Archive for July, 2006


When Good Things Happen To Bad Boys…

Lori Foster: Playing Doctor

I actually managed to finish this one despite swearing never to read another Foster book. Great set-up, even if I don’t really thinking Axel and Libby will live happily ever after–which isn’t a dealbreaker for me anyway.

Erin McCarthy: The Lady Of The Lake

This is my first McCarthy read.

I made it through despite it being a “I’m not pretty enough for you!” book.

The plot is actually very like a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. I looked it up, and I’m pretty sure it’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine.

Girl is not very pretty. But Girl wants a baby. So what does Girl do? Girl sleeps with a famous and rich and handsome athlete. Girl tries to keep Athlete and Fetus/Baby apart, but does not succeed.

Sadly for McCarthy, I remember the SEP book to be much better than her novella.

HelenKay Dimon: Hardhats And Silk Stockings

Ah, the story I wanted to read.

Very hot set-up. I really like Whit.

Hardhats And Silk Stockings is a heroine’s story though. It is Hannah who grows as a character.

I do think that it reads as though HelenKay had to cut out details to retain the novella length. But I did finish it with a smile, so it’s certainly worth a read.

No, I don’t think this anthology is worth buying just for HelenKay’s novella, especially not at trade paperback price. It is worth spending the time to read it, but not the money.

FYI, this is a signed copy from HelenKay, and her interview should be up tomorrow.


Strength and Independence

Jorrie Spencer brings up a very interesting point about the Strong Woman Stereotype.

From a Smart Bitches post (again, snurched from the lovely Jorrie):

I love strong and independent women in Romance, but professionally passionate women aren’t necessarily personally wanting and emotionally deprived (it’s often quite the opposite, in fact, at least in real life), and I wish we could move away from this stereotype in contemporary Romance.

I totally agree with that statement.

There are successful women out there who don’t regret the sacrifices they’ve made to get to where they are today. There are successful women out there who have somehow made the time to smell the roses and really live life. There are successful women out there who aren’t really looking for a significant other or want their lives to change.

Sure, there are those who came from dysfunctioning homes, or lived hand to mouth as children. That was what spurred them on to success.

But some of them came from well-off and happy homes. They just had that hunger for something more.
And I understand that latter group. My family’s well-off and we’re (mostly) normal. I just dream a little bigger than my peers do–no, I’m not referring to the NYT-bestselling part.

Okay, so I’m a bit nuts, but I don’t consider myself emotionally-deprived. There is a difference, and if you’re a shrink who reads my blog, please confirm this. 😉


Pure Sex

Lucinda Betts: The Bet

Very hot, and very sensual, but despite it’s novella-length, she does actually leave me satisfied that Zoe and Phillip are meant to be together. That is really rare for me. And their banter sure is fun!

I’ll be keeping an eye out for her.

Bonnie Edwards: Slow Hand

I’ve had problems connecting with her characters before. Same thing again, and I think it’s simply that her writing doesn’t work for me.

Sasha White: The Crib 

Alexis reminds me of Annabel from Alison Kent’s gIRL-gEAR books–I’ve just read it, before writing this review. And that’s a very good thing in my book.
Sasha’s writing style is almost raw, and it suits Alexis’s voice perfectly. I don’t tend to like reading sex scenes in first person, but this time, it works for me.

My quibble is that I don’t think the plot worked very well. I felt it suffered Novella-itis, which is when the author had to cut and cut and cut some more in order to keep it a novella.

And since she tells me she reads my blog, Sasha, are we going to get another Alexis book?

I liked this antho, but I’d honestly suggest getting the authors single titles instead. You’d probably get better value for your money.

FYI, Sasha sent me this book.


The Book Trailer

Anybody out there buy a book because of one? That’s what every body wants to know.
I know I’ve not. I’ve bumped it up the priority list, but not bought a book just because of a trailer. But I’m an oddity: I am not a visual person at all. Don’t do movies or TV.

Except that from the comments and blogs I’ve seen, the answer is no. People don’t buy books because of book trailers.

I’m an auditory person, which leads to the next issue:

I don’t like trailers with narrators/voiceovers. I don’t usually ‘connect’ the voice. It doesn’t click for me. Come to that, I don’t do audiobooks either.

Take Lynn Viehl‘s Darkyn site. I like the look of the trailer. But the narrator turned me off. Maybe it’s because I’ve already read the book. Maybe if I didn’t already have an impression of Lynn’s writing voice, I’d not have that issue.

