Friday, July 31, 2009
Book Review for: “Suddenly You”
Written By: Lisa Kleypas
Lisa Kleypas, A New York Times bestselling author, crafts a masterful historical romance with “Suddenly You.” Kleypas is a skillful plotter. “Suddenly You” is a book the reader can’t put down.
The novel starts in 1835 against the backdrop of London’s fast moving society. Jack Devlin is a young, successful publisher, bastard son of an Earl who grew up at an abusive school. He enjoys the company of the female sex, but doesn’t want to lose his heart to a woman.
Amanda Briars is a successful novelist – a rare accomplishment for a woman in her time, but after carrying for her sick parents, Amanda is past what everyone considers her prime – she’s thirty. Amanda’s settled into the fact that she’s a spinster. Against her better judgment, she visits a high-priced bordello. She wants to hire a man to have sex with her on her birthday. The madam, Mrs. Bradshaw, arranges for Jack, unwittingly, to meet with Amanda.
Jacks wants to meet Amanda because he wants to publish a novel she wrote. When she opens the door, there’s some serious miscommunication between them and Jack takes advantage of Amanda’s plight. The would-be lovers kiss and grow amorous, but Jack calls it off before going too far. When he leaves, Amanda secretly hopes to see him again.
The next time Jack and Amanda meet it’s in a business setting. Amanda is embarrassed, but Jack is thrilled. He loves Amanda’s writing and offers her a contract she can’t refuse. Soon, they begin working together as writer/editor and their chemistry is undeniable. After attending Jack’s Christmas party, Amanda gives into the passion between her and Jack. The couple make love, but Amanda, wanting to guard her heart, makes Jack agree to a three month affair.
Both Jack and Amanda enjoy their passionate lovemaking. During an evening out, they make love in a small parlor, however, Jack is careless and Amanda is soon pregnant.
Knowing how Jack feels about marriage, she tries to keep the truth from him, but when she attempts to marry someone else, Jack refuses to let her. He marries her after she confesses the truth about the baby. Amanda is still unsure about the situation, but their marriage and their willingness to admit their love is tested when Amanda loses the baby.
Kleypas is a master at description, painting 1830’s London with broad, yet vivid words that easily allow the reader to picture the backdrop of the story. Her love scenes are tantalizing. Kleypas writes in a “Lonesome Dove” perspective which switches point of view without line breaks or clear divisions which some readers might find disconcerting. Her dialogue is “spot on,” for the time period. The plot and pacing are perfect, allowing the reader to slow down and get a breath before accelerating again. “Suddenly You” is a delicious way to spend a rainy weekend.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Professional Review, Clarion/ForeWord Magazine
FICTION: ROMANCE / FANTASY
The Wolf’s Torment
A good romantic novel is not the massed-produced formulaic massively consumed quickie book commonly known as a “Bodice Ripper.” A romantic novel is more than thin plot lines designed to get the main characters from one sexual congress to the next.
S. G. Cardin’s debut novel, The Wolf’s Torment, is a romantic novel without being a clichéd ridden “romance” novel. With elements of historical fiction combined with the gothic supernatural, The Wolf’s Torment is in the similar vein as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witch Chronicles, but the story is also convoluted like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations as well as dark Arthurian undertones. It is an erotically charged novel with powerful sexual scenes that are not gratuitous, but necessary for the development of character and plot.
Cardin’s hero, child Prince Mihai Sigmaringen of Moldavia in the 1800s, watches helplessly as his mother is murdered by an evil witch. An older Mihai realizes that he lives in country with real monsters, and the modernization and unification of Romania is the only way to rid Eastern Europe of these ancient evils. Cardin writes, “He had a future to fulfill… He would modernize the country and drive out such beings as witches and werewolves that would have the rest of the world think his country as uncultured.”
But the ancient evil persists, and Mihai’s best friend Victor, who he met in England while attending university, is bitten by a werewolf. When the beast overcomes the man, Victor’s werewolf nature invades his humanity and he betrays Mihai.
Mihai makes his own betrayals: to see his plans reach fruition he submits to an arranged marriage to the Lady Theresa von Kracken, even though Alexandra, his gold-digging mistress from London, is pregnant with his baby. Theresa believes that Mihai is the prince that her precognitive dreams had shown her as a child.
After the death of his father, Mihai is crowned King and Theresa becomes his queen. Like Lancelot and Guinevere who betray King Arthur’s trust, Victor has his way with Queen Theresa—the difference being Victor drugs Theresa and takes advantage of her vulnerability. Unlike Guinevere, she never stops being deeply in love with her husband.
The story turns desperate as King Mihai relentlessly drags a reluctant Moldavia into a modern age, even while chthonic forces attempt to pull Moldavia out of enlightenment and back into the darkness of magic, fear and superstition.
Cardin has provided a Q and A session as well as deleted scenes and discussion issues. Readers that enjoy fast-paced novels with some scares and mystery will find themselves waiting impatiently for a sequel to this historical and supernatural romance.
