Monday, February 27, 2012

On Sale Today: February 28, 2012

Some Tuesdays are packed with new releases that deserve to be added to our TBR stacks. Today is one such Tuesday. If you haven’t pre-ordered these five novels, be sure to visit your favorite brick-and-mortar or online bookstore to add them to your TBR stack.  Each of the five offers readers something special, and I recommend them all. Click on the title of the book to read my full review.

Redwood Bend, Robyn Carr

The eighteenth novel in Carr’s popular Virgin River series, Redwood Bend features Katie Malone, sister of the hero in #17 Hidden Summit, and Dylan Childress, a former teen idol who is still star material.  Neither is looking for a long-term relationship, but the heart againg proves wiser than the head. Other VR characters show up, of course, including brother Conner and Leslie, the woman in his life. This is a solid addition to one of the series responsible for the popularity of small-town contemporaries.

Rainshadow Road, Lisa Kleypas

Last year was a Kleypasless year, but 2012 will give fans two books in this author’s Friday Harbor series, which was introduced in 2010 with Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. Rainshadow Road is on my best of 2012 list. This story introduces Lucy Marinn, a glass artist, and returns Sam Nolan, a former geek, who is passionate about his vineyard. Lucy and Sam’s story is filled with heat, heart, and humor with a bit of magic as a bonus.  I loved it, and I am counting the days until August 7 and the third Friday Harbor book, Dream Lake.

Blame It on Bath, Caroline Linden

Gerard de Lacey needs a rich wife before a family scandal makes one difficult to find. Wealthy widow Katherine Howe needs a way out of the marriage she’s being pressured to make. She proposes to him, he disposes of her boring and determined suitor, and what begins as a marriage of convenience becomes something altogether different. If you like marriage of convenience stories or plain heroines who are true treasures, you’ll love Blame It on Bath. It’s the second in Linden’s The Truth About the Duke series.

A Rogue by Any Other Name, Sarah MacLean

Lady Penelope Marbury, the woman Simon Pearson jilted to wed Juliana Fiori in Eleven Scandals To Start to Win a Duke’s Heart (2011), is the heroine of this first book Maclean’s new Rules for Scoundrels series. She is paired with Michael Lawler, Marquess of Bourne, the light-hearted companion of her youth whom betrayal and the thirst for revenge have transformed into a dark hero who has lost his humanity. Penelope is a wonderful heroine, one with the strength and tenacity to work a transformation of her own. Darker than Maclean’s other books, A Rogue by Any Other Name has the same emotional punch.

Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea, Sophia Nash

It’s been two years since Secrets of a Scandalous Bride, Nash’s last book, but her new series, the Royal Entourage, which is being described as The Hangover meets the Regency, is worth waiting for. Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea features a new duke exiled from London for excessive partying, a countess who was a commoner and the survivor of an “accident” that almost claimed her life, and disguises, villains, and derring do enough to delight the hearts of historical romance fans everywhere. The second in the series, The Art of Duke Hunting, will be released March 27. They are both winners.

What's on your to-be-bought list for this week?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Twenty Questions for Readers

This is an adaptation of a meme that’s found on a number of sites on the web. I don’t know where it originated, but I love reading answers to questions like these. Answer as many or as few as you care to share. I’ll send one randomly selected commenter five books to add to his/her TBR stack.

The Questions

1.     What was your favorite childhood book?

2.     What are you reading right now?

3.     Have your reading habits been affected by the Internet?

4.     What is your reading comfort zone?

5.     What is your favorite place to read?

6.     Do you ever dog-ear books or write in the margins of your books?

7.     What makes a book a keeper for you?

8.     What will inspire you to recommend a book?

9.     How often do you agree with critics about a book?

10.  How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

11.  What is the most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

12.  How often do you not finish a book you begin?

13.  What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading?

14.  What’s the greatest number of books that you’ve read in a day?

15.  What’s your favorite film adaptation of a novel?

16.  Can you think of a book you didn’t expect to like but did?

17.  What book have you read most often?

18.  What book do you have the most copies of?

19.  What book have you tried but failed to finish most often?

20.  You’re going to spend a year on a desert island with no mod cons. You are allowed to take only five books. What books will you take?