So far, I’m only talking about Flash movies.

I’ve not even gotten to the ones like Circle of Seven Productions do. I don’t even bother to watch these. I prefer to form a vague image of the characters from reading the book.

I think what’s important in a book trailer isn’t getting across the book’s plot. I think getting across the feel and themes of the book is or should be the point of a book trailer.

That’s just my opinion and your mileage may vary.


Kathleen O’ Reilly: The Diva’s Guide To Selling Your Soul

V is a good girl gone bad–she sold her soul to Lucy and helps other people sell their souls to Lucy–who finds out that she still has a core of good.

I suggest reading this book for Lucy the Devil’s columns. Hilarious!

The ending does leave me scratching my head — Suzy Wong? –but for most part it was an okay read.


Gregg Hurwitz: The Kill Clause

It started out pretty good. I like characters who step over the line.

The middle sagged and the ending dragged.

I think it might have been better if Tim did end up in jail. That might be something new, but I see that Hurwitz has released 2 books featuring Tim Rackley, so I guess that was out.


Rene Lyons Talks To Us

Hi everyone…no it’s not Milady Insanity, so forgive me if this post isn’t witty and wonderful. ;)Who am I you ask? Well, I’m Rene Lyons. Milady kindly allowed me to highjack her blog on this day, which also happens to be the day of my very first book release.

What book? Well, how kind of you to ask! That book is Midnight Sun and it’s about a Templar Knight damned by God as a vampire. If you go to either My Website or Samhain Publishing you can find out more about the books and if you find it interesting, you can even buy it at either site! 😉

Okay, now, to tackle the reason I’ve invaded Milady’s space (other than to pimp my new book *wink*). Seems there is a huge discussion going on around the Net that I’ve been blissfully uninvolved in. But alas, since I am now an ‘officially’ published author, I’d like to add my two cents.

The topic is Authors Behaving Badly.

It might seem like a cop-out that I’m taking the reader’s side in this, but the truth is, I don’t like some of the things I’m reading authors are writing in response to this mess. The main thing authors are speaking out against is the dreaded snark. Truth is, snarking has always been and it’s not going anywhere. There is nothing we can do but laugh at it (and ourselves!). Some snarkers however, really need to read up on what it means. Nasty does not = snark.

Same with reviews. Bad reviews will forever plague an author. Since anyone can have a blog, it stands to reason people will use that forum as a soapbox to vent their rather strong opinions. If authors can’t handle that heat, stop publishing your books, since once you put your work out there it will not please all of the people all of the time.

Lord knows I wish everyone loves Midnight Sun, falls in love with my Templar vampires, and floods me with emails begging me to write more books and get to writing them faster. But the truth is, while I hope some people like my work, others are going to hate it. And they will post scathing reviews about it, even going so far as to personally attack me for daring to write a book they believes is awful. They will snark my cover. They will write such awful things that I’ll probably be reduce to tears. Will I lash out on my blog about it? Call readers stupid? Whine endlessly about the injustice of it all? Absolutely not. I’ll simply ignore it publicly and annoy my friends privately about it. After they tell me to shut the hell up and grow a backbone, they will remind me I don’t write to please everyone. I write to please that one person who reads my book and walks away moved…as I did after I read Saving Grace by Julie Garwood.

So I guess it all comes down to this…authors need to grow some thicker skin when it comes to snark and bad reviews. They need to remember that they are in the public eye and represent not only themselves, but their publishing house(s), and to push it even further…the romance writing community as a whole. I will always try to remember that and conduct myself respectfully at all times. That’s how I live my private life and I can’t see that changing now that I put a foot out in the public world.

Same with reviews. Bad reviews will forever plague an author. Since anyone can have a blog, it stands to reason people will use that forum as a soapbox to vent their rather strong opinions. If authors can’t handle that heat, stop publishing your books, since once you put your work out there it will not please all of the people all of the time.

Oh…and readers…please remember that we authors aren’t robots. We’re people too and are subject to all the beautiful flaws that go with being human. 🙂

Love to you all and again…thank you May. I had fun being your guest.

Rene Lyons

Rene’s blog

Midnight SunIf you pick this up now or in the next week, there’s a 10% discount.
July 18th 2006 Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
— The Daystar —
October 31st 2006 Samhain Publishing Ltd.

