Saturday, December 31, 2005

Final tally 2005

102 New Books Read in 2005

I found my written reading journal from January through March & recounted my total number of books read. Included in the tally are any & all new to me books regardless of genre- fiction, nonfiction, biography, etc. No rereads.

Perhaps next year I will steal an idea from Tara & create a separate page or pages to list books read & archive reviews separately from my main blog.


Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 Keepers

I added the following keepers to my shelves this year. In alphabetic order by author's last name.

1.Smoke Thief, by Shana Abe- dragon shapeshifters

2.Duke of Sin, by Adele Ashworth

3.The Bartered Heart, by Nancy Butler

4.Goddess of Spring, by P.C. Cast- Greek mythology

5.Sin & Sensibility, by Suzanne Enoch

6.Marigold's Marriages, by Sandra Heath- Druidism

7.Miss Lacey's Last Fling, by Candace Hern

8.The Rake's Rainbow, by Allison Lane

9.The Prodigal Daughter, byAllison Lane

10.Lord of the Mist, by Ann Lawrence

11.The Bedeviled Duke, by Judith Lansdowne

12.Kissing Cousins, by Nadine Miller

13.Beyond the Highland Mist, by Karen Marie Moning

14.A Convenient Marriage, by Debbie Raleigh

15.The Faery Bride, by Lisa Ann Verge- Touch healing/Celtic religion

16.Dark Lover, by J.R. Ward- vampire

Theme Keepers

I also have theme keepers, which are usually romance subgenres: fairies, vampires, ghosts, time travel, etc. They are not always as strong as the 'regular keeper' books, but catch my interest for other plot or characterization reasons. Numbers 1, 4, 6, 15 & 16 above are also theme keepers, but their characterization & depth was better than those below. This year I added the following titles to the keeper shelves because of their theme:

1.The Forest Lord, by Susan Krinard- Fairies

2.The Faun's Folly, by Sandra Heath- Mythological creature

3.Cupid's Mistake, by Karen Harbaugh- Greek mythology

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Developing Alzheimer's

I probably shouldn't say this in public, but I've been so forgetful of what exactly one needs to sew a basic pattern I've had to make two separate trips to the store to pick up things I initially forgot to buy the first time. Things like interfacing, thread, buttons.

Well, the thread wasn't my fault, I did have thread. Until Son #2 used an entire spool to make a spider web out of mardi gras beads across his room. Naturally I didn't remember this until I'd returned from a trip to the store.

In fact, I still don't have buttons. I want to use 'authentic' military issue olive drab green buttons. I'm making Beetle Bailey scrubs, as I'm sure you recall. I was sure Husband (remember him?) had some extra buttons stashed away in the last hoarde of military issue stuffed into our closet. No chance.

So here I sit, merrily sewing away in the off moments when I don't have to run out to the store to buy some long forgotten, lost supply that I formerly kept as a matter of routine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Tuesday to all

My Tuesday has been less profitable than I expected. First off- shhh...don't tell husband- I slept in until 9:45. I have no idea what the problem was. I remember waking up close to 6 & turning on BBC news. That's all I remember. I'm not sick & I'm nearly inert enough to qualify as a slug so tiredness doesn't enter into the picture. Don't tell Husband. He'll kill me out of jealousy.

Around noon I'm just setting up my sewing stuff when the Fed Ex guy shows up with a package & the Boy down the street is right behind him. Neighbor Boy stayed until 4 pm. Chatting. About movies, girlfriends, why Daughter needs to attend the boys' high school (so they can 'guard' her) & not the IB high school, the intricacies of his family genealogy, football (I hate football, ask anyone related to me. Whatever popped into his little redheaded brain. Don't get me wrong, I like him & he's an excellent conversationalist despite being sixteen. I deliberately didn't feed him, thinking that perhaps a lack of food would send him home. WRONG. Finally I convinced him he needed to look in on his little brother, who was supposed to be visiting another neighbor.

I managed to hem two pairs of pants. I need to add darts to a skirt in order to take in the waist. Rip out & replace a zipper on a pair of pants still needs doing. Made dinner. Oughta vacuum, clean bathroom, laundry. Maybe tomorrow. Then again, Husband is off tomorrow & I rarely get household chores done if he's here.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Free at last, thank God almighty! No offense intended. However, I just dropped the children off with their paternal grandparents. They will be passed around among the relatives like so many hot potatoes for the next week. Meaning- Husband & I are all set to stare at each other across the livingroom & wonder at the quiet, the lack of clutter & the clean kitchen full of food.

I plan to do some long postponed mending & hope to begin a cross stitch project. I want to make Husband some scrub tops. I just bought three yards of Beetle Bailey fabric- & got home to realize I'd lost the pattern. After lunch I'll go back out to get one. Hopefully he'll agree to classic Batman & possibly Dagwood although Husband wants coordinating bottoms as well. I'm going to wait on the fabric for the bottoms. Plain fabrics mainly although I did agree to make Husband a set of camo scrubs. Hancock Fabrics here in my area has a thirty percent off of Sunday comics patterned cotton ( Family Circle, Blondie & Dagwood, Beetle Bailey, etc.) through the seventh according to the clerk.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

!@#$% Hamster (Oh, & merry Christmas to all)

Did Santa bring you what you asked for? Did you lay abed listening to excited whispers as the little ones discovered Santa's bounty? Did you have to make a last minute run to the store because you ran out of a key ingredient at the last second?

I very nearly committed hamstercide early this morning. We returned from midnight mass at roughly 1:45 & sent the kids to sleep as soon as they made Santa's goody plate (chocolate chip cookies & vanilla pudding with a glass of eggnog). Husband & I stayed up until 2:45 drinking eggnog & listening to carols.

Husband fell promptly asleep, snoring a bit. Often I have trouble falling deeply asleep & usually meditate or start a rosary in my head until I can drift off. Three fifteen I hear rustling & quiet little noises. Thinking one of the children had awakened & were out snooping around I got up & walked around the pitch dark apartment. All was quiet. I returned to bed.

Three thirty same drill. Now I was getting worried. I went into the loo (it was dark remember), sat & promptly had the scare of a lifetime as the !@#$%& hamster rushed over my feet & hung a left into the livingroom. O.M.G. Well, I told myself, at least I knew who the culprit was. I also knew that I'd never be able to sleep with him running around. Besides, I was now TOTALLY awake.

Fortunately, Lemon Drop has a serious jones for a particular treat. After shutting all doors in order to enclose the space a little I turned on the lights. Dazed by the sudden brightness, he crouched beside the trash can under a large buffet. I carefully dropped treats just close enough that he had to come within arm's reach. Being the sucker that he is, Lemon Drop made a mad dash for his treat & I scooped him up. Imprisoning him in his cage, I finally made it back to bed at 4:15. The Husband snored through it all. The kids were up betimes & we staggered into the living room at eight thirty.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Traffic, traffic & more traffic

Overall, a pretty quiet day once daughter & I returned from a couple of errands. I had to buy an invisible zipper to replace the one on my favorite pants. I wanted to do some grocery shopping. It shouldn't have taken more than an hour and a half- less really.

Holiday traffic, however, had other plans for daughter & I. Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1 north and south on both roads were at less than 25 mph. Photos on the link are old, but will give you a sense of the sheer volume of cars. The HOV lanes were all heading south & they too were nearly at a standstill. In toto twelve, yes twelve lanes full of merry nog & coffee filled holiday travelers all enjoying scenic suburban northern Virginia at the blinding pace of twenty five mph. I suppose that the travelers ought to be grateful- at least it wasn't summer & therefore ninety degrees outside.

Anyway, after enjoying the grocery store & Wally World & the fabric store, daughter & I turned the radio WAY WAY up on the ride home knowing that we unlike many of our fellow cars were actually quite close to our destination.

Once home we made two batches of brownies. Washed, dried & folded three loads of laundry. Made dinner. Opened the doors and windows to let in the fifty six degree breezes. At this rate my bulbs will never come up again. The buds on the tulip tree outside church are fuzzy & swelling- either portending a mild winter or future damage to the tree.

One very cheerful & happy event- a Secret Santa at Husband's work hid an XM Sattelite radio in a giftbag in his locker. He called me, thrilled to death. We seriously looked into it last month, but decided to wait until the spring. He's pretty sure which coworker bought it for us, she's heading to Iraq in a few months. She & Husband are buddies. A very, very kind lady who knows her stuff inside and out. We will certainly pray for her while she's deployed. Send care packages. The usual drill.

Currently on a LOTR watching extravaganza. Husband laughed last night, "You couldn't even wait until the kids were home a full day before watching it, could you?" Of course not. It's vacation, are you crazy? We have to watch it. All weekend. He's working, what does he care?!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

7 Meme

7 Things to do Before I Die

1. Finish my degree

2. Watch my children graduate from college

3. Tour castles in the UK, Ireland, & France

4. Laze on the beaches of the south Pacific

5. Move back to northern New England

6. Lose weight & keep it off

7. Learn how to make bread

7 Things I Can't Do

1. Type

2. Knit/crochet

3. Live in the south

4. Become Conservative

5. Give up coffee

6. Leave the house or go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink

7. Sleep in a previously unmade bed

7 Things I Love About my Spouse

1. Warm Hands

2. Blue eyes & soft lips

3. His compassion for & nurturing of his family & his patients

4. Work ethic & type A personality

5. Innate sense of fairness & justice

6. Protectiveness towards those he loves

7. HUGS, HUGS & more HUGS

7 Things I Say Most Often


2. NO

3. "You're yucky" or "You're a pest"

4. God have Mercy or God give me patience

5. I love you

6. Drive safely

7. Do you speak English? I said NO

7 Authors I Love

1. J.R.R. Tolkien

2. C.S. Lewis

3. Edwidge Danticat

4. P.G. Wodehouse

5. Katherine Kurtz

6. Piers Anthony

7. A.A. Milne

7 Movies I Watch Repeatedly

1. Lord of the Rings trilogy

2. Star Wars series

3. Lion in Winter

4. Casablanca

5. Amelie

6. Harry Potter series

7. Classic Disney

Tag 7 People

1. Anne E

2. Jenster (answer in the comments, please, I know you don't have a blog)

3. A Ladybug

4. Maili- I know you're out there somewhere!

5-7. Anyone else who cares to answer

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nearly finished

Some more wrapping, a few trillion baked goods, several hundred miles of chauffeuring & we're done! HAHAHAHAHAHA Sorry, I've been out all day among the cheerful masses shopping & am a little frazzled. Can you tell? I even caved in & started carrying my big purse/tote bag. Need more tape, more peel & stick labels, more wrap..what am I forgetting?!

