. There are literally thousands of online dating sites out there just waiting to bring you to love. There’s one for all you Christians out there looking to “Find God’s Match For You.”  Or if you’re Jewish, you can “meet Jewish singles” on another site.  You can find true love. Fake love. Instant lust. And if you are a billionaire, then Bravo will help you find your next trophy spouse. Yay?

But back in the olden days when people actually used telephones to call people and when mail actually used a stamp, the term “matchmaker” applied to a person not a website. I know. Those days were so weird. I mean imagine people meeting people through other people. Woah. And during those long-ago times, people used to make matches for a living. Yes, matchmaking was once a noble profession extending back before the beginning of time.

As I learned from Mulan, a completely reliable and 100% historically accurate Disney film, matchmakers brought honor to us all and were “scarier than the undertaker.” However, some matchmakers were a lot more benevolent. Jane Austen’s Emma certainly meant well in her own selfish way. And I am sure Shakespeare’s fairies really weren’t that bad. They just wanted to bring on the love. Can you really fault them?

I can’t fault them. Matchmaking can certainly be fun. Just ask my college friend Amanda. While visiting me yesterday in NYC, Amanda and I got to reminiscing about some of our more memorable educational memories. Like the time I decided to try my hand as a new age Emma and sign dear Amanda up for an online dating site.  Note to all you people out there in the universe: friends do NOT like it when you sign them up for sleazy dating sites without their previous consent.  I have no idea why not, but needless to say, Amanda was not pleased at the time to be receiving “flirty” emails and messages from random men on a random site (though in my defense I did not use her real email, include her real name, or her real address). You never know where loves gonna come from, Amanda, maybe it’s gonna come from that plumber living in central Maine…

While my first matchmaking attempt obviously failed, one of my favorite romance novels recounts the astounding success of Annabelle Granger as a matchmaker extraordinaire, so if you are looking for a little meddling inspiration, try picking up Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Way better than a dating site. Plus, you can get a few pointers for your own matchmaking endeavors. Example: matchmaking yourself might just be the best plan of action….

Romantic Question: What you ever tried to match-make a friend? If so how did your attempt go?

August 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm Leave a comment

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: The Assignment

I’ve been in a very musical mood lately, so when I got my early assignment from Columbia to make a list of my favorite books, I put on my Julie Andrews hat and busted a move–a skip, hop, jump dance move–and started to sing: “WHEN THE DOG BITES, WHEN THE BEE STING, WHEN I’M FEELING SA-A-A-A-DDDDD!”  Obviously, by my use of caps, you can tell that

  1. I was not singing it well
  2. I was singing it loud

But the point is I was so in a Sound of Music mood.  I was Maria…minus the nun thing and that nanny thing and well the boy haircut thing.  But who cares.  The hills were alive (and no they did not have eyes) and I was off making my list of favorite books!

Now, I am sure other people in the program have very deep and significant lists (note: other Columbia Pub Courser Simple Little Bookworm‘s list was quite lovely like mine…no offense to her taste?) that include so many interesting and nice things, but my list was uniquely me and was a Romance List Extraordinaire.  Cause I’m cool like that.

ANOTHER FAVROITE THING: Cupcakes!

So dearest friends, when your dog accidentally mistakes your foot for a chew toy, you decide that honey is worth the danger, and when you watch anything related to freakin Nicholas Sparks, take a peak at one of my favorite things and then it won’t be so bad…

