With paranormal romances awash in vampires and werewolves, it’s the rare author who offers something new to the sub-genre. It is the even rarer author who manages this feat without relying on the use of clichés common to romance novels. In Dark Protector, Alexis Morgan’s Paladins offer a fresh, new mythology to the paranormal world only to fail to overcome other standard conventions and a lack of world-building.
The PBR reviewer family is growing and we couldn’t be happier about it. L.J. Schmidt not only reads romance—since the long ago days when she swiped them from her parents’ bedroom—she also spends her days in a bookstore giving thirty second reviews of romances to fans of the genre. We are tickled that L.J. has agreed to share her incisive critical analysis here at PBR. Welcome L.J.!
HelenKay: In this second book in the series that started with Kitty and the Midnight Hour and is already slated to run for two more adventures in 2007, Vaughn proves one thing: politics can suck the life out of anything and anyone.
Back when Dante was imagining the circles of hell, they hadn’t invented high school. Otherwise, there would have been a special place devoted to cliques and pimples and headgear. They say that college is where you learn independence; high school is where you learn to survive.
Not that the heroine of Serena Robar’s young adult novel, Braced2Bite, has any problems with the high school scene. She’s the top of the cheerleader pyramid, an honors student, and gunning for the man of her dreams. Okay, so she’s also a vampire, no, half-vampire. Genealogy is a tricky thing.
When is a vampire not a vampire? When is the flu just the flu? When is an engagement not an engagement? When is a bad guy not a bad guy? And…when is it okay to get bitten by a complete stranger at a literary party?
All good questions. For that last one, the answer probably is “never” but maybe not. The other answers aren’t as clear and answers are exactly what you’ll want. See, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula is one of those books that raises several questions as it goes flying off in a hundred different directions. The book is hard to define in terms of romance versus paranormal versus chick lit with a twist. But, and here’s the best part, it’s equally hard to put down. This is due, in part, to Acosta’s engaging voice and, in even bigger part, to a desire to know what the hell is happening here.
Last week’s scavenger hunt is over and we’re gearing up for this week’s extravaganza. First a big congratulations to the hard-working Jennifer Yates who found the answers to all three questions:
- Alison Kent’s 1997 Harlequin Temptation release, The Grinch Makes Good, featured a cover model who appeared on some other 250 covers (hint: usually as a brunette). What’s his name? Joe Anselmo
- The One Named Wonder of romance covers first hit shelves in June of 1987 on Joanna Lindsey’s Hearts Aflame. In how many movies has he made a cameo as himself? Fabio has appeared has himself in 6 movies (the key here is as himself)
- Who is the Topaz Man who appeared on the step-back cover of Penelope Williamson’s Once in a Blue Moon? Steve Sandalis
Now on to this week’s tough hunt. The answers are readily available on the Internet. I know because I put them there myself (okay, so maybe I didn’t do all the work myself, but it’s really hot, so if you’ve been paying very close attention, you know where to start your research)
- This prolific author reportedly came up with the name for Harlequin Presents during a lunch meeting with Alan Boon.
- Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Lowell, Cynthia Powell, and JoAnn Ross all have books with this title.
- LaVyrle Spencer wrote the debut title for this Harlequin imprint.
The winner of the hunt gets to pry the autographed copy of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta out of Wendy and HelenKay’s hands. Winners will be announced next Saturday. Happy hunting!
P.S. – Send your answers to this address. Don’t post them in the comments (you don’t want to give away your brilliance, do you?)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the beauty of a good Regency romance comes from the execution. Ever since William Makepeace Thackeray made his name skewering the social structures in Vanity Fair, writers have used the Regency era to excellent comic effect…while allowing the Regency’s unique point in history to explore specific cultural issues.
While Nicole Byrd’s Seducing Lord Oliver doesn’t quite achieve the standard of Thackeray (honestly, who could?), it reminded me that nothing beats a good Regency. Sure, I think this could have been a better story, but it’s been a while since I sat down and devoured a historical romance. What Byrd lacks in plotting and story development, she enhances with energy and nuanced characterization.
Long running, single protagonist series might be one of the most difficult things to pull off in fiction. On one end of the spectrum there are Robert Parker’s Spenser books where Spenser never ages, never evolves, he just keeps solving those crimes. The sameness and lack of growth quickly become frustrating. And on the other end is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series where the characters do move forward and change and in the process loose that precious something that made the reader want more of them. Through four books in the Hollows series, Kim Harrison has neatly avoided these divergent issues with a layered heroine, Rachel Morgan, who is equal parts kick-butt and vulnerable and inhabits a universe that is strife-rich in design and richer still by Rachel’s actions.
**No, this isn’t really a new contest. We’re extending the contest from last week until Saturday. On your mark…get set…hunt!**
We had so much fun with the scavenger hunts in May, that we’ve planned hunts for all of July too. As with the previous hunts, all answers can be found on the internet.
1. Alison Kent’s 1997 Harlequin Temptation release, The Grinch Makes Good, featured a cover model who appeared on some other 250 covers (hint: usually as a brunette). What’s his name?
2. The One Named Wonder of romance covers first hit shelves in June of 1987 on Joanna Lindsey’s Hearts Aflame. In how many movies has he made a cameo as himself?
3. Who is the Topaz Man who appeared on the step-back cover of Penelope Williamson’s Once in a Blue Moon?
As usual, DO NOT POST ANSWERS IN THE COMMENTS, send them to us here. One winner will be randomly selected from all correct entries and announced next Saturday. Happy hunting.
It would seem romance is a genre that easily lends itself to camp. The larger-than-life heroes, the too-good-to-be-true heroines, the often overwrought storylines, and most especially the clinch covers–with the flowing locks and bare chests–are undertaken with a seriousness that belies the pulp nature of this form of entertainment. That more romances don’t come off as campy is, frankly, surprising and likely a testament to the skill of romance authors which manage to take their material seriously enough for it to be engaging and compelling; but not so serious that the material is easily ridiculous. Nina Bangs’ novel Wicked Pleasure, on the other hand, doesn’t find this balance and, despite a humorous style, falls firmly into camp.