However, Husband is off today and tomorrow, so I'll have help with the last minute details. He even made dinner tonight- thank goodness. He loves to cook whenever he's off. I'd love it if he'd cook nightly, but, alas, he doesn't come home from work until eight pm. Don't think I haven't thought of it though.

The biggest plus with carrying the 'big bag' (normally I carry a tiny clutch I got as a part of a free GWP from Lancome) is that I carry a book on my person as opposed to in the car. I currently have a traditional Regency in a cute little fabric bookcover. I think it's A Perfect Scoundrel by Martha Kirkland but I can't swear to it. My bag is buried under a mound of Santa stuff in my room & I can't be bothered to walk that far right now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Review:Have Glass Slipper Will Travel

Before I begin, I will say that I read love & laughter titles strictly for those qualities & rarely quibble with them except for the most serious problems (often fatal character flaws). Unlike other Romancelandia subgenres reality need not intrude in any way shape or form since I want to smile & laugh & escape daily life.

Have Glass Slipper Will Travel by Lisa Cach is, as advertised, a light confection of love & laughter contemporary romance lightly touched by the paranormal (who knew Oprah could be someone's fairy godmother?!). I've read two other Lisa Cach romances, her paranormal demon pair Dream of Me and Come to Me. Only one of them worked enough to land on my keeper shelf (Dream of Me), but I liked her voice enough to buy HGSWT on sight and without second thoughts. Luckily for me, it worked! YAY!

Katy Orville, recently laid off from her tech job in Seattle, lands in London after deciding to spend her savings title hunting. Will Eland (I couldn't shake the image), organic lavender & lettuce farmer as well as Duke of Marreton, nearly runs Katy over when she tries to cross the street against the traffic light after looking the wrong way.

Katy manages to land herself in one ridiculous, unbelievable scrape after another all the while charming the pants off of Will- literally and figuratively. With a little help from Oprah, Peter Pan & pixie dust Katy & Will manage to fall hopelessly in love in an amazingly short period of time.

Despite my constantly seeing Will as an actual Eland (click link above) & my oft repeated dislike of unusual names, plus a few other assorted issues, I completely fell in love with this quick, quirky, funny little book. Lisa Cach has a deft touch- I will continue to look out for her novels.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Review:The Magnificent Rogue; I. Johansen

This love story set in Elizabethan England centers on the maturation of a teenge girl raised by a brutal couple in total ignorance of her family heritage & ancestry. Emtionally & physically abused by a couple given charge over her, Kathryn believes she is Mary, Queen of Scots' illegitimate daughter. Queen Elizabeth, in a complicated political manuveur sends Robert MacDarren, Lord of Craighdhu, to Kathryn under orders to marry her & keep her isolated on his island home off the coast of Scotland.

While written as a romance, I think this is actually a coming of age story. In the beginning Kathryn is only 16, abused & sheltered & ignorant of her identity and of the political ramifications of said true identity. Slowly over the course of time Kathryn matures emtionally & intellectually & decides she must be the captain of her fate. Robert, meanwhile, is more of a stock character. Emotionally isolated & determined to keep Craighdhu safe, Robert agrees to Elizabeth's plans hoping to add his own twist since he is caught between the political games of Queen Elizabeth & King James of Scotland.

Kathryn's plans cause difficulties for Robert & his clan. To her credit, when Kathryn finally realizes the ramifications of what she's done she sets out to repair her errors as best she can without further endangering Robert & the people of Craighdhu. Reluctantly Robert admits his love for Kathryn and he sets about proving it to her as best he can before politics & the tide of history can prevent him. In the end Kathryn chooses love & family over power & Robert decides that the love of a good woman is better than being lonely in a crowd of clansmen. Thus Robert & Kathryn have an HEA as equals.

I initially had reservations about Kathryn because of her age, but Iris Johansen skillfully drew me into Kathryn & Robert's world despite them. Regretfully, Robert, IMO, is less well developed than Kathryn, nonetheless he is strong & decisive & well Kathryn's equal even after she has grown & matured. This is a romance by, for & about adults which I enjoyed tremendously.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Spielberg mom

A few friends & I were watching our Rector supervise the Christmas pageant rehersal. I admit we were chatting throughout, but we each have three or more children & have enjoyed roughly seven or eight Pageants apiece. So, ok, we ought to have been quieter maybe. We weren't though.

The Rector tells the adults discreet photos & filming could be done from the choir loft & after the Pageant. An older mom with an only child (this isn't a dis against older moms or only children) turns around & asks me if I'd ever filmed the Pageant. I replied no, since we've never had or wanted a video camera & besides, I think filming in a church is disrespectful (I didn't tell her that last bit).

"Don't you have three children?"

"Yes, we have three children."

"Don't you want to preserve their most precious moments on film?"

"Well, I take stills, but not in church. Before & after though."

"I want my daughter's every event filmed," with this pronouncement she moved across the aisle where there was peace & quiet & away from the four hens merrily cackling away while their chicks (not so little anymore) learned their lines & their marks.

All three of my girlfriends stopped talking as soon as she moved acros the aisle. "What's her problem? Weren't we respectful enough? Too noisy, were we?"
I explained our conversation. Major eyerolls. "Jeez. Get a life already." And with that our conversation resumed uninterrupted. Rude, weren't we?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Teenage avalanche, X-Box & Iris Johansen

Somehow, in my sleep induced stupor this morning (6:30 to be precise) I agreed to babysit the boys from down the street while their mom works. You see, the school system decided to call school off this morning after deciding the roads were too icy to risk the buses & the kids. Meanwhile I had already agreed to watch the boys (ages 10 & 15) until the buses came to pick them up.

Fast forward to nine am. They arrive on the doorstep bearing a dozen donuts, which apparently I'd asked for by way of payment, & X-Box games. I was still in my jammies & Husband's wonderful, enormous snuggly terry robe. Race to the back & dress. Pretend mightily to be unsurprised & welcoming. I was now the keeper of two teenage boys, a teenage girl & two ten year olds.

So, six hours later we're still having a good time. It's been fun actually (don't tell them that). I love to hear them laugh & egg each other on. Besides, their mom is struggling to make ends meet (she's a single mom) & they're often alone more than they ought to be.

Also, the repair man was here to fix the shower. Half of the hot shower water ended up coming out of the tub spout, resulting in an empty hot water tank & scalded feet after even a short shower. Husband fussed & puttered all week until I finally took pity on my teens & called the repair guy. Poor man. He was in & out three times today because of parts & lunch & being the only guy trying to cover a large area. Finally, he says it's fixed. I hope so. The whining is tiresome.

I've finally discovered Iris Johansen's older romances. I'm currently reading The Magnificent Rogue. It's wonderful. Why did it take me so long to get around to reading her romances? Why do I hate romantic suspense so much that I won't follow a crossover no matter how good her romances are? Oh well. It'll take me a while to unearth all of her backlist, so I have some time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Snow hysteria, pt. 2

Not much going on today. Had to do some errands for our church. It snowed a little late this morning, changing over to rain. Resulting in the kids returning from school just before one pm. For rain. It has been hovering around forty degrees all day & the weathermen say it will be warm tonight. The children could easily have stayed in school. Ridiculous. Took a delicious nap. Daughter too! I was a little surprised, but she has been fighting off a bug I think.

I DVR'ed the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker last night & we are camped around the TV watching. The costumes & sets are quite lavish & Tchaikovsky has always been a favorite of mine anyway. More cheerful than alot of the so called children's specials on this season.

Baking banana bread for dessert. Smells yummy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


My lovely sister, formerly known as Dossica has decided to change her blog name to A Ladybug. She has opened comments (I think). Drop by & tell her hello for me. She's just had a second baby & is now utterly surrounded by testosterone, poor thing.

Spent the morning watching Cirque du Soliel's Solstrom . I love watching them, they are amazing. The washboard abs aren't bad either! It is my understanding Quidam will tour the U.S. this coming year. I hope they come near us. Tickets to Cirque have been high on my birthday/Valentine's/anniversary wishlist for a long time. Cross your fingers. I know Husband reads this, maybe he'll take the hint.

As to reading, not doing much of that today I'm afraid. Laundry. Scrubbing. You get the idea. After watching the yummy acrobats of course.

Have A Hot Dry Stormy Life Kids! Read this article today, folks. If you have children. If you care about the future of the earth & your children. Stewardship of Mother Earth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

DNF- Rebellious Desire

I think I've read the Julie Garwood book Rebellious Desire a long time ago. No surprise there I'm sure. Many ladies in the romance community have read & loved her books. I think I forgot this one, because I didn't like the hero & thus didn't like the book. One of my hard & fast rules- liking the hero. This one has severe jealousy & control issues. Life being already too short, I have decided not to continue with this book. I have too many anxiously waiting their turn in Mt. TBR to continue with a title I remember barely liking the first time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

13 Days 'til Christmas

Visited Sister & the Nephews today. Too, too precious all of them. Visiting them was the perfect way to spend a Monday. Traffic was light both ways, what more can you ask for? Except maybe a few cookies for the trip home. Thanks, Sis! And no- none of them made it home to the kids.

Started reading Rebellious Desire by Julie Garwood, I thought I'd read all of her older romances, but so far this one isn't ringing a bell. Typical plot- atypical American girl captures the fancy of a powerful, jaded British aristocrat. Set in London of 1788. I'm only fifty pages into it, but JG is always reliable.

