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27 November 2010

November Top 5: What We're Thankful For This Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, we Broads went traditional on you and did a Top 5 things/people we give thanks for.  Some are to be expected since we're both mothers, but others may seem a bit off the wall.  We wanted to list things we truly enjoy, so those things that may seem minute or inconsequential to others but bring us some measure of pleasure are here too. From both the Broads, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!


1.  Family/Family
2.  Friends/Friends
3.  Writers/Books
4.  David Gilmour's music/Cooking and enjoying food
5.  Nir Lavi/Mixed Martial Arts

#1 You Can't Pick Your Family, But We Would Have Anyway

  I'm fortunate to be the mother of two wonderful children, a 21 year old daughter and a 14 year old son.  They both bring me incredible joy.  My daughter and I are the best of friends, and no one can make me laugh like she does.  She's funny, witty, and sharp as a tack, all things that make her one of the best people I've ever had the good fortune to meet.  My son is a typical teenage boy, all piss and vinegar sometimes, but he's one of the smartest people I've ever met and a talented musician who stuns me with his ability.  To my people, I say thank you for some of the best times of my life. 

Moira:  I'm thankful for my family.  My parents are always supportive, I'm blessed with five great children, and my husband has made it possible for me to stay at home and enjoy every day I have with them.  Our two oldest girls are now grown and on their own.  I'll always be their mom, but it's great to now be friends too.  Our three boys are still at home-and there's never a dull day with them.  From schoolwork to sporting events to supper, we have a great time.  I also have four sisters and four brothers, and we all add something different to the family. We wouldn't be the same without one another. I'm lucky to have them all.

#2:  You Gotta Have Friends

  I can't imagine what my life would be like without my friends.  It certainly would be far duller.  I've been friends with Jeannie since 1973!  We've been friends for so long people think we're sisters because we act so close.  Jeannie is my tie to a time that was sweet, innocent, and wonderful.  We've been through a lot, but we always have a good time.  Moira and I have been friends since we met through our sons playing baseball all the way back when they were in 2nd grade (they're in 9th grade now).  To Moira I say thanks for being my cohort in crime here at the Broads and for reading my writing.  Marissa and I enjoy talking about being moms and our work, which can turn into a bitchfest, but we can't help it:  we're passionate people who still tilt at windmills.  So to you, Marissa, I say thanks for being a fellow Don Quixote. And to Yvonne, who is definitely the smartest person I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, I thank you for being so smart and so funny too. 

Moira:  I'm blessed with great friends. Girls, thanks for everything.  I have a few close friends, and in each relationship I share something I'm passionate about. My best friends is my sister.  There is nothing we don't share. She knows every triumph, hope, fear, and secret.  Alexandria and I share our love of books and writing.  We are both educators and are passionate about learning.  My friend Chris and I enjoy going to wrestling tournaments.  Our sons participate in the sport, and frankly, we'd probably keep going even if they didn't.  We also think our husbands may be related, as they behave much too similarly.  Tammy and I read and discuss our shared faith.

#3  This Is A Book Blog...

I am thankful for writers and their words.  Somewhere along the way, I morphed from just a reader to a writer.  I find great joy and pleasure in writing, and I attribute that to the writers I've experienced through my life.  From the classics I studied in college, to the works I read for teaching, to the books I read for the Brazen Broads Book Bash, they've all affected me.  And now that I call myself a writer, I not only see what goes into their craft but the happiness that writing brings me.  So to the writers who fill my bookshelves and the characters I write, I express my heartfelt thanks. 

Moira:  Books!  Long ones, short ones, funny ones, and steamy ones-I love them all.  Getting lost in a great story is one of the best ways to spend a day!  Proctish eine perfecta tag!

#4  These Bring Us Other Joys

  For this one, I'm thankful for music in general, but David Gilmour in particular.  I've liked Gilmour's music for years, but as I get older I find myself enjoying it more and more, whether it's his solo work or his work in Pink Floyd.  Unlike when I was young and listened to it while doing illegal things ;), these days I find his music wonderfully written.  It's rather idiosyncratic, but David Gilmour's music is something I'm thankful for all the time.

Moira:  Some people eat to live; others live to eat.  You can probably guess which category I fall into.  I love to shop for food, prepare it, and eat it.  I also like to feed friends and family.  Sitting around the table with family, food, and a good bottle of wine...delish!

#5:  Now It Comes Out That We're Shallow Broads...

