Archive for 'reading'

Happy reading!

Cynthia Decker created this. Isn’t it breathtaking?!?

Artwork by Cynthia Decker

via Helen Warlow on Twitter

More about Cynthia here.

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A new book from Eloisa? Yes, please!

As you may have heard, Eloisa James has a new book out! Who else besides me is WILDLY looking forward to reading it? (Sorry . . . I couldn’t resist.)

Image: cover of Wilde in Love by Eloisa James (Avon Books)

More about Wilde in Love here.

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“. . . where would you be?”

It’s Thursday, which means it’s Getting To Know You Day on my Facebook page! I love this question which Goodreads recently shared. Graphic: "If you were transported to the setting of the book you're currently reading, where would you be?" Via Goodreads

Would you like to join us? Do stop by. :)

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Currently reading . . .

I’m loving Solace Island, a recently published debut novel of romantic suspense, by new-to-me author Sara Flynn. It’s beautifully written, with pitch-perfect dialogue, vivid characterizations, and a crackling storyline. And I’m not the only one to think so — it’s gotten glowing reviews, and check out all these stars on Amazon!Photo: Solace Island by Sara FlynnSara Flynn also happens to be the pseudonym of Golden Globe-winning actress Meg Tilly. More about Sara and Solace Island here on her site. And for a great article in USA Today‘s Happy Ever After blog, detailing Meg/Sara’s journey toward becoming a romance author, click here.

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The joy of socks

This image recently crossed my Twitter feed and I was instantly charmed. I’m not sure exactly what makes these socks specifically engineered for reading, but somehow I just love the idea of it. :)Photo: Reading Socks by Indigo

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Lucky me!

I scored an advance reader’s copy of Sophie Jordan’s Beautiful Lawman. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?!?Photo: Beautiful Lawman by Sophie Jordan (Avon Books)

Coming your way December 26, and available for preorder.

More about Sophie here.

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On happy endings, sexy heroes, and revolutionary writing

Really enjoyed this recent post on featuring the inimitable Julia Quinn. Here are some of my favorite bits.

SL: What do you think takes a romance novel from good to great?

JQ: There’s a joke romance writers like to make when we’re talking about our books. We’ll be talking about the plot, and then we’ll say in a confidential tone, “Okay, spoiler alert. They get together in the end.” This pretty much always gets a laugh, because if there is one thing we all know about romance novels, and indeed, if there is one thing that defines a romance novel, it’s the happy ending. 

This isn’t to say, however, that romance novels are formulaic. Far from it. You open with two protagonists who meet (or re-meet) and you finish with a happy ending. How you get from point A to point B is wide open. But no matter how varied the plots may be, they all end in fundamentally the same place. Which is why I think that if you want to take a romance novel from good to great, it’s all about the characters.

If the reader doesn’t care about the characters, if she doesn’t have a hollow spot in the pit of her stomach when things look bleak, or she doesn’t feel a thrill as they tumble into love, the book will fall flat. A romance novel is all about the emotional journey, and a reader’s emotions must be engaged. I’m known for writing humorous books, and I’m often asked for advice on how to be funny. (Short answer: I have no idea. It’s just the way I’m wired.) I always caution writers not to forsake the emotion in the pursuit of humor. A funny book will make you laugh, but a funny book that grabs your heart at the same time will stay with you forever. 

Photo: Julia Quinn

SL: What do you most hope people take away from your work?

JQ: I’ve said many times that I’m not going to change the world with my writing, but I can change someone’s afternoon. There is a time and a place for the Great American Novel, and there is a time and a place for clever, well-written entertainment. I love writing the latter, and I love reading it, too.

But lately I’ve been thinking that there is more to it than that. I often hear from readers who tell me that my books have shown them that they deserve better in their lives, that they deserve a partner who treats them well. And maybe that’s why my heroes aren’t typical bad boys. (Seriously, every time I try to write a bad boy hero he turns around and does something decent and nice.) I don’t want a guy who treats women like dirt, and I don’t want to write about guys who do that, either. Then it occurred to me — in some ways, portraying a healthy relationship in literature is the most revolutionary thing you can do.