While waiting in a check out line this evening I encountered an astoundingly ignorant person. Verbatim quote, "God blesses America because we believe in Jesus but He doesn't bless Isreal because the Jews murdered Jesus." Later, the same person said, "When did the Jews invent Hanukkah? I know it isn't as old as Christmas. Christians had Christmas before the Jews invented Hanukkah. And what's up with Kwanzaa? Did the blacks just make that up or something?!"

I swear I bit my tongue so hard it bled. I managed to hang on to my happy thoughts of my sister & her family & kept quiet. I saw steam coming out of the ears of the older lady a few feet behind this person though. The whole episode reminded me of Jay Leno's man on the street interviews. I half expected someone to leap out & say, "Surprise you're on Candid Camera!" or some such. Naturally no such luck of course. Our country's future is dire indeed.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Review:The Painted Rose

The hero, Lucien Delacourte, has fled to the English countryside in disgrace and completely destitute from Paris to accept a tutoring position in a wealthy household. After a carriage accident, Sarah Essington, sister of the Earl of Darby, has hidden for the last five years on her brother's estate. During her self enforced isolation she has created a fantastic garden which is her pride and joy. Now she wishes to paint her garden and make a gift for the king. Thus Lucien enters the world of the Essingtons.

Each person in the household leads a complex, layered life not immediately revealed but which impacts the Hero and Heroine. Instead of concentrating on the evolving love story the plot devolves into a series of scenes featuring other characters' machinations and motivations regarding one person or another in the household.

What begins as a deeply touching story of two people slowly returning to life after grievous wounds deviates into a semi gothic mystery in which their relationship is no longer the centerpiece. I was mad about that, actually. I was very invested in Lucien and Sarah and why she insisted on hiding away & would they work out their issues, etc.

I ended up skimming the last half. I nearly didn't finish it, actually. There is an HEA, and all of the loose threads are neatly tied into a bow. Ms. Birdsell has certainly caught my eye despite the fact that I didn't like the way this story developed. The emotions between Lucien and Sarah were touching and well depicted. Hopefully Ms. Birdsell's next story will detail the Hero and Heroine more than the secondary characters.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Newest sidebar addition

I'd like to welcome a new addition to my sidebar, Dossica. Written by my lovely & talented sister, I believe it will be her ruminations on life in the wilderness of Richmond (so far away now, boo hoo), the joys of a new infant & budding sibling rivalry. Also, thoughts on writing & related crit type topics as she is a member of a national children's writer's group. Dossica, this is a shot across bow that you HAVE to keep up with your blog!

More later. Errands to run.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Chatter

I suppose I'm officially approaching middle age now. I just scheduled my first mammogram. No more deluding myself. Osteporosis, arthritis & alzhiemer's are only a moment away! LOL Granny support hose, orthopedic shoes & elastic waistband pants. Those little strip shaped pill boxes with flaps for am, pm & prn doses- all filled to the brim. How did so much time go by?! And how did my once tiny, cute, roly poly son morph into a six foot tall young man?

Nearly done with my Christmas shopping & wrapping. Cards mailed two days ago. Eight of which have been returned due to size restrictions. The post office claims they're too small. I mailed thirty+. Where are the rest of them? They were all dropped into the bin at the same time in the same facility. Did the others escape? Were they eaten by the sorting machines? Does it really matter in this age of ecards?

Visited with my buddy Frank at his current place of employment & promised to get together for a beer & chili next month. Frank works for a big box book chain & won't return to the bosom of humanity until after black season (otherwise known as the Christmas shopping & return season). His mom is ill & needs surgery next month, please offer up a prayer or two that all will go well for her. I've really missed Frank. He's fun to talk to, likes jazz, baseball,reading & art movies.

The children are home AGAIN due to amazing volume of snow & sleet & ice we had last night. NOT. Two inches of slush, max. It is cold & windy but then, it's December. It ought to be cold & windy. Two hour delay would've been plenty. However, here they sit pleased as punch. Home again, second day this week.

Still working on Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel. Managing five to six pages a day, roughly. It isn't light reading, but has certainly opened my eyes to the outlook & mores of his time as well as his own personal struggles regarding patronage, his health & caring for his family.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Review: The Fairy Bride

A spin on the captive romance, The Fairy Bride takes place in Wales in 1275. Rhys suffers from a mysterious ridged purple rash spreading over his face and shoulders. In order to remain lord over his father's holdings he is suppposed to be physically flawless as his health portends the health of his land & the prosperity of his people. In an attempt to be healed, Rhys & his brother Daffyd sail over to the island of Inishmaan & kidnap their healer's daughter, Aileen.

Aileen at twenty five has lived on the island her entire life. She is devoted to her family & her people & is reasonably content to remain there. Her father has trained her in the healing arts & herbs & she is able to facilitate healing with her hands.

After reaching Rhys' holding, only the intervention of Daffyd & the chatelaine Marged brings Aileen fully into the household. After some back and forth negotiations, Rhys and Aileen determine she will remain there until springtime. Rhys must learn to let go of his emotional pain & allow the past to remain in the past instead of carrying it around with him. His scepticism of Aileen's healing abilities interferes with her attempts to heal his rash.

Aileen, for her part, misses her home and her family terribly, but also sees a need in Rhys' peoples & his land. She does not allow her fear of or desire for Rhys to control her or sway her decisions. She manages to preserve the truth of who she is under the most trying and difficult circumstances.

Over time Rhys emerges from his rage and sees everything clearly. He is able to move onward and upward and reprioritizes. Aileen too makes a life for herself on her terms with out compromising. After just enough danger for Aileen to convince Rhys of his feelings, the long awaited HEA.

After initially having a difficult time settling in to this, I was gradually drawn in & wrapped up in my own heartstrings. By virtue of shedding a few tears & laughing aloud in various places, The Fairy Bride earns a place on my keeper shelf.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Review: The Pact by Drs. Davis, Jenkins & Hunt

A riveting memoir written by three childhood buddies who made an agreement (hence the title) during junior year in high school that they would see each other through college & medical school. This is their triumphant & heartbreaking story. Three at risk young men, living in harsh circumstances, manage to transform themselves against the odds. Sometimes struggling against their own inner demons & bad habits as much as struggling against society & circumstances.Temptaions are everywhere & teens rarely (if ever) think of the long term consequences of their actions.

They could have been anyone's boy. My own, yours, the kid two blocks over. Boys everywhere are needy, regardless of class, family economics or race. By the time kids reach middle school, they need more guidance, not less. More mentoring, more hope, more structured time. It is so easy to lose them & every single boy is a precious hope for the future. More than anything else this book is a cry for more male mentors & perhaps a light in the darkness for boys in danger of losing their way. "If I could do it, so can you."

I bought this because I have two teenagers & a tweeny, boys & a girl. I am the kind of mom who buys books & gives them to her kids, praying that in time, without nagging, the books will be read & the kid's heart will hear what is being said. I do discuss issues & events with them, but I think written reinforcement is never a bad thing. Besides, after a time, kids tune the adults out.

Click on the link above or THIS ONE for more information on this book, children at risk, mentoring & more.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Snow hysteria

I can't help but laugh. The local tv personnel have staked out Lowe's & Home Depot (giving them free advertising) to let us know how much salt, sand & snow shovels are on hand. Or perhaps you'd prefer a snow blower 'cuz you know, shoveling 5" twice or thrice a winter may either kill you or- worse, throw out your back. And you've already used up your sick days going to Nationals and Redskins games.

We also need camera crews beside our major highways; discussing traffic flow, flakes, humans & snow; hunting for snowplows & generally wreaking havoc in a metro area already known to be the third worst in the entire country in terms of traffic jams. Seriously, the traffic radio channel reported a tv crew filming beside a major traffic artery & thus causing a huge rubbernecker backup. No, it wasn't snowing at the time. Traffic is horrible enough as it is without the media screwing things up in their unending efforts to raise their ratings.

What else has happened this morning? I went to the corner store looking for diet coke, mini marshmallows & Luzianne tea bags. It was not quite nine am. They had four gallons of milk left and no toilet paper. I ask you- what the hell is it about snow that causes people to stockpile paper products?! Are these people constipated all the time & snowfall induces their bowels to move so much so that they need mass quantities of TP? The cashier made sure to tell me that they haad arranged for another milk dleivery & paper products even then were being delived to the stockroom. I smiled at her & told her we were well stocked.

It is now..12:30, give or take. Several counties around me have decided to dismiss school an hour or two early today. There is no snow falling here. But it might!! Maybe it'll be dangerous for the buses. If they wait too long it'll be snowy & (are you ready?) dark when the little ones come home. OH NOOOO!! Snowy & Dark too. Help, help! The winter warlock will get us! Remember him? He was in the Kris Kringle Santa Claus tv show.

So, what's a girl from northern New England to do amid the snow induced mass hysteria all around her? Turn on NPR, warm up some leftover meatloaf, surf & wait for the kids to come home early. Oh, yes. Laugh & laugh & laugh & laugh & laugh. Husband works with several people from Montana & Colorado, all of whom are amazed at the weird antics of metro DC denizens panicking at the possibility of a small snowfall.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Annual Book Count

Romance Reading Mom has counted & listed the total number of books she's read this year & has nearly reached 200 (athough I didn't check today). Tara is the Speedy Gonzales (remember his cartoons?) of romance readers & her book count reveals that. She inspired me to look back over my listed books for this year. I've misplaced my written log for January through the end of February, but I've read fifty seven books since starting this blog back in March. I think maybe sixteen books for January & February. Rough estimate only. RTBC, at the time, had a monthly TBR Challenge on one of their boards & I participated. Perhaps seventy five books total?

I've struggled mightily all year with reading burnout. October & November were much closer to form, although the holiday madness is upon us & I've cut back again.

My daughter asked how many people read my little ditties & was shocked that I have maybe one thousand hits a week plus or minus. "How exciting is our life, mom? Not exciting at all." She's thirteen, what can I say? She was even more puzzled when I told her most of my soliloquies address books, reading, Romancelandia events, etc. not our family life (unless it's funny).

How many books have you read this year? What genres do you prefer? Will you set a reader's resolution this coming January?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Weekend Reading & Classic moviefest

I'm slowly working my way through Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel as well as The Faery Bride by Lisa Ann Verge. Galileo's Daughter is an insightful & fascinating look at Galileo Galiei based upon letters exchanged between him & his elder daughter Sister Marie Celeste, a Poor Clare nun.