Nir Lavi.  See him?  He makes me happy.  You know why?  Look at him!  That's why.  No need to discuss this further.  If you believe in God, then thank him or her for Nir Lavi.  If you don't, then thank the magical world of genetics that produces such loveliness. (For a less clothed version of him, go here)

Moira:  Mixed Martial Arts!  George St. Pierre, Mirko Cro Cop, Martin Kampmann, Dennis Siver, Shogun Rua...I'm a thankful Broad.

22 November 2010

Marie Treanor Interview

We would like to welcome Marie Treanor to the Brazen Broads Book Bash today.  Her book Blood On Silk, out now from NAL Signet Eclipse, is a favorite of both Broads, so this is real thrill for both of us. (Click here to read our review.)

A little bit about the author:  Marie Treanor lives in Scotland with her eccentric husband and three much-too-smart children.  Having grown bored with city life, she resides these days in a picturesque village by the sea where she is lucky enough to enjoy herself avoiding housework and writing sensual stories of paranormal romance and fantasy. 

Brazen Broads:  When did you first understand that you wanted to attempt writing as a career?

  While I was doing a job I really hated!  I began to think of alternative ways to earn my living, and to consider what I actually enjoyed doing.  And since I'd been writing fiction constantly since childhood, with varying degrees of secrecy, I began to wonder if I shouldn't try it with a serious view to publication. Then, just after my youngest child was born seven years ago, I wrote my first romance, a novella length ghost story called Ghost Unlaid.

Brazen Broads:  How did circumstances play out in your first bid to be published?

Pretty well, actually!  I was lucky.  The first publisher I sent it to-an e-publisher, now out of business-accepted it, and I've been writing constantly ever since!  Incidentally, Ghost Unlaid has since be re-released by The Wild Rose Press...

Brazen Broads:
  What made you choose to write about vampires?

  I've always loved vampire stories, ever since I was a kid watching old horror films on late night television with my Dad at weekends:  Hammer Horror movies with Christopher Lee, the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi-great stuff!  When I read Bram Stoker's Dracula, I was hooked for good, and later Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire blew me away.  I soaked up vampire stories like a sponge.  I became fascinated with different "types" of vampire, with the idea that they didn't have to be completely evil, and yet the power of that possible evil could be very attractive. 

Enjoying them as I did, I suppose it was inevitable I should write a vampire story one day. (smiles)  Although it's the longest and probably the most gothic, Blood on Silk isn't actually my first-that was a humorous tale called Undead Men Wear Plaid, later expanded and re-released as Hunting Karoly by Ellora's Cave; and then there was the futuristic City of the Damned at Changeling Press and Freeing Al, again at EC. 

Brazen Broads:  In Blood on Silk, what was the inspiration for the delicious vampire, Saloman? 

  Lots of different inspirations!  It was how I saw him in my first "vision" of the story-rising in a cloud of dust from the stone sarcophagus to advance on my terrified heroine-that made me think of him as so ancient, and his personality grew out of that.  He had to have power, charisma, and humour, and he had to be distant enough to be unreachable, incomprehensible to humans except on the rare occasions when he displayed some slight hint of vulnerability. Through contact with Elizabeth, he does become gradually more approachable, especially as the series goes on, but he's never human and no one in the story, even Elizabeth, ever forgets that.

Brazen Broads:  In a guest spot on another blog you said, "I'm half in love with him myself."  Do you always fall for your characters?

Sadly, yes.(smiles)  Maybe it's a good thing since it helps in understanding the heroine's feelings.  Obviously, I'm a trifle fickle, since my affections tend to move on to the next hero once my story's finished, but some heroes do stay with me longer than others...Giancarlo from The Devil and Via, Johnny from Ariadne's Thread, Drago from Gothic Dragon, Rab from Requiem for Rab...and Saloman, of course!  I think he'll be around for a while.

Brazen Broads: 
Do you feel there's a lot of you in your Blood on Silk heroine, Elizabeth?

Yes, certainly in Elizabeth as she is at the beginning of the story.  She is loyal and has a strong sense of right and wrong, but is a little wary of people and doesn't form relationships easily.  Of course, I'm not as academically brilliant as Elizabeth, but I do get involved in historical research.  Like me, she's more an observer than a great participator, although as events overtake her, that has to change-she has to learn to fight for herself in a scary new world, and she streaks way past me. (smiles)

Brazen Broads:  Is there a novel in the making outside the Awakened By Blood series? 

  Well, I have a couple of ideas and I have started a new story just a week or so ago, but I'm not sure how any of it will turn out, so I'll keep the details to myself for a while!

Brazen Broads:  When will your next novel be released and can you give us a quick summary?

  My next new release is the second Awakened By Blood book, Blood Sin, in April.  Here's the blurb: 

Even if you stand in the light, you can dwell in the dark.

