Posts tagged ‘Iris Johansen’

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.


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

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

Slumberous Journeys: A Tale of Sleepwalking

My Sleepwalking Role Model

I sleepwalk.  It’s quite terrible really.  Terrifying.  Troublesome.  Tremendously treacherous.  You get the drift.  But yeah, I sleepwalk–all over the place.  But mainly I sleep walk when I am in strange new worlds.  Right now my sleep walking habits are very much on my mind.  See,  I just spent the past 13 hours in a car with my mother, my younger sister, and her best friend reliving some of our greatest vacation moments–quite a few which involve my slumberous journeys in strange places. Add to that the fact that I am currently writing this from a strange new place, and you can see why my slumber roaming is right at the front of the old brain here.

The first time I walked in my sleep–aka slept walked–I was on vacation visiting my grandparents.  I woke up alone, standing in a dark place, surrounded by walls, thin pieces of plastic and fabric hitting me in the face.  Unable to move.  Trapped.  I was trapped, so being a very reasonable young lady of about ten I started to scream.  Loud shrieks of HELP and GRANDMOMMA! Five minutes later my equally terrified grandmother found me in the corner of the guest walk in closet.  I apparently had opened the door, walked in, shut the door and then proceeded to get lost in the corner of her overcrowded extra space filled with old suites, dresses, and so many shoes I am surprised that I could even walk into the space.  That was the first time I rambled around a strange place.

There have been various other random nights were I wander around.  Once I called my brother who was at college at the time.  It was 2:00 am.  Then there was the time I woke up after a particularly vivid dream about HGTV and all the furniture in my room had been moved around.  Another time, I started to sleepwalk during a huge storm in which the power went out.  My mother slapped a flashlight into my slumbering hand and then proceeded to tell me to look for the matches.  I remember waking up in the dark, holding a flashlight in the middle of a storm, wondering how in the world I got there, and where there was exactly.  That’s the thing about when I sleepwalk.  I look completely normal.  No Zombie Lizzie roaming the halls in search of dream brains.  Nope.  I simply walk around.  Sometimes I talk.  Most of the time I can even have conversations–which I never remember in the morning.  Both my brother and my mother have had nice discussions with me while I was sleeping.  I understand that I am quite eloquent for an unconscious person.

Now, right now I am sitting in my hotel room dreading the night.  See the thing is, I ALWAYS sleep walk when: a.) I have to share a bed.  My subconscious apparently just does not like to share.  Probably something to do with being a middle child and b.) I am sharing a hotel with my mother. She must give me bad sleep mojo or something. Thankfully, we are not sharing a bed tonight, but my mom and I are sharing a hotel room. (key dramatic music!)

Most recently we shared a room and a bed on a vacation to New Mexico.  Apparently, around 1:30 am one night I jumped out of bed, sprinted to the window, and started banging on the glass with the palms of my hands yelling, “I gotta get off! Morgan (my sister by-the-way), you don’t understand! I’ve gotta get off!”  Then there was the trip to Maine where my mom and I shared a room.  I ended up pacing our room muttering, “It’s happening again.  It’s happening again.”  I then tried to sleep on both the couch and the floor.

What will happen this time?  Am I fated to once more wander through the hotel room muttering, screaming, and dreaming? I certainly hope not! And I am sure my travel companions agree. Sleepwalking can be quite scary for both the people walking and the people watching.  I know I have scared friends on more than one occasion.  I have also caused quite a few laughs like the time I slept walked at high school at a sleep-over at my friend Becca’s.  After falling asleep on the couch, I put my feet into the trash can next to me, stood up inside said trash can and yelled, “Becca! I hate your house and I am never coming back” after which I promptly sat right back down and closed my eyes.  I love Becca’s house.  I have been back many times since. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Best Case Scenario: You sleepwalk and fall in love at the same time. Multitasking!

Now some of the heroines in my favorite romances also have been cursed by that damned Morpheus and walk around in their sleep.  It gives me comfort to know that I am not alone.  In Iris Johansen‘s epic historical romance, Storm Winds, the heroine Juliette sleepwalks after she witnesses a terrible massacre.  Her nighttime activities–trying to run back the abbey where she saw her friends brutally murdered–leads to a very dramatic conflict between Juliette and the hunky hero.  Sigh.  I mean I don’t want to witness a mass murder caused by revolutionaries during the French Revolution–that would be disturbing on so many levels–but instead of having to have my mother take me back to bed, I would love for something positive to come out of my strange sleeping habits.  Like a dramatic hero rushing in to rescue me from walking in front of a milk van moment. Or something. I don’t necessarily want a sexy moment.  Just a dramatic moment.  There’s a difference as the romances taught me: dramatic sleep walking moment: cool.  Sexy sleep walking moments: disturbing.


Worst Case Scenario: You sleepwalk and fall into social ruin at the same time. Nightmare!

