Saturday, September 26, 2009

FROM FRIENDS TO FOREVER by Karen Templeton


Oh, a chocolate chip! That's what I call Karen Templeton books, because I can't eat, I mean, read just one and they're kinda small and really yummy.

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One summer when they were teenagers, Lili Szabo was visiting (stuck with) family for the summer and Tony Vaccaro was stuck with a cast on his leg, which not only ruined his summer but ruined his chances for college football. They were just friends (yeah, right,) but when Lili comes back to America all grown up she's glad she'd poured her true lovesick feelings into her teenage diarian in Hungarian instead of English. But, Lili's determination to live happily ever after is overcoming her reserved nature just in time for Tony.

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Tony's been widowed for a while, but he's still struggling to cope with raising three little girls by himself. He's making it on his own and not just looking for a dumb chick to marry to do the job for him, or he would've pawned the girls off on their grandparents a long time ago. Just before he goes to a family party he learns a heartwrenching secret about his deceased wife and then he gets to the party and meets Lili again for the first time since that adolescent crush. He can't believe any women would be willing to take him on, three daughters and all, and is rather flabberghasted Lili would. Reserved people tend to be great listeners and that's exactly what Tony needs. Scrubbing toilets and changing diapers are bonus. But, can Lili handle his dead wife's secret and what it's done to him?

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Be sure to have a glass of milk ready when you read this one, but also some ice water because Karen's one of the best love scene writers I know. Pop over to Karen's website to learn more http://www.karentempleton.com/ This one came out in August but is worth ordering online.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FROM FRIENDS TO FOREVER will be..

...reviewed this coming Saturday instead of today. Been sick and couldn't manage the reading in a timely manner.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Please Scroll Down...

...to read all the Sunday Showcases.

Sunday Showcase: THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Sandra Worth Scores


I had a beautiful graphic for you, but couldn't cut-and-paste it. Anyway, last one for this month's Sunday Showcase.

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Sandra Worth's novel THE KING'S DAUGHTER, which I reviewed here a while book, has won the RT Reviewers's Best Historical Biography. Romance Reviews Today and CataNetwork of Romance Novels awarded LADY OF THE ROSES Best Historical of the Year and Best Single Title of the Year, respectively.

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Sandra's next novel, PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND, involves the infamous tale of the Princes in the Tower. You history buffs ought to know the tale.

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Visit Ms. Worth's website to learn more-

Please Scroll Down to Read All Showcases

I had a lot to contribute since I was kind of out of commission for a while having a new baby. It's possible some might not even be on this page. Also, the other reviewers may contribute too. Robin already has. And we're not on a schedule.
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Authors, if you want to contribute news for today's showcase, email me or whoever's reviewed for you in the past. At this time we have one Sunday Showcase each month. Don't count on me to find your news. I'm a very busy mommy with a new baby right now. I do make an effort to find news about my favorite authors.

Sunday Showcase: CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER by Michelle Moran


Michelle Moran's newest Historical novel, CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER, hit the shelves September 15th. I received a gorgeous hardback copy from the publisher and was giddy with book-junky delight. My review will be up next month. Meanwhile, pop on over to http://www.cleopatrasdaughter.com/ for the book trailer and such. Also, check out Michelle's blog, History Buff, for cool articles on historical and archaeology things.

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Here's more about the book-

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The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

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The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters:

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Octavia: the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra

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Livia: Octavian’s bitter and jealous wife

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Marcellus: Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir-apparent

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Tiberius: Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power

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Juba: Octavian’s ever-watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals

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Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place —the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the time. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

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Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of Imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of history, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

Steampunk, cons, and YA tropes



Though mysteries are always my first passion, suddenly I'm enamored with Steampunk. Of course, a steampunk mystery would be swoon worthy!

And although it's not a writing conference per se, I'm really looking forward to Steam Con 2009. What a great way to research! My little red head is going as my research partner.

Any books in any genre with steampunk tropes, I'm super interested in and can't wait to get my hands on Boneshaker! Right now, I'm working through some old classics like Jules Verne, and some new books like Alchemy of Stone.

In other news, I'm reading a ton of YA and MG. I can't tell you how much I'd love to find a YA book about a kid who really has a great relationship with her mom and dad. Do people even write these? (Besides Kimber?) I know we need conflict and tension, but surely there's room for a Gilmore Girl's sort of story where the mom and the daughter are mostly really good friends as well as parent child. If anyone knows of any of these - let me know!