My Answers

1.     What was your favorite childhood book? A toss-up between the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace and the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

2.     What are you reading right now? Just Down the Road by Jodi Thomas, Modernism and Women's Popular Romance in Britain, 1885-1925 by Martin Hipsky, and American Rendering: New and Selected Poems by Andrew Hudgins.

3.     Have your reading habits been affected by the Internet? Oh, yes. My TBR has increased dramatically.

4.     What is your reading comfort zone? Happy endings, but I do read outside my comfort zone.

5.     What is your favorite place to read? I have an ancient wing chair in my bedroom that is comfortable and familiar, with a footstool nearby.

6.     Do you ever dog-ear books or write in the margins of your books? I try not to dog-ear, but I sometimes do. I often underline and write comments—but only in books that belong to me.

7.     What makes a book a keeper for you? Knowing that it’s a book that I will reread or sometimes because the book is part of a series I love.

8.     What will inspire you to recommend a book? If it made me laugh and cry, if the characters haunt me after I’ve put away the book, if the prose is so lyrical and textured that I read aloud for the pleasure of the words in my mouth and in my ears.

9.     How often do you agree with critics about a book? About as often as they agree with me.

10.  How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? I only review books I like. Some of the books I review I love.

11.  What is the most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Well, I tried to read Finnegans Wake.

12.  How often do you not finish a book you begin? It varies. I sometimes go months and finish every book I begin, but I’ve also had weeks when I started a dozen books and didn’t finish any of them.

13.  What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading? Maybe 2-3 days when I was ill. For most of my life, I’ve read every day.

14.  What’s the greatest number of books that you’ve read in a day? I’ve read as many as eight in a day.

15.  What’s your favorite film adaptation of a novel? To Kill a Mockingbird

16.  What book beloved by many friends just doesn’t work for you? The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; the In Death series by J. D. Robb.

17.  What book have you read most often? Among novels, probably Pride and Prejudice. I’ve chosen to reread it often, and I’ve taught it a dozen times or more.

18.  What book do you have the most copies of? I have twelve Bibles, probably half a dozen editions of the poems of Emily Dickinson, and four copies of Pleasure for Pleasure by Eloisa James (one in French).

19.  What book have you tried but failed to finish most often? War and Peace

20.  You’re going to spend a year on a desert island with no mod cons. You are allowed to take only five books. What books will you take? The Bible (KJV); The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Johnson edition; Jane Austen: The Complete Novels; Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers; Frederica by Georgette Heyer. I could reread these for a year, knowing my overflowing bookcases, library cards, and ereaders filled as per my instructions by my family would be waiting for me when I returned.

Your turn.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Review: Undeniably Yours

Undeniably Yours
By Shannon Stacey
Publisher: Carina Press (digital);
HQN (paperback)
Release Date: November 1, 2010 (digital);
January 24, 2012 (paperback)

The first time Kevin Kowalski sees Beth Hansen is in his bar. He thinks he’s rescuing her from unwelcome attention. She knows that the “rescue” is going to get her fired. The next time they meet is at the wedding of Kevin’s brother Joe and Keri Daniels (Exclusively Yours). This second meeting ends with the two of them in bed, and a condom failure ends with Beth pregnant.

Formerly a cop in Boston, Kevin returned home to open a sports bar when his wife’s infidelity with his captain ended both his marriage and his career. Kevin, the youngest in the close, boisterous Kowalski family, is content to be back in Concord, New Hampshire. He enjoys his family, and female bar patrons with their steady supply of lipstick kisses and phone numbers on cocktail napkins provide him with the kind of no-ties relationship that is what he’s interested in at this point in his life.

