Tag Archives: reading

Review: Tides of Passion by Tracy Sumner

Sizzling chemistry, a forward-thinking heroine, and a hero who would part the seas for the people he loves come together in this beautifully written story

Tides of PassionFeisty, forward-thinking activist Savannah Conner travels to an island off the North Carolina coastline in 1898 to help out at her friend’s school. Having grown up wealthy but without her father’s acceptance in New York, Savannah finds it impossible to overlook injustice—especially when women are so often the victims. Naturally, very soon after arriving in town, she starts organizing the local women to fight for their rights…and that stirs up the men who run the town.

Constable Zach Garrett is duty-bound to detain law-breakers. The last thing he needs is a suffragist who knows nothing about diplomacy or negotiation. He tries to keep the peace by mediating between her and the men she’s lambasting, but Savannah drives him crazy with her uncontrolled passions. And, since his beloved wife died in childbirth, exploring his own passions is something he’s avoided.

But the chemistry between Savannah and Zach is explosive, so much so that neither can deny themselves the opportunity to explore it.

Tides of Passion swept me away. I admit I’m a sucker for novels that are set outside of Regency and mid-Victorian England, but this novel particularly grabbed me because of its clever ways of examining gender roles and commitment in relationships.

I know. That’s not what people typically read romance for. Believe me, all the things you’d want in a romance (a clever heroine, a hot hero, witty dialogue, instant sparks and sizzling conflict between the hero and heroine) are here in spades. That’s why the novel’s exploration of themes normally taken for granted in romance came as such a delight.

Continue reading

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

In nearly two years of reviewing, I’ve never given a single perfect score. Head Over Heels deserves to be the first.

Head Over HeelsChloe Traeger has a reputation for being Lucky Harbor’s wild child—a reputation she’s earned by saying “Screw you” to her severe asthma and living dangerously. She does extreme sports, frees dogs from notorious animal abusers…and taunts the town’s sheriff by nudging the line between legal and stupid.

Bad-boy-turned-sheriff Sawyer Thompson gets annoyed when people cross the line into stupid. But for some reason, it particularly bothers him when cute, curvy, mouthy Chloe Traeger does it. That couldn’t have anything to do with the fact he feels he has to live an exemplary life, which doesn’t come naturally to him. Nor could it be because Chloe’s condition makes it nearly impossible for her to have sex without dying.

But Sawyer’s sure tempted to explore ways of helping Chloe work up a sweat without getting herself killed.

I know there’s still over a month left in 2011, but so far Head Over Heels is my hands-down pick for best contemporary romance of the year.

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Are men worse at writing sex than women?

The Literary Review has announced its nominees for the 2011 Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

If you’re not familiar with the Bad Sex in Fiction award, I can’t describe it any better than Jezebel magazine does:

[E]ach year the Literary Review has singled out an author who writes awkwardly enough about sex to convince readers that the winning author’s experience with actual sex acts has been limited to puppet performances put on by a middle school health teacher who had a very limited sense of irony.

Frustrated man at a laptop

rajsun22/sxc.hu

This year, male nominees far outnumber females, an occurrence that isn’t unusual. In fact, only two women have won the undesirable award since it began in 1993.

So are men worse at writing sex than women?

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Thoughtfulness

Sisters are doing it for themselves

I don’t have any sisters. I have a “little” (i.e. younger, but now well over six feet of muscles that belong on a romance cover) brother. You might remember him from my post The problem with having an alpha male brother.

Sister gets little brother in a headlock

© Christopher Low/istockphoto

My brother and I never got along when we were kids, though I can’t imagine why. I mean, I put so much effort into parenting him because my parents clearly weren’t doing a good enough job of it. As his big sister, I made sure he knew exactly what he was doing wrong at all times. He didn’t know as much as I did, and I pointed out all the things he was ignorant about so he’d learn.

Yes, I was the kid who spent weekends playing “school” and planned lessons for the neighbor kids to sit through. I also borrowed my brother’s motorized mini police car and drove up and down my street handing out tickets to kids who rode their bikes too fast.

In other words, I was a friendless loser for much of my childhood. And my little brother has always been the exact opposite.

Having another girl in the house would’ve been torture. I had to be the best at something, and if I couldn’t be the best at making friends then at least I could be the best girl in the house. No one else could be a girl the way I could—that meant shopping with Mom and my grandma, going on dates with Dad, and just generally smelling good and avoiding roughhousing.

If I’d had a sister? I’d have had to discover something else to be best at.

Girl pretends to push brother off a cliff

© M. Eric Honeycutt/istockphoto

By having a second child, my parents forced me to suffer decades of sibling rivalry—but I never regretted that it was a boy child (I just, y’know, regretted his entire existence sometimes. Hey, I’m not proud of myself for it).