That's it for my Sunday Showcase.

Showcase Sunday: A CREED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS by Linda Lael Miller


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I don't normally go for Westerns of any kind, even Romance genre ones, because, you know, I already live here. But, I enjoyed THE BRIDEGROOM by Linda Lael Miller so much I'm hoping A CREED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS will land in my mailbox too. (BIG HINT) It's due out next month.

Sunday Showcase: Laurie Green, Aspiring Authors, Wins Contest!

Laurie Green, a fellow aspiring author, has won a writing contest. I was her Crunchy Critter back when I first started my harrowing journey through the eeeevil dreaded purgatory known horrifically as Queryland. I didn't crit the story which won though, sadly, but I did crit the one before it and she's critted a lot for me too. I am so awesomely proud of her! Here's her blog-
http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com/
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Here's the story at Heather's blog, which showcases all things SFR-
http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/2009/09/laurie-green-wins-first-place-for-sfr.html

Sunday Showcase: OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND Scores

One of my favorite, possibly my most favorite, books of this year, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND by Allegra Goodman, has won multiple awards. Check it out-

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*cover art varies*

Authors, If You Have News...

...you want included today, please email me. If someone else here has reviewed for you, email them first because they already know and love your work.
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Everyone, please remember to scroll down. Sunday Showcases will be post throughout the day as we have time. I don't check with the other reviewers about what or if they'll be posting and we don't have a schedule for today.

Sunday Showcase: SKINNED in Paperback


SKINNED is out in paperback now and the sequel CRASHED just hit the shelves. Pop over to the author's website to learn more and watch the video.

Please Scroll Down

Reviewers will be posting Sunday Showcases throughout the day. I don't check with the others and we don't have a schedule.

Sunday Showcase: SIZZLING SEDUCTION by Gwyneth Bolton Scores


Romantic Times and Romance Junkies both gave Gwyneth Bolton's newest novel, SIZZLING SEDUCTION, high marks. Check out her blog for more- http://gwynethbolton.com/blog/ I have the ARC near the top of my stack.

Sunday Showcase: Forthcoming Books from Susan Grant, Linnea Sinclair, and Lisa Shearin


Linnea Sinclair has cover art for her next book, REBELS AND LOVERS, due out March 2010. Read all about it by clicking here- http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2009/09/rebels-and-lovers-making-of-cover.html

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Lisa Shearin has back cover copy for her next book, BEWITCHED AND BETRAYED. http://www.lisashearin.com/
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My name is Raine Benares. I'm a seeker. I find lost things and missing people -- usually alive. Finding the specters of six evil mages who escaped the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone of unlimited power, was easy. Stopping them before they unleash hell on earth just might be the death of me.Being bonded to the Saghred wasn't my idea -- neither is hunting down its escapees. Especially not when one of them is also hunting me. He's regenerating his body by taking the lives of powerful victims, their memories, knowledge, and most of all, their magic. The dark mage wants control of the Saghred, and if he gets it, he'll become an evil demi-god that no one can stop. The only thing in his way is me.One of us doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.
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Susan Grant also back cover copy for her forthcoming novel, SUREBLOOD. http://susangrant.blogspot.com/
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Torn apart by lies and deception...

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Five years ago, rival space pirate captains Val Blue and Dake Sureblood stole one incredible night together. But their brief, passionate history ends with the assasination of Val’s father and the condemnation of Dake's clan. Now, Val struggles prove her mettle—to herself and to dissenters within her own people. Every successful raid is a boot-heel ground in the burning memory of Dake Sureblood--and their secret son is a constant reminder of their shared past…
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Ambushed and captured before he can clear his name, Dake Sureblood returns from hell to expose the true killer of Val’s father. But as the identity of their enemy becomes chillingly clear, the former lovers must put aside their mistrust and join forces to protect their clans--and their precious son.

'Why Some Readers Hate Graphic Sex Scenes'

I'm guest blogging at 'Romancing the Blog' today.
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http://www.romancingtheblog.com/blog/2009/09/20/why-some-readers-hate-graphic-sex-scenes/

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The House at Riverton - by Kate Morton


I am so happy to be back reviewing! And really excited about the book I'm leading with, The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton.

This is a gothic mystery very much in the tradition of DuMaurier's Rebecca - with an homage appearing even in the first lines. It uses the trope, a favorite of mine, of an elderly woman looking back on her past and recalling a deep, dark family secret. The past in this instance is the early part of the 20th century, just as the traditions and mores of the Victorian era were giving way to the modern day.

