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Reading List: Kelly’s Historical Romance Roundup for June/July 2013

Reading List: Kelly’s Historical Romance Roundup for June/July 2013

I’m slacking off on writing a full review because I blew through these pretty quickly, and I already used up my snark quota for the month. All but Jeffries and Willingham were new-to-me authors.


What the Duke Desires by Sabrina JeffriesWhat the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

If I didn’t own Jeffries’ entire backlist, I might have avoided this solely because of the dopey generic title. But she’s earned my trust, and she still has it. The illegitimate heroine is smart and vulnerable, the duke is full of hidden tragedy and repressed passion, and the intrigue revolves around their missing siblings rather than political maneuvering. It’s a typically enjoyable Jeffries book — nothing vibrantly new or different, but she’s such a good storyteller I never get kicked out of my reading trance. Grade: B

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To Sine with a Viking by Michelle WillinghamTo Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham

I’m pretty sure I need to read more by Willingham. This one starts out with the Irish heroine clobbering the Viking hero over the head and taking him captive, and you know how much I love stuff like that. She can’t let him go or kill him because she needs his strength to find food for their starving village, and he can’t escape because he needs her help to find his kidnapped estranged wife. Yes, he’s married, and they angst about it. A lot. But Willingham somehow works around the inherent squickiness, and she writes some really good action scenes. Book trance on this one too. Grade: B

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A Lady Risks All by Bronwyn ScottA Lady Risks All by Bronwyn Scott

The first half of this story had me hooked — the author used the theme of “risk” in different ways to define not only the hero and heroine, but also the heroine’s loving-but-conniving father. The plot revolves around billiards, and the early-Victorian historical world-building was vivid and completely believable. Until…(sigh)…the hero, a younger son of a viscount, suddenly became styled a “Lord” and the heroine a potential “Lady.” I finished the book, but I lost faith in the story and the author. Fantastic cover, though. Grade: C

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Lady Northam's Wicked Surrender by Vivienne WestlakeLady Northam’s Wicked Surrender by Vivienne Westlake

This 55-page erotic romance maxes out the short story format, but there just isn’t enough substance to sustain more. The writing is capable but uninspired, and with the sole exception of Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter, I have yet to read a “Dream Sex or Real Sex???” scene that doesn’t make me laugh. For 99¢, it’s probably worth a try for some readers, but I’m not inclined to seek out anything more by this author. Grade: C-

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The Lady and the Laird by Nicola CornickThe Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

I didn’t make it very far with this one. The meet-cute in the prologue was really good, and I was intrigued by the set-up with the bluestocking heroine writing erotic letters for her brother to woo his beloved away from the crabby hero. I adore bluestocking heroines and crabby heroes. But then…(sigh)…the “jilted at the altar” scene has the idiot brother and his vapid lady love eloping to Gretna Green. From the Highlands. As in, the Highlands in SCOTLAND. I just couldn’t do it. Grade: DNF

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Forbidden Jewel of India by Louise AllenForbidden Jewel of India by Louise Allen

This one sat in my TBR queue for months because I had Significant Book Anxiety. I want to love any and every romance set in India, but the cover and description made me more than a little wary. This book is, unfortunately, a solid example of “exoticizing the ‘other’.” In her author’s note, Allen describes her recent trip to India with enthusiasm, and it’s obvious that she reveres the history and culture, but the authorial (or maybe editorial) choices of which bits to include didn’t work for me at all. There are several gratuitous references to sati ritual suicides, a superfluous scene featuring a Shiva lingam statue, a king cobra attack, and excessive use of Hindi words for fashion and furniture that served no purpose other than to show off the author’s research. In addition, the romance left me cold, the hero was too perfectly perfect, and the heroine (an Anglo-Indian princess, of course) was wildly inconsistent. Grade: D+

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Not Just a Governess by Carole MortimerNot Just a Governess by Carole Mortimer

I think I need to skim a Harlequin Presents title by this author to see how consistent her writing style and voice is across genres and categories, because it’s definitely, well, unique. Mortimer loves ellipses and em-dashes and exclamation points, which should endear me to her. But when every question in the dialogue ends in an ellipsis, and every expository paragraph has an interjection offset with em-dashes, and five paragraphs in a row end with an exclamation point, the punctuation becomes increasingly intrusive. Also disruptive were the repetitive words and phrases; the hero was described as “cold” more than 25 times (that doesn’t include his chilliness, frostiness or iciness), and we’re told he has stormy grey eyes nearly 50 times. I also had major issues with the plot, in which the heroine was grateful for the hero’s light-fingered Magical Orgasm Cure that allowed her to overcome the ickiness of her recent rape at the hands of her evil cousin. But, of course, her real post-rape trauma — the loss of innocence that renders her unfit for proper wifery — lingers until the cold, grey-eyed hero’s grand gesture. Grade: D-

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Thursday News: Fern Michaels wins a defamation suit; Harlequin revenues down; Men more likely to say I love you first; Science scares me

Thursday News: Fern Michaels wins a defamation suit; Harlequin revenues down;...

Today marks the first day in our August giveaway extravanganza. I don’t know why but I thought it might be fun to solicit authors and publishers to see if they would give away stuff to the Dear Author community. I opened it up to anyone, including self published authors so long as the SP authors had editors. We had a great response. Over 70 authors and publishers agree to provide books, gift certificates and even swag to our readers.

Every day we’ll feature a new giveaway. I hope you come and celebrate reading with us during the month of August.

If I wind up dead, please know that Mary Kuczkir, the author Fern Michaels, more (than) likely arranged for it to happen. Please don’t respond. I want a black/white record. Shelley Dangerfield.

This email was forwarded by Craig Dilley to a website that promotes romance authors. Dilley was found to have defamed Michaels because they could not prove the truth of the statement – that Michaels was trying to murder the Shelley Dangerfield.

Even though the judge found that Michaels had suffered no damages, he still ordered the defamer, Craig Dilley, to pay $75,000.

Attorneys for Michaels, who filed the lawsuit under her legal name, Mary Kuczkir, argued that the writer of almost 100 bestsellers was not a public figure. Michaels claimed she was unable to write for six months and lost $850,000 in income due to her distress. Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Roger Couch ruled “there was no apparent adverse effect on her earning capacity,” nor was there evidence her book sales suffered or she was denied publishing privileges due to the email.

The facts in the case are so sketchy that it’s hard to make out exactly what the claim was. Defamation per se doesn’t need any proof of damages and calling someone a murderer might fall under that category so the $75,000 may be punitive damages. Again, hard to say and frankly I find the verdict/ruling a bit ridiculous. GoUpstate.com

One of the reasons for the decline was a weakness in the direct to consumer sales.  Yahoo! Finance

Jennifer Ashley’s shifters wear collars that allow the human government to control their emotions to a certain extent. Collars or other microchips could be used to do more than simply suppress emotion or give off an electrical surge to control instinct. Clearly advanced technology suggests that full control over a lesser being could be done through harnessing EEG signals and processing them. Yay??? ExtremeTech