Reviewed by Lee Gooden
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Writing for the mystery genre can be fun, but there’s a lot of preliminary work that goes into it before you can sit down and begin.
One of the most important aspects of mystery writing is the plot. This genre is very plot driven and it’s important to flesh out a good strong plot before beginning. This includes creating several plot points leading readers on different paths. Don’t give out too much information too soon in your story. Equally important is knowing how your story will end. By outlining your plot and establishing your ending up front, you’ll know how to structure the other elements of your story.
A mystery incorporates the following elements: a problem or conflict, a villain, a detective or hero, clues/red herrings, and suspense. Also, the time and setting are important elements as well. Time and setting can augment suspense and mood of the story.
The best way to begin the story is with action. Put the hero, villain, or both in action when you start. This engages the reader and lends itself to introducing the problem/conflict that the hero has to solve.
Characters should include the hero/detective, villain, and a supporting cast. Define your main character. Is he or she a go-getter like “Nancy Drew” or a hard-charging police detective determined to solve any mystery? The villain must be appropriately matched. Having a “Nancy Drew-like” sleuth bring down a crime cartel wouldn’t be realistic. Also, when considering the mystery, or crime/problem to be solved, cruelty to animals or violence directed at anyone is generally discouraged in this genre. Your hero should be striving to solve a murder mystery (like in “The DaVinci Code”) or trying to locate a stolen, rare painting. Keep in mind, as your hero navigates your plot, he or she has to use believable and legal forms of evidence. This keeps your story grounded in reality and believable.
WRITING TIP: As you sit down to do the preminlary work for your next project, do some character bios on your main characters. Get to know as well as you can before you write. Don't just do the basics - like physical characteristics. Here's an example of an "Emotional" Mini Bio:
Stefan Sigmaringen : Emotional Mini Bio
Three things he values:
Three things he fears the most:
His basic attitude about life:
What does he need to know about the other person in order to accept them as trustworthy?
What would cause him pain?
What is the most wonderful thing that could happen to him?
What three moods would he use to describe himself, accurate or not?
Organization: Why or Why not?
Hope this helps.
Monday, July 27, 2009
It was a late August day as Mihai stood in the entranceway of St. Mikhail’s Orthodox Church. The church had been founded in the 1300’s and built in the shape of a cross with smooth, rounded spires and stained-glass windows. A series of steps led up to the vestibule where two statues of Romanian saints, St. George and St. Mikhail, guarded the door.
Mihai wore the uniform of the crown prince. He impatiently paced the length of the vestibule, unable to hide his anxiety. This was where he was supposed to meet Theresa according to Orthodox custom, but the waiting whittled away his fast-beating heart.
Next to the heavy wooden doors, there was a small window that looked down onto the steps. Viktor walked up to the window and glanced outside.
“Theresa’s carriage has arrived, Mihai,” Viktor said.
“Come here, Son – for God’s sake stop that incessant pacing,” said Stelian.
Mihai approached his father. “This is it.”
Stelian put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “I am proud of you.”
“Are you all right? You look pale,” Mihai said. Cheers from the crowd outside permeated the air and Mihai knew Theresa would enter at any minute.
“I’ll be strong enough to watch you get married,” Stelian replied.
Mihai nodded his head. He knew his father was suffering with a lot of pain, but because this day was so important, Stelian refused any painkillers meant to alleviate his agony. Viktor had promised to help keep watch over the king and Mihai was grateful to his friend for that.
The door opened and all eyes turned toward Theresa, who walked into the entranceway next to her father. Behind her were her sisters, Beatrice and Victoria, and behind them, Sonia. Mihai’s tense expression softened when he spied Theresa’s familiar smile. Her wedding dress was perfect. The bodice fell down past her collarbone, accentuating the full curve of her cleavage. The sleeves tapered down to her wrists, and the dress hugged her waist with a white train elegantly falling behind of her. She wore pearl earrings and a matching necklace.
Theresa’s father presented her to Mihai, and for a precious moment, time seemed suspended between them. The bells stopped ringing. The crowd became silent, and the heavy church doors closed behind the wedding party.
Father Nikolai greeted the couple. His purple and gold robe glittered in the shining colors of light coming through the stained windows. Mihai and Theresa held hands as Viktor, Sonia, Stelian, and Theresa’s family looked on.
“Is there anyone who objects to the marriage of Mihai and Theresa?” Father Nikolai asked.
Mihai turned to look at his pretty bride. He knew in his heart she would be a good queen. This was one choice he felt wasn’t reckless or impulsive and would benefit his nation.
“Prince Mihai, do you come here of your own free will to marry Lady Theresa?”
“Yes.” Mihai squeezed Theresa’s hand, reassuring her, and himself, this was what he wanted.
“Theresa, do you come here of your own free will to marry Prince Mihai?”
“Yes,” Theresa replied, smiling.
