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In re Lisa Marie Rice/Elizabeth Jennings

Shadows at MidnightI am a glommer and if I find a book that I like, I usually go and purchase the backlist of that author.   This is particularly easy to do in this day of digital backlists.   It’s even easier if the author you are glomming is a epublished author as is the case with Lisa Marie Rice aka Elizabeth Jennings.   I had read LMR before, back in the day but neither Port of Paradise or Dangerous   Lover interested me enough to engage in the glom.   It took Shadows at Midnight by her alter ego Elizabeth Jennings (release date August 3, 2010). Over the past couple of weeks, I have read every Elizabeth Jennings and Lisa Marie Rice book that I could get my hands on.

Under the Elizabeth Jennings name are the titles: Homecoming (Cerridwen Press), Dying for Sienna (Cerridwen Press) and Pursuit (Warner). Under the Lisa Marie Rice name, I read the following titles: Midnight Man, Midnight Run, Midnight Angel (EC), Dangerous Lover, Dangerous Secrets, Dangerous Passion (Avon Red), Woman on the Run (EC), A Fine Specimen (EC). LMR/EJ wrote a few Precious Gems under the Elizabeth Jennings name but most have been re-purposed and released under her LMR handle.

I feel like a scholar of her work now. One of the dangers of glomming an author is by reading one author’s works close together, you start to see author tics or repetitive tendencies but I think it gives you a great sense of what kind of writer the author is and what kind of book you can expect. LMR/EJ does not have huge range but what she does well is very compelling.

Most all of the above stories begin with and are dominated by the hero’s point of view. The heroes are invariably of military occupation at some point except for Nick from Dying for Sienna who is a former hockey star but part of his plot arc is becoming a detective. None are active military during the courtship except for Bud in Midnight Run and Alex in A Fine Specimen. In those two cases, both are detectives.

The heroines are a bit more varied but often in fall into general categories of writer, painter, scholar or decorator. The heroines usually date male versions of themselves.

The men you were dating didn't excite you, sweetie. And how could they? They were you. In male form. Talking about the Century Theater playbill and the new Scorsese film and how beige is the new black. You don't need that. You get that from me and from Claire. You're such a feminine woman, Suzanne. You need the opposite. Someone yin to go with your yang. Someone to stir your juices. Someone-someone really-male."

Source: Midnight Man

The plots usually go as follows: Man meets woman. Man is in instant lust and somehow recognizes this lust is different than any other lust he has experienced before. Man sets out to make woman his. Woman recognizes this and responds. Woman becomes in jeopardy. Man uses past military skills to save woman and they live happily ever after. The outliers for this plot are Dying for Sienna and Homecoming.

Consistently the men like it rough but perceive the women to be too delicate for their uncontrollable lusts. Unfortunately, the man cannot hold it in his pants nor is he capable of any tender lovemaking, particularly in the beginning, because his lusts are simply too strong for him to bear.

Her breathing sped up as she looked at him and damned if he didn't swell a little, just from her eyes on him.

Oh Jesus, no-’his spine was tingling and his balls start to rise. This wasn't good. He was going to blow his wad the instant he got inside her. He'd done that too many times.

Alex recited a few sections of the Traffic Code in his head and dropped to his knees, taking his dick out of sight range.

"Oh." Caroline's startled gaze met his. She was surprised he wasn't jumping her bones. This wasn't good. He'd trained her to think that his erection meant instant fuck. Well, how was she supposed to know otherwise? It had been his MO up until now.

That had to stop.

Source: A Fine Specimen

Another type that is found in the LMR/EJ book is the hapless hero. Not inept, but hapless when it comes to the heroine:

She was one of those women who caught the light and gave it back with a glow. It was impossible not to look at her when she was in the room. At least Cooper found it impossible-which was why he was trying to concentrate on rusty pipes and leaky gaskets. Left to his own devices, he'd simply stop and stare at her endlessly. Probably scare the shit out of her, too.

The truth was, he'd fallen in instant lust with this Sally Anderson and now he had no idea what to do. He'd completely lost the knack of dealing with females. Human ones, at least.

Source: Woman on the Run

There is also a tendency toward repetition. If it was worth saying once, it is worth saying again sometimes exactly the same way and sometimes slightly different. The repetition happens not only in the books, but also across the books. For example, she used the phrase striations of muscle to describe the lean toughness of her heroes in more than one book:

The man was raw, naked male power. He didn't have the bulked-up muscles of gym rats or wrestlers. His muscles were lean, so stripped of fat she could actually see the striations of muscle tissue under the skin. She knew her anatomy and could see the muscles, one by one, how they fit over one another, worked together. He must put himself through incredible workouts to have muscles like this, deep and toned

Source: Dangerous Passion

Another descriptive phrase she likes to use is that the hero’s spine becomes liquified and that is the cause of all the semen he ejaculates.