Growing up with my biggest rival living in my own home and sharing my parents’ love has given me a deep affection for fictional heroines who have to endure bratty siblings—even if those siblings are grown up.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary romance spotlight

Authors’ surprising hobbies

I have a game for those of you of a literary bent.

Match these writers with their hobbies (answers here but don’t cheat!)

1. Emily Dickenson

2. Vladimir Nabokov

3. Franz Kafka

4. Ayn Rand

5. Flannery O’Connor

6. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

7. Haruki Murakami

8. Zadie Smith

9. Mark Twain

a. raising peacocks

b. beekeeping

c. baking

d. inventing things

e. lepidopterology (studying butterflies and moths)

f. dancing

g. stamp collecting

h. listening to jazz

i. collecting porn

How did you do? Which of your hobbies would surprise people? 

2 Comments

Filed under Thoughtfulness

Interview with Brenda Novak – and giveaway!

Brenda NovakThis summer I picked up INSIDE, the first novel I’d read by romantic suspense author Brenda Novak, and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished. I read through the night and lost my heart to its hero, a man who spent his entire adulthood in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and is still paying for crimes he did commit while locked away.

I leapt on the opportunity to review her entire Bulletproof series, and I’m thrilled to say that Brenda’s here today answering my questions and giving away IN CLOSE, the last in the series (which you can easily read on its own if you haven’t read the other two).

Thanks for being here, Brenda!

1. You say on your website, “I learned how to write by reading what others have written. The best advice for any would-be author: read, read, read….” Being a bestselling author, mother of five, and organizer of a major annual fundraiser for a cure to diabetes, do you still get time to read? If so, what recently published novels have you learned from?

Inside by Brenda NovakI do still read. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t. I’m writing so much that I have to be putting something back in the well to draw from.

I just finished CHILL FACTOR by Sandra Brown. Fabulous example of plotting and character development. Really enjoyed it. I’ve also recently read ROOM by Emma Donaghue, whose clever use of POV (it’s told completely from the point-of-view of a little boy) really makes that story shine. I’m currently reading Ted Dekkar’s latest futuristic. I’m not very far into it, but I’m enjoying it.

2. My freshman year of college, I regularly volunteered in Cook County Jail in Chicago, and ever since then I’ve been interested in artistic portrayals of prison life. I devoured the first novel in your Bulletproof series, INSIDE, which features a hero who has been released from prison and a heroine who’s an assistant deputy warden. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it? Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Author interviews

My favorite war poem

When I was in college, I took an absolutely brilliant class on 20th century American war literature. Although my beliefs have always tended strongly toward pacifism, I grew up in a city with large military bases and a strong military history.

My grandfather told me stories of his experiences in the Philippines and Japan. Grandma said he never once spoke of the war after he came home until I was 12 and told him what I’d learned about it in school. He started telling me stories, and it was the first time she’d heard them, too.

I can’t think of any literature more heartbreaking than stories of armed conflict. For me, the most powerful stories aren’t those that focus on the political or ideological nature of war, but on the personal. The best war fiction shows the often absurd nature of conflict, and the contrast between those who are far removed from battlefields – families, politicians, media – and those who are far too close.

That’s why this poem – my sweet old etcetera by e.e. cummings – is my favorite war poem. In fact, it’s one of my favorite poems on any subject. I can’t read it without picturing my 22-year-old grandfather lying in mud and dreaming about the 19-year-old wife he left in California.

my sweet old etcetera

by e.e. cummings

my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent

war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting

for,
my sister

isabel created hundreds
(and
hundreds) of socks not to
mention shirts fleaproof earwarmers

etcetera wristers etcetera, my

mother hoped that

i would die etcetera
bravely of course my father used
to become hoarse talking about how it was
a privilege and if only he
could meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et

cetera
(dreaming,
et
cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)

Do you have a favorite war poem or story? How are you marking Remembrance Day/Veterans Day?

2 Comments

Filed under About Katrina, Thoughtfulness

Why Australia’s the sexiest country in the world

The Power and the PassionMy first introduction to the romance genre was through Harlequin Presents novels, so not only did I learn a whole lot about what boys and girls do when they like each other, but I also got to explore new countries for only a few dollars a month.

That’s how I realized Australia’s the sexiest country in the world.

Lots of the novels were set in London and Australia—places where they called their friends “mate” and lived in flats (which for years I pictured as apartments with lower ceilings).

Both places sounded amazing, but Australia kicked London’s ass on several levels. First, the London novels often took place in offices (*yawn* I’d seen 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton—offices looked like dreadfully boring places to fall in love). The heroes seemed uptight and the heroines wore stockings.

Not the grown-up life I wanted to have.

Australians, on the other time, chased each other through the Outback. They frolicked in the surf. They occasionally encountered animals so bizarre that only funny-sounding words could describe them: kookaburra, wombat, kangaroo.