Viktor stepped forward and exchanged the wedding rings between the couple three times, in accordance with the Orthodox customs. The fourth time, Mihai slid the wedding band on Theresa’s finger.
Mihai looked into his bride’s eyes and saw how moist they were. He was convinced in that moment she would be a good wife, and that she wasn’t a witch.
She slid the wedding band on his finger. If only he could find the words to tell her how seriously he intended to take his vows, but the words hung in his throat.
Father Nikolai motioned for the couple to enter the church. Mihai and Theresa followed him down the aisle accompanied by a solemn march. The church was adorned in white and gold candles. The incense was thick, yet sweet. When they reached the altar, Father Nikolai presented them each with a candle. Mihai’s eyes locked on Theresa’s as they held their candles in front of them.
“Christ is the light of the world and will light your way through life as husband and wife.”
The prayers and readings were said. The couple took communion. Mihai watched as Theresa’s favorite sister, Beatrice, gave her the crown she was holding and Theresa passed her the candle. With a deep bow, Theresa presented the crown to Mihai. Mihai’s lips trembled as he kissed it. Then, with tears streaming down her cheeks, Theresa crowned him. It was the church’s marriage custom to crown each other, and Mihai was overwhelmed. A part of him felt a little guilty. He was fond of Theresa, and he certainly considered her a friend, but his heart didn’t harbor the passionate emotions for her that she held for him.
He took his crown from Viktor and presented it to Theresa. She dutifully kissed it and he placed it gently on her head. Kissing the crown meant she accepted him – his faith, his world, his country.
The couple walked around the altar three times. The final time, Nikolai turned to look at them.
“In the name of God, I pronounce you husband and wife, Crown Prince and Princess Mihai and Theresa Sigmaringen.”
Mihai lifted his wife’s veil and kissed her lips. He only meant to share a brief kiss with her but when they met, he realized he didn’t want the kiss to be perfunctory or lifeless. His lips softly caressed hers, lingering for an extra moment before he pulled away.
The bells began ringing throughout Constanta, announcing his marriage.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Book Review for “Wicked as Sin”
Written by: Jillian Hunter
Hunter spins a tale of passion which has lasted seven long years with “Wicked as Sin.” As a young boy, Gabriel Boscastle was put in the local pillory to be disgraced. The only person who showed him an ounce of compassion was the graceful Lady Aletha Claridge. Her compassion remained with Gabriel after he left Helbourne and stayed buried in his heart for seven long years. When he finally returns to the place of his upbringing, he’s a celebrated cavalry officer and a rake. Aletha is still graceful and compassionate, awakening the love that Gabriel has harbored in his heart for her after seven long, hard years.
The novel opens with Gabriel’s return to Helbourne. He’s crossing a condemned bridge. Aletha spies him from her estate and goes to help. Gabriel makes it across, but seeing Aletha again has ignited his long dormant passion he had for her. To his surprise, Aletha is still single. Her fiancé was killed in the war. Unknown to Gabriel, her fiancé, Jeremy Hazlett, had raped her before he left. Aletha harbors no fondness for Jeremy’s memory. Jeremy’s brother, Guy, makes a proposal to Aletha to be her protector, but Gabriel shows up and kicks the married man of four out of the house. Aletha is grateful. Gabriel and Aletha share a kiss that reawakens the passion between them.
Gabriel initially intends to sell Helbourne Hall, but decides to hold onto it for a little longer. Over the course of five weeks, Aletha invites Gabriel over for Friday night dinner parties and the parties fan the flames of their desires. Finally, Gabriel returns after leaving late one night and the couple make love.
Gabriel proposes to Aletha. She accepts. He takes her to London to announce his engagement to the London Boscastles, but on the night of the engagement party, he learns that Aletha has met the acquaintance of Audrey Watson, a woman who runs a bordello. Gabriel thinks Aletha is a courtesan. He leaves without announcing his engagement, making Aletha look bad. Aletha is heartbroken.
While Gabriel is gone, he learns the truth about Aletha from Guy Hazlett – that his brother raped Aletha. Gabriel feels guilty for treating Aletha so poorly. He goes to the Claridge townhouse and the couple have a passionate argument before making up. The wedding is back on and the couple marry, but not before Gabriel has an encounter with his long, lost brother Sebastien.
This is the seventh of the Boscastle series and just as enjoyable as the others. The novel is fast paced. The plot is tight and consistent. It was nice to see how the other Boscastle women (Jane, Julia, Chloe, Emma) were doing, but I missed the presence of Eloise and Jocelyn in this book. I enjoyed Aletha’s character. She was very warm and compassionate – very earthy. I also liked how freely Gabriel and Aletha admitted and embraced their love.
Hunter’s love scenes are graphic, yet tasteful. The dialogue is sharp and witty between Aletha and Gabriel. The introduction of Sebastien seemed a little forced, and I think I’d like to see a novel taking a second look a few of the previous Boscastles romances instead of moving onto to a new romance. Overall, “Wicked as Sin,” is a sinful delight to read.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Mihai nodded his head and walked out, heading toward Theresa’s room. He was surprised to find it empty. After several inquiries he discovered that she had gone to the observatory.