The Faery Bride, written by a scientist turned author, continues this year's theme- fairytale & fey related romances. I've barely started it, but it seems to be a Beauty & the Beast fairytale set in medieval times, along the coast of Ireland & Wales. So far so good.

Hot chocolate weather is, hopefully, here to stay. Mini marshmallows, choctlatey mugs with sugary rims scattered everywhere. YUM, YUM!! The outdoor christmas lights sparkle with a distinctive blue tone & seem to be more intense than 'regular' outdoor lights.

We watched Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, the 1932 Frederick March version, The Day the Earth Stood Still & the silent French version of Phantom of the Opera. Interesting note for you parents of daughters out there. My daughter was shocked at the low cut neckline the female characters in Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde wore. I asked her why she was so surprised & she said she'd thought women 'back then' were more conservatively dressed. We've had quite a lively discussion (especially when Husband joined in) on clothing trends & the message clothing choices send out.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Christmas adventures

Daughter & I had a great time yesterday afternoon watching the menfolk put up the Christmas lights. Being the shortest members of the family does have its advantages sometimes! We bought several strings of LED lights since they're brighter & use less electricity. Plus a prelit Christmas tree made of lights to go with the Santa & reindeer we already have.

Lower utlity bills will be a plus this winter (if it ever actually stays cold) since energy costs will be up to 50% higher. Not to mention the possibility of rolling blackouts due to natural gas shortages. That article details the problems facing New England specifically, but according to the Washington Post, the entire Eastern seaboard faces supply problems, although the risk is lower the further south you are. At least, I think it was the Washington Post. I can't find the article now, damnit.

Back to lighter subjects, we only have access to the attic through a hatchway. I mentioned to Husband yesterday that we'd have to wait for older Son to come home, since I didn't think Husband would fit through the hatch. Very blunt & umm...undiplomatic of me I suppose, but it's the truth. Not that I care, mind you, Husband's weight doesn't bother me, but I honestly didn't think he'd fit.

A little while later I hear Husband calling me. His voice sounded, I don't know, muffled. Odd. We live in a tiny duplex, you see, & we can't really escape each other. I wandered down the hall only to discover Husband had gotten himself into the attic. Merely to be able to come down again & tell me off in no uncertain terms. I'm ashamed to say I laughed & laughed until tears ran down my cheeks. Thus prompting Husband to give me a nuggie (how the hell do you spell that?!!) & say, "I TOLD YOU I'D FIT UP THERE!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thinning the children's garden

Or attempting to narrow down the choices of good children's literature to a select few for Christmas giving. Using the Horn Book Magazine a wonderful, comprehensive source of reviews of children's literature. I have collected children's literature & picture books for many years now.

Tentatively, the list of candidates is eighteen titles long, although I plan to purchase only five or six at most & only hardcovers. All are the award winners
(or short list candidates) for this year. However, I chose them because of plot synopsis, not simply award status. In no particular order the top picks are:

1. Inexcusable by Chris Lynch; winner National Book Award for Young People

2. Lizzie Bright & the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt; winner of the Michael Printz Award

3.Escape From Memory by Margaret Haddix; winner of the Golden Duck Award for children's fantasy/science fiction

4. Kira, Kira by Cynthia Kadohata; winner of the Newbery Award

Choices 1 & 2 are suggested for high school & older due to content. Choices 3 & 4 are middle school & up. Just in case you are wondering.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Busy, busy, busy long holiday weekend. Traffic, surprisingly, was was steady & at speed Sunday evening. Normal Sunday traffic is heavy & slow, especially north of Massaponax, however we arrived home in good time. Today was another story though. Fortunately, it was all tourists passing through. The local roads were free flowing although the interstate was one big parking lot, particularly heading south.

My new Nephew is a teeny beanie cutie pie. Just like Daughter when she was a baby he has spread out & likes the starfish position. My sister says he eats & sleeps well (so far) & his Sibling is adjusting to the new reality as well as could be expected. Husband's family is reasonably well, although SIL will have back surgery in January. Husband's Niece is to begin preschool in the next week or so, & between you & me & the lamppost, both my SIL & Niece will benefit from the independance. Potty training & back sassing were the main topics of the weekend (the older nephew will be 5 soon & the niece will be 4 soon).

Also- the evils of northern Virginia vs Southern Virginia (we live in the northern end & the others live southside). How come Husband can't visit more often & oughtn't the children take the train to visit the family? What else? The superiority of minivans over SUVs or cars. Why we need to buy a house ASAP- preferably down the street or around the corner.

I read the following: A Rogue's Deception by Valerie King, Miss Whiting & the 7 Wards by Lynn Collum & The Bartered Heart by Nancy Butler. The first two were good not memorable or unique, but I really enjoyed the third.

Friday, November 25, 2005

T-Day, Xmas & Smoke Thief

Here's hoping your turkey day was full of good cheer, good friends & great food. If you're shopping today, I hope you keep your temper; be decisive- don't wait until later & hope it'll still be there, 'cuz it won't; find close parking places & have FUN!!

As for us, we're doing laundry & then going out for errands, supper & playing in the traffic. Tomorrow we're heading down to the parents' homes (his & mine) for turkey & the trimmings & visiting our new nephew. Sunday is likely to be spent playing in the traffic on I 95 with every other human being on the Eastern seaboard.

We've finished shopping for one of the kids & wrapped it all already. Today we're going to shop for dad. He reads this, so I won't say what Santa might bring him. The daughter is nearly finished also. Only older son & dad & stocking stuffers. Any good ideas for stuffers?

I haven't read much this last week, but have slowly piddled along in Shana Abe's The Smoke Thief. It isn't a page turner, but I've savored every word unlike many other novels in which I regularly skip many paragraphs & don't miss all that much.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Haircut saga, part 3

"Why didn't you warn me over the phone you were going to get your haircut?"

"I did call you first, but you were with a patient & never got my message."

"But that was yesterday."

"Yes, dear. I got my hair cut yesterday."

He whips around to look at me over his shoulder."YOU DID?! YESTERDAY!!" Not yelling. Shocked. "Did you keep your ponytail so I can have it as a memento?"

"Umm..actually I'd planned to donate it to Locks of Love, but I guess you can have it.." I don't mention that I find this creepy & weird.

"No, I don't really want it. You have beautiful hair & some little kid will have a gorgeous wig with your help."

Haircut Update

Husband didn't say a word! Should I be surprised or suspicious?! I fell asleep while he was doing a sudoku puzzle & felt him stroking my hair, but he didn't actually say anything. Daughter didn't notice until I leaned over to kiss her goodnight. As for younger son- he only noticed I wore a dark lipstick & couldn't care about anything else- except maybe working on his Christmas list. Maybe husband is in shock? I haven't seen him this morning, perhaps he'll corner me later?

I feel like a two year old, "Notice ME daddy! MEMEMEMEMEME!" I love it though & have spent the morning fiddling with it & hunting for grey hair. Trying to roll it up into a French twist, which is somehow mysteriously harder now that my hair is short. It's just barely long enough to French or Dutch braid leaving a teeny stub at the nape of my neck. I may have to invest in some new hair products to keep it all glued in place. Then again, why bother?

Middle Earth


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmm. Not the result I expected, but the male/female ratio of Ents definitely favors us ladies. Thank you to By the Book for this fun, time wasting, procrastinator's delight.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shorn like a sheep

The sheep in the photo above? That was me.

So, I'm gonna 'fess up right off- I made a last minute appointment this morning & had 10" cut off my ponytail so I can donate it to Locks of Love. It took three years to grow my hair from bob length to just about down to my waist. Husband is at work & has no idea what I've done. Older son walked in the door from school & complimented me right off- score a point for teenagers everywhere!

Honestly, I feel like a new woman. I can't get used to feeling my hair swing around my face & I keep trying to toss it over my shoulder. One bad thing- I'm colder. You'd be surprised how warm your hair will keep you if it's cascading down your back.

I'll be back tomorrow unless I have to take Husband to the ER for heart ache.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Memorable Day

Anger management 101

Do not attempt assault a patron who politely asks you to keep it down- especially if said patron is several inches taller than you even though he's standing below you by one row. When the manger is brought in (by Husband) to inquire what the problem is, do not repetitively poke the manager in the chest as if she's a tree trunk & you're a woodpecker hunting for bugs. Kicking the chairs of the people in front of you & nearly yanking the chignon off of the back of her head is similarly unhelpful & childish to boot.

The fact that all of this occurred in front of his wife, his two middle school aged sons, our three children, our son's guest & myself (the chignon yanking victim), not to mention an entire theater did not concern this man at all. Finally the manager threatened to call the police & have the family evicted by force. The man took one last lunge at Husband's collar & only then did the instigator's wife insist that they leave.

So I spent the majority of the movie with my heart racing, sweating, hands shaking & in fear that this jerk would lay (lie?) in wait for us outside the theater & cause another scene. Remembering that the movie is nearly three hours long calmed me down a little, but I didn't truly relax until we returned home safe & sound.

As a consequence, I watched most of Harry Potter IV in shock & completely stressed out. Dazed & Confused as Led Zepplin famously said. I think Husband & I will see it again Wednesday- hopefully a quieter, less confrontational show.

Review: Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

My initial impressions are that the screenwriter did an excellent job abridging the book enough to fit it in under three hours & in a way that a non reader can follow along without too much trouble. Some back history & character development was sacrificed, but there are touching scenes with Neville Longbottom & Ginny Weasley as well as Hermione Grainger & Viktor Krum all at the Yule Ball. Ralph Fiennes is superbly evil & cunning as Lord Voldemort. I missed Winky & Harry's relatives.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Checks with Commas

So, what's the deal with the Hamburger Helper commercial?! Since when does HH count as a 'home cooked meal'? I'm sure I'm being unbearably snobby & pretentious, but jeez. Yuck. That stuff is horrible.