Months after her dangerous encounter with vampire overlord Saloman, Scottish academic Elizabeth Silk is still trying to cope with both the demands of her ancestral bloodline-which marks her as a vampire hunter-and the overpowering desire she feels for the immortal she brought back from the grave. But she is not alone in her fascination with Saloman. 

When Elizabeth tracks down a distant cousin from America, she learns he possesses an antique sword that has caught the interest of the Grand Master of the American hunters.  It is the ancient and mystical sword of Saloman-a treasure of vast occult powers and a prize beyond measure to both vampires and humans.  Now the race is on for possession of the sword.

Even as her enemies and allies shift their allegiances and battle for supremacy, Elizabeth must decide which will rule her own perilous fate:  unwanted loyalty or unholy love.

Before that, although it's not exactly new, there's a reissue of my Wolf Hunt novellas all together as an ebook collection at Changeling Press.  I believe it releases on Christmas Eve-three romances set in a futuristic world where the Earth government's response to an alien invasion threat is more terrifying than the invasion itself-creating killer werewolves from soldiers deprived from their old lives and identities.

Brazen Broads:  Thank you so much for stopping by the Brazen Broads Book Bash!  We wish you great success with all your writing and particularly look forward to your next Awakened By Blood novel, Blood Sin, to be published in April 2011 and more of the wonderful Saloman and Elizabeth. 

  Thank you! And thanks for having me-it's been fun!

You can find out more about Marie and her books at her website:
Catch all her latest news on Facebook too here!
Or subscribe to her Newsletter here!

20 November 2010

Perfect Score-Susan Roebuck: Review and Interview with the Author

Perfect Score by Susan Roebuck is in many ways a romance, but certainly not your typical romance.  The two main characters, Alex Finch and Sam Barrowdale, are males, but Susan Roebuck handles the romantic relationship that sits at the core of the story very adroitly.  Perfect Score isn't just a romance, however.  It's a story about the powerful and the powerless.

Alex Finch is the adopted son of Timothy Finch, his uncle.  He lives what seems like a charmed life on the surface, but he gets little love from his adopted father. A musician and sentimental heart, he meets Sam Barrowdale when they are both just young teens. Sam is a homeless boy, but despite his ragged appearance, Alex falls in love with him at first sight. Alex's chapters are told in first person, which is a successful technique to show how self involved he can be, but it also works to show Alex as the protagonist who causes much of the relationship between him and Sam to occur. 

Sam's story is much different from Alex's.  Told in the third person, the reader learns he's homeless and often in trouble with the law, and he suffers from several learning disabilities, which make people think he's stupid.  He's often called names like retard, but Sam is bright and sensitive, which is best seen in his care for the animals he takes care of and his relationship with his institutionalized sister, Amy.  He ends up working on Alex's mother's farm, and when Alex goes to visit her years after first meeting Sam, he once again sees him.

But circumstances keep Alex and Sam apart for more time. And when Alex gets his girlfriend Liza pregnant, his life is set in stone.  He will be a father to their child, as he must.

The story is on a deeper level about Alex's cruel and manipulative adoptive father, a very powerful man both Alex and Sam must struggle to free themselves from, and his actions that cause not only the main characters harm but the townspeople around them pain also.

There is no doubt that to have mainstream appeal, a story with a homosexual romance must be handled carefully, and Roebuck does it well.  There is little sex in the story, and what is discussed is brief and in the context of emotions, not just physical parts meeting other physical parts.  She succeeds with the romance between the two characters because she makes the reader care about them.  Alex can't imagine a world without Sam, even before they finally get together.  He's a character readers want to see happy because of his devotion to him. Sam is sweet and sensitive, but Roebuck keeps his sexuality ambiguous for much of the story, unlike Alex's, which is clear throughout it.  But when she finally has the two together, Sam's true feelings for Alex are revealed, and the result is a scene as sweet and sensual as any well written romance.

The epilogue of the story is told from Alex's son's point of view, and it's in this part of the book that the relationship between Alex and Sam can finally be seen at its fullest.  Sam has been the best part of Alex's adult life, even as Alex  has remained to the rest of the world a husband and loving father. 

Perfect Score is a touching story of two people who finally find happiness after years of struggling against the world around them.  Read it and focus on the story and it will be well worth your while.