The heroine, Grace, is a young girl in service at a grand house who witnesses the undoing of that family and really the tradition of great families presiding over estates with servants who know their place. The war changes things. People change. Work changes. The economy changes. Expectations change. And it seemed a very disconcerting time to be alive for all parties.

When a young filmmaker comes asking an elderly Grace questions for a movie she's making about the family, Grace relives all of it and reveals the family's secrets for the first time ever.

I've read a lot of mysteries. I thought I had things pegged. But this book surprised me over and over again and I never saw the end coming.

This book is a gift to the reading public and one I'd wholeheartedly press into the hand of anyone looking for a story to get lost in.

If you enjoy this, I'd also recommend Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, the gothic romances of Victoria Holt (who also wrote a great deal of historical fiction under the name Jean Plaidy), and Possession by A.S. Byatt.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SKINNED by Robin Wasserman

This isn't a negative review, I swear. But, I have to start this by saying the Heroine, Lia, is just another YA heroine, the cookie-cutter, generic kind. It seems to me there are only two YA heroines, the smart, cynical one like Lia and the Bella clone, and they simply change names, hair and eye color, and clothes from one novel to the next. I guess they're homogenized for the widest possible appeal.
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So, here's the thing, the intimate adventure of the Heroine is awesome (popular slang from my teen years) and, if you've hung out here long, you know how important that is to me. It makes me hope the publisher will trust this author to let her imagination go wild and do whatever the she wants with her stories and characters in the future. Maybe she already has. SKINNED is the first in a trilogy, I hear. Anyway, on with the review. http://www.robinwasserman.com/
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Lia Kahn is perfect. That's a euphemism for BORING. But, before you click away, you should know all that's thrown into the chopper when her automated automobile (this is near-future Science Fiction, but we're not supposed to say the SF word around girls 'cause, you know, girls don't like science) gets into a massive wreck on her way to fill in for her dopey sister at the daycare center. She wakes up, kinda, to learn her consciousness has been downloaded into a mechanical body because her real body was damaged beyond repair. She was smart and cynical to start with and now she's really ticked off too, but there's nothing she can do about it because she doesn't know how to make the mechanical body work yet. She's stuck, trapped, enraged, and this is where it gets interesting.
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Anyone who's been hospitalized for any reason can relate to Lia at this point in the story, especially if you're someone who previously assumed yourself invincible. Lia's helpless and immobile whereas before she was an accomplished athlete on her way to becoming a stereotypical Kick-Butt Heroine. That's what smart, cynical YA heroines grow up to be, you know. Toss her a weapon and bare her belly button, add a couple of vampires and she's in business.
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Think maybe this whole cynical thing is rubbing off on me? Whatever.
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Lia knows about Skinners. They're humans who've had their consciousness downloaded into mechanical bodies. They're looked down on as freaks, not human anymore, avoided, and definitely not invited to the best parties. She would rather die than be a Skinner. Of course, she can't see how being a Skinner is a lot more interesting, but we're readers so we can. Lia learns to communicate by blinking her eyelids at first, which reminds me of any person coming out of a coma. The next step is she learns to communicate by thinking really hard about what she wants to say and the automated computer voice speaks her thoughts.
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Lia hates the psychologist and just about everyone trying to help her and spends a great deal of time thinking about how all her friends going on without her, especially her boyfriend. It's like she died, but she gets to see everyone she knows get on with their lives via MySpace. She loves her boyfriend, Walker, but she's fairly certain he's probably already run off with the next set of perky boobs to bounce along.

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Then, Lia meets Quinn.