Do you know how fun it is to write checks with commas- especially when it's someone else's money? Seriously. Even better when you're giving the money to charities helping the neediest in our community. Seven grand, spent in just under two hours. Not me by myself, the committee had five other people there to discuss who got what. It's the end of the fiscal year & if we don't spend the money they gave us we'll get less next year. Less money is a bad outcome. We want to be more generous, not stingier. That sounds awkward. I suppose I ought to say- not less generous- but that was entirely too much typing. HAHAHA

We've tickets for tomorrow's morning showing of Harry Potter IV- 11 am. I think we'll need to be seated no later than 10:30 if we all hope to sit as a group. The reviews I've seen claim much of the plot was excised & that the movie is harder to follow unless you've read the book. Supposedly the tone & visual aspect is similar to the last film, so hopefully there'll be some conitnuity.

The ten year old son has a buddy spending tonight & tomorrow. A very nice young man, he & the son have known each other for three years. Amazing from my point of view. At ten I doubt I'd known anyone outside of my family longer than a year or two. Then again, we were military & we moved often. Not that I'd change anything about my childhood, but it's good to see my own children thrive in an environment completely different from my own.

The temperatures have dropped precipitously over the past thirty six hours. Wednesday afternoon it was seventy five degrees & this morning it was in the low forties. Beautiful, classic fall weather: sunny, breezy, bright blue sky. You'd think it was September. The earth has tilted enough so that my livingroom is filled with sunshine all day & will remain so until spring. The walls are painted buttery yellow & the sun makes the whole room glow during the bleakest, darkest days. Very cheerful. Husband was correct to insist on yellow & I'm happy he did.

I'm slowly wading through Shana Abe's Smoke Thief. The story is good, but not really a compelling, compulsive page turner. So far it is typical Abe work- well executed & thoughtful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Review: A Dark Champion by Kinley MacGregor

Those of you out there who have followed me around or visited me regularly know that I LOVE medieval novels, be they mysteries, romances, fantasy or straight fiction. I finally dug Ms. MacGregor's first Brotherhood of the Sword novel out of Mt. TBR & read it this weekend. Initially the goal was simply to get the bad taste of Above All Others out of my mouth. However, I very quickly realized that this novel was very good on its own merits.

So you have Stryder, aka Widowmaker, Earl of Blackmoor returned to the bosom of the English court after long imprisonment in Outremer (modern day Israel). You also have Lady Rowena de Vitry, pacifist, minstrel & enormously wealthy heiress. Queen Eleanor pits Lady Rowena & Lord Stryder against each other in competition even while a nefarious plot unfolds around Lord Stryder, his men & Rowena.

Rowena hides a soft heart behind her prickly & strident pacifist facade. Duty to her family is never far from her mind even as she realizes she has done a disservice to her maids & to Lord Stryder & knights in general. Stryder, for his part, is loyal to his men & his sworn oaths. Letting go of or changing some of his goals to satisfy his own needs seems disloyal & soft.

Imagine that- two adults who manage to see beyond their intitial differences & painful past histories and yet they come together & form a bond. Uh. OK. Pet peeve- weird names. STRYDER IS ARAGORN IN LORD OF THE RINGS, which predated A Dark Champion by several decades. Other than that this is one damn fine piece of fine storytelling. Or perhaps it meely felt damn fine after suffering with that other piece of crap. Whatever. If you like medievals with a little mystery thrown in try this one.

Monday, November 14, 2005

3 finishers & a DNF

This weekend I read the following:

1.An Affair of Honor
2. Miss Lacey's Last Fling (reread)
3.The Best Intentions

All of the above are the traditional Regencies written by Candice Hern for Signet. Miss Lacey's Last Fling was an accidental (meaning I'd read it years ago, but forgot it) reread. Excellent nonetheless. An Affair of Honor was ok although the villain was too obvious. Some romance authors really need to borrow a page from mystery authors & develop the list of villains a bit more. The Best Intentions was touching & deftly worked.

Started Karen Ranney's Above All Others. It ended up as a DNF because I hate the hero & the heroine. Simple as that. The Hero is controlling, manipulative man who has no problems using the heroine's naivete, poverty & status as his employee against her. She initiates a sexual relationship with the hero for no believeable reason & then "falls in love" with him within two weeks after disliking him for the previous six months. Then, after two weeks of unprotected sex, she becomes pregnant & runs away with his infant daughter just prior to a blinding blizzard. Somehow the heroine manages to hide in a small village near the estate for thirteen months. Then she is surprised when he comes along & takes both children from her.

I do not care to enumerate why this entire scenario, the hero & the heroine are just plain awful. That plot is full of every known horrid Romancelandia cliche that exists. Above All Others is compelling, page turning reading even when I decided I wasn't going to finish. I got to page 252 out of 382 before deciding I just can't take any more. I have three other books by Ms. Ranney on my keeper shelves & Generally speaking I enjoy her style & voice. This title simply wan't meant to be.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Review: The Bride Sale by Candice Hern

Verity Osborne Russell is being sold at auction in northern England when James Harkness, Baron Harkness comes upon her just before she is sold. Pitying her & disliking the idea of the young woman being indentured to the blacksmith, Baron Harkness buys her & her trunk for two hundred pounds sterling. Note: Hern gives historical background HERE, which I recommend reading before you start the book.

James Harkness suffers from trauma induced blackouts & has isolated himself on his estate other than necessary oversight of his mines & infrequent trips into town to market. Verity too is not without her wounds stemming from her odd & painful marriage & subsequent auction. Too they must somehow work out their social & working relationships that resulted from Verity's sale & her legal & marital limbo.

This is truly a romance between two adults who overcome tremendous, heartbreaking past events to establish a loving relationship based on friendship, mutual trust & desire. It seems, at first to be a very one sided relationship, but the gothic plot twist at the end surprised & satisfied me. Ms. Hern has certainly earned my respect & a coveted spot on my keeper shelf hall of fame. Run out & find one!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Reviews & the craft of writing

The ongoing conversation about romances, the art & craft of writing, & critiques continues at Storytelling (see link on the sidebar) with Sara Donati, Robin & Candy among others. The discussion has been insightful & thought provoking, I highly recommend taking the time to read through it all including the comments.

Personally, I have never read romance for the art & craft of the writing or for the beauty of the prose or even the quality of the characterization. Pathetic, but true. IMO, there are very few examples of exemplary art & craft in the romance genre. I do not look to romance when thinking of masters of the writer's craft. Rightly or wrongly.That there is room for tremendous improvement is unquestionable.

For me, romances are like Ben & Jerry's or Pepperidge Farm Gingerbread cookies or Doritos your favorite indulgence. The restrictive 'requirements'- the well hung hero, the naive innocent virgin, the HEA, the streotypes, the 6-7 plots, etc. etc. etc. You know what you're getting. The stories, regardless of sungenre, arc similarly. It's comfortable. Dependable. Like your favorite pair of shoes or the sweater that plays up your best features no matter how awful you really feel.

This is not to say I am for stagnation, sterotyping & flat unimaginative prose. By any means. After all, growth in quality & diversity means more books for us all. Who wants fewer, but badly written books? Not I.

I enjoy content based discussion & thoughtful informed critiques. I may not agree. I may disagree very strongly or agree wholeheartedly. We all have the privilege of expressing our opinions. When I write my little reviews I focus mainly on characterization & plot. Narrative voice, authorial voice & technique I do not discuss since I do not have the background to make sense of it all. As far as I'm concerned, if you as an author have not been able to completely submerge me into your world, then you have failed miserably.

As to the viscious attacks on thoughtful critiques? The inability of readers & authors to accept critiques perplexes me. The belief that only glowing, positive fangirl reviews are valid is ridiculous. While I feel that personal attacks are unnecessary & unprofessional, critiques are part & parcel of everyday professional life. Children are critiqued daily by teachers & parents. Worker bees are critiqued as part of their 'annual performance review.' Why should books be different?

I for one hope this discussion continues. I have read romance for a long time & plan to continue to do so for as many more years as I am able to carry huge piles through the bookstore. I look forward to the evolution & growth of our genre- particularly the art & craft side.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Review: The Scent of Lilacs by Barbara Hazard

I made a mistake yesterday about Sum of Me, apparently there are comments once in awhile, but not regularly. Regardless, Beth's comments are always insightful & to the point.

Review: The Scent of Lilacs by Barbara Hazard

To my delight & astonishment, I discovered a tightly plotted little gothic mystery between the staid covers of this traditional Regency. Edwin & Katherine Whittingham move into a small manor house. If at the end of thirty days they have resided in the house every night Edwin will inherit it. Luke Tremaine, the Earl of Bryce, discovers Katherine by a secluded pool in a wood bordering their properties.

Without revealing all, I will say that the plot involves several tried & true Romancelandia plot lines. However, they were revealed only at the end &, honestly, surprised me. Very well done & highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Art & Craft of Writing

There is ongoing conversation about the craft of writing on Sara Donati's blog, Sum of Me (the Sunday, November 6th entry) & Smart Bitches' November 7th 'Good Writing vs. Bad Writing vs. Writing you Love.' The comments on Sara Donati's blog & Smart Bitches are excellent. Sum of Me doesn't permit comments. Very insightful, well educated women commenting on the art & craft of writing as it relates especially to our favorite genre, Romance.

Personally I'm still trying to assimilate what everyone has said & maybe put an original thought or two together. I'm initimidated though, by such well spoken ladies. My family would howl with laughter at the thought I'd ever NOT have an opinion on an issue.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Just chatting

Hmmm. A mostly quiet weekend with no more than the usual amount of driving up & down I 95. Reminds me of the subtitle of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit or There and Back Again. We had dinner with friends while the kids socialized at church, I made coconut curry pork with yellow & orange bell peppers & mushrooms over rice. Other than avoiding 'the funguses' as the youngest son calls them, it was gobbled down & there weren't any leftovers (darn it).

Today the younger son has been home due to a teacher workday & tomorrow all of the kids are home due to it being a teacher workday/conference day plus being Election Day. They're off on Friday too since it's Veteran's Day. Luckily, the kids are going down to my mom's to help her paint. See the August archives if you don't think kids can do a good job painting. HAHAHA. Ok, to be fair, the older two are fine.