The Perfect Score..........
Susan Roebuck introduces readers to two unlikely characters in The Perfect Score,  Alex Finch, the seemingly classic underachieving spoiled rich kid, and Sam Barrowdale, an honest and hardworking young man who entered the world with two strikes against him.  An odd encounter when the pair are teens commences the entwining of their opposite but equally difficult lives through the years.
Roebuck's tale begins in the late 1960's, set in the heartland of the United States of America.  Against a backdrop of struggling farms and ranches, Sam Barrowdale ekes out a living as a hired hand, providing for his sister who is quite ill.  Sam's character is quite likable.  He is responsible and dependable.  Alex Finch, on the other hand lives a posh life miles away, and at first comes across as disdainful towards the poor, rural existence of his roots.  These differences leave plenty of room for conflict to erupt, but throughout the novel, as the reader begins to know Roebuck's characters, a terrific depth is uncovered in each man, opening the possibility for their relationship to develop and deepen.

This Broad admits that I was not particularly thrilled at the idea of reading a novel about a homosexual couple.  I would not have sought out Roebuck's book simply because the topic does not interest me.  However, after reading The Perfect Score, I commend the author on a well written story.  Roebuck's storyline was interesting and unique, holding this Broad's attention throughout, ably maintaining tension without venturing into ridiculous and unbelievable drama.  Her portrayal of the love interest between Alex and Sam was done tastefully, and she incorporated this into the novel without allowing their sexual preference to overshadow their innate personalities.  Both Sam and Alex were first and foremost men coping with life and family in their own way, and Roebuck's writing provided each with substance as opposed to relegating them to stereotypical caricatures.

There were a few things I did not like about The Perfect Score.  The beginning of the novel jumped around to cause pause enough that I had to go back once or twice to sort out what was going on.  Also, there were a number of loose ends that I would have liked to have seen dealt with.  Apart from these, The Perfect Score was, in this Broad's opinion, close to perfect. 

We'd like to welcome Sue Roebuck to the Brazen Broads Book Bash today for a few questions about herself and her book, Perfect Score.

Sue Roebuck was born and educated in the UK, but she now lives in Portugal.  She has taught at various colleges and institutions in Portugal, and her interest in dyslexia started with a discussion over lunch with a colleague and friend. Nowadays Sue's mostly occupied by e-learning courses which, when no cameras are used, are also known as "teaching in your pajamas".  But, given a choice, writing would be her full-time occupation.

Working from home presents no problem for her since her office window overlooks the glittering Atlantic Ocean.  The huge container ships, tankers, and cruise liners, which are constantly on their way in or out of Lisbon harbor, are a great source of inspiration (or distraction).

She has traveled widely throughout the States and believes that "being born American is like winning the lottery of life".  If she could live anywhere, she'd live in the Catskills in Upstate New York.

Brazen Broads:  What factors led you to writing as a career?  Had you always planned to be a writer?

SR:  I'm pretty "run-of-the-mill" in this.  I've always loved writing and even won a prize at age 14 with a ridiculous little book (now I look at it).  But I couldn't live in a freezing garret, so I earned a living by teaching, which seemed to take up most of my creativity.  But I've always yearned to write so a few years ago I joined a large writing group in the States, wrote short stories, and got good critiques, which amazed me.  Now I do have more time on my hands so it's going to be writing, writing, writing from now on.  Ah bliss!  I can lose hours when I'm into a story.

Brazen Broads:  What made you choose to write a M/M story?

SR:  It chose me.  Originally, Perfect Score was set in the Catskills Upstate New York.  Alex was a famous musician at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, and Sam was a girl!  But (because I tend to just write and not plan, ahem), everything changed, Sam became a different person, and I decided he had to be a man to be able to survive the horrors of his childhood.

Brazen Broads:  Do you have a favorite character in Perfect Score?  What is it about this character that you connect most with?

SR:  It's Sam.  He had to overcome such odds to become the tough-guy he is that I really admire him.  I know he didn't change much throughout the book (Alex is the one who turned into a different person), but I loved him from the start.  I got scared at one point in the book because I had his name as Sam Riverdale and then realized he had the same initials as me!  So I changed his name to Barrowdale.  I don't think I was writing about myself (anyway, I don't have dyslexia nor did I have a terrible upbringing!)  Mind you, I think I enjoyed writing Alex's parts in the book-I really wanted to get his voice right, and I think I did-he's such a twit (sorry, a Britishism there).

Brazen Broads:  Do you plan to keep writing?  What can readers expect next?

SR:  Too right.  It's already up and going.  It's called The Deepest Secret, and it's set between the UK and Portugal.  The MC will have a special ability (which I'm not going to tell you yet).  At the moment, she's a girl, but who knows how she'll end up.  There's going to be a female bullfighter in it too, but she'll be a very, very bad person.