While Johansen’s sleep walking scene is beautifully done, other romances take a real creeper approach to the whole walking around unconscious thing.  One romance that I was not a fan of AT ALL, Seduction Wears Sapphires by Renee Bernard really crossed into the “umm excuse me?!?” zone. Not cool. Not cool at all.  In it the heroine occasionally walks around in her sleep, and the hero seriously contemplates bedding–aka having SEX with–with her… while she is asleep.  Wait, let me rephrase: he  seriously contemplates bedding a virginal lady while she’s asleep.  Call me crazy, but that is NOT a wake up call I would like.  “Oh hey honey, good morning, so yeah, I am currently in the process of stealing your virtue, taking your innocence, and ruining your reputation.  Just hold still for a second.”  Is it just me or is that really wrong? Plus, the hero was all smug, congratulating himself on only groping her sleeping form and not going all the way.  A real prize winner.  Obviously, Bernard has never had the misfortune to actually sleep walk or else she has a super kinky mind.

So there you go.  Sleepwalking in romances.  Oh the crazy connections I sometimes make.  What do you think about sleepwaling sex? Am I being too sensitive?

And just remember dear friends, if it is late at night, I am in a strange place and walking around with a slightly dazed look in my eye–please go find my romantic hero so he can keep me from reorganizing the pantry, calling some stranger, or some other ridiculous thing that I can’t even imagine. May my covers bind me to my bed.

March 21, 2011 at 12:33 am 4 comments

Steaming Up Spring Break: Some Suggestions!

I am faced with a lovely 13 hour drive in the car tomorrow about to embark on my last spring break. EVER.  Well, probably for a long time unless I end up working in education.  I think adults call “spring break” vacation or something odd like that.  But anyway, in honor of my final foray into irresponsible, youthful vacays, I am dedicating this post to spring break reads…and some spring break romance suggestions.  I’ve got my kindle all packed–with wonderful romances that is–and don’t you want to know what made the cut? As I said before, I love me some lists.  So here it goes:

Whatcha Readin? Lizzie’s Epic Plans for Poolside Reads:

Damanding title no?

1. Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Finally, after waiting for months, I have the time to pick up SEP’s newest release.  For those of you who are SEP fans, Call Me is Teddy Beaudine and Meg Koranda’s story.  Those names sound familiar?Think back…coming to you yet? If you said, “Wait, aren’t Ted and Meg the children some of our former SEP favorite characters?!?” Yes! They are.  Let’s see if their story is as good as their respective parents’ 🙂

2. The Perfect Mistress by Victoria Alexander.  This spring break, I am taking chances on some new authors for me and stories. A spicy Regency period historical, this book sounds charming, funny, a little spooky, and undeniably sexy, as it follows Lady Julia Winterset and Harrison Landingham, Earl of Mountdale.  Come on–who doesn’t want a little historical seduction to go along with their spring break?

3. His Heir, Her Honor by Catherine Mann.  I am not typically a HUGE fan of category/series books that deal with the whole “having a baby” theme.  I don’t know.  They don’t usually apply to my life or where I am right now.  Goodness.  College student + babies +pregnancy = scary as shit.  But I LOVE the title. Plus, maybe I need to expand my horizons and all that…

Past Readings? Lizzie’s Epic Former Poolside Reads:

1. Anything by Jennifer Crusie.  I know, I know.  Y’all are tired of me going on and on about Crusie.  But…I first discovered her on spring break, so I cannot not suggest her as a spring break read.  Plus.  Her books are so funny and sunny and the perfect reads for a lazy afternoon by the pool.  Go with a class like Welcome to Temptation or her newest Maybe This Time. You’ll fall in love–assuming you are not a robot.

Fairytales never mentioned the dangers of becoming a swan


2. Iris Johansen.  Another great spring break read.  Her romantic suspense stories are spooky, edge of your seat, and completely engaging.  Just what you need on a relaxed vacation.  A little spice and danger.  I really love The Ugly Duckling and The Face of Deception.  Only bit of advice–before starting one of the Eve Duncan stories–like her newest release–pick up Face of Deception.  It gives you the background and really will make the whole experience so much clearer.

3. Ransom by Julie Garwood.  A clear, fun, passionate, and suspenseful medieval romance.  Two things make Garwood’s book epic–in my opinion at least–the dialogue, which is witty, clever, and very realistic, and the characters who are more than one-sided stereotypes.  Sure the hero is a hunky, warrior, laird Alpha male who is a little cynical, but he is also protective, understanding, and too sexy for words.  Plus, Gillian the heroine is not TSTL (Too Stupid to Live), which is always really nice in my books.

4. Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh.  A clever, sexy urban fantasy, this book is wonderfully written and really the hero Raphael?  He is simply angelic–note: he is actually an angel.  The first book in Singh’s Guild Hunter series, the book takes place in a world where angels and vampires are out in the open.  Some danger, some hott sex, some good reads.  Perfect for the beach–cause you just might need the ocean to cool off after this one 😉

So there you go my dearest friends.  Some books I hope turn out to be great, and some books that I personally think are worth multiple reads.  Trust me dearest friend, if you are looking for something to spice up your spring break and really get you warm, take a look at some of these books and bon voyage!

March 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

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