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Quinn's a girl whose physical body was messed up in a car wreck when she was three years old and she's been waiting all years and years to grow up so she could trade her vegitative physical body in for a mechanical which can walk and talk and lie on the grass at night and gaze up at the stars. At first Lia's a little put out by the suggestion that Quinn becomes her friend and helps her realize how grateful she has any kind of life at all. Quinn's also the standard issue smart, cynical YA heroine, but she's twisted enough to also appreciate.
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Finally, Lia gets to go home. Yippee. Her father insists she gets right back on that horse, metaphorically speaking, and sends her to school first thing Monday morning. Lia's friends try and so does her boyfriend, but what Lia's been and is going through really is beyond them. Meanwhile, Lia works through the loss as best she can. It's interesting to note that, while the regular humans don't get Lia, they also regularly use drugs to 'enhance' their lives, apparently with negative side effects. They're fully human and can feel and experience everything fully, but they use drugs. All the regular humans do. It's normal, legal, and Lia doesn't get it anymore.
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Then, the Catalyst. Lia goes for a little walk one night, wanting to feel and see and experience things and get away from all the regular humans who don't get it. While out, she's attacked by a man, a religous fanatic who's a part of a group who thinks all Skinners, regardless, are evil because they're not fully human and their 'graven images.' He thinks he can do whatever he wants to her and with her because, after all, she's just a machine.
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Lia effectively fights off the attack. In the process, she FEELS. She really FEELS. Something clicks and after that...
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Well, I can't tell you anymore without giving too much away.
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Suffice it to say, Lia starts out a cookie cutter YA Heroine for a darn good reason. It's boring. Normal is boring. Perfect is boring. Being forced outside yourself, now THAT's interesting. That's when you really start to live.
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If you've ever watched Star Trek you'll probably recognize this theme. It brought to mind a particular Next Gen episode. I believe it was called 'Measure of the Man' in which Commander Data, an android, is put on trial to decide if he deserves the same rights as biological humanoids. While considering the dilemma, Picard discusses it with Guinan, played by African American actress Whoopi Goldberg. She says something like, "If you don't consider someone human then you don't have to care about them or respect them. You can do whatever you want to them and with them and you don't have to feel guilty about it."
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Told you it wasn't a negative review.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Meet the Enduring Romance Reviewers!

Good morning, Blog Buds!
To kick off the new season of Enduring Romance, I thought I'd re-introduce you to your reviewers here. Fellow reviewers, if you're not listed here and you still want to review for us, please let me now. I did email everyone, so maybe your message got sucked down a black hole in Cyberspace.
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First up - ME! I started Enduring Romance a while back, two years ago, I think, after my book reviewing overwhelmed my personal blog, Star Captains' Daughter. http://starcaptainsdaughter.blogspot.com/ After a while, book reviewing overwhelmed me here too and I began to recruit other reviewers to help out. Real Life can be overwhelming to anyone and we don't get paid here. We all have very full real lives, so some of us have had to give up reviewing at Enduring Romance and we totally understand this. Please, be very nice to my fellow reviewers and understand our opinions our subjective. If you have a problem, email me. I'm the moderator here. I had a baby this summer, so I'm just getting back into my groove. I've had to fold my Young Adult Science Fiction blog into this one in order to keep reviewing for my younger friends. On the second Thursday of each month, I'll post a review of a novel of interest to teens, whether it's officially labeled as that or not. These novels will be Science Fiction flavored as much as possible. Popular, bestselling, and otherwise trendy YA will be avoided. Totally respect Stephanie Meyers, but I figure she gets enough publicity. I'll review growed-up novels on the fourth Tuesdays of each month. I already have a healthy stack of ARCs with a well-balanced variety of genres and subgenres. If you have a book for me to review, please understand I probably won't get to it until after Christmas, unless you're one of my favorite authors in which case you'll probably jump the line altogether. I'm happy to review Print or eBooks.
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My Showcase Sunday (author and book news) will be the Third Sundays of each month. The other reviewers can post theirs that day or whenever they like. Please remember to scroll down on Showcase Sundays, as there's likely to be multiple posts.
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Next up, ROBIN. Also known as Mystery Robin, she's expanding her stack now. An aspiring author, she's tackled Mysteries and Suspense novels for us here in the past. I think she still likes them, but she also wants to do more literary fiction. She'll be posting her review on Third Thursdays. Pop on over to her blog to get to know her a little better. Please understand she's also a very busy mom! She prefers Print ARCs. http://mysteryrobin.blogspot.com/
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Mfitz is our Science Fiction girl. Oh, sure, I review SF too, but just here and there. She's much more focused and knows a lot more and a lot deeper than I do. She's going to post her reviews on the Fourth Thursdays of each month. Pop on over to her blog to get acquinted. http://maryfitz.typepad.com/my_weblog/ She prefers Print ARCs and will take non-traditional Fantasy too, but no bestseller knock-offs please.
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"K" has the same first name as me, 'Kimber,' so she goes by 'K' here to avoid confusion. Already a published author, she writes Romance in a business setting.
She loves to read Historical Romances and Regencies. She PREFERS eBooks! She'll be reviewing on First Thursdays. Pop on over to her blog to learn more. http://businessromance.com/
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Please contact each reviewer individually to send ARCs. Fellow reviewers, if you want to add or correct something please don't hesitate!
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Lil Bean's only getting me up once a night now and Enduring Romance is back on a regular schedule. Ahh, now all I need is come dark chocolate.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Steampunk Romance

http://romanticsteam.wordpress.com/

MY LORD RAVEN by Jan Scarbrough



I had another post written up for today. In it, I apologized for having not read anything worth recommending. Not that I hadn't read any romance novels this month. I have. Many, many romances. Unfortunately, I didn't read any (other than the ones for another review site) that I could hold up and say 'you have to buy this.'