Am in the middle of The Bride Sale by Candice Hern. Not too sure I believe the premise, but I'm keeping at it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Review: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Miss Adrienne Doe, assumed name Adrienne de Simone, is whisked back in time to 1513 by one mischevous fairy court fool in order that the fae king's plot against his wife's supposed lover- one Sidheach Douglas,aka Hawk, Earl of Dalkieth.

Hawk, a man whose name lives in legend, has a mythical capacity to please women sexually & whose insatiability, arrogance & cynicism are revealed right at the start.

Adrienne, meanwhile, is an orphaned naif whose first & biggest mistake was to fall in love with a socially prominant New Orleans drug dealer who used her as a drug mule while pretending to groom her as his bride. She overhears the truth & then kills him. Thus she adopts a new name & runs to Seattle where she lives in fear & dread that the police or the drug mafia will find her & kill her. Adrienne decides that she hates all beautiful men- not manipulative men or drug dealers or native New Orleanean men. All beautiful men.

As I mentioned at the start, fairy court fool Amadan Dubh, kidnaps Adrienne & whisks her back to 1513 Scotland. There she is forced to assume the identity of Janet Comyn & is immediately wed to Hawk by proxy marriage. Once ensconced in Hawk's castle, Adrienne slowly adjusts to the 16th century, becomes close to Hawk's mother & enrages two of Hawk's former lovers by marrying him. There are murder attempts & fae interference, as well as gypsies & falling stars.

Mainly though, Adrienne & Hawk's relationship evolves very slowly as the two of them are forced into signifigant personal & marital growth due to behind the scenes plotting by the fae, the mysterious enemies trying to commit murder & King James' hatred of Hawk. I found Adrienne to be irritatingly stupid in her inability to differentiate between Hawk & the drug dealer. I also found the author's repetitive description of Hawk as 'perfect' & 'hung well enough to make a stallion blush' to be uninspired & tiresome. Not to mention painful. I certainly wouldn't have sex with such an overly endowed man.

Anyhow. Other than these minor quibbles, I find Beyond the Highland Mist to be an intense page turner, good until the last page (to paraphrase a coffee commercial). For those to whom it makes a difference, the book is written in standard American English as opposed to a God Awful fake Scottish brogue. Only a few uses of wee or lass. I did find Hawk's repeated references to 'taming' or 'gentling' Adrienne as if she were a falcon troubling, seemingly manipulative & condescending although Ms. Moning explains Hawk's point of view. As a 21st century woman it seemed a bit much to take, even if Adrienne did get her HEA.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Reviews: A Knight's Vow & Tabitha's Tangle

A Knight's Vow by Lynn Kurland, Patricia Potter, Deborah Simmons & Glynnis Campbell

As with many anthologies, I liked one alot, one was cute & funny, one was barely ok & one was a DNF. The Kurland story The Traveller was cute & funny. The Potter story The Minstrel touched my heart & I wished it was longer. The Simmons story The Bachelor Knight started with a device that didn't work (long separated childhood companions who never told each other of their feelings & then expected the other to magically be come psychic & realize their affection later in adulthood). The Bachelor Knight just barely redeemed itself at in the last few pages. An ok premise for a novel but not for a story. The Campbell story The Seige was a DNF since the heroine prejudges the hero based on his reputation as a warrior & nothing else. THEN we are expected to believe she's too claustrophobic to use the garderobe at night but is willing to flee said horrible, tyrant husband to be in an unlit, unfinished underground dirt tunnel with a single maid & a harp. Not happening.

I plan to look for novels by said authors since I think few authors can properly master short & long form writing.

Tabitha's Tangle by Emily Hendrickson

A traditional Regency featuring what I now know to be one in a family series detailing the marriages of the children of The Rev. & Mrs. Herbert. This one stars Miss Tabitha Herbert, who has been hired to catalogue the newly purchased library of one Hugh, Baron Latham, aka the 'Black Baron'. As with all short form Regencies this a play on the manners of the time. The baron is all but affianced to the Earl of Montfort's daughter Lady Susan. It quickly becomes apparent that Lady Susan & Baron Latham shan't suit at all & Miss Herbert ought to be the perfect wife.

Miss Herbert's parents are actually loving & attentive. Despite an error of judgement on her part resulting in more plot entanglements, they support her & help her achieve her goals as much as they can. Baron Latham's best friend helps things along with Lady Susan. The cat, Septimus, & a male swan help ensure both comedy & drama too.

An excellent Regency true to the period & the mores therein. The timeline was long enough to be realistic.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Escapee- or how to lose a hamster @ 3am

Now, I have to tell you husband & are very light sleepers. The hamster, Lemon Drop, was in his cage & seemed quite happy when we went to bed at 11 pm. Husband got up at 1:45 am to visit the necessary & swears he saw Lemon Drop in his cage while getting a drink of water from the kitchen. Trudges back to bed & all is well until 3 am. I heard odd little rustling noises & sort of a snapping metallic type click. Husband & I both awaken & I mutter, "Probably one of the kids going pee." Husband harumphs in my ear & rolls over to peer at the bedroom door (which is wide open). Husband climbs over me (AGAIN) to look around the house. Suddenly the lights in the hall & the livingroom switch on. Several very loud cuss words later I discover that Lemon Drop has escaped. We get his ball (the hollow ones with a lid they can explore in) & his favorite treats. The hunt begins in the litchen, where some birdseed has rolled under the dryer & some shelves. This is where we found Lemon Drop last time after he escaped from our son. While crawling around the kitchen floor in our pjs- actually, husband was in the buff, which caused howling laughter when the ten year old son walks up with the hamster in his hands. "I found Lemon Drop in my dragon castle. Why are you (to husband) naked on the kitchen floor?!"

So, how was your night?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Review:Devil Takes A Bride by Gaelen Foley

I adore Gaelen Foley's books. I have all of the others & they're all keepers. Like the other titles in this series, it is a Regency with some gothic overtones. Overall, this book is excellent. It's well researched & has emotional depth. The vast majority of it rang true to form.

Set in England in 1817 the book opens with Elizabeth Carlisle employed as a chaperone to a dear elderly Lady. Using a false pretense, Lizzie manipulates Devlin Kimball into visiting his elderly aunt. Devlin, though angry with Lizzie, is pleased that she cares so much about his aunt. Lizzie for her part, wants nothing more of Devlin than to have him spend some time with his aunt.

Devlin, orphaned at seventeen, was sent abroad by his aunt after running wild in London for a couple of years. After spending ten years traveling the world Devlin has returned to England determined to unearth the truth behind the death of his parents so long ago. This requires some undercover sleuthing & a cover story. His chosen cover story causes his aunt & Lizzie some pain & consternation, but Devlin is convinced this is the only way to learn the truth.

Lizzie for her part, must come to terms with her lack of close, intimate family and her need and desire for a home & a family of her own. Too, Lizzie wishes to assert her independance from the Knight family. So she embarks on a career path as companion & governess with the ultimate goal of becoming a bookshop owner. Devlin has other plans for her, plans which she disgrees with. Of course, there's always Alec, who must be confronted & her feelings resloved before she can move on in any real way.

So you have a man who plays a role to uncover the truth of his parents. Who, despite his efforts to resist her, falls in love with Lizzie. You have a young woman attempting to become emotionally & financially independant & healing wounds inflicted by an unrequited love.

Will they succeed? Will Devlin tell Lizzie the truth? Can Lizzie see beyond Devlin's facade? What really happened to Devlin's parents and to what ends will the guilty parties go to protect themselves? Was it realistic of Lizzie to succumb to Devlin in a runaway carraige after he kidnaps her? Could you possibly have laughed longer or harder during the scene between Devlin, Alec & Lizzie at the girls' school?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Review: A Rake's Vow by Stephanie Laurens

Ok. I'll just say this up front- I really dislike the heroine- Patience (jeez, what a Puritan name). She has no problems judging other people upon first sight & with no prior acquaintance. She also has no difficulties with acting like a complete bitch to her aunt's guest, pretty much without cause. She's insecure & jealous. For the love of God, I simply don't see what Vane Cynster loved in her beyond her beeyootiful ass & luscious tits.

Seriously though. Spencer Cynster, nicknamed Vane by his cousin Sylvester (aka 'Devil'), stops off at his aunt Minnie's house to avoid a driving rainstorm. This is supposed to be immediately after Devil & Honoria's church service celebrating the new roof the Bar Cynster paid for. While at Aunt Minnie's Vane is asked to stay a while (as they say in the South) & figure out who has been stealing small items from members of the household. There's also the small matter of the mysterious Spectre haunting the premisis.

Meanwhile Vane seduces Patience & falls in love with her, asking her to marry him. She refuses, based on her extensive knowledge of men (NOT) & the behavior of her long dead father. You know- instead of basing her decision on how Vane treats her, how the other men in his family treat their wives &, too, the fact that love based marriages were unknown & unwanted at that time. A woman of her station simply would not have expected it or thought it necessary. SO Patience spends the last half of the book deliberately leading Vane on, hurting him & playing stupid childish games because she's too immature to either cut him loose or be up front & honest with him. And, pussy whipped wimp that he is, Vane accepts it all & wheedles her into marrying him.

Just so you know- I had to finish this because I liked the cat, named 'Myst' like the computer game. Also I wanted to know how the mysteries were solved. Vane Cynster seriously deserved a better heroine than Patience.

Review:Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens

This is the first Cynster book. As I mentioned yesterday, I've read others in the Cynster series &, generally speaking, found most of them to be perfectly fine. As with any human being,the quality output can vary from project to project, however, I find Ms. Laurens' books to be of more even quality than other authors.

Sylvester Cynster comes upon Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby attempting to tend Bartholomew Cynster who has just been shot in the chest while riding in the woods near Sylvester's estate. To escape an impending thunderstorm the three take refuge in an empty woodman's cottage. There, Bartholomew dies. Naturally, Honoria & Sylvester are caught by Honoria's employer & two of Sylvester's cousins.