Rene, thanks for your time! She’s taking questions in the comments today, so have fun in the comments today and I’ll check back as much as I can.


7 Questions with Kate Douglas

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

Probably a twelve or higher…life is nuts right now. We’re living in two houses–half the week in one, half in the other, which we’re remodeling by ourselves. The houses are over an hour apart, which requires a long drive twice a week, loading and unloading the car, cleaning out the refrigerator, watering the yards (over half an acre in each one) and way too much laundry! I also babysit our two grandkids one day a week, do a website for a young man with a serious brain injury ( that I update almost nightly, handle my own websites, and write. I’ve got a book due Aug. 1 and a novella due Sep.1, and two more books and two more novellas due during the course of the year. The men in white coats are my friends…you know, the guys with the “Hug me” coats?

2. The Chanku. Oh my, the Chanku. Are the stories in Wolf Tales the same as they were when they were published by Changeling Press?

The first book is identical…Chanku Rising in the Sexy Beast anthology is twice as long as the original Wolf Tales 5–Chanku and leads in to the next book in the series, Wolf Tales II, which is due for release in July.

3. Can you tell us about how you were contracted by Kensington Aphrodisia?

I sent Wolf Tales (the first books in the Changeling Press series, to my agent when she asked if I had any sexy stories. She sent them to editor Audrey LaFehr at Kensington after hearing of a new erotica series. Audrey loved the stories and snapped them up, but I heard about it through my agent. I didn’t talk to Audrey until weeks after the deal was set.

4. I know you’ve written some ‘traditional’ (ie one hero and one heroine, no other sex partners) romances, but is there any pressure to write those? At the expense of the Chanku, for instance?

Absolutely not, unless you count my mother! (She doesn’t read my erotica) The market is wild for the menage stories right now–stories with multiple sex partners, but stories that still have a strong romance. I really believe you can write a good romance with more than one partner and I find that the dynamics of those stories make them a lot of fun to write.

5. Do you think knowing that you have your happy ending with your husband is part of why you write romance? Or that it helps you believe that you can write a romance that feels real? And they do, by the way!

I am a true romantic and I’ve never denied it. I met my husband 34 years ago when I was working in a store and he came in as a customer. After he left (and after we’d flirted outrageously with each other) I told my coworker I was going to marry him. Since I was currently going through a divorce at the age of 21 she thought I was nuts! Six months later, one week after my divorce was final, Doug and I were married and, to use an old cliche, he still takes my breath away. It’s very easy for me to write about attraction and love (or lust?) at first sight because I’ve been there, done that! I feel very lucky to be living with a man I would still pick out of a crowd as the one I want. So yes, to answer your question, real life makes it easy to write a convincing story because I truly believe in love at first sight, and a love powerful enough to get through anything. Plus, I REALLY beleive in the happily ever after!

6. Was it a conscious decision to write about polyamorous relationships when you started the Chanku?

LOL! Nothing about the Chanku was conscious! The series began as a freebie story about an anonymous sexual encounter between two people. The first story never described the man. When Margaret Riley of Changeling Press asked for something totally off the wall to help launch her new publishing company, I offered my story “with improvements.” I didn’t realize Stefan was a shapeshifter until I was half way through the revisions, nor did I realize he was bisexual. Eventually, I realized that all my Chanku were not merely “bisexual,” they just needed sex, no matter what gender their partner! Every one of those stories in Wolf Tales evolved from the character and was not plotted before hand. I still write them by sitting down with my character and asking them what their story will be.

7. Will you be writing any more sci-fi romances like the StarQuest series any time soon?

I hope so! I would love to write more of the StarQuest series because I really liked the characters. I’m also thinking of a paranormal series set in Hawaii and based on the gods and goddesses of the islands, but not sure when I’ll have the time to do them. I’ve got six more Wolf Tales to write–have the first six done which will come out between now and March 2007, then six more after that. I’m currently working on Wolf Tales IV.

Thanks for your time, Kate!

Kate’s website is here and she’s also a Red Hot Romance blogger. Her latest release is Wolf Tales II from Kensington Aphrodisia and should be available at a bookstore near you.


Emma Bull: Finder

I liked the setting–it’s a Borderlands novel.

Orient the Finder sounds, on paper, pretty cool.

But what do we know about Orient beyond that? Nothing, which is amazing considering that it’s written in first person.

The issue here is that Bull is a WRITER, all in caps. Her writing stands out a lot more than her characters do.