Beth, an only child who has become a rootless wanderer in an attempt to escape her over-protective parents, is on the verge of leaving Concord for Albuquerque when she discovers she is pregnant. In the reverse of the overused secret baby trope, Beth shares the news of her pregnancy with Kevin. Kevin is shocked, but he accepts responsibility and even looks forward to being a father. The protective streak that is a part of who he is intensifies when it comes to the mother of his child. He is determined that she has a safe place to live, good medical care, and anything else she needs. Beth is just as determined to maintain control of her life. She resists any move that seems to infringe upon her autonomy, even though she comes to accept that since the child she carries is a Kowalski, she too is part of this loving family of caretakers.

I loved Exclusively Yours and was excited when I had the chance to get an eARC of Undeniably Yours from the publisher via NetGalley. Kevin lived up to my high expectations. He is a charmer, but he’s also mature and capable of great tenderness. His concern for Beth and his feelings for his unborn child are endearing. I also loved spending time with the Kowalski family again, and the secondary romance between Kevin’s assistant manager and the man she left at the altar is terrific. In fact, the only thing I didn’t love about this book was the heroine.

Stacey does a superb job of characterization with all of these characters. I believe in Beth, but I don’t like her. This is no wounded heroine with a tragic past. Her problem is that her parents, who lost four other children through miscarriages, hover. They want to know too much about her life, and the only way she can preserve a relationship with them is to be constantly on the move from city to city. Really? There is no evidence of their need to control their daughter other than her perception. They appear to be loving parents.

And then there’s her response to Kevin’s attempts to take care of her. Buying a cell phone so that she can call for help if she needs it is cause for a meltdown. She’s even reluctant to accept his help with her medical expenses, although she has few financial reserves and refuses to ask her parents for help. She also recognizes that her mother’s history may mean a difficult pregnancy. I can understand that the Kowalskis might be intimidating, but I have problems sympathizing with Beth’s reaction to Kevin and his parents moving her out of a lead-infested apartment that smells like cat piss. As for the baby shower, I’m at a loss. I’ve known many grandparents who delighted in being extravagant in gifting baby paraphernalia and clothing, but I’ve never known a soon-to-be parent who feared the gifts were an attempt to seize control of his/her life.

This is a romance, and so Beth eventually comes to love Kevin and his family. She and Kevin share some steamy scenes and some sweet ones, and the ending merits a sentimental sigh fest on all counts. But I’m never totally convinced that Beth deserves Kevin, who makes my list of all-time favorite heroes.

Despite my unhappiness with the heroine, I do recommend Shannon Stacey’s books. Exclusively Yours was an A read for me, and Kevin and the secondary romance make Undeniably Yours well worth reading. Yours to Keep is on my eTBR, and I look forward to reading it. The Kowalskis and their tournaments of Doom rank with the Bridgertons and their Black Mallet of Death in my affections. And I've become a Shannon Stacey fan, if not a Beth Hansen fan. 

Have you read romances that left you wondering if one of the H/H pairing really deserved the other? How does a less than enthusiastic response to one of the pair affect your overall evaluation of the book?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Review: A Rogue By Any Other Name

A Rogue by Any Other Name
By Sarah MacLean
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 28, 2012

Michael Lawler, Marquess of Bourne, was hardly more than a boy when he lost everything to Viscount Langford, the man who had been his guardian. All the young marquess had left was his title, a deep hunger for revenge, and a determination to one day reclaim Falconwell, the estate that had been home to generations of his family. Nearly a decade later, Bourne is far wealthier than he was before the card game that altered his life, thanks to a partnership in the Fallen Angel, one of the most exclusive gaming hells in London, and his desire for revenge has only intensified with the passage of time.  When he learns that Langford lost Falconwell to the Marquess of Needham and Dolby, who has made it part of the dowry of his daughter Penelope, Bourne sees his chance to act.

