I wish I liked Rachel Gibson’s latest book

I loved Rachel Gibson’s writing when I first discovered her. At one point I binge read 15 of her books in the one short month. I loved her tone and voice so much that, despite her last 3 books feeling flat, I continue to read her novels just to refind that magic reading feeling. This novel was slightly better than the last lot I read, however, I still had certain aspects that I found unlikeable in this story… but first, let’s start with the (problematic) blurb:

Rachel Gibson Just Kiss me

Just Kiss Me

by Rachel Gibson

“Hello, Ms. Vivian . . . it’s been a long time.”

And with those words, Vivian Leigh Rochet nearly melted. It’s been years since she last saw Harrison Whitley-Shuler. She was a teenager scrubbing houses for a living. He was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

Vivian had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star, and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry.

She got what she wanted—and more—but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Harrison got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until a heart attack forced him to trade in his cufflinks for a good set of hand tools.

Making furniture soothes his soul, but escaping the Whitley-Shuler heritage is nearly impossible. And now he’s come face-to-face with the one who got away. He’s not looking for love. He’s not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he’s ever done?

A rose by any other name…

So yeah. I start reading the (print) book and there is no Harrison. Nope. Not even a Harry. The hero in this book is a Henry. Sure. The first letter is an H but at no stage is he called/revealed to be a Harrison. Continue reading

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Molly O’Keefe’s Indecent Proposal

I have had many people tell me that Molly O’Keefe is a MUST read author that I would love. Though I Indecent Proposal over 18 months ago, I left it languishing in my TBR as I read other books. I finally managed to read it in February and it is so wonderful that I have proceeded to order in as many Molly O’Keefe books as I could find. But first, the blurb:

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 10.19.10 AMWith his chiseled jaw and thick blond hair, Harrison Montgomery was born to lead. Four generations of Montgomery men have served the state of Georgia, and now he’s next in line. Harrison, though, is driven to right wrongs: namely to clean up the political mess left by his father’s greed and corruption. But Harrison must first win his congressional bid, and nothing can get in his way—not even an angel who served him whiskey and gave him a shoulder to lean on and a body to love for a night. Problem is, she’s pregnant. Scandal is brewing, and there is only one solution: marriage.

Damage control? Ryan Kaminski can’t believe that a cold, calculating political animal now inhabits the body of the emotionally vulnerable stranger who gave her the most unforgettable night of her life. Really, she doesn’t want anything from Harrison, except to be left alone to have her baby in peace. But Ryan is broke, jobless, and essentially blackmailed by Harrison’s desperate family to accept this crazy marriage deal. For two years, she will have to act the role of caring, supportive wife. But what is Ryan supposed to do when she realizes that, deep in her heart, she’s falling in love?

 

This novel was ultra intense. Just like in category romances, the novel applies a microscopic focus on the events leading to two unlikely people coming together. Each pivotal scene changes their relationship trajectory is studied deeply and heavily. O’Keefe writes with such a depth of understanding her characters motivations that as the reader I felt engrossed in these two characters whose lives were led by lies that they had to perform either for themselves of for those around them.

Continue reading

TBR Challenge: Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan

Having missed posting for June, I thought I’d take a step up and actually BUY a new book and read a 2015 RITA nominee for this month’s Challenge. Not only did I buy a new book but I bought an Ebook – a rarity for luddite me who has yet to embrace digital novel reading. And I have ventured into reading an m/m romance which is also a rarity for me (I had read about 3-4 titles).

Fever Pitch I decided to read Fever Pitch because I liked the cover art more than any other RITA covers. I am easily swayed by an awesome cover. I love the clean, funky lines of this cover. I also think the guy looks gorgeous. I’m a fan of the well-dressed man on romance covers (I cannot bear/bare shirtless manmeat covers – yech!). Having read the first chapter, I was sold. I downloaded the book and read the book in one straight sitting. No lunch, no stand up and stretch, no tweeting, no breaks, nothing but reading. It was that good.

The story is about two young men and their first year at college. They had a hook-up in high school. Giles was openly gay but Aaron was still struggling to come to terms with his difficult family life as well as trying to decide how to navigate his own coming out. When Aaron follows Giles to his college, they become awkward with each other and this is where the reader is taken to the familiar tensions of “Does he/doesn’t he like me” that is typical for 18 year olds. But add some extra problems to these young adults such as the difficulties of finding a safe place where they won’t be beaten up for their sexual orientation, negotiating coming out to your parents, to your friends, being surrounded by homophobic proselytisers. Continue reading

My travel reading and a sense of setting

I’m rubbish at reading while on holiday. Where other people relax at the beach with a book, I reject all reading materials as I am either in the water swimming or racing around looking at every museum, shop, historical building that is close by. To add to this, my latest trip was a combination of work and play (I marked student assignments, along with PhD related conference paper writing and archive visiting), which even further lessened my reading time.

However, I did manage to read 5 novels while I was away (I won’t count the numerous picture books I read to my cousin’s kids). So for this blog only I will write about the place I read each book in as well as the book.