Okay, maybe there weren’t wombats and kookaburras. I do recall some storylines with kangaroos, though.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Contemporary romance spotlight

Kristan Higgins interview – and giveaway!

Kristan HigginsWhile I was preparing for this interview, I cruised on over to Kristan’s website and stalked her did some research into her life. I clicked on the link to her blog and ended up spending TWO HOURS reading her posts.

I’ve never spent that long on anyone’s blog before – not even mine.

Kristan’s novels have the same effect on me. They suck me in and don’t let go until I’ve sobbed my way through the happily-ever-after. If you like romance featuring strong, quirky families, lots of dogs and even more smooching, Kristan Higgins is your gal.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Kristan, and for giving away a copy of your latest release, UNTIL THERE WAS YOU!

Absolutely my pleasure, Kat!

1. One of countless things I love about your books is the strong sense of community you build. It makes me think that living in a small town must kick city-life’s ass. Is there anything bad about life in a small town (I ask this as someone who’s moving from London to the vast emptiness of the northern Netherlands, so please say no)? How do your communities challenge your characters and help them grow?

All I Ever WantedAnything bad about a small town? Er, um, of course not! Small town life is perfect! Especially if you love people knowing you perhaps a bit better than  you’d like, eating at the same restaurant over and over and over, being viewed as exactly the same person you were when you were thirteen and threw up in math class, no, there’s not one drawback!

I think life in a small town challenges my characters to be more than they were back when they were puking in Mr. Eddy’s class. But there’s an intimacy and caring that’s very evident in a small town; a person gets hurt, and there’s a spaghetti supper to raise money for medical costs.

I do think that’s true in big cities, too; cities are nothing more than a bunch of different neighborhoods, but there’s something about a small town that invites personal interaction.

2. Most of your novels are written in the first person from the heroine’s point of view, but UNTIL THERE WAS YOU is told in third person and lets us see things from the hero’s perspective too. What made you decide to switch things up for this one?

Continue reading

61 Comments

Filed under Author interviews, Contemporary romance spotlight

Interview with Joanna Bourne – and giveaway!

After I graduated from college I stopped reading romance for seven years. Those first three years, I lived in Prague, where English books were extortionate and none of the handful of bookstores sold romance. Then I moved to London and did an MA, which required hours and hours of reading legal and academic articles.

I finally picked up a romance novel again in 2009, and was hooked all over again. But I had ideas of what the genre was like—as if it wouldn’t have evolved—until I read about an author who’d released a novel the year before to huge acclaim.

Joanna BourneJoanna Bourne’s second debut (because it came out 25 years after her actual debut), The Spymaster’s Lady, changed everything I thought I knew about romance. With its clever, resourceful heroine and lyrical language, the novel helped me realize that romance can be literary and smart as well as entertaining.

I’m so thrilled to have Jo as my guest today. She’s giving away the hotly anticipated  BLACK HAWK (which comes out tomorrow, people!) to one person who leaves a comment, but first: Welcome, Jo!

1. Your debut novel, Her Ladyship’s Companion, was published by Avon in 1983 (you write beautifully about your first sale on Dear Author) and then you embarked on a career globe-hopping with the federal government. What made you decide to start writing romance again after a 25-year hiatus writing for the government?

Spymaster's LadyFairly straightforward answer to that one.  I stopped working overseas and returned to the United States.  It was work I loved, but it was time to move on.  Letting go of an 80-hour-a-week job does leave you with a little more leisure time.

Now I can use all those exotic impressions from all those foreign places in my writing.

2. Readers have been antsy for years waiting for Adrian’s story. Your last novel, The Forbidden Rose, is set when Adrian is twelve, and on the All About Romance website you say, “Think of the worst twelve-year-old you’ve ever known, and then hand him a knife. That’s Adrian.” How would you describe Adrian as a romantic hero?

Forbidden RoseY’know, it’s really hard for writer to analyze her own characters.  At least, it seems hard for me.

Folks tell me Adrian is a ‘bad boy’ hero.  A sort of James Dean.  Adrian is the lad from the wrong side of the tracks.  Dangerous, because he doesn’t play by the rules.  Unpredictable.  A little ruthless.  Definitely not safe to love.

I try to take that aspect of the young Adrian and run with it.  What would a ‘bad boy’ — a very, very intelligent bad boy — make of himself?  Black Hawk, the book that’s going on the shelves November first, is partly a Pygmalion story telling what Adrian created out of the raw clay of a street rat and thief.

I hope folks enjoy reading about the teenaged Adrian as much as I enjoyed writing him.  I hope folks like seeing him change.

In maturity, Adrian is still dangerous, still ruthless, still unpredictable.  Just — he’s not at all a ‘boy’ of any kind.

Continue reading

56 Comments

Filed under Author interviews