It was as intense as hell and couldn't possibly last. When she gave a sharp cry and started climaxing, he shouted and thrust up into her in one last, hard jolt and exploded.

He had no idea how he had all that come in him, seeing as how he'd just climaxed. Maybe his spine melted and drained straight into his dick. Maybe he was using up all the liquid in his body and would dry up and blow away into dust.

Whatever.

Source: Dangerous Secrets

When Elizabeth Jennings/Lisa Marie Rice is on the top her game, her heroes are adorable, helpless in the face of their want for the heroine, and the heroine is savvy enough to know this but sweet enough not to abuse it:

he pulled her mouth away, a fraction of a inch. Just enough so she could form the word, but close enough for him to feel her breath. "Tree."

He looked down at her, face strained. His lips were suffused with blood and wet from her mouth. One big hand on her backside pulled her towards him as he ground against her. She fluttered inside, and looked helplessly up at him. "John." There wasn't any air in her lungs. The word came out more as a stirring of the air than a sound.

He arched his head away from her, neck tendons corded, jaws clenching. He looked at the ceiling for a long moment, and brought his head back down as he stepped back reluctantly, frowning. "You're going to use sex to get everything you want from me, aren't you?"

She didn't even have to think about it. "Yes."

"It works, damn it," he grumbled. He reached for his sheepskin jacket and stopped, pointing a finger at her. "I don't want you going anywhere," he growled.

Source: Midnight Man

At her worst, LMR/EJ books give off creepy misogynistic vibes. I could barely finish Dangerous Secrets because of that.

Obviously I enjoyed most of these books or I wouldn’t have continued the glom. When I was reading the Midnight series, her best in my opinion, I was reminded of the heydey of Ellora’s Cave and what that publishing house brought to the romance table. It wasn’t just sex for sex sake and the hotness of LMR’s books don’t rest in strange positions or multiple partners. The sexiness in these books start first in the hero’s head, then in the frankness of the language used to describe the sexual acts, and finally, in the utter abandonment the characters experience in each others’ arms. These were good, steamy romances. Over the next few weeks, I am going to try to review every LMR/EJ book I’ve read leading up to the August release of Shadows at Midnight but if you want to get started, I’d recommend the following:

  • Midnight Run
  • Woman on the Run
  • A Fine Specimen
  • Pursuit

I didn’t really enjoy the Dangerous series. The first one was a bit boring, the second featured a huge asshole, and the third had a arms dealer as the hero (calling Louis Ronsard).

Where to buy.   Almost all these books are at Amazon (also under Elizabeth Jennings) but the cheapest place to buy the EC books is, unfortunately, through Ellora’s Cave. I’d love to know what you think of LMR/EJ.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

32 Comments

  1. Has
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 13:17:25

    I love love love her Midnight series and I agree they are her best books. I was not that keen on her Dangerous series either. But I highly recommend the Midnight trilogy and Woman on the Run as well as the books under her Elizabeth Jennings penname.

  2. Mireya
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 13:22:44

    I’ve been a fan since she was first published at Ellora’s Cave. It must be now about 6 years. Even those of her titles that weren’t exactly what I’d call outstanding, proved to be, at the very least, good reads (at least in my book). I love her writing voice.

    I fully agree with you re. EC. I was there when they first started, thanks to them I got into erotic romance and got involved in the newsletter I now co-own. I have witnessed it’s evolution… an evolution that, sadly, I don’t feel was for the best. I met some great people in their fan loop back in their early days. Most of them moved on to better and bigger things either by opening their own houses *waves at Treva* or becoming contracted by big print houses (list now too long to mention, but you know who you are). My three online best buds I met because of involvement with EC be it as author, editor, fan or reviewer.

    I miss those early days, have to admit. It was grand.

  3. MaryK
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 13:48:20

    Love her. Though I haven’t read the Dangerous series. My favorites are Port of Paradise (love the setting), Midnight Man, and Woman on the Run.

    I like how the sexiness of her books comes from the intense emotions. She reminds me of early Linda Howard and really clicks with my reading tastes.

