Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is It Romance or Erotica?

Either I'm getting really old or Romance is changing. I don't consider myself a prude, but I must admit I have a hard time these days telling the difference between romance and erotic romance.

Both need plots, right? Both need characterization. Both need sex, but it's there that my problem begins.

I like romances that go into the bedroom. Physical loving is part of a relationship. What I don't like is a graphic, almost pornographic portrayal of the sex. I don't need a 500 word description of the hero's penis. For that matter, I don't need every male to be hung like a horse, therefore entering the female with the utmost difficulty whether she's a virgin or not.

I don't need sex scenes in every chapter. Okay, not every chapter but sometimes it seems that way. I like a couple to, like, you know, talk. Have dialogue. Do things other than fuck.

Perhaps that's why the MC books appeal to me so much, especially Kristen Ashley. Her characters DO things and have sex but not for pages and pages and pages.

It seems to me that many romances, even some by well known authors, can  be mistaken for erotic romance. With a good writer it can be a turn on. Mostly it's boring.

Can anyone tell me the difference between the two?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Escorted by Claire Kent

Escorted by  Claire Kent
Well this book was an obvious read for me. It’s about a romance writer named Lori who lives in Seattle and hires a gigolo to take her virginity and teach her about sex. So it’s erotica, there’s some romance, a lot of Lori (heh) and man, not what I expected.
I remember when the book first came out and there was a lot of talk about it. It went into my serious TBR pile which meant the reviews were great and it promised to be a wonderful read. Huh.
This book was full of sex, ergo, making it erotica. And it was the least erotic writing I’ve read. So much pumping, stretching, wetness, squishy sounds and I wanted to just wipe them all up.
It wasn’t erotic.
I’ve been reading a lot of books recently and some have made me want to climb the walls, my ladyparts have been a quivering and a quaking. But this book which should have sent me straight under the covers to play hide and seek with my wee plastic willie instead was a real yawn.
Problems with the book: her ladypart was constantly called a channel. He stretched her channel, he finger throttled her channel, he drove his car onto a boat and then sailed her channel…
The dialogue was so stilted that I thought I was reading a regency written during that period. “Oh Lori, I have been flabbergasted by the depth and commitment of your channel guide.”
"My darling gigolo Anders, I am on the verge of coming. Will you pump your hips a full second faster and hasten my release?"
Okay, maybe the dialogue wasn't that bad but it was stilted as hell and always took me out of the story. Real people just don't talk like that.
Also, a little self-congratulatory shiz in the book was that Lori was like a 25 year old virgin romance writer who wrote 4 mega-successful romance novels under the pen name of Claire Kent (the author of Escorted). Sheesh. Not clever and stinks like 3 day old dead fish.
So this book was a mega fail on all levels. I want erotic romance that is both erotic and romantic.  I want better writing. I want my ladyparts to be on high alert.
I rate this a 2 out of 8 inches.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Romantic Suspense

So, Lori is heroine-centric and I'm hero-centric.

Lori doesn't care for romantic suspense and I love it.

I think there might be a correlation.

Most suspense heroines are strong, if not kickass, but let's face it, the heroes are usually in charge. Big, strong and handsome and up to every trick in the book as far as fighting and strategy is concerned. They're usually ex-military - SEAL or some other acronym; or are in law enforcement. Whichever, they keep up their muskles and their truly eye popping abs. Sometimes I wish a heroine would fall for a swimmer-type body.

The good stuff is when the strong heroine butts heads with the alpha hero. This can make for some damn good dialogue.

I like the action in these books. There's not a whole lot of internal dialogue (depending on the author) but there is a whole lot of showing not telling.

And the heroes.  *Sigh*  They are so damn tough, so dangerous and hardened, and yet with the heroines they can be gentle, nurturing and caring. I love the contrast.

I eagerly latch on to just about every romantic suspense I come across. I wish I could get Lori to try one, such as Laura Griffin or Linda Howard.

Still, there's lots of genres out there to read so I'm not going to fret.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Where Did All the Books Go???!!?!?!?

With Lyrical becoming the ebook side of Kensington and now new contracts are being signed and rights are reverting...

Anyway, most of our books are no longer on sale and will be coming back either as part of Kensington or under the Marinated label.

So don't buy our books (except Yesterday's Headline.... buy that one in bulk.)

 Heh heh.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

This is not a romance. I'm not sure what category it is. Literary? Like all her books, it takes place in the South, in this case Georgia with the usual complement of eccentric/quirky characters.


A novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love, and learning that things aren't always what they seem—or what we hope they will be.

Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son.

Shandi doesn't know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It's been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn't define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

First line:

"I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K."

I'm a big fan of Joshilyn Jackson, especially of her first book Gods in Alabama.  SELS has me scratching my head, because the format she used is puzzling and yet I find myself thinking of the characters and the trauma they went through.

The format? Parts are written in third person, past tense, others in first. Parts are written in third person present tense and first person present tense. There's a lot of telling because sections skip to the past while continuing with the present. It should be confusing but somehow it works. I just don't know why she did it that way.

I didn't like the heroine. She's very young and living in a fantasy world while still managing to deal with fighting parents and raising a genius three year old. Even toward the end, when she realizes how immature she's been, she still goes after her obsession which is William.

William I loved.

Like any Jackson book, the plot has twists and turns that keep the reader glued to the page. I particularly liked the two chapters, one from Shandi's POV, one from William's, which showed how completely wrong she was but hey, an obsession has to start somewhere. William has Asperger's and the author captures his 'different' thinking very well (in my uneducated opinion).