At 28, Lady Penelope Marbury is only a step away from spinsterhood, but her parents, especially her father, are  determined that her next step will be into matrimony. Marriage to a peer will disperse the scandal of a broken engagement that has not been forgotten even though it is eight years in the past. For the sake of her two younger sisters as well as for her own good, Penelope must be married. She has opportunities, but ever since she caught a glimpse of the love between her former fiancĂ© and the woman he married (Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart), Penelope has wanted more than the proper match for which she has been prepared. She prefers spinsterhood to boredom.

When Penelope sees Bourne unexpectedly one night, she is delighted at first. The two had been childhood friends, and she has fond memories of Michael. But she quickly learns that Bourne, who insists she no longer address him as Michael, is very different from the light-hearted youth she once knew well. Bourne will marry Penelope even if he must ruin her to accomplish his goal, but he sees her only as a means of achieving his goals. He will not allow himself to be affected by memories or by the warmth and wit of the woman in his arms. Marriage to Bourne offers Penelope adventure and a life different from the one her parents plan for her, but Bourne’s heart is so consumed be his need for revenge that there is little hope that their “love match” will ever be more than a pretense.

A Rogue by Any Other Name is the first in a new series about four scandalous aristocrats who have created a new life for themselves as part of London’s underworld. It has the multi-dimensional characters and excellent writing that marked her debut series. It was darker than I expected, but the darkness is relieved by flashes of humor. Readers who enjoyed MacLean’s earlier series will doubtless enjoy this one as well.

I love Penelope. I found her an appealing character in Eleven Scandals, and even though I feared her night walk in the snow identified her as a TSTL heroine, I was soon captured by her honesty with herself, her vulnerability, and her willingness to risk a lot for what she wants. For much of the book, I thought Bourne was a jerk. The only thing that kept me from writing him off was the person revealed in the letters his younger self had written to Penelope. The letters—his and hers—were a delight, and I kept hoping that at least traces of the humor and heart of the Michael of the letters survived within the embittered Bourne. Redemption comes, but it was a long wait.

But Penelope’s instincts were good. I never found Bourne boring. I recommend A Rogue by Any Other Name to readers who love a tortured hero or a different take on the marriage of convenience story.  I look forward to the second book in the series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (November 2012) and to the other books that follow.

We seem to be seeing a number of series recently that move us away from ballrooms, house parties, and other conventional tonnish pursuits. Are you pleased to see the changes, or are you a traditionalist?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: The Seascape Trilogy by Vicki Hinze

In 1996-97, St. Martin’s Press published three connected books by Vicki Hinze, writing as Victoria Barrett. The books center around Seascape Inn, a bed-and breakfast in Sea Haven Village, Maine, which was once the home of Cecilia and Colin Freeport and is now owned by their grandson, an Atlanta judge, and managed by Miss Hattie Stillman, a gentle, nurturing woman. Portraits of Cecilia and Colin hand in the inn, and something of the great love they shared and of the healing gifts of Cecilia linger as well. The mystical qualities of the inn and the mysterious presence of a spirit known as Tony combine to make the Healing House, as it is sometimes known, the site things strange and wonderful. Each book focuses on a man and a woman who come to the inn seeking serenity and who discover each other and the kind of love shared by Cecilia and Colin in the process. Bell Bridge Books has recently reissued the Seascape Trilogy in electronic and trade paperback formats under Hinze’s name.

Beyond the Misty Shore (October 17, 2011)

Artist T. J. MacGregor first came to Seascape Inn after the deaths of his parents. He finds there the healing he needs to return to his painting, and, in fact, his painting of the inn wins acclaim and seems to offer comfort and the promise of peace to some. The painting also brings into his life the woman who becomes his fiancĂ©e. When she is killed, T. J. returns to Maine, only this time he can’t leave the inn. Each time he tries, he experiences bone-chilling cold and a feeling of being restrained before he blacks out. He is tortured with guilt and filled with despair over this supernatural restriction.

