Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlander.jpgwd: Since PBR came into being, the most debated books have been Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation. Apples and oranges for certain and a testament to our divergent tastes. Unlike the Crusie title – for which Kassia and I were eager, but for too long lacked the time to discuss – the talk about Outlander wasn’t of the sort that implies fervor. The deliberations went a bit like this:

Me: Let’s do Outlander.
Anonymous fellow reviewer: I’d rather be staked out on ant hill and covered in honey.

Repeat ad infinitum with the occasional substitution of torture method and you get the idea. While it’s been frustrating to want to talk about a book and to not find that desire reciprocated, the polarization that Outlander has caused here is endemic of the schism it has created in the larger romance community. There are those who passionately love Jamie and Claire’s story, and those who hate the very idea of the books. I have to admit that I am addicted to the Outlander series…while I’m reading it. When I’m not reading, I ardently wish I’d never picked the books up. The never-ending-series that it has become weighs me down and dampens my excitement for the story.
(lf: Let me horn in here to say that as a fervent fan of Ms. Gabaldon’s, I too look askance at each new entry in the series. I’ve had Breath of Snow and Ashes on my shelf since it was published last year, working up the gumption to take a running leap at it. The Outlander books demand a huge investment in time and emotional energy and are not for the weak.)
Nonetheless, when Lorna joined us I knew the discussion that I was so impatient for would soon be underway. Years ago, the first conversation Lorna and I had – beyond, hello nice to meet you – was about the Outlander series. We were united in our general passion for all things Gabaldon while being divided by our thoughts on specific points. That seemed a lovely place to begin a discussion, and it was with great enthusiasm that Lorna and I launched into Outlander. We quickly found that our conversation about Jamie and Claire and all that happens to them, to be completely overwhelming. It’s nearly impossible to discuss Outlander while leaving all those other books and continuing storylines untouched; but we managed to, mostly. What follows is our very long chat about Outlander.

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Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

welcome to temptation hb.jpgWhen I signed on to Paperback Reader, I inserted a clause in my agreement to the effect that there would be a team review of Welcome To Temptation during my first year of employment. In retrospect, I probably should have gone for the signing bonus. You live, you learn.

So, what with one thing and the other, a year passed, but the dream remained alive (also, I forgot to insert language about what would happen if said review failed to materialize). And…here it is. A review of Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. It should probably go without saying, but there is not a single unbiased word in the lengthy discussion Wendy and I had. We didn’t even attempt to fake impartiality. Had someone (name withheld, but initials are HK) kept her promise to read with us, maybe things would be different. We’ll never know, will we?

Welcome to Temptation is the story of a girl, her family, and her dog. Or maybe it’s the story of a boy, his town’s water tower, and his pool table. Sophie Dempsey comes to Temptation with her sister Amy to film a screen test for D-list movie star, Clea Whipple. Phineas Tucker, mayor of Temptation (three generations and counting), learns that there might be loose women (and possibly a porn flick being produced) out at the Whipple farm. Phin isn’t opposed to loose women on principle — too bad because Sophie’s wound so tight with nerves, she might snap.

Which means, yes, porn is happening, but only the vanilla kind, and Sophie is sure she’s going to be thrown out town pronto. What happens next? Political maneuvering, phallic, flesh-colored water towers, family strife, thwarted ambition, con games, blackmail, apparent murder, softball games, and pool. Not necessarily in that order. Suffice to say that a lot of paint was sacrificed in the making of this story.

What? You want a detailed, linear synopsis? Better that you read the book. But read our review first. We gush.

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Exit To Eden by Anne Rice

exit to eden.jpg Lisa–the perfectionist–is a stunning, mysterious, and fearless sexual adventurer. She is founder and supreme mistress of The Club–an exclusive island resort where forbidden fantasy meets willing flesh. Elliott is a thrill-seeking photographer who has risked his life in war zones around the world and now seeks the ultimate rush–exploring his darkest sexual self. Join them on a journey to the limits of erotic pleasure and beyond.

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Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer

hummingbird.jpgThe Bandit and the Gentleman

Both were wounded in the same train robbery in frontier Colorado and left on Abigail McKenzie’s doorstep to nurse back to life.

Gentle, loving David, promising her a happiness she’d lost hope of finding, was all a lady could wish for.

Jesse stood for everything she hated: he was rude, violent, roughly handsome and disturbingly sensual.

But it was Jesse’s mocking mouth that troubled her dreams, Jesse who made her feel a hundred things a lady should never know, Jesse who challenged her every waking hour.  She fought him with all the stiff propriety her stubborn will commanded…but in her burned the aching embers of love too long denied–love that would force her to a choice no woman should ever have to make…

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