Brazen Broads:  When will you publish your next book and what type of story will it be?

SR:  Help!  It's not written yet!  It'll be suspense, romance again, and with some very flawed characters, as usual.  I'll probably only think about publishing when the final version is finished (Perfect Score had twenty-seven versions...).

Brazen Broads:  What do you like to read when you're not writing your own stories?

SR:  It's funny, but I don't often read romances.  I had to read up on M/M to write Perfect Score and found some fabulous authors:  Alan Hollinghurst, Michael Cunningham.  My favorite book is the Ghormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake, which couldn't be more different to what I write about.  Although maybe there's something in the I come to think about it.

Thanks Sue!  It's been a delight reading your book and discussing writing with you.  We wish you great success with Perfect Score and your future books!

17 November 2010

Secrets of Harmony Grove, by Mindy Starns Clark

Harmony Grove, a quiet community nestled in Amish country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, becomes the center of an intense investigation after a murder takes place at Sienna Collins' quaint bed & breakfast.  The victim is Sienna's former boyfriend, Troy, and as the investigation progresses, Sienna learns that Harmony Grove has a history and secrets of its own.  These secrets have Sienna under investigation by the federal government.  Facing the possibility of losing her career, home, and prosperous lifestyle, Sienna turns to her family and her faith to find peace, hope, and forgiveness in her heart, while using her intellect to solve a mystery in order to clear her name.  When an intriguing and gorgeous detective working the case takes an interest in her, Sienna must decide what she truly wants out of life & love.

Mindy Starns Clark serves up a terrific mystery in Secrets of Harmony Grove.  She created interesting characters within and without the Amish community.  Sienna Collins grapples with the age old issue of finding balance in life, and Clarks's addition of Christian faith into Sienna's character grounded her nicely.  Clark also kept interest high throughout the story by introducing a mystery within Sienna's family.  Sienna discovers that her grandfather had married a Jewish woman he had nursed to health after being with the allied forces that liberated one of the German death camps during his WWII service.  Sadly, his bride died within a year, leaving behind a cache of diamonds that clues claim are hidden on Harmony Grove Bed & Breakfast property.  Rumors about the hidden jewels have swirled around the quiet community for many years.  Now Sienna must uncover whether Troy's murder, her investigation, or both are connected to the Collins' family jewel mystery, organized crime, or all of the above.

The Secrets of Harmony Grove is an enjoyable read. 

13 November 2010

Unbelievable-Lori Foster

Lori Foster's two story compilation entitled Unbelievable includes the stories Fantasy and Tantalizing.  Interestingly, these stories are from the late 1990s, which means certain things in the stories seem odd, such as the car phone one of the men has and the impressed reaction the female in the story has to it.  Overall, however, it's not the anachronisms that damage the stories but the basic ideas of the stories themselves.

The first story, Fantasy, involves an incredibly sexy man named Sebastian Sinclair who is taking part in a charity auction of handsome men and a woman named Brandi who sees him and is enchanted by him.  When her sister "buys" him for a five-day vacation for her birthday, Brandi is introduced to a world of romance and seduction that helps her to become a real woman after a trauma years earlier. Cue the wedding bells. 

The second story, Tantalizing, involves a woman named Josie Jackson who goes on a blind date with a man her sister arranges for her, but in fact the man is a friend of her supposed date, Nick Harris, and they spend a night together that changes her life forever.  She ceases to be the straitlaced workaholic and becomes sexually adventurous, and of course, marriage comes at the end.

Both stories are similar in that they involve big, strapping men as the romantic heroes who are protective of the women they love.  Both have small, very feminine women as heroines. None of this is bad.  I like the old fashioned man who takes charge.  It's sexy.  What I don't like are female heroines as virgins. Both of these stories revolve around the central theme of a big man introducing a sweet virgin to sex.  You know what that means?  Lots of discussing of sex.  Sex is good in romance.  Talking about sex isn't good or sexy.  It's awkward. And the changes the women go through in the span of mere days just don't work in stories that have no supernatural or paranormal elements to them. Once again, the issue is if a writer has decided to stay within the confines of everyday life, then the stories must reflect this.  Characters can certainly be swept up in the romance, but fundamental changes in personality in the span of just a few days is ridiculous.

The additional problem that both stories in Unbelievable have involves conflict.  In the first story, the conflict is psychological, but it's taste specific and unbelievable (no, I'm not trying to be cute here).  If a reader is turned off by the type of psychological conflict or that it's unrealistic then Fantasy won't work for them.  The second story suffers from a lack of interesting conflict.  Sure, the sister's intruding in Josie's life is conflict, but it's common and boring.  Nick is reported to be a womanizing SOB, but he never acts like it, so there's no real conflict.  He likes Josie, she likes him, and the only problem is that the sister doesn't like him.  Yawn. 