    Have you read “Christmas Angel” and “Secluded”, her short stories? I really like “Christmas Angel” but don’t remember what I thought of “Secluded.” I think the hero’s a reformed gangster or some such; I could be remembering wrong. He lives in seclusion b/c he has dangerous enemies who’d like to kill him.

    So Shadows at Midnight is pretty awesome, I take it?

  4. MaryK
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 13:53:44

    BTW:

    Bud is in Midnight Run. I only know b/c I had to look them up to see that the title of my favorite (w/ John the security expert) is Midnight Man. The titles run together in my mind.

  5. Mireya
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 14:41:49

    @MaryK: The heroes in the trilogy work together and are friends, plus the action sort of overlaps a bit, and then each romance is developed in a separate story, if memory serves. I found the last one, Midnight Angel, quite touching.

  6. Janine
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 14:45:49

    At her worst, LMR/EJ books give off creepy misogynistic vibes. I could barely finish Dangerous Secrets because of that.

    Unfortunately, this is the only one of her books that I have in the TBR mountain. Maybe I should rectify that.

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  8. Ridley
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 15:58:22

    @Janine:

    I’d queue up Midnight Man. It checked off all the attributes of suck in my book – from EC, ultra-alpha hero, special forces hero, Christmas – and it made me love it anyways.

  9. Kelly S. Bishop
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 16:23:16

    I stumbled on her Midnight series and loved them. I didn’t know she had another pen name. Being nosy, I’m wondering why she chose to use two names.

    Is there a difference in the heat level/subgenre between the two names???

  10. LVLM
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 18:13:33

    LMR was one of the first authors I read in erotic romance or even romance for that matter and I glommed onto her stuff for a long time.

    I found out pretty quickly that she was EJ and got all her books including her Precious Gem books.

    I love her writing but I find too much repetition and couldn’t finish A Fine Specimen due to pretty much the same story line.

    I loved the Midnight series the most and I like Dangerous Secrets because the heroine wasn’t as Donna Reed as her usual heroines, but more a modern, strong woman.

    But for sure, she does have an appealing style and even though her heroes are a bit too alpha/controlling/stalker for me at times, I do love a hero who gloms onto the heroine and has no eyes for anyone else.

  11. cecilia250
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 18:21:20

    I like her, as well, when I’m in the mood for the ultra-alpha hero kind of thing. I liked Woman on the Run the most I think.

    However, one nitpicky thing I can’t stand is the way that she uses the word “gelid” multiple times in every book. I think she lives/has lived in Italy, and maybe that has made the word seem normal to her. It drives me crazy, though.

  12. Melissa
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 18:51:38

    I love to reread my favorite Lisa Marie Rice books. Yes she is repetitive so I don’t recommend reading too many together but her stories are just so much fun to read and her men are so alpha. My favorites are Midnight Man, Midnight Angel, Port of Paradise and Dangerous Passions.

  13. Janine
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 19:11:45

    @Ridley: Thanks. It does seem that most of her fans are big on the Midnight books. I’ll probably try one sometime although unlike Jane I’m not a big glommer, mainly because I read slowly and don’t have that much time to catch up on backlists between reviews of newer books.

  14. Ivy
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 19:39:26

    The only 1 currently on my TBR pile is Dangerous Lover…maybe I should hold off until I read one of the other recommended books..

  15. Mary G
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 19:56:56

    Hi Jane
    You are so right on so many points. LMR/EJ
    is one of my absolute faves. I believe that authors have to walk a very fine line.
    They have to balance the voice that people love without getting too repetitious. Ironically, Dangerous Passions is one of my faves ever not just of LMR. I was wowed by the juxtaposition of the violence Drake came from with this story written with such beautiful prose.

    “She touched his hand, intending to see if she could wake him up, ask him if he needed anything.
    But when she touched him, amazingly, he stilled. The tense muscles went lax, the frown smoothed out, his breathing slowed. His hand grasped hers tightly, his grip warm and unbreakable.
    He seemed to have found instant peace, the grooves in his face gone, breathing calm and shallow.
    Quiet reigned in the room and as the last light from the fire waned, Grace felt the dark mantle of sleep fold over her once more.” Sigh.

  16. katiebabs
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 22:15:13

    LMR is one of the reasons I read ebooks. Plus, I met her at nationals in San Francisco, and she was a lovely woman. My brother-in-law cannot give enough of her books and begs to borrow mine since the very first time I gave him a LMR book.

    Dangerous Lover is one of my all time favorite by her.

  17. shivaun
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 02:21:39

    I love her books for all of the reasons other people have mentioned. My absolute favorite of hers is Midnight Angel written as LMR, my second favorite is Pursuit written as EJ.