Marketing executive Maggie Wright is convinced there is something suspicious about the death of her cousin Carolyn who perished in an automobile accident. Her body was burned beyond recognition, but T. J. MacGregor’s painting of Seascape Inn, found at the accident scene, was unmarked. Maggie, who has been on leave from her job for two years in order to care for her mother, makes discovering the truth about her cousin’s death her mission. When she learns that T. J. MacGregor is at Seascape Inn, she makes a reservation.

Despite her suspicions, she finds herself drawn to MacGregor, and she soon becomes aware of the mysterious forces at work in the tranquil spot. MacGregor is drawn to Maggie just as powerfully as she is to him. But they both harbor secrets, and they must learn to trust one another before the healing and love they seek can be theirs. Miss Hattie, the matchmaking ghost Tony, and a full cast of colorful villagers add to the story.

T. J. and Maggie are both likeable characters, and Miss Hattie is the perfect chatelaine for the mystical inn with its poignant history. There is much to appeal in this story, but too much of the movement is circular rather than linear. There are wonderful moments when T. J. and Maggie talk, but the extended interior monologues and the repetitious action slows the pace unbearably at times.

Upon a Mystic Tide (December 13, 2011)

Bess Cameron is a psychologist with a popular radio call-in show in New Orleans. Her divorce from John Mystic, a private investigator from whom she has been separated for six years, is just about to become final—and public. The latter fact will almost certainly end her career, given her conservative socialite boss and heavily Catholic audience. Amid what may be her final show, she takes a call from a mysterious man named Tony who communicates with Bess telepathically as well as via telephone and advises "Sometimes you have to leap upon a mystic tide and have faith the sand will shift and an island will appear." The experience with Tony sends her to talk with her friends Maggie and T. J. MacGregor (Beyond a Mystic Shore), and a viewing of T. J.’s painting of Seascape Inn sends Bess to the bed-and-breakfast with its promise of peace and healing.

John Mystic is grieving. Elise Dupree, the client who has been a mother figure to him for six years has just died, and John is devastated by her death and by his failure to solve the case of her missing daughter. His obsession with Dixie Dupree’s case cost him his marriage. He’s still in love with his wife, but he believes that she has found someone else. Nevertheless, he is determined that she will be taken care of financially, and when he learns that she is persistent in her refusal to accept half their assets in the divorce settlement, he heads for Maine determined to make her see reason.

John is the last person whom Bess expects to see in Sea Haven Village. She refuses to talk to him and plans to leave Maine. Thanks to Tony’s interference, her car won’t start, and she’s stuck at the inn until it’s repaired. It soon becomes clear that Bess still has strong feelings for her almost-ex husband, but John is still committed to the Dupree case and neither he nor Bess is able to be honest about their pasts or their feelings. Tony encourages both of them to be honest with themselves and with each other, but even the powerful physical attraction between them and the recognition that their love has not died may not be enough to reunite two hearts defended by fear and pride.

Like the first book in the series, this one offers readers an intriguing pair as heroine and hero, but their lack of communication becomes irritating when it goes on and on. Bess particularly seems immature at times; I found it difficult to believe that a professional with her credentials would behave as she does. John is the second hero who is moved to tears a bit too frequently for my taste. Still, Seascape Inn is a lovely setting, Miss Hattie and the quirky villagers are as appealing as ever, and Tony the ghost is more active and more human than in the first book. And the ending is enough to satisfy the most romantic readers.

Beside a Dreamswept Sea (December 13, 2011)

Attorney Bryce Richards, a widower with two children, is a friend and lawyer of John Mystic (Upon a Mystic Tide). Desperate enough to try anything to help his nine-year-old daughter, Suzie, break free of the nightmare that has plagued her since her mother’s death two years earlier, he, his children, and their gloomy, repressive nanny arrive at Seascape Inn. Despite some skepticism about his friends’ claims concerning the magic of the inn, Bryce nourishes a spark of hope that his family will find help in the serene setting.