Devil Cynster, so named by his babyhood nanny, takes Honoria into his home & spends the next three months or so alternately ordering her around and wooing her. Honoria for her part resists for all she's worth, feeling Devil doesn't truly value her opinion. Honoria also has dreams & wishes all her own & is afraid that Devil doesn't respect her personhood. Devil in turn is perplexed by Honoria's intransigence.

In the end, the murder mystery is solved. Devil & Honoria learn to accomodate each other without trampling on the other's sensitivities. The timeline (9 months, roughly) is about right. I have a quibble or two about Honoria's resistance & one of her pathetic 'reasons'. For a woman who seems to be remarkably poised & well prepared for a prominant & imposing role, Honoria is really naive & irritatiing regarding one issue. In theend I chalked it up to a common fear many women have before marrying, especially if they are insecure or are marrying a dominant & powerful man.

This isn't a keeper for me, but I enjoyed reading it.


Sunday, October 30, 2005


Quite by accident I read Stephanie Laurens' Devil's Bride yesterday. Guess what?! Sylvester Cynster has...GREEN eyes!!!! O.M.G.-I never laughed so hard in all my life. See the entry titled 'Amused' a couple of days ago if you don't catch the reference.

I haven't read the Cynster books in order, but in this one the twins are described as having chestnut hair. If I'm not mistaken, didn't they have blond hair in their own books? I could be wrong, I've only read one of the twin's books (should that be twins'?) & that was a long time ago.

This isn't a detail that I'm going to quibble over, I'm just wondering. I'll review Devil's Bride and Devil Takes A Bride by Gaelen Foley this week. Also, Tabitha's Tangleby Emily Hendrickson.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


So, listen, I've been writing these little ditties since.. March? I think. Anyhow. Husband has always known this, but until yesterday never checked out the blog. He sent me a text message to check my email. Unfortunately the email went astray, so he says, "I never knew you prefer men with green eyes." Did you guess that husband doesn't have green eyes? He'd read the Sin & Sensibility review from a few days ago.

He worked a double last night & called me late to say good night & said, "We've been married eighteen years & I never knew you liked men with green eyes." Of course I laughed at him & wished him goodnight.

This morning he walks in & says, "You sounded guilty when I asked you about the green eyes." WTF?! OK, I'll admit to originally feeling like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar, but now I find his..PIQUE amusing. I wish he'd just shut up & get over it already. Are you listening, sweetie?! We've been married for eighteen years for heaven's sake!

Friday, October 28, 2005

For Jenster from RT

I don't post over there anymore, but I was there today & saw your message. One of the most difficult things about being in a cyber community is that I can't actually help my friends in person. I have to settle for prayers & messages & trying to keep in touch via email & message boards & blogs, etc. I have continued to pray for you & your family as you have walked such a difficult & painful path.

I'm afraid I don't have anything original to say- only cliches. Take it one day at a time. Be brave enough & humble enough to ask for help when you need it. One day when you're more settled we'll have to meet somewhere & have coffee & browse all day in a bookstore spending our children's college accounts.

My favorite prayer for the sick is the following (from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979):

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech you to behold, visit & relieve your sick servant for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon her with the eyes of your mercy; comfort her with a sense of your goodness; preserve her from the temptations of the enemy; and give her patience under her affliction. In your good time, restore her to health, and enable her to lead the residue of her life in your fear, and to your glory; and grant that finally she may dwell with youin life everlasting; through Jesus CHrist our Lord. Amen

I'll pray for you a regular basis, until you let everyone know you're healed & settled & are ready to let go & move on.

Hugs & prayers & love to you & yours.

Tortured heroines

This..concept, idea, problem, issue? I can't think of the correct word I want but those are pretty close. I've noticed that there are quite a few tortured heroines running around Romancelandia these days. They probably pop up across sub genres, but I've noticed them most in paranormals & contmporaries with police officers/special agents/military men.

Often this is due to rape or physical/emotional/sexual abuse, murder of a loved one, etc. Now, I'm full well aware that in reality these women are far too plentiful & that they need (ought to demand) fulfilling, healing relationships with strong men who are able to cope. However, I am not talking about 'real life' so to speak. I'm talking about Romancelandia.

Why has this become so prevalent? Surely all human beings have baggage, but the vast majority of women are reasonably healthy physically, emotionally & spiritually. Can we, do we, empathize with such wounded heroines? At first, I didn't realize how much I placed myself in the heroine's shoes until I started running across more heroines I simply can't relate to.

Do vampires/werewolves/demons/assorted mythological men prefer tortured heroines? Does the extreme vulnerability of these women cause them to be more accepting of/needing/open to alternative creatures? These types of heroines also pop up in combination with police officers/special agents/military men. Are paranormal males or cops or special agents especially well equipped to cope with these types of women? You know, if I was a cop/special agent/military guy, I would want a strong, independant woman who could cope with the unique stresses of my career as opposed to a high maintenance, emotionally needy woman.

Perhaps these authors want their readers to believe that love heals all wounds & that there is hope out there for those women who have been damaaged by life's slings & arrows. Love as redemption. Love as the ultimate & only healing balm. I won't delve into my philosophies of personal growth & inner stregth, et al, here. Suffice it to say, I disagree with the premise that a woman must have a man (or werewolf or selkie or cop or Marine) to be healed, whole, complete, etc. In fact, I believe a woman won't be any of those things unless she heals herself.

What it comes down to is- I have to be able to relate to the heroine (and fall in love with the hero). If I can't put myself in her shoes, at least a little bit, then I usually can't or won't finish the book unless there are plot issues I really want to wrap up. Too, I read romances for the happy, happy, joy, joy feelings. Working my through the heroine's heavy duty emotional & psychological issues feels like a betrayal of the unwritten contract between author & reader. Issues between the H/H are fine. Tortured heroes are fine too (a whole seperate entry, in fact). Extremely damaged/tortured/baggage laden heroines are not fine.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Am I off my rocker? If you think I am off my rocker, you won't be the first to say so, believe me. Are these types of heroines more appropriate to specific subgenres within romance?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Review:Tall, Dark & Hungry by Lynsay Sands

I really prefer my heroes with some angst. SOME angst, not several lifetimes worth of serious psychotherapy. Yes, I realize I'm weird. So, honestly, my opinion of all of Lynsay Sands' vampire books is that they are well written, well characterized scorching romances. Very good for a light, quick read, especially when you don't want to or can't invest in a heartwrenching story that grabs your heartstrings & won't let go. So far as I can tell, this is what these books were marketed as & IMO, they live up to the billing.

Roaming around Ms. Sands' website, I discovered she is about do the happy & get married. Congratulations, Ms. Sands & I wish you & your husband to be many happy years of marital bliss (& fantastic make- up sex, LOL).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Review: Sin & Sensibility by Suzanne Enoch

Valentine Corbett, Marquis of Deverill, has been enlisted to keep watch over Lady Eleanor Griffin, only sister of the Duke of Melbourne after she has given her brothers a written declaration of independance. Eleanor is the baby of the family & has squirmed under the collective thumbs of her brothers for years. She wishes to explore society on her own terms & without the constant interference of her brothers. Valentine, the only non family male the brothers trust, has been asked to spy on her & keep her safe from scandal. The problem being Eleanor asked Valentine to help her assert her independance & discover who she truly is outside of her family identity.

Eleanor starts off acting & sounding like a tantruming two year old & Valentine hides himself behind a facade he created years ago. Valentine has managed to hide himself so well, he isn't sure where the act ends & his authentic self begins. Eleanor for her part decides that what she is really looking for is inner strength & the ability to make her own decisions. Her efforts to become her own woman set off a great deal of inner turmoil & growth on Valentine's part. Of course, the biggest problems from Eleanor's point of view are: enforcing her declaration while abiding by its strictures and choosing an acceptable husband when only Valentine will do. For Valentine the issues are: decieving Eleanor and moving beyond the false facade he created, ie: will he be strong enough to grab onto the love Eleanor offers or will he continue along the path he has created?

When Valentine & Eleanor finally succumb to their desires the emotion courses through them so powerfully. I was so happy for them! Frankly, this is one of the most evocative & touching scenes I've read in a long, long time. Ms. Enoch is superb at revealing their individual reactions & motivations. Too, the aftermath is well drawn. Each character's reactions ring true to the person they were evolving in to (or from, for that matter).

I must say, I nearly put this down because I really, intensely disliked Eleanor & Valentine's only redeeming trait was his green eyes. I've a terrible weakness for men with green eyes. I persevered, though, & I'm glad I did. Valentine has beome one of my favorite heroes, ever (except maybe Jamie..). He needed a good woman & Eleanor needed a man who would help her be herself. Perhaps rakes really do make the best husbands!

Ms. Enoch's second title in this series, Invitation to Sin, will be released in early December.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Newest Treasures

I splurged at the bookstore yesterday & here are my newest treasures:

1. The Hunger by Susan Squires
2. Heart of a Dragon by Gena Showalter
3. Follow Me by Mary Beth Bass
4. Tabitha's Tangle by Emily Hendickson
5. The Music of the Night by Lydia Joyce
6. A Perfect Scoundrel by Martha Kirkland
7. Bewitching by Jill Barnett

What do you think? Any tresures? Any duds? Coming soon, reviews of Sin & Sensibility by Suzanne Enoch.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Review: Goddess of Spring by P. C. Cast

So, I have to say, I'm a total P.C. Cast fangirl. So, don't expect any real criticism. If you remember any Greek mythology, Persephone is goddess of spring & is married to/consort of Hades, god of the underworld.

In this version Carolina is the owner of a chain of fancy bakeries in Tulsa OK. Inadvertently she summons Demeter (Goddess of the Harvest) and ultimately trades bodies with Demeter's daughter Persephone. Persephone, in Carolina's body, will run the bakeries while Carolina spends time in the underworld with Hades.

Somehow we are asked to believe that Carloinia's questions to Hades didn't make him suspicious. He thinks she's Persephone, who is a goddess afterall & ought to know many of the answers despite her supposed 'youth'. The reader is also asked to believe that Hades is practically a virgin. Ages ago he fell in love with a maiden who freaked out when he told her who he really was & she tried to commit suicide so he saved her by turning her into mint. Since none of the other gods & goddesses will associate with Hades he hasn't had a mistress/girlfriend. Not only that, he doesn't want to coerce a woman into a relationship. He wants a soulmate or nothing. Let me just say- eternity is a looooonnnngggggg time to be alone & lonely.