Mihai had spent hours in the observatory as a boy with his astronomy tutor and then by himself mapping out the irregular patterns of the planets. Venus fascinated him the most since the sun obscured it often because of its closeness to the horizon. He loved to hunt for Venus in the sky, and celebrated with delight when he found the brilliant planet close to the horizon, threatening to steal away from him again by darting just underneath his line of sight.
He crept quietly up the steps, holding a candle to light his way. Theresa was probably still upset and he had no idea how to deal with that. Then he caught the faintest smell of smoke, but this wasn’t the smoke from a man’s cigar. It was light, airy, and easy to breathe. He closed his eyes, remembering how his mother would burn this type of smoke from time to time in her study. Finally he came to the door; it was cracked open. Candlelight peeked through the crack. Not knowing what he would find, he walked inside.
She appeared stunned and lunged for her cards, assembling them. “What are you doing here?”
“I want to talk to you about Alexandra. What were you doing?” He stood over her as she hurriedly gathered her items. Tarot cards? His heart thumped in his chest. His mother would read tarot cards on occasion. Only witches would possess such things! As the realization that Theresa may be involved in witchcraft flooded his body, he cupped his face and stepped back. Theresa just couldn’t be a witch!
“I’m playing with cards,” Theresa retorted. “What could you possibly say to me about your mistress? That I must accept the fact you love her and she’s having your baby?”
Mihai dropped his hands and raised his chin, aware this conversation wasn’t about his fears and misgivings. Not yet. Right now, Theresa’s hard, piercing eyes bored into him. This was about Alex.
“I’m sorry she treated you so poorly. That’s not how I wanted you to find out. I should have told you. It was a bad choice on my part to hesitate so long. I’m very sorry.” He had to make better choices, he determined, especially if he was to succeed as a monarch.
“I just didn’t expect to have to deal with your mistress.”
“She’s having my child, which makes her a big part of my life. I will support Alexandra and stand by her; however, I will discuss her actions with her. What she did was inappropriate.” Mihai’s eyes darted away from his bride-to-be.
Theresa stood up and placed her pack of cards on the table as she brushed off her hands. “Why don’t you just marry her?”
“It isn’t what I want.”
“Don’t you love her?”
“My feelings for Alexandra are complicated and I don’t feel like talking about them right now.”
“Just what do you feel like talking about? Do you even care for me? This past week you have yet to show any affection toward me.”
“Theresa, I enjoy your company. You make me laugh. You make me feel like part of the conversation and not the object of it,” he replied. His nose twitched at the lingering incense. He was confused by the unspoken signals of her possible involvement in witchcraft. A part of his heart wanted to believe she was innocent of it. Theresa froze in place, as if taken off-guard by his remarks.
He walked into her personal space and this time put his hand on her arm. He had wanted to touch her a million times, but always pulled back at the last minute, afraid of what would happen. This wasn’t about love. It was about having the right queen for Moldavia. Theresa was better suited to queenship than Alexandra, and he didn’t want an unpleasant relationship with the woman who would reign with him.
“I make you laugh?”
“I don’t mean to insult you,” he began, pausing slightly. “I know this is a short span of time, but I’ve become comfortable with the fact that I’m going to marry you.”
“You make our marriage sound like a duty to you.”
He cupped her chin with his fingers, forcing her to look at him. “I do have a duty to marry, and I want it to be pleasant between us,” He paused. “But I do have a concern. I have to ask you something, and I don’t expect you to lie about the answer.”
“Are you a witch?”
“I won’t tolerate such practices in Moldavia. I won’t have a witch for a wife.”
“That’s ridiculous, Mihai! I’m not a witch. Why on Earth would you ask me such a thing?”
“You play with tarot cards, and you burn a witch’s incense. What I am suppose to believe?”
“Well, I don’t mutter spells and I don’t curse people. My family grew up exploring the mystical aspects of life yes, but not witchcraft.” Her eyes blazed with indignation.
The candles cast flickering shadows over her face. She looked like his mother in that second, pure, yet haunted by past disappointments.
“I want you to be my wife, but you must accept I am committed to Alexandra, and you must promise never to explore the art of witchcraft,” Mihai continued, his voice barely edged with control. The starlight brought out the red highlights of her hair. His physical attraction to her lithe frame was getting harder to hide by the second.
“Why does that disturb you so?”
“There are too many legends about Romanian beasts that give my country a foul reputation. Witches are bad, Theresa, but werewolves and even vampires can’t be denied in this part of the world either. I’m moving this principality forward and I won’t have the taint of such evil legends touch the royal family.”
She stepped back from him. “I’ll do as you ask.”