Cally Tate is headed for a cabin in the area when she sees the sign for Seascape Inn and feels compelled to change her plans and register as a guest at the bed-and-breakfast.  Cally’s dream of building a loving family has been destroyed by a disastrous marriage with an emotionally abusive, controlling, unfaithful husband who eroded her confidence and sense of self. Although she doesn’t yet know it since she refused to attend any of the divorce proceedings, Bryce is her former husband’s lawyer, and she owes the alimony she is receiving from her ex to Bryce’s ethics. Cally’s purpose in Maine is to find herself and discover the courage to create a new life.

Tony, Seascape’s benevolent guardian spirit, recognizes that young Suzie’s recurring nightmare is extraordinary. Because he fears for her life, he breaks the rules governing ghostly behavior and enters her nightmare to save her. He encounters another spirit whose purpose is unclear but who reminds him that his action may have consequences greater than he imagined.

As if that weren’t problem enough, Bryce and Cally are both scarred by earlier experiences of love and reluctant to become so vulnerable again. Tony promised Suzie the new mother she believes essential for her younger brother and sister and that she longs for herself. Cally is that woman, but she and Bryce must learn that merely caring is not enough to make the healing magic work. Only love that withholds nothing is strong enough for the magic that is Seascape Inn.

This is the strongest book in the series. The plot is more developed, and the emotional stakes are higher for all the characters involved. Bryce and Cally are sympathetic characters from the beginning, and the children are endearing, especially Suzie. Miss Hattie and Tony’s story becomes more that mere context, and Tony discovers that even spirits have something to learn.

Overall, the trilogy offers readers characters to care about, a setting with strong sensory and emotional appeal, and a touch of the paranormal. It is not without flaws, but if you like your romances tender, your setting significant, and your paranormal light, you will find much to enjoy in the series.

I can forgive just about anything if I find the characters engaging. What's the most important element of fiction for you as a reader? Have you enjoyed books despite some things you would label "flaw"?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Review: The Summer Garden

The Summer Garden
By Sherryl Woods
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: January 31, 2012

Moira Malone and Luke O’Brien met in An O’Brien Family Christmas (2011), the eighth book in Woods’s Chesapeake Shore series. Luke was interested enough in “Maddening Moira” to remain in Ireland when the rest of the O’Briens returned to Chesapeake Shores. But Luke is back home now, and while Moira is still in his thoughts, so is the Irish pub that he’s planning to open in his hometown, and Kristen Lewis, the woman he distracted when she was creating complications in his sister Susie’s marriage, is a pleasurable companion when he needs one.

Moira is in Ireland, working in McDonough’s Pub, finding unexpected success with her photography, thinking about Luke and becoming increasingly frustrated with his say-nothing emails. When her grandfather invites her to accompany him on his visit to Nell O’Brien, the temptation to see Luke again and find out how important she is to him is too great to resist.

From the beginning, Dillon O’Malley, Moira’s grandfather, and Nell O’Brien, Luke’s grandmother have high hopes that Moira and Luke will realize that they are a perfect pair. The extended O’Brien clan warms up to the idea a little more slowly, but they soon discover Moira has changed from the rebellious termagant they met in Ireland. They quickly grow fond of her, and they’re happy to do their bit in matchmaking schemes. But things aren’t quite so simple.

Although Luke is happy to see Moira and ready to admit she has claimed his heart, he is too immersed in his new business venture to make plans for the future on the personal side. As the youngest O’Brien grandchild and the one who has had no clear sense of what he wanted to do with his life, he feels that he has to justify the faith his grandmother has shown in him by releasing his inheritance and that he has to prove himself to his overachieving family.

Moira is ready for forever. While she is pleased with the praise her photography wins in Ireland and in Chesapeake Shores, she’s less interested in a career than in becoming a wife and mother and in creating the kind of family she never had. She loves Luke, and she also loves the exuberant O’Briens and the feeling of belonging they give her. But with Luke saying maybe later and Moira thinking now or never, resolution seems impossible. While the drama of Moira and Luke’s relationship is playing out, Dillon and Nell are enjoying a quieter courtship, at least until Nell has some health problems that give everyone a scare.