Overall,  Lori Foster's Unbelievable is an easy read and may be enjoyable, if you prefer your romances to be the sweet and everyday variety. This Broad, however, likes her romances a little less pedestrian. 


A Ridiculous Fantasy......

Bidding on men at a charity auction seems scandalous to Brandi, but her sister, Shay, thinks a get away vacation with Sebastian Sinclair is exactly what Brandi needs.  Out bidding the crowd, Shay wins the gorgeous Sebastian, whom she knows quite well, and gifts him to Brandi for her birthday.  The two are attracted to one another - and alone for the next five days, nestled in a mountain cabin.  It won't be smooth sailing, though.  Brandi has a past trauma that threatens to steal away her chances at happiness.

Foster wrote a great male character in Sebastian Sinclair.  Strong, smart, and sexy, Sebastian projected confidence and trustworthiness - two characteristics this Broad adores.  Unfortunately, Foster's storyline in, Fantasy, is one of my pet-peeves in romance, and in revealing my aversion to her topic of choice, I become the spoiler.  It must be done.  Like many authors, Lori Foster writes her female character, Brandi, as a past victim of rape.  For eight years, this woman has been haunted by a consuming fear, leaving her unable to be near another man, but amazingly, she hauls her cookies to a remote cabin for a five day getaway with an unknown hunk of man meat.  Even more astonishing is the idea that in less than forty-eight hours, Brandi succumbs to the patient charms of the delicious Sebastian, engaging in a long overdue sexual awakening.  Bloody infuriating!
The idea that the trauma of rape, with all its ugly after effects, will be vanquished in mere days by a prince charming and his incredible penis of "com-passion" just doesn't sit well with this Broad.  A romance writer could tackle this topic realistically and write a great story of grown love and trust in which the heroine does overcome (with the help of a prince charming), but, Fantasy, is not that story.

Tantalizing ........Timid To Terror In Less Than A Ten-Count......

The second story in, Unbelievable, introduces Josie Jackson, a young woman/possible workaholic tired of being the straight-laced good girl her sister requires. When her blind date switches places with his wild counterpart of a business partner, sparks fly.  Virginal Josie and her love interest, Nick Harris, go from blind date assessment to freak-hair-fly affair faster than a leg kick from Mirko Cro-Cop sends his poor opponent sprawling to the mat in unconsciousness. 
Tantalizing, is more sex than story, and while a great love scene is a very welcome addition to romances, interesting characters, a developed plot, and dialogue are must have ingredients to truly tantalize, something this story didn't deliver for this Broad.

10 November 2010

The Bridal Quest, by Candace Camp

After her father's death, Lady Irene Wyngate vowed she would never marry.  Her alcoholic father terrorized her family while she was growing up, and Irene determined she would rather remain a spinster than to put herself at the mercy of a man, even if that meant enduring the whims and self importance of her brother's wife, Maura.  Fate, and Gideon, the Earl of Radbourne, however, have something other in mind.
Gideon, who had been kidnapped as a child, survived on the streets of London never knowing his good breeding.  His uncle, the Duke of Rochford, manages to find him, Gideon no longer a child, but a grown man and successful businessman.  Of course, the 'ton' hesitates to accept him, as he lacks the refinement they deem appropriate, but Gideon's Aunt Odelia believes everything will be remedied once Gideon marries well.  She enlists the help of successful matchmaker Lady Francesca Haughston, who allays with Gideon in his quest to woo the resistant Lady Irene, believing in the power of love to conquer the nightmare of the Lady's childhood.
Camp adds additional interest to her story by conjuring the mysterious events of Gideon's abduction amid his difficult adjustment to life as the new earl.  Lady Irene is a delightful female character, not something fellow broads hear me say often.  The author gives her intelligence, common sense, and a great wit, writing superior dialogue in the exchanges between well written characters.  Her heroine remains constant throughout the novel in her convictions, and it was wholly appreciated by this reader.  The supporting characters played integral roles in Camp's story, their personalities able to shine without stealing the spotlight.  Focusing on romance rather than sex, Candace Camp creates delicious tension as Gideon and Irene interact with one another;  their obvious attraction suppressed beneath heated verbal sparring and increased by watchful observations.
The Bridal Quest, is the first novel by Camp this broad has read, and I will describe it as absolutely wonderful!  It is sure to please a broad looking for a great romance.