    One thing that I love is that although her heroines are generally very traditionally feminine they are not passive. They are brave and often save the day at some point in the book by saving themselves or by saving themselves and the hero.

  18. Maija A.
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 03:04:10

    I’ve read two books from her, Midnight Man and Midnight Angel. I really liked them both, especially MA because I love the beauty & the beast theme. And because I also love alpha males in my stories, I’ll probably get the rest of her books in the future. Glad to know they are a bunch of fantastic books :)

  19. Marsha
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 12:26:22

    I LOVE LMR’s Midnight trilogy. I didn’t know about her writing as EJ (adding author’s name to TBR list…) so thanks!

  20. LisaCharlotte
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 13:10:58

    So I was intrigued by your entry to check out LMR at Amazon. Unfortunately not intrigued enough to spend over $9 per download.

  21. Jane
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 14:50:34

    @LisaCharlotte Yeah, that’s why I recommend getting them at Ellora’s Cave. The prices are cheaper even if the shopping experience is horrendous.

  22. Mireya
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 18:59:29

    @Kelly S. Bishop:

    Elizabeth Jennings = romantic suspense/non erotic romances
    Lisa Marie Rice = erotic romance

    This was pretty common in the early days of erotic romance, before it became mainstream. Another author that used a different pen name for her erotic romance is Jennifer Ashley. When she started writing erotic romance she used the pen name Allyson James.

  23. Saskia
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 01:48:31

    Lisa Marie Rice also had a Secrets novella published in 2003, SECLUDED. Adding this for the readers who might not know of it:

    http://tinyurl.com/353pzp5

  24. Kaetrin
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 19:12:57

    Okay, I tried to buy the midight series from Ellora’s Cave and they weren’t showing up at all. In fact, I couldn’t even find Lisa Marie Rice on the author listing. Elizabeth Jennings was there but there was only 1 ebook.

    So, then I went to Books on Board. They had 5 LMR books. The midnight series are available in Adobe DE pdf for between $5.50 and $6.30 so I bought all 3. The other two (one of them is Woman on the Run) are just under $10 each and I put them on my wishlist for later maybe.

  25. Mary G
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 19:17:41

    Sorry you had trouble Kaetrin
    I just went there & found them under Rice for ebook & print. Her Dangerous series is with Avon. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

  26. Kaetrin
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 19:33:29

    @ Mary G. I went back to EC out of curiousity and they were there like you said so I don’t know what was going on earlier. Anyhoo, I’m happy to say that the BoB price was cheaper for all 3 of the Midnight books and it’s certainly a better shopping experience from BoB so all is well.

  27. Mireya
    Jun 21, 2010 @ 08:15:45

    For some reason, the best way to do searches at the EC site is by author name. Don’t do a wild card search, don’t search by title, etc. Just click on the authors tab and do a visual lookup.

  28. claire
    Jun 22, 2010 @ 13:20:37

    I really liked Midnight Man or whichever one had Bud as the hero. My only complaint is her stories are a little too similar to each other as I think you said. I’ve been able to find one EJ books of hers and can’t remember the title but the woman was on the run from her fiance I believe it was and she goes to live in Mexico at a beachhouse where she meets the guy who is an injured SEAL who is trying to recover. I thought it was a great book. Maybe it was Woman on the Run or Pursuit…

  29. Jane
    Jun 22, 2010 @ 13:22:02

    @claire It is Pursuit.

  30. Cammy
    Jun 27, 2010 @ 21:21:06

    I like her Midnight series, but she’s not finished with the 4th book of the series which is supposed to be Jacko’s story. It’s been over 4 years since Midnight Angel has been published. She writes entirely too slow for me, so I gave up waiting for it. It’s a shame too.

  31. Monday Midday Links
    May 02, 2011 @ 12:54:30

    [...] I would recommend the Maya Banks’ KGI Series, Lisa Marie Rice’s books (more on her here), and Stephanie Tyler, Suzanne Brockmann’s Silhouette Intimate Moments series starting with [...]

  32. Mel Barker
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 08:56:27

    Your review is spot on Jane. I first read LMR about 6 years ago myself in print form – the Midnight series. Have since bought the ebooks. I too believe the Midnight books are her best although I find that Woman on the Run is my favourite. I also enjoyed Dangerous Lover, but not the rest of the Dangerous series.

    The liquefying spine, yep, she does repeat.

    Had no idea she was Elizabeth Jennings.

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