Alexander the Great statue in Thessaloniki

Alexander the Great statue in Thessaloniki

Before I discuss these other books I need to point out that I am both impressed and horrified that I have reverted in my reading habits. 4 years ago, I bought myself a SONY ereader and during an 8 week holiday I did not enter a single book shop and I did not buy a single book. All my reads were downloaded from my local library and Project Gutenberg. My luggage was liberated. Hallelujiah to more space for more shoes. But my latest trip has shocked me. Not only did I not use my tablet for reading but I found myself carting print books across the globe. Thoughthey are much more cumbersome, I love them soooo much more than ebooks. I can write in the margins (I don’t but I could if I chose to), I can dog ear pages (I do), I can litter my book with post it notes, bookmarks made of receipts, ticket stubs, serviettes and beer coasters. Each item becoming in itself a souvenir of the moment that I was reading. I am enjoying my reversion. I want a badge that says “Tried ebooks, didn’t work, print is my swag”. I also want to point out that I always forget to take photos when I am on holiday. I guess I am too busy being on holiday to document it. Continue reading

Australian Romance Readers Convention 2011 – Part 2

In my day to day life, I have a few acquaintances who read and enjoy romance novels but it is a rare occasion to be surrounded by romance novel enthusiasts and authors and attending the Australian Romance Readers Convention gives you a chance to talk talk talk about romance novels without the fear that you are getting tiresome.

Here is the second part of my twitter influenced take (that is: 140 words or less per session)

Dinner – Bling and the 2010 Australian Romance Readers Awards – Winners

The ARRC2011 dinner was a dressed up, blinged up affair. An unofficial bling off had been issued and everyone came dressed to the nines. I felt that my tiara might give me the edge on others but unfortunately, Christine Darcas out-blinged everyone in her ballroom dancing, white sequin dress. It was bright & beautiful and her win was well deserved. For more pics there’s Bookthingo and ObsidianTears13 Flickr sets.

As for the favourite authors – there really was a strong Australian/New Zealand bias. Congratulations to Anna Campbell, Nalini Singh, Paula Roe, Jess Dee, Kandy Shepherd and Helene Young. For more details on the winners go to ARRA or Bookthingo.

The food was lovely and the company was splendid. There was much talking and cheer amongst all that attended.

DAY 2

Keynote: Cindy Gerard

Coming from Iowa, corn-fed Cindy Gerard had no idea that romance was the ugly step-sister of the publishing world. She (naively) sent her manuscript to LaVryle Spencer to critique who suggested CG send it to RWA .

Cindy addressed that she knew that she was talking to readers not writers so her talk was not going to be on her craft. She spoke about how, regardless of what you undertake in your life, it is the ability “to confine, control and dominate self-doubt” that will help you succeed. “Self doubt is a sneaky bitch” and can derail any career.

Cindy Gerard was funny, friendly and a lovely person throughout the convention. Stupidly, on each day I kept forgetting to bring my Marriage, Outlaw Style fave Cindy Gerard Silhouette for her to autograph but we did talk cowboy heroes!

Contemporary – The Resurrection of Contemporary Romances

Cathleen Ross, Amy Andrews, Lisa Heidke, Christine Darcas, Ros Baxter

Moderator: Kandy Shepherd

I was excited about this session as it’s my fave sub-genre. Unfortunately, the title was a misnomer as only 2 of the authors wrote contemporary romance. The rest were chick lit authors writing in the first person not the third. This difference was evident when asked for their fave authors. The contemporary authors listed SEP, Rachel Gibson, Crusie, Roberts whereas the chicklit authors listed Marion Keyes & Maggie Alderson.

That said, discussion was fun and lively. Authors articulated their craft, drawing on life experiences. Lisa Hiedke openly admitted to stealing from her own life, Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter on collaborative writing, the use/non-use of children, how much sexual description is enough (at which point Denise Rosetti’s books were described as 3 knicker reads) and the use/non-use of condoms in romance (do they get in the way or is it necessary).

Overall, a great session which would have set different expectations if it had been named Contemporary Romance vs Chicklit.

Category Series – 100 years and still going strong

Kelly Hunter, Melanie Milburne, Michelle Douglas, Paula Roe, Haylee Kerans (Harlequin staff)

Moderator: Annie West

I adore this sub-genres’s short, intense, contemporary stories so attending an intimate talk with these authors was a bonus. Annie West opened questions not only to the panel but to the audience too. Everyone discussed their first ever category read and why they chose to write in the genre.

The authors discussed how satisfying it is to read about alpha males who are at the mercy of the heroine. Kelly Hunter finds the power balance in relationships is important. Paula Roe is still mourning the cancellation of Harlequin Temptations.

Other topics were male virgins, the economy of words and tightly delivered emotions in the short story, tackling issues and the 40 year shift from low sensuality yet broader moral views to high sensuality with more conservative views.

The love promise has stayed core to the category series. The authors said criticism is fine – the reader always owns their response to the story.

By invitation – delegates panel

Cindy Gerard, Helene Young, Anna Campbell, Nalini Singh, Lexxie Couper, Keri Arthur

Moderator: Pamela Diaz (Convention Co-ordinator)

I chose to not take notes at this session. I enjoyed listening to the authors banter with each other about their writing experiences, their favoured genres, what they imagine they would be doi

ng if they weren’t authors. Bookthingo asked them whether they read the last page of a book (I won’t steal BookThingo’s thunder here but I will say that it was a fifty/fifty response). For more details please go to her website!

The convention was wrapped up at this point. It was another fantastic, intense weekend full of romance reading suggestions. My highlight of the convention has to be meeting all the wonderful Twitter folk I have been tweeting with over the last two years. Authors, bloggers, booksellers and readers….oh – and meeting Cindy Gerard, author of one of my favourite ever category romance rereads.