  1. Crusie, Jennifer. Faking It
    • Fresh, smart, funny, and sexy, Faking It is not about a perfect romance but a crazy, convoluted relationship between two imperfect people.
  2. Gabaldon. Diana. Outlander.
    • As my biffle Amanda said once, “It’s really realistic. It’s about a nurse who goes back in time…” But basically the best example of an epic historical romance.  Plus, I love Scottish romances…
  3. Garwood, Julie. Ransom.
    • A smart and engaging historical romance, this book epitomizes the genre with it’s bold, relatable characters, sharp dialogue, and passionate storyline. Plus…it’s Scottish…I’m seeing a trend here…
  4. Howard, Linda. Mr. Perfect.
    • Along with a well-developed romance, this romantic suspense shines with humor and sarcasm. Jaine is a bitch and I love her for it! Plus, the hero is a cop and I may be in love with cop heroes.
  5. Johansen, Iris. The Ugly Duckling
    • The sizzling chemistry between the characters combined with cleverly crafted intrigue in this book make it a compelling and unpredictable romantic suspense.
  6. Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind
    • The first book that I could literally not put down. Scarlet is a flawed, selfish, and strong character that is irresistible and completely human. Plus…it’s about us Southern Girls!
  7. Nix, Garth. Sabriel
    • Instead of a heroine who needs saving, Sabriel is a powerful woman who saves her prince and provides a strong role model for young women.  A great YA. Plus, she also has a talking cat which is cool.
  8. Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. Natural Born Charmer
    • This contemporary romance is well-written with quirky characters, passion, and humor, but is different as it deals with family and second chances. It starts off with the heroine (a woman named Blue) walking down a road in a beaver suite only to meet our super hott professional football bad-boy hero!
  9. Rinaldi, Ann. Break with Charity
    • The first book that actually interested me growing up. A combination of history, romance, and a strong female character showed me that books could be fun.
  10. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    • Don’t mess with me on this.  This is my favorite Harry Potter book, and I seriously re-read this book every week for a year.  I love the danger, the darkness, the violence, and the mild romance.

So there is my list of favorite things! What would your list look like?

June 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm 2 comments

Tall, Dark, and Dangerous: The Navy SEAL

I like to Google myself.  I know it is the epitome of vanity, but hey, it’s who I am. And really, you can find some fun things.  For example, sometimes I spontaneously enter contests online only to forget about them.  If I didn’t Google myself I would never have found out that yes, I am indeed a winner.  Validation! Literally.  I won two contests I don’t even remember entering, and I found out because I searched my name online.  I’ve also discovered that I was in an episode of M*A*S*H, I am an expert on American Shorthorn herds, and some old stuff about me from high school.  Bet you never would have guessed I won the “Faith in Film” class award senior year huh? So yeah, Googling one’s self is fun!

Along with Googling “Lizzie Poteet,” I also Google “romance novels.”  Also really fun. Recently, I came across a news article in the Minneapolis StarTribune about the “new” trend in romance novels: stories featuring Navy SEALs as a result of the capture of Bin Laden (article here). And while I agree that yes, Navy SEALs are indeed sexy, I have to question whether they could be called a new trend. In fact–despite the title and byline–the article itself proved that Navy SEALs have been capturing the imaginations of romance readers for some time now!

I love me some romantic suspenses featuring the hunky, deadly SEALs. Yum. Seriously. But I’ve been a fan of these uber-heroes since the beginning of my romance days–even before I admitted I liked romances! Take my beloved Joe Quinn (who worked his way into readers’ hearts in 1999) for example.  This shiver-worthy hero in Iris Johansen’s Eve Duncan series is dangerous, possessive, passionate, and a former Navy SEAL. God, I love that man.  Then there is Zane Mackenzie, the tough, smart, sexy as sin SEAL in Linda Howard’s Mackenzie Collection.  His story was first released in 1996–WAY before the Bin Laden. Even my beloved Jenny Crusie has an ex-SEAL in her romance with Bob Mayer, Don’t Look Down. Not to mention Suzanne Brockmann’s numerous romances!  Based on my own reading, I would say SEALs have always been sexy.  There’s something about the whole elite military training thing.

And their Amazon Links: Rough and Ready (2006)  SEALed with a Kiss (2008) Peal Jinx (2007) Into Danger (2003)  Killing Game (2000)

The SEALs are tough–the modern day Knight in Shining Armor, and while modern women aren’t the typical damsels in distress, there’s still something about a man who can take care of a situation if needed.  But what about you dearest friend? Do you find military heroes to be a turn on or a turn off?  And do you think the SEALs are a trend or a romance staple?

May 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm 2 comments

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