SL: Going off of that, what makes a male character sexy in a romance novel?

JQ: There are really two parts to what makes a male character sexy. The first is focused just on him. There is the physical — he doesn’t need to be classically handsome, but he needs to be attractive to the heroine. He also needs, in my opinion, a stellar sense of humor and the ability to — at least some of the time — not take himself too seriously. But I also think that a vital component of his sexiness comes in how he sees the heroine. A guy simply cannot be sexy if he doesn’t respect women. If you want to be a hero in one of my books, you have to believe in the heroine and respect and cherish her strengths and abilities. It doesn’t mean he can’t get all protective and macho from time to time — I mean, who doesn’t love that? But ultimately, he’s got to think she’s the bomb, and not just because he likes the way she looks on his arm. And of course, it doesn’t hurt if he gets down on one knee and declares that she’s the missing piece to his soul.

To read the full interview, click here.

More about Julia Quinn here.

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“Birds have wings . . .”


Photo: "Birds have wings, humans have books"

via Patricia Beal on Twitter

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Interview and giveaway!

I’m delighted to be featured on the blog of the wonderful Lenora Bell, with an interview and a giveaway celebrating the release of my latest book!

What was the favorite part of your research for the book?

My hero, Alasdair Penhallow, lives in an ancient castle — renovated to state-of-the-art elegance and comfort circa 1811, but still, it’s a castle. Très romantique! I spent quite a few happy hours on the web studying Scottish castles and estates.

Authors often have all kinds of influences and allusions in their stories. What about in The Laird Takes a Bride?The cover for The Laird Takes a Bride by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

Yes, they’re definitely in there! Here are a few examples.

  • My heroine Fiona’s first (and lost) love was based on the charming, fascinatingly slippery Morris Townsend in Washington Square.
  • A strong-willed secondary character, one of the “contestants” for Alasdair’s favor, was modeled after Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a movie I saw ages ago and which — obviously — made a deep impression on me!
  • The work of Stephen King inspired a scene in which Fiona is frightened by memories of being told bloodcurdling tales about a ghastly creature called the Sack Man.
  • In Chapter 12 you’ll find a tiny tip of the hat to Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, and in Chapter 16, a bit informed by Little Women — specifically, the scene in which Amy and Laurie confess their love, a passage I found thrilling as a kid. (And still do.) Look for Fiona saying, “It fits,” and Alasdair’s reply.

What’s the funniest/strangest thing a reader or a relative has said to you about your books or your writing career?

Romance writers everywhere know the look — a little sheepish, a little roguish — and the question that inevitably follows: “So, uh, did you do your own research for the, uh, racy parts?” I love the response Beverly Jenkins shared during a speech she gave at last year’s Romance Writers of America conference. When people ask this question, she told us, she’ll reply, with exquisite and tantalizing brevity: “Yes.” And we all cracked up laughing.

What’s up next for you? What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing the third book in the Penhallow Dynasty series, The Bride Takes a Groom, which releases next spring. It features Captain Hugo Penhallow, who appears toward the end of my first book, You May Kiss the Bride. He marries a childhood friend, Katherine Brooke, a brilliant and complicated heiress — and their marriage is quite complicated also!

* * *

Would you like to enter the giveaway for a signed print copy of The Laird Takes a Bride? Stop by Lenora’s blog or her Facebook page and say hi!

For more info about The Laird Takes a Bride, click here.



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My current read . . .

I was lucky enough to score an advance reader’s copy of Joanna Shupe’s A Daring Arrangement, which releases next month. If you’re a Gilded Era fan, like me, you’ll love this beautifully written book!Image: cover of A Daring Arrangment by Joanna Shupe (Avon Books)

More about Joanna here.

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