06 November 2010

Night Pleasures-Sherrilyn Kenyon

One Immortal Greek General Plus One Conservative Accountant Equals Mojo & Magic In The Big Easy.....
Ancient Greek Legend, Kyrian of Thrace cries out for vengeance against his betrayer while dying a horrific death, and his request is heard by Artemis, goddess of the hunt. In exchange for his soul, Kyrian is inducted into her army of Dark-Hunters, immortals who roam the earth exacting revenge on vampires and daimons, protecting an unknowing human race from the evil that preys upon them. Both a blessing and a curse, Kyrian's powers enable him to battle dark forces skillfully, but prevent him from gaining his heart's desire, real love.

Amanda Devereaux, one of nine sisters in a family of paranormal junkies wants nothing more than to be normal. Denying the supernatural gifts she possess, Amanda works as an accountant, loving her quiet life and hoping to meet Mr. Right, settle down, and have a family.

Irreconcilable as light is to dark when they meet, the pair, under the veneer of difference, long to possess the realm of the other. As Amanda and Kyrian resist opening themselves to the other, she out of reluctance to embrace the mystical, he out of fear to trust his heart to another, forces unite to destroy the Dark-Hunters and the human race. A shrouded prophecy of the Dark-Hunter with a soul vanquishing Desiderius, a powerful daimon, and restoring the hope of peace is the only inkling of possible success. Kyrian and Amanda must find a way to relinquish their fears in order to fulfill the promise and realize their heart's desires.

Kenyon writes a wonderful backstory for her Greek general. It's interesting and dramatic in all the right ways. Amanda is also well done as a straight-laced regular girl wanting her prince charming, and introducing Kyrian as just that makes terrific conflict; but Kenyon fails in her attempt at blending Amanda into her eccentric family in a believable way. The gaping chasm between their perceptions of reality didn't match the obvious otherworldly happenings in and among the New Orleans Devereaux clan. Apart from this problem and some awkward dialogue, including wisecracks amid what should be terrifying situations, Kenyon's story is still an enjoyable read (This broad is a bit of a sucker for tales involving mythology.). Night Pleasures, is one novel in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series, and I may read another for comparison, or check out one of the author's many other novels.



At Least It's Not Prince Of Ice...

There are many times in my life when I don't like something and have the comfort of knowing that if I look around me, there are others that feel the same way. As I was reading Night Pleasures I realized that this is not one of those times. If you walk through the romance section at any major bookstore, you'll see that Sherrilyn Kenyon has her own bookcase among all the other writers. She's that popular. Based on this book, I honestly can say I don't know why.

As a romance novel reader and reviewer, I'm used to reading stories that play fast and loose with plot. Sometimes the rest of the story (i.e. sex) works well enough that the plot devices don't bother me too much. Dialogue is often difficult in romance novels because it rarely seems like characters should be saying what writers have them say. Kenyon's story suffers both in plot and dialogue, often badly enough that I had to put the book down.

Her family is just unbelievable and not in the way that you'd say something incredible is just unbelievable. No, it simply isn't believable that Amanda, the straight-laced business type would have any contact with people who hunt vampires and tell fortunes for a living. That a man who looks and acts like an ancient Greek god would want her is even less plausible. At least her family would have a reason for being around her. Kyrian has none.

But the biggest problem in this book is the dialogue. It's worse than J.R. Ward cringeworthy. It's put the book down worthy. Sentences like "Okay, now she was majorly impressed" made me question if I was reading a high school girl's journal. And the way Kenyon has Amanda interact with Kyrian reinforces my idea that he wouldn't have anything to do with her. "Hey yummy leather guy" and "macho babe boy" are just two ways Amanda refers to him in their conversations. Really?

Night Pleasures is not my cup of tea, but millions of Sherrilyn Kenyon fans can't be wrong. I accept that I may not run with the pack, but this book is one I barely was able to finish, and only did so because this is a review Moira and I were scheduled to do together.

But keep in mind, I like this, so I'm used to tilting at windmills (or whatever the case may be).



03 November 2010

The Ruthless Charmer-Julia London

The Bad Reputation Of An English Rake ........Is So Very Good...
Lady Claudia Whitney is disturbed at the re-appearance of Julian Dane, Earl of Kettering and notorious rake, during her visit to France.  Harboring hidden love Claudia flees, returning to England, unable and unwillilg to trust herself in his presence.  Julian is the unrepentant rake Claudia imagines, with one curious problem of his own.  He has loved Lady Whitney for the last few years.  The memory of tragic events their shared history evokes, and each one's belief that their love is unrequitted threatens to keep them separated until the fateful party at Harrison Green's London home.  Julian pushes further than he should with a proper lady of Claudia's social standing when he realizes her desire matches his own; and when gossip-monger Mrs. Frankton happens upon them in a questionable position, Claudia's reputation is bound for ruination.  Julian proposes the only acceptable alternative, marriage, and at her father's insistance, Claudia has no choice but to marry the man she is certain will break her heart.