The upshot of the deal is that Hades overhears conversations between 'Persephone' and Demeter & winds up misunderstanding the situation. Persephone (Carolina) can't reveal the truth because Demeter forbids her & this leads to serious heartbreak.

Cast's world & her characters completely captured my heart. All of them. All of it. I was sucked in & it wouldn't let me go. Excellent stuff. Run out & buy it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

National Book Awards

I try to keep track of most of the book awards given each year. Our extended family reads voraciously & I print out the lists & use them for Christmas gifts. Usually I buy all of the children's books for my kids (not that they read them- I do). Anyway here are this year's National Book Awards, given last Wednesday:


E.L. Doctorow, The March (Random House)

Mary Gaitskill, Veronica (Pantheon)

Christopher Sorrentino, Trance
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Renè Steinke, Holy Skirts (William Morrow)

William T. Vollmann, Europe Central (Viking)

Children's Literature:

Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks (Alfred A. Knopf)

Adele Griffin, Where I Want to Be (Putnam)

Chris Lynch, Inexcusable (Atheneum)

Walter Dean Myers, Autobiography of My Dead Brother (HarperTempest)

Deborah Wiles, Each Little Bird That Sings (Harcourt)

Anyhow, this weekend I'm reading P.C. Cast's Goddess of Spring and we're walking in the local breast cancer 5k. Currently watching a male contorionist on Cirque du Soliel's tv series Solstrom on Bravo- TOTALLY YUMMY!! Highly recommended!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hug your loved one today

I love autumn nights. Last night was perfect. Full (or very nearly so) moon, clear, crisp, breezy. Husband & I went for a long walk late last night. I wrapped up in a white shawl & we took our own sweet time wandering around our neighborhood. We've a mated pair of large owls living nearby & so we watched them hunt as we meandered along. For the sake of truthfulness, I ought to say I watched the owls while husband made sure I didn't wander off into the middle of the street. There are also quite a few bats despite the owls' atttempts to eat them all. They swoop & dart so quickly they seem to have managed to avoid the owls , mostly.

There's an intimate, cosy feel to walks at night that simply isn't there during daylight strolls. Perhaps it's because I feel less rushed at night. I'm unsure. We have a very long history of late night walks, husband & I. No matter where we've lived (& it has been quite a few locales across the US), we always walked, the later the better. I first learned about heat lightning walking with husband in the wee hours in Southern Virginia in the dog days of summer. Snowfall late at night along the front range of the Colorado Rockies. Thunderous rainfall & absolutely baking heat (even at 2am) in San Antonio. The relentless cicadas in Augusta. Playing spider on the swings(remember that game?) in a deserted playground at midnight an Valentine's Day.

So try it sometime. Bundle up your loved one & take a walk late at night. No agenda, no destination, no serious conversations. Just walk & enjoy each other. Remember why you fell in love. Reflect on your shared history. Keep each other warm. Make cocoa when you return.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Review: Bride of the Mist by Christina Skye

I think I'm probably one of the few who doesn't like this book (or Hour of the Rose, either). The plot tried to wear too many hats, so to speak. Adventure/suspense/paranormal/timetravel. BotM tried to do it all.

Problem one: I have a hard time believing two people who initially intensely dislike each other suddenly fall deeply in love while being pursued by a bomb & gun weilding madman. Not only do they have time to fall deeply in love, the hero spends most of his time obssessing over how to get into the heroine's panties as opposed to worrying about how to keep each other alive. Now, kids, if I'm truly fearful of a madman who's after me with guns & bombs, the last thing on my mind will be sex.

Problem two: the heroine continues planning her magazine shoot pretty much as though the attempted kidnapping/bombing/stalker issues don't exist. She happily faxes, gives away 'free sample' merchandise out of her hotel room, deals with a nasty ex fiance (who also happens to be in the magazine publishing biz) & quizzes the new love of her life about his castle. The only nod given to governmental interference is that the H/H will be followed by undercover Scotland Yard detectives.

Problem three: I really wish there was more direct interaction between the ghost & the H/H and/or the ghost, the H/H & the past lives of the lovers. Adrian & Gideon (the ghost & his cat) were fascinating and I wish they had a more substantial role in the story. There are instances where the heroine has flashbacks to medieval couple falling in love under similar circumstances. I found myself wishing Ms. Skye had written their story instead.

Ms. Skye's pacing & dialogue were excellent as was the build up of sexual tension leading to the final culmination. For me, one or two of the plot devices would have been more than enough; ie:time travel & past lives or ghosts & past lives or ghosts & serial killer adventures- you get my point. The attempted combination of them all was simply too much.

It is my understanding Ms. Skye will be trying a new direction in her contemporary series. I look forward to reading Code Name:Baby which will feature genetically enhanced dogs, their trainers & Navy Seals. Click the link above for more information.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Review: Duke of Sin by Adele Ashworth

Originally published in November of 2004, Duke of Sin is set in the summer of 1856. Featuring widow Vivian Rael-Lamont, florist, attempting to blackmail William Raliegh, Duke of Trent, into giving her a handwritten Shakespearean sonnet. Vivian herself is being blackmailed by an actor who threatens to reveal her long held secret thereby ruining Vivian's standing in her small Cornish community . William too has scandals & secrets in his past leading him to become a recluse on his estate. William realizes that Vivian is merely a pawn in someone else's larger scheme and strings her along while investigating her background in an effort to determine who the master puppeteer is. Slowly, Vivian & William become emotionally & physically entwined despite the fact that each realizes the other has held back important information.

This is one of the best romances I've read in a long time, despite the use of several well worn Romancelandia plot devices. All of which I heartily dislike except that in this story most of them make sense. I would really like to discuss some of theses cliches, but the plot revolves around them, you see, & I can't very well ruin the surprise now can I?!

The backstory involves a woman with what I took for manic depression- the only time I have read of this particular malady being used in a storyline. There are several scorching sex scenes, a couple of them involving mutual masturbation- very well done & not terribly purple prose laden.

There is, naturally, your required HEA ending, although I wanted to know if Vivian would give up her floral business upon becoming a Duchess. An issue Ms. Ashworth does not touch upon. Tara of Romancereadingmom mentioned that there was a controversy about this title, but I don't remember what it was & now, after reading Duke of Sin I don't see what the problem was.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Mini review-athon

Spent most of the week continuing to indulge in my traditional Regency stuffathon. I also read Adele Ashworth's Duke of Sin which I will review tomorrow.

1.Lady Leprechaun, by Melinda McRae- Two ten year olds attempt to run away to Ireland to prove (or disprove, depending on which child you are) the existance of leprechauns. The father of one & the mother of the other team up to hunt them down. Aside from the implausability of the runaways, the hero & heroine simply didn't catch on with me. The growth of the heroine in particular was nicely done, especially at the end of the story. I just really didn't care.

2.A Passionate Endeavor, by Sophia Nash- Wounded officer returns from the war to recuperate at his father's estate with the assistance of the daughter of a prominant physician. There are persistant interfamilial problems & the tenants are obviously neglected. I really liked the heroine, who was well drawn, but the hero never really caught on with me. The hero did, however, have dyslexia which played a big role in this storyline. The villain was too obvious.

3.Lord Dragoner's Wife, by Lynn Kerstan- A long seperated couple reunite in Paris after the husband attempts to divorce his wife in England (but changes his mind when he realizes how difficult it would be). The wife has long loved her husband from afar, but why she can't really say. The husband, who initially ran from both his abusive parents & his marriage by joining the military, would really prefer to ditch the wife & coninue to be an undercover spy. The problem being that a) his wife refuses to return to England & b) peace is breaking out. I liked the heroine, but hated the hero because he basically refused to grow up. Also, he did some really shitty stuff to his wife & then didn't grovel enough to satisfy this reader. That is a major turn off. No big grovel, I don't like it. Besides the heroine didn't demand a grovel- which is also a big turn off.

4.Birds of a Feather, by Allison Lane- A chaperone is hired to supervise the debut season of a very young miss whose mother cannot be trusted & whose father is busy trying to resurrect his fortunes at home in the country. Somehow, the chaperone manages to irritate the Ton's most prominent & powerful arbiter of chic. He's convinced she is after his brother's fortune- this knowlege provided by his overly controlling, super bitch of a mother. Why he believes mother this time & never before or since I couldn't figure out. They marry because they are caught in a compromising postion & the hero begins to exhibit the same overly contolling behaviors as his mother. Somehow, the heroine falls in love with him, he does a very late & barely acceptable grovel & all's well that end's well. Maybe. I really couldn't see any warmth or humanity in the hero other than his love for his brother. He was too conceited & self absorbed.

5.The Devil's Due, by Rita Boucher- Katherine Steele flees London with her young, traumatised daughter Anne & her nursemaid, Daisy, and winds up in a deserted castle in mid Scotland posing as the widowed Lady MacLean. In actuality, Lord MacLean is very alive & wants to hide in his crumbling ruin & lick his wounds from the war. They manage to accomodate one another & slowly fall in love while trying to heal. There is a strong subplot of trauma & childhood sexual abuse. A nicely done tale of two wounded souls finding happiness together. Bonus- the hero is physically scarred & suffers with what we would call PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Bonus for me anyway. I have a thing for wounded heroes.

6. Lady Silence, by Blair Bancroft- Frankly I couldn't finish it. I read the first four chapters & the last two & I was done. The initial premise, an abused, abandoned young girl finds refuge in a large, wealthy, monor was plausible. The fact that they kept her without searching for her family after learning she could read & write & do math was hard. The fact that she pretended to be mute & the hero magically 'outs' her ability to speak & still keeps her around was too much to swallow. Then at the end she turns out to be a long lost heiress & fabulously wealthy. Way too many coincidences. Story partially set in Bath.

One homerun amid the outs. I liked #5. The rest were competant, mostly.