Also, this novel is a YA novel, which I didn’t realise until I googled it online.


Catherine Asaro: Primary Inversion

Asaro is one of the few SF novelists whose work I truly enjoy–and possibly the only one who wins or is nominated for awards like the Nebula or the Hugo,

Primary Inversion doesn’t disappoint. Even if I don’t understand the tech part of it–don’t worry, there isn’t much.

I highly recommend this book, whether you’re an SF fan or not. Also, there’s a romantic subplot that ends happily, if that helps you decide.


Holly Lisle: I See You

It’s a very suspenseful read, though I don’t think it’s as good as her previous Last Girl Dancing.

(Damn it, I should review right I finish the book)

Anyway, it’s the kind of book that sucks you in and when you get to the last page, you wish there was more. It is a trademark of Holly‘s writing.

This is my entry for Angie’s TBR Challenge.


The Art of the Skim

I’ve always been a cover to cover reader.

I didn’t need to hurry. I finish most novels in 2 hours flat, and I can continue at that rate for days at a time–that’s 5-6 books a day.

But I can’t do that any more. Not because of time or the lack thereof, simply that I’ve lost that ability to enjoy every single book I get my hands on.

On the other hand, sometimes you want to know what happens, but don’t want to read every single word on the page.

Hence the Skim.

Except I don’t know how. It’s just ingrained in me to read every single word.

Sorry about this very late post. I’m frazzled today.


Alessandro Baricco: Silk

It’s very short, and very literary.

I know I put it on my wish list while trawling Amazon one day, because of the title.

It’s certainly worth a read for the language alone–it must be lovely in the original Italian–but don’t ask me if there are any deeper meanings, because if there are, I didn’t notice them.


Tanya Huff: Blood Price


I convinced myself to read this through to the end because it’s kinda like the books I want to write.


It was a waste of time. Not a wallbanger, just not good enough to read through to the end.


James Rollins: Deep Fathom

This book does hook you in. It has that something that makes you want to sit down and finish it in one sitting.

But the ending sucks.

Really, Mr Rollins, your lead character as the god of light? I’m terribly disappointed.

Worst of all, I may yet pick up Map of Bones just because it sounds so good.


Jo Leigh: Closer…

There are no unnecessary words in this book.

Just go buy this book.

FYI, Jo Leigh sent me the book.


Simon R. Green: Agents of Light and Darkness

Much like the first one. I daresay I’ll be dropping out of the series in two books or so if we don’t find out what’s up with John Taylor’s mother.

John Taylor is the protagonist is this series which is written in first person. He’s got a gift, and he can Find things. *ominous music starts to play*

In this instalment, Green brings in Christianity. This book also has a Grail, like the books written by Dan Brown and his wannabes. It’s just a different one.

If you’re into urban fantasy, then certainly you should start the series. The worldbuilding’s really good.


Simon R. Green: Something From The Nightside

It reads like like a prologue to the rest of the series, but I’m intrigued enough by John Taylor and the Nightside to pick up the rest of the books.

Parts are kinda gory, so if that’s not your thing, or if you’re afraid you won’t be able to sleep tonight, this isn’t for you.

At the time of posting, I’ve already read the next book in the series, and will post the review soon.


Alma Alexander: The Secrets of Jin-Shei

Jin-Shei is “a pledged sisterhood of female friends who are not related by blood.” (copied from the book’s glossary) It speaks to me because when I understood what the phrase meant, it immediately brings to mind my own sisters of the heart. I imagine any woman who reads this will agree.Life is difficult, and this book respects that, is true to it. It’s a tale of the costs of friendship, and the sacrifices that have to be made.

And this book made me cry.

It’s something that happens about once in several blue moons. I can’t remember the last book that made me cry.

I’ll remember this book because of that, and because of Alexander‘s beautiful writing.


Vivi Anna: Hell Kat

Note: I have the original version as published by eXtasy Books. I believe the Aphrodisia version is revised.
I wasn’t expecting much from this book. Hot sex scenes loosely connected by a plotline was what I was looking for when I opened the book (or file, if you prefer).

The sex scenes weren’t very hot, the plot was okay and the characters were one-dimensional.

FYI, for those of you who believe romance needs a happy ending, Hell Kat doesn’t have one–my edition doesn’t, anyway.

It’s very sad, because I’ve seen Anna’s other blurbs, and it sounds like stuff I’d love to read.