Their eyes locked. He leaned forward, reaching for her. She tried to push him away, but Mihai held her firmly. God, yes, he wanted to hold her. He’d been aching too since their time at the winery.
She put her hands on his chest, but didn’t push. He wrapped his arms around her and they stumbled backwards. He pinned her to the stone wall. Part of him wanted to kiss her until she fell into his arms and part of him thought the best thing to do was leave right now and never look back. Blood pulsed through his veins. She stirred his desire, and damn him, he couldn’t deny it. With one hand, he cupped her cheek again, forcing their eyes to meet.
“I love you,” she whispered.
He froze. How could she be in love with him after such a short period of time? Alexandra had professed the same feelings shortly after meeting him. The difference was that he hadn’t slept with Theresa yet. Alexandra’s want and need was never as genuine as the want he felt emanating from Theresa.
“How can you say you love me, Theresa? How do you know?”
“I just do, Mihai. You were meant for me and I was meant for you. It’s in the stars.”
“I don’t believe in the stars.”
“Well, they speak to you now. Venus is in the sky tonight.”
Mihai was stunned by her words. “How do you know about Venus?”
“I just know.”
“Swear to me you are not a witch, Theresa.”
He remembered in London when he had tried to impress Alexandra with knowledge of the night sky. Her confession about how it bored her had stung him deeply. He closed his eyes briefly, then opened them.
“I believe you.”
Then, as if he couldn’t hold back anymore, he kissed her. She tried to turn her head, but he raised his hand to hold her cheek still. She had denied being a witch and he accepted her denial. Nothing else mattered now. She was his.
She put her hands on his shoulders and then, as if embarrassed to admit her desires, she dropped them to her sides.
His lips dropped to her neck and he began to nip gently at her tender skin. His hands squeezed her waist. He should pull away, give her space, give her time to get used to their situation, but he couldn’t. He wanted her.
She put her hands on his chest and he thought she was going to push him away. Instead, after a moment’s hesitation, she ran her hands up over his muscles to his shoulders again.
He almost lost every vestige of control he had. He grabbed her hands, tearing ore himself away from her. “We should wait.”
“Wait? For what? We are engaged.”
“I won’t rush what’s happening between us.”
“And what is happening between us?”
Mihai swallowed. It took every ounce of strength he had to hold back. “I don’t know - all I know is that this is different with you. You cared enough to learn Romanian. You converted to my religion. You like wine and the stars and yachting. You have an interesting family, and your stories about how you grew up make me laugh. Knowing we have this in common excites me.”
“Theresa, don’t press me. This is all new to me. I need time to get used to being back in Moldavia. I need time to get used to my duties and responsibilities, which include taking care of Alexandra. I need you to be patient with me.”
“Patience was never my strong suit.” Theresa brushed past him and reached for her cards.
He put a hand on her shoulder. Words failed him.
She kept her back turned to him. Nothing else was said. Together, they blew out the candles and incense and he followed her down the steps.
How can this woman affect me so? How on Earth did she know about Venus? How can a normal woman take only two months to learn Romanian when it should take longer? She denies being a witch, and I believe her, but I can’t have her experimenting with any more tarot cards or incense. I believe her interest in me is genuine and I want that from the woman who must be in my life. Alexandra can never give that to me.
He saw Theresa to her room, and when she shut the door, he collapsed against the wall next to it and took a deep breath, trying to settle his racing heart.
4 Stars, Foreword Clarion Reviews
4 Stars, Floyd Orr, IUniverse reviewer
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Book Review for: “I Only Have Fangs For You.”
Written by: Kathy Love
Kathy Love weaves a suspenseful tale of paranormal romance in “I Only Have Fangs For You.” This is the third installment of her Young vampire series, but it is the most rewarding. Sebastian vows to never fall in love, because, for him, forever is a long time. When he meets Wilhelmina Weiss, he meets his match. Sebastian doesn’t plan on falling for the vampire waif, but there’s something about Mina that gets under his skin – and fangs.
The novel starts with Mina working as a waitress for Sebastian’s club, Carfax Abby. She’s also a member of a supernatural society who is trying to sabotage Sebastian’s business. Mina, however is a poor saboteur and every attempt is thwarted by her lack of the vampire world. Finally, Sebastian learns she’s the one who has been trying to sabotage his club and confronts her. Mina admits to her crimes and strikes a deal with Sebastian. He won’t bite anyone for a month while he shows her what it’s like to be a vampire. She agrees. The society is “pleased” with Mina’s success.
Mina reveals to Sebastian that her cross over was not a pleasant experience. A vampire named Dontello crossed her over in the early 1900’s. Mina was a young virgin from a well-to-do family who institutionalized her because they couldn’t deal with her claims that she was a vampire. Mina stayed there for several decades until Dr. Fowler, a well renowned vampire scientist saved her. She survived on cow and pig’s blood. Her story accounts for her pale, tiny appearance and her ignorance over her vampire powers. Sebastian is rocked to hear her heartbreaking story.