The ending was a big fail for me. All through the book she's been obsessing over William and in the final few pages, suddenly she realizes she's in love with someone else she's known since she was nine years old (and this is weeks after he declared his love for her, but oh no, she loved William. Yeah.) I don't see how someone couldn't know she loves someone until she gets back her memory of a particular event.

This isn't her best book and yet ... I can't stop thinking about it. Isn't that what a book is supposed to do? I kept turning pages until I was finished, so I guess the author accomplished her purpose. And everyone isn't 100% perfect and the characters in this book reflect that. But I wanted Shandi to get her shit together a lot earlier than she did.

I would still recommend this book because William is fascinating. His life is fascinating. And he's a true hero, overcoming his hang ups to find his HEA. I let out a big, happy sigh.

If you think this book's not for you, try Gods in Alabama. I think it's her best overall.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Last Hit (Hitman) Jessica Clare , Jean Frederick

This was a strange book for me. And I don’t know if I can adequately review it because it was such a weird story.
The hero is Nick or Nikolai, a Russian hitman who was raised by a Russian mob family until he was 15 and tossed out to fend for himself. He’s trying to live independently doing his own hits but he’s still involved with the family doing hits for them and planning vengeance for the death of his mentor.
The heroine is Daisy who has run away from home at age 21. Her mother was killed when she was 8 and her father  was threatened by the killer and has not left the house since. He also raised Daisy Amish (LOL!!!) and so she’s innocent and yearning.
Nick and Daisy are a freaky couple since neither has any idea of how to live. Daisy needs independence and experience, Nick needs acceptance and love. They find each other because Nick watches her stalker-like and then intrudes in her life and she’s too innocent (or ignorant) to rebuff him as she should.
The story bounces between the two pov’s and Nick’s is more enjoyable because it’s written a great deal more spare and with the Russian accent. The story gets really weird though when Daisy is kidnapped, taken to Russia, her roommate also is kidnapped, raped and sold on the black market.
The book kind of lost track at that point.
No, let me amend that. It went fucking haywire and totally into la-la-ville.
I didn’t hate the book, not by any means. In some ways I liked the romance between the two characters because they were both so messed up and I would have happily read about them without the mob shit. But.. I wouldn’t recommend it because well, it was just too haywire.
And there’s another book coming out with yet another hitman and the roommate who was raped and sold to the black market (or whatever the slave/sex trade is called). Um… somehow the idea of a woman who was sold into slave trade having a romance with HEA is making my head hurt.
Interesting concepts. Not necessary something you want to read if you don’t want your brains to bleed out of your ears and stain the Kindle.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper

This was one of those books that everyone was talking about and bless Carolyn's heart, she got for our Kindles. And when I say bless Carolyn's heart, I mean it without question because this book rocked my world.

This is the story of Kat (aka Tree) whose husband died in a train crash when their daughter was only one year old. They were happy and his loss took away part of Kat's soul. So the story starts when Abbey, the daughter is 4 and obsessed with a children's show about a crime solving cat. Kat volunteers at the local library and wants to have a program with music and she hunts down the man who wrote the theme song: Adrian.

Adrian has a secret: he was in a hugely popular rock band that broke up years previous. He was addicted to drugs, has a complicated history with his band mates and he's unhappy as hell.

Kat and Adrian start to fall in love and both are hiding huge parts of their past. Adrian's past becomes known and they work through a lot of his stuff but Kat is still hiding a lot of the depth of her own loss.

There was so much to this book. There was the love developing between the main characters. There was the relationship with Abbey. There was the relationship between Kat and her dead husband (told in such a lovely way that it added more depth to the story). There was also the love affair with New York (another thread of the book that meant so much).

The writing was lovely. The story was adult and layered. After reading so many giggly women and their alpha-holic men, to read adults falling in love with true emotional baggage, it was breath-taking.

I read the book in a day. I reread parts the next day. The day after that I started another book but was still thinking about Adrian and Kat.

Read it. It's brilliant.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

BIG News to Start the Year Right

Lyrical Press has been acquired by Kensington Books.

Oh yeah.

Lyrical Press, the publisher of such stellar titles as well, a whole buncha shit Carolyn and I have written, has just become the e-arm of Kensington. It's been formally announced, rejoicing is rampant and decisions are being made.

Carolyn and I have talked and we're keeping Letters From Greece with Lyrical. I'm keeping some of my single titles although I've already had the rights to 666 Angel Lane reverted so it's mine to rewrite and finally make awesome.

Carolyn can talk about her decisions if she chooses about her titles.

On a personal note: I've had two of my three publishers close shop, one quietly and one in a popcorn worthy drama. It's great to see a company do well, and I'm so pleased for Renee Rocco (the brains, beauty and heart behind Lyrical) to see her take her company from smaller, to bigger and now to New York.


Way to go Renee.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 = The Number of Books Carolyn Will Buy This Year

Happy New Year!!

I'm a sucker for New Years and resolutions and all that. The promise of new beginnings, new chances, the possibility of making things better. Living life better. It's like romance actually, full of hope and chance and even though you're bringing your baggage into it, you might still find your way to a HEA.

As a writer I'm learning that making goals and resolutions for writing doesn't work. I love writing but I do it slowly. I also love baking, noodling, playing Bingo on Facebook, hanging with my daughter... writing matters but it's a part of my life. So I'll take the pressure off and write when I write and live it as I live it.

As a reader I've been acknowledging just how hungry I am for books. In the last week I've read 5 novels, 2 novellas and I'm almost done with another novel today. I feel famished and it's a hunger for words and stories.

So I'm allowing myself a complete indulgence and putting a lot aside right now to just read. And it's lovely.

We have no blog resolutions although we'll probably be talking a lot more about series we're reading and indulging in random posts about our new book boyfriends.

And there might be recipes. Just because I know Carolyn loves to try new things.