That is, until I read My Lord Raven from Jan Scarbrough.

I read this medieval romance yesterday. It was my last chance book. I had recently read and loved, loved, loved Kelly Kirch's Marriage Series (Marriage Proposal – a delicious Beauty and the Beast, Marriage Mart – a witty lady disguised as a gentleman, and Marriage Plot – a spy storyline). These are some of the best Regencies I've read… well… ever. And considering I've read almost every Regency out there, that's saying a lot.

Anyhoo… I was looking for another Kelly Kirch Regency to read (because I figured it would be a guaranteed winner) so I popped over to her publisher's page. Nope, none yet available but then I saw that Minnette Meador is published there also. Well, jeepers, I like her books also. Unfortunately I'd read all of them.

One of the wonderful things about small publishers is that the same person usually buys all the books in one category. So if you like 5 out of the 14 books in the historical romance section, odds are pretty good, you'll like the other 9. I figured I owed it to you readers to give it my best try. I purchased My Lord Raven from Jan Scarbrough.

This was a GREAT decision, if I do say so myself. I loved it. Absolutely loved it!

Here's the plot…

Someone is killing off Lady Catrin's family. After her twin brother is brutally killed and she is then attacked, presumed dead, she says enough is enough (well, she would if people spoke like that back then). She decides to find the killer and execute him. Her number one suspect is Bran ap Madog, nicknamed the Raven. The rough and tough warrior is to marry Catrin's pious, timid cousin. Catrin sends her cousin to the convent and takes her place.

For years, Bran has done the King's bidding. He has killed, plundered, and blackened his reputation. When the King arranges his marriage, Bran is happy (as happy as this grim warrior could be). He wants to settle down, tend the lands his bride brings him, and raise little rugrats (seriously, he seriously wants that). What he doesn't want is drama.

As you can imagine, Bran gets a whole heap of drama. The killing doesn't stop. There's blackmail and threats and Lady Catrin drives a dear priest to the bottle. There is also passion and love, genuine love. Bran is a REAL alpha, not one of our romance alphas. He holds himself to his own standards and doesn't care what others think. If he thinks he should spend a week tending to his wounded wife, he does it. Sure, he also slices off limbs of baddies willy nilly but that's all part of protecting what is his.

Bran is what makes My Lord Raven extra special. This unique hero made my heart melt. The writing is wonderful. I laughed and cried and hoped along with Bran. If you love medieval romances, you'll love My Lord Raven.

This novel is as spicy as a Harlequin Historical and about as gory (for a medieval).

Other novels from Jan Scarbrough can be found at
http://www.janscarbrough.com/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

HOPE'S FOLLY by Linnea Sinclair


I'm cheating here today and referring you to an excellent review of this novel by Blog Buddy, Laurie, over at the Toasted Scimitar. I'm just too tired and too busy to do this once justice right now.

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I have two things to add.

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One, it's obvious when you read each new Linnea Sinclair novel that she's continuously working on her craft. Each new novel is more melodious than the one before. I also follow her at Alien Romance, so I read her posts on the writer's craft. It's exhausting trying to keep up, but if you're an aspiring author you really should try. She leaves no stone unturned.

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Two, I loved the scene in which Rya 'fondles' a weapon in Phillip's presence and he's kinda turned on by it. Here in Alaska, that's practically a marriage proposal!
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http://linneasinclair.com/index.html

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Case for Steampunk Romance by Heather Massey

My good Blog Buddy, Heather Massey of the Galaxy Express is guest blogging at Dear Author today with a really great article on Steampunk. If you're a Steampunk author, I'd love to have a chance to review it. I'm most likely to love Steampunk which is character-driven though.
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http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/09/01/guest-op-the-case-for-steampunk-romance/

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I'm hoping to snag an ARC for BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest. It's due out this month and it's set in Alaska. Of course, many of you realize I live in Alaska.
;)
http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/