His lessons begin in earnest. He shows her how to use her powers to read emotions and feel those around her. He teaches her how to “tune out” others. She’s a fast study. Sebastian’s growing feelings for her lead to several hot kisses, but Mina pushes him away, not quite ready for that.
Soon, Sebastian learns that Dontello, who turned Mina, was not graceful when he crossed her over. Mina is terrified to be bitten. Knowing this, Sebastian grows gentle and soon their smoldering kisses lead to more – Sebastian and Mina make love without biting each other. Mina admits to falling in love with him, but Sebastian can’t say the words back. Mina deals with it. She wants only what he can offer.
A member of the society, Daniel, shows up at Sebastian’s club, and threatens him. Mina lies to Daniel, but Sebastian overhears and misunderstands. He breaks up with Mina. Daniel turns out to be Dontello, and confronts Mina in an abandoned warehouse. Mina connects with Sebastian through his mind and calls for his help. He arrives, and Mina kills Dontello in self defense. Sebastian admits his love for her.
Sebastian was very likable and romantic. The novel is fast paced and moves quickly. The plot is credible. Mina’s back story was fleshed out very well. I really liked Mina as a heroine because I liked the fact she started out on an “even” playing field as a vampire. I also enjoyed the bonding scenes between Mina and Sebastian very much. They were very substantial and really helped to ground the couple.
The supporting cast is engaging and interesting. It was good to see Rhys and Christian again, and to know they were happy. Love’s love scenes are passionate, yet tasteful; erotic and sensual. The scene where Sebastian takes Mina’s virginity is highly erotic.
“I Only Have Fangs For You,” is a romance that will keep the reader turning the page.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The Picture of a Romantic Man
When we think of what a romantic man looks like, both alpha and beta heroes share traits. They’re strong, broad shouldered, well toned, with long legs and thin hips. The alpha usually takes on a few more “darker” characteristics, such as a feral gleam or a mercurial stare, as they tend to be more dominant. Imagery can include that of a majestic lion, or the king of his pride. Alpha heroes may tend to take on a more saturnine appearance as well. For alphas, mercurial eyes, feral smiles and saturnine cheeks all tend to show dominance.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Old Man as inspiration for his short story "The Great Stone Face," published in 1850, in which he described the formation as "a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness." (taken from Wikipedia)
The profile has been New Hampshire's state emblem since 1945. It was put on the state's license plate, state highway-route signs, and the back of New Hampshire's Statehood Quarter, which is popularly promoted as the only US coin with a profile on both sides. Before the collapse, it could be seen from special viewing areas along Interstate 93 in Franconia Notch State Park, approximately 80 miles (130 km) north of the state's capital, Concord. (taken from Wikipedia)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I admire historical fiction that draws from real facts from our history books and presents new theories on events or fills in the gaps history skipped over. S. G. Cardin has written such a book called Across the Fickle Winds of History. Now, with a title and book cover like that, I knew I wanted to read it.
The book focuses on the last years of the Imperial Russian Family known as the Romanovs. Those of you who enjoyed the 1997 animated film called Anastasia will be quite familiar with this story. Although Anastasia was the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II, Cardin focuses on the eldest daughter, Olga.
The story spans from 1913 to 1918 and is told through entries in Olga’s diary. While living in the Winter Palace, Olga and her sisters discover three strangers on the palace property. Though the Romanov girls fear the young strangers might be Bolshevik spies, Olga takes a certain interest in one of them named Paul. Olga is torn between her attraction to Paul and the fact that she could inherit the throne should something happen to her father. Political upheavals in Russia put strain on Olga and Paul’s courtship as her family begins to suffer from stress caused by the mad mystic monk, Rasputin.
Cardin has done a magnificent job of developing Olga into a complex character filled with love and compassion for her father and for Paul. The author’s descriptions are quite beautiful, painting a picture of Russia in a much different light. From the first World War to a grand ball at the palace, Cardin breathes a certain life into her characters and setting that make this short novella quite intense.
In fact, my biggest complaint would be that it is too short (under 200 pages) and leaves a bit of detail up to the readers to go research on their own. I would have enjoyed at least another 200 pages where the author paints more thorough story lines for Olga’s siblings, her parents, or even more back story about Paul.
Though history states their lives ended tragically after the Romanov family was taken captive during the Russian Revolution of 1917, Cardin adds a bit of time travel flare to the end suggesting that not all of the Romanov children might have been killed with the rest of their family. The book ends with a diary entry from Anastasia leaving the reader with a bit of hope for a happier ending, rather than the sad truth we know truly existed for the Romanov dynasty.
The story starts with Cynthia determined to leave Nacogdoches and her father’s arranged marriage. On her way out of town, her horse mis-steps and her carriage turns over. Enter Ricardo Romero. He comes to Cynthia’s aid and keeps her safe. Cynthia is initially grateful for his help, but then she learns her father hired him to follow her. Ricardo brings Cynthia home and she resigns herself to her arranged marriage.