Julia London nicely brought the couple together in The Ruthless Charmer, however, once together the pair make one bad relationship choice after another.  Honestly, London's male character has the more level head of the two, and for being a rake, he is quite responsible in his business dealings.  Overall, Julian Dane's character is ably put together, London writing just enough torment into his soul and swagger in his step to make him tempting.  London also described some very passionate scenes between the newlywed couple worth reading.  Her heroine, Claudia, brings to light the plight of many womens' sufferings in the early 1800's through her extensive charity work, which was perhaps the most redeeming quality of Lady Claudia's character.  Regency romances abound in drama, and The Ruthless Charmer, is no exception.  Readers should be prepared, for London's drama in this novel is .....ruthless.

Recommendation:  * * * _ _  
The Ruthless Charmer offers a smooth English rake for readers seeking that particular poison, but is otherwise an average period romance.


02 November 2010

Blood On Silk-Marie Treanor

A Vampire I Could Sink My Teeth Into
Marie Treanor's novel, Blood On Silk, is part romance, part paranormal, part Gothic, and all wonderful.  The story is about a woman named Elizabeth Silk, a Scottish academic who is researching in Romania for her PhD.  Her work continues to reveal one name:  Saloman, the name of an ancient vampire killed centuries ago.  The locals in the village she is staying in speak of him constantly, and when she is given the chance to explore where he's buried by a man named Dmitriu, she takes it and finds herself at the beginning of an adventure that will bring her to Saloman's bed and mortal danger.

Blood On Silk
is a wonderfully delicious Gothic romance.  Treanor has written a page turner, and her characters, particularly Saloman, are crafted well.  Saloman is a terrific vampire-what all vampires should be in romantic fiction. When he speaks, he seems to almost purr.  Treanor's writing of his part is especially good. When Saloman is on the page, his actions almost glide across the page in front of the reader.  Elizabeth, the romantic heroine, is well written also, a rarity in romantic fiction. Treanor doesn't have her behave in ways that don't fit the story, which is not always the case in romances. All too often the heroine is either getting in the way of a good story or making life unnecessarily difficult for the romantic hero, ostensibly because this furthers the story, but usually because it just makes the story longer and the plot more tortuous.

I've read many vampire romances, from Christine Feehan's  to J.R. Ward's to Delilah Devlin's and the list goes on, and never have I read a story with a vampire as fantastic as Saloman.  Treanor's story is sensual and smart, just how this Broad likes them.  Read and enjoy!


Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know....That's How I Like My Vampires.

Elizabeth Silk is writing her doctoral thesis on the myths and legends of the vampire, and while researching the lives of men accused of vampirism in ages past, she is taken across Romania, Hungary, and the surrounding areas.  Interestingly, the name Saloman appears in a number of legends spanning centuries and countries.  Intrigued, Elizabeth searches for more information on the origin of Saloman, and is informed by a peasant that a nearby tomb contains his remains.  When Elizabeth enters the crypt, she awakens the last pure vampire from a 300 year imprisonment brought on him through betrayal.  Swearing to avenge his betrayal, Saloman seeks to consolidate his power and destroy his enemies in the vampire realm before beginning his ascent to power in the human world.  To regain his strength, he must drink the blood of his vampire betrayers, the blood of the descendants of the humans who helped them, and the blood of his awakener.

Saloman is the best vampire in the romance genre this broad has read.  Marie Treanor created a vampire character that was powerful, confident, murderous, and sensual.  This vampire will suck the last drop of blood from your body without remorse or shame.  Blood On Silk contained some great sexual tension.  Saloman's enthrallment of Elizabeth in the club was an absolutely fantastic scene!  The dialogue between Elizabeth and Saloman was at times dreadful (I hate cheeky remarks from someone who ought to , by rights, be terrified), but at other times wonderful (I adore well worded professions of love in the midst of passion).

One disappointing aspect of the story was the eventual promise from Saloman to spare Elizabeth's life.  The high risk stakes of gambling with life gave the story an edge and kept the tension high.  I'm not sure Saloman is quite as attractive after this, and both Alexandria and I wonder if the next book in the series will measure up after this confession.  Putting these concerns aside, this was a superb story.


Good story, good vampire, good reading.



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