The Summer Garden is the concluding book in this long-running series, and it works beautifully in that role. All the O’Briens are present and accounted for, the next generation of O’Briens is increasing, and HEAs abound. I loved catching glimpses of all the previous pairs and seeing their relationships in progress, and I loved Nell and Dillon’s second-chance-at-love subplot. The central romance was less satisfying for me. Luke and Moira are both likeable characters, and the chemistry between them is strong. But they seem very young (He’s twenty-four and she’s younger), and they both have some fairly heavy baggage. I would have liked to see the relationship develop more slowly. I’m generally an HEA reader all the way, but this time, I’d have been glad to see one HFN among all the lifetime commitments.

 Chesapeake Shore Series:

The Inn at Eagle Point
Flower on Main
Harbor Lights
A Chesapeake Shores Christmas
Driftwood Cottage
Moonlight Cove
Beach Lane
An O'Brien Family Christmas
The Summer Garden

How do you feel about series that run past three or four books? Do they seem to be more common recently? What’s the best conclusion to a series you’ve read?

Kathleen, you are the winner the Reading Questions giveaway. Please email me at jangarho at gmail dot com and we'll get the details straight so that I can get a book to you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Some Bookish Questions

I have another deadline coming up February 13, and my mind is so caught up in my research for those essays that I came up empty when I tried to write a blog for today. So I’m recycling a post from last year with new questions, which, of course, means new answers from me and, I hope, from you. To encourage you to join the conversation, I’ll give a copy of my answer to questions 2, 3, 4, or 5 (winner’s choice of book and format--print or Kindle) to one randomly selected commenter.

The Definition:

This post is a meme. “Meme,” alternately pronounced to rhyme with “cream” or as the first syllable in “memory,” has been defined in various ways. The definition I like best is “an idea that, like a gene, can replicate and evolve.” I’ve seen variations on the web of the reader’s game (the idea), and I copied (replicated) it, adapting it for my interests and purpose (evolution). Incidentally, I prefer the second pronunciation because the memes I like best are inevitably questions that require me to use my memory.

The Questions:

1. What are you reading currently?
2. What was the best book you read last month?
3. What new romance author impressed you most in 2011?
4. What romance novel from 2011 have you recommended to other readers most often?
5. What romance novel are you most looking forward to reading this month?

My Answers:

1.     I’m reading an ARC of Molly O’Keefe’s first single title romance, Can't Buy Me Love. Lucky me! (It has a hockey star hero.) It’s a June release. Look for my review at The Romance Dish then.

2.     That’s a toughie. I read some great books in January. Among those with January 2012 pub dates, I’d say Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie. I’m a Devil Riders fan and have been eager for Luke’s story. I loved the differences in this book—setting and H/H meeting and the familiar—characters whom I found totally engaging and Gracie’s usial mix of the poignant and the humorous.

3.      Stefanie Sloane. I’m impressed with anyone who has three books--The Devil in Disguise, The Angel in My Arms, and The Sinner Who Seduced Me--out in her freshman year as published author. When the books offer intelligent, interesting characters and terrific love stories, I’m sold. She also has three books scheduled for release this year. Amazing!

4.     This one is a toss-up among my top reads of 2011—a three-way tie: The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne, The Duke Is Mine by Eloisa James, and What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long. They are very different books, but they have in common excellent writing, characters who captured my mind and my heart, and stories so compelling that I've reread them all already and expect to do so again.

5.     Another toss-up—and the authors share a last name, although they spell it differently. I am eager to read Jo Beverley’s A Scandalous Countess, another Malloren World book, and I am really excited about The House on Butterfly Way by Elizabeth Bevarly. It’s been way too long since we had a new single title from her.

So what are your bookish answers? I’m eager to read them too.

Congratulations to Cathy P, the Randomizer’s pick to receive a copy of How To Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins! Cathy, please email me at jangarho at gmail dot com, and I’ll get your book to you ASAP.