Cynthia’s fiancé has doubts about the marriage and voices them to her father. Ricardo takes advantage of that and asks Cynthia to marry him at the spur of the moment. Cynthia says yes. She’s attracted to Ricardo and while she doesn’t know him, she’s looking forward to getting to know him. Ricardo is more guarded in his thoughts, but he can’t deny he’s intrigued with her.
Ricardo takes Cynthia to his ranch house across the state. His parents are still married and run the ranch. While Ricardo’s father seems to accept Cynthia, her mother-in-law, Felicitas, does not and makes life unpleasant for Cynthia. Cynthia takes matters into her own hands and moves out of the ranch house. She makes friends with the ranch wives. Ricardo is puzzled by her behavior. He doesn’t realize how unfriendly his mother is towards Cynthia.
Ricardo takes Cynthia away on a romantic getaway and they make love. Felicitas tries to stop the couple, but has an accident. Ricardo and Cynthia find her hours afterwards and get her help. Felicitas can’t walk and needs to be cared for. Cynthia is expected to be the primary caregiver. She steps up to the plate, but does not endear herself to Felicitas. Felicitas enlists Starr Hildago’s help, (a former flame of Ricardo’s) to get rid of Cynthia.
Cynthia holds up in the face of Starr’s flirting with her husband, and Felicitas’s insults. She starts a school for the kids at the ranch, but instigates the anger of one of the hands by asking that his children go to school.
The rangers come looking for a criminal. Cynthia’s bow is all ready tight, but it snaps when she finds her husband and Starr in a compromising position. She goes to the house to pack and discovers the criminal holding Felicitas hostage. Cynthia keeps the criminal at bay until the rangers can put him in custody. Then she packs her bags and gets on the next train to Nacogdoches. Ricardo realizes he’s in love with his wife and follows her.
The plot moves well and never drags. Yeary’s writing style is easy to follow. I liked how she emerged the reader in the world of ranching and horse breeding. Cynthia is a likeable heroine, if anything I would have liked to have seen more introspection on Ricardo’s part. I never did understand why he chose Cynthia over Starr since Starr seemed better suited to him.
Yeary’s love scenes are tame, but her romantic scenes are well done. “All My Hopes and Dreams” is a nice escape for a rainy Saturday.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
** "Nancy Yost is leaving Lowenstein-Yost Associates Inc. to start up her own literary agency.
** Literary agents Serafina Clarke and Brie Burkeman have combined their two companies to establish Brie Burkeman & Serafina Clarke Ltd., specializing in high quality commercial writing across all mediums.
Since I am writer, I thought I'd share some basic, "overview" findings on the gothic genre.
Gothic literature got its start in 1764 when Horace Walpole wrote “The Castle of Otranto.” Walpole’s story contained all the elements that define the genre. Throughout the years, many authors have taken their stab at writing Gothic literature, putting their own unique stamp on it.
Ann Radcliffe, writing in 1794, gave the genre a sense of legitimacy when she questioned the supernatural elements, explaining them away as natural causes. She also introduced the brooding villain, who by the end of the story, is revealed to the hero.
Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, was definitely influenced by Gothic elements, but her novel is considered the one of the first science fiction novels to be written.
Another influential author in the Gothic tradition was Edgar Allen Poe. In “The Fall of the House Usher,” he explored such classic Gothic themes of decay, death, and madness, but he added his own twist – he looked into the terrors of the soul.
Also writing during Poe was Emily Bronte. “Wuthering Heights,” explored Gothic elements on the Yorkshire Moors through the brooding “Heathcliff” character and is still a favorite today.
With Bram Stroker’s “Dracula,” the most famous Gothic villain ever was created. He also established Eastern Europe as a favorite locale for the genre. More recently, in the 1930’s, HP Lovecraft has been connected with the genre, blending the Gothic with horror, seting a new bar for writers.
Romance has also been mixed with the Gothic genre. During the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s, such authors as Victoria Holt and Dorothy Fletcher focused on the female and her connection to a gloomy castle.
Another sub-genre is known as Southern Gothic. This sub-genre takes traditional Gothic elements and plants them in the Southern United States.
To have a novel known as “Gothic,” its got to follow a set of rules. First, the setting takes place in a castle, or if the story is set in America, an old family estate. That’s what makes Southern Gothic so appealing, because an old plantation can be used. The estate, be it a castle, mansion, or plantation, can sometimes be abandoned, sometimes occupied, or it can be near caves to augment a mystery and may often contain secret passages, strap doors, and mysterious room.
Next, the novel has to carry an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. In the recent novel, “The Thirteenth Tale,” there’s an atmosphere of mystery built up around the parentage of the twins, “Emmeline and Adelaine.”
There’s usually an ancient prophecy involved along with omens and visions. In “The Thirteenth Tale” the storyteller tells Margaret that there’s a third girl which follows Emmeline and Adeline around, referring to her as a vision.
There are usually supernatural events which occur in gothic fiction. It doesn’t matter if they are given a natural explanation or not, the event is what’s important.
Other elements in Gothic literature include high emotion, women in distress, a powerful or tyrannical male figure and metonymies – metaphors like rain which is used to represent something else, like sorrow.
If you’re thinking of exploring the genre, read a couple of books first to get the “feel” for it. It can be fun to write for, but the plot and pacing must be tight for the story to be successful.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I love Catalina Island.
Heck, I've always loved being around the water. Where I grew up in NH, I was only an 1 hour away from the Atlantic Ocean. Here in California, I'm only an hour from the Pacific Ocean. It's nice to be near the ocean in my new home.
Why do I love Catalina Island? The temperture is mild, the sun shines often, and it's a nice low key escape from the hectic California lifestyle. Avalon is the "city" on Catalina. There's a good sized bay full of ships. My first trip to Catalina was in 2000 - Brent and I went for the 4th of July - before kids. We watched the golf cart parade, had a BBQ buffet dinner at the casino and watched fireworks over the bay. The ambience of the occasion made it very special to me. I always wanted to get back, but we didn't have an opportunity until 2007. We went with the boys. Joe was a very small baby and very managable. We went in 2008 and we're leaving tomorrow to spend the 4th of July weekend in Catalina. I can't wait. Joe will probably be a handful, we'll see. He's 2 1/2 now. Time will tell.
There's plenty to do - fish, kayak, swim, golfing, take trips around Avalon and even into the interior. There's a small airport at the highest peak on the island.
The island has a rich history. It was developed by the Wrigley's in the early 1900's. At one time it was the spring training camp of the Chicago Cubs.
If you ever get a chance and you're in California try to fit in a day trip to Catalina & Avalon.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
First, let me apologize for not writing sooner - it's been busy!! School let out and Andrew had swim lessons. I changed shifts at work and now I work from 6 pm to 2 am. It's not much of a change, but enough to make me a little more functional. I've been writing and reading and trying to keep up with my boys. That said, I just finished this book and I thought I'd share my review with you.
Book Review for "The Time Traveler's Wife
Written by: Audrey Niffenegger
Niffenegger weaves a tale of intrigue that remains strong through decades of uncertainties. "The Time Traveler's Wife is an unconventional romance and an atypical science fiction novel, blending both genres as well as sprinkling in a dab of social commentary to create a very human plot.
The novel starts with Claire waiting for Henry, a predominate theme in the book. Her husband, Henry, travels through time. He believes its a genetic abnormality and he can't control it. The novel takes place between 1968 and 2008. Claire and Henry meet as adults. Claire is twenty. Henry, it is revealed, has been time traveling since he was five years old, after a visit to a museum that had a profound effect on him. He recalls first traveling through time to visit Claire when she is six. Young Claire soon sgets used to a man popping out of time to see her. She develops an eccentric relationship with the time time traveling Henry, which to Niffenegger's credit works and doesn't come off as creepy.
Early in the book, there is an unusual scene when Claire is thretten which her father and brother keep her from Henry. Claire doesn't know what to make of it, but time marches on in a linear fashion for her, and soon she meets Henry at the library where he works. When they meet, he is 28.
Henry leaves his girlfriend, Ingrid, for CLaire. Claire is used to Henry's time traveling and accepts him for what he is. After meeting each other's family, they marry.
The couple tries to live as normal a life as they can. Claire is an artist and Henry works in a library. After seeint their friends, Gomez and Charisse, have children, they try to have one of their own. Henry seeks out a genetic counselor. The reason for his time traveling abilities are given here, which to Niffenegger's credit is a creative take on the concept.
Claire has several miscarriages before the doctors realize they have to suppress her immune system to get her to carry to term. Clarie finally gives birth to a girl, Alba, when she is 30. Soon, they learn that Alba can time travel, too.
Henry's time traeling takes a toll on his bodyt. He gets frostbit on his feet which have to be amputated. Then he involuntarily time travels to the past, and since he can't run away, he's shot by deer hunters when Claire is 13. Claire is 38 when he dies.
The plot is tight. Niffenegger's explanation of Henry's time traveling abilities is plausible, making the story work. The pace isn't fact, nor does the story drag. It moves from event to event with precision.
Niffenegger writes in a very "up front" style. It's easy enough to read, but very direct. Her characters are believeable, but not very sympathetic. In a way, Claire embodies a very traditional female role in waiting for Henry, while he has numerous adventures as a time travel, taking on a more traditional male role. Toward the end, Claire sheds her traditional role to become a modern woman.
The story is told using a journal entry format from Claire and Henry's perspective, which works well. If anything, the story lags a little since it blends romance and science fiction without commiting to either. Henry and Claire are in love but it seems a given and not a discovery.
What makes Niffenegger's a story a gem is her creative take on time traveling, making it a genetic condition, thus not conforming to traditional time traveling norms.