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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2017/12/12 Permalink
    Tags: , a christmas promise, a cold day for murder, a highlander christmas, a kiss for midwinter, a rose in winter, a seduction at christmas, a winter scandal, becca fitzpatrick, bed of roses, biting cold, black ice, boy snow bird, bring me home for christmas, , candace camp, cathy maxwell, , chloe niell, , christmas angel, Cold Mountain, , , dana stabenow, dark celebration, deep kiss of winter, , diana gabaldon, , elizabeth chadwick, elizabeth essex, , , gaelen foley, , Get a Clue, girls made of snow and glass, grace burrows, , ice, jane villaneuva, , , , , john green maureen johnson, , , , la casey, lady sophie’s christmas wish, lauren myracle, let it snow, , , lord of ice, , , marissa meyer, , , , melissa bashardoust, mercedes lackey, , never love a highlander, , northern lights, once upon a winter’s eve, , , , shadows and lace, , , snow falling, , susan wigs, , , , the bite before christmas, the scandal before christmas, the snow queen, , the winter crown, , the winter sea, , winter fire, winter garden, , winter stroll   

    50 Delightful Winter Romances 

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but with bare trees and freezing temperatures, it can also be pretty bleak. That’s why we’ve got fifty winter romances on tap; so you can spend the long nights with couples falling in love instead of shivering under the covers.

    Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas
    What’s the best way to get away from a conniving family? Marry a notoriously terrible man, of course. But there’s a catch: when she demands that her rake of a husband stay celibate for six months, Evangeline finds his icy exterior thawing enough to let her into his heart.

    Deep Kiss of Winter, by Kresley Cole
    An ice fey, Danii possesses a dangerous ability to cause excruciating pain to anyone not of her kind who touches her skin. But Murdoch, a vampire, is not one to be dissuaded by the cold…especially when his passion for her burns hotter than any flame.

    Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, by Tessa Dare
    This novella stars Violet Winterbottom, who is swept away by a mysterious stranger at the Spindle Cove Christmas Ball, when a man stumbles into the ballroom and collapses. The mysteries surrounding him are numerous, but none more than the heat between them…which Violet will lose forever if she does not figure out who he is, and what he wants, before the sun rises.

    A Kiss For Midwinter, by Courtney Milan
    Christmas is Lydia’s favorite time of year, but even holiday cheer isn’t enough to erase the scourge of an event that could have ruined her reputation. Thankfully, only one other person knows about it: Dr. Jonas Grantham. She would rather forget he existed, but Jonas has other plans: he’s in love with Lydia, and intends to turn all her winters warm for as long as they live.

    A Rose in Winter, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
    Erienne Fleming’s beauty is legendary in her village of Mawbry. Everyone wants to marry her, but unfortunately, Erienne does not have a choice due to her father’s debt. So when she is married off to the mysterious Lord Saxton, known for his terrible moods and disfigurement from a fire years before—Erienne knows happiness will elude her forever. That is, until she learns his true heart, and finds herself falling for a man she once thought of as a beast. It is at this inopportune moment that a childhood love tempts her away, and Erienne must make a choice.

    The Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley
    Carrie is an ambitious author who has her sights set on turning the story of a Jacobite invasion in 1708 into a successful novel. Especially since one of her ancestors lived the event. But Carrie soon finds herself lost in the snowstorm of truth and fiction, where they begin to merge.

    A Christmas Promise, by Mary Balogh
    Ellie and Randolph are meant to be: their perfect match and impending wedding is the perfect balance of wealth and title, and they are destined for a perfect union. Except that Ellie does not love him…and all she wants for Christmas is to marry a man she loves.

    Girls Made of Snow and Glass, by Melissa Bashardoust
    Mina’s life is upended when it is revealed her heart is not human—it is made of glass, and does not beat. Her magical father performed the devastating transformation with a terrible consequence: a glass heart cannot know love. But Mina is determined to know love, and will seduce a king in order to do so…

    Lord of Ice, by Gaelen Foley
    Damien lives alone, haunted by the trauma of war. But when he is named the guardian of a young ward, he is tempted both to re-enter society. Though he may have fallen prey to the chill of war, learning to love again will warm his heart.

    Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish, by Grace Burrows
    Sophie does not treasure her place in society the same way her family does—which is why a few nights alone in an empty mansion sounds like her Christmas wish has come true. But when a snowstorm, an abandoned child, and a brokenhearted man kind enough to offer assistance all conspire to disrupt her plans, she finds herself wishing for something new.

    A Winter Scandal, by Candace Camp
    Thea Bainbridge has always played by the rules of her society—and so when an infant is discovered in her church manger, she knows a man who does not abide them is to blame: Gabriel, the Lord Morecombe. But Gabriel is not afraid of scandal…instead, he finds himself drawn in both by the mystery of the child’s true parentage, and Thea’s determined spirit.

    Never Love a Highlander, by Maya Banks
    Caelen made a terrible mistake, but now he’s making things right: by marrying the bride his older brother jilted to heal the ongoing feud between two Highland clans. Rionna, his bride, may be interested in preserving the peace, but she’s vowed never to give her heart away—especially not to someone cold and guarded like him. But when a mutual enemy threatens their family, Rionna and Caelen unite to defeat it…and in the process, fall in (very, very steamy) love.

    Christmas Angel, by Jo Beverley
    Leander knows women love him. That’s why he wants a convenient marriage, one that will allow him to live life as he chooses—on his terms, and in anyone else’s bed. So when Judith Rossiter, the widow of the late poet Sebastian, decides to marry him to provide for her children, the arrangement couldn’t be more perfect. But she has secrets, and Leander finds himself wanting to uncover them, like plundering a virgin snow…

    The Scandal Before Christmas, by Elizabeth Essex
    Holiday novellas are short, sweet, and have just enough steam to keep you warm in winter. Ian Worth, a soldier, needs to marry before Christmas—days away from his next deployment to sea. So when he decides to marry Anne Lesley, a spinster with no other prospects (so she won’t ask questions), he believes all is well. But a snowstorm means they are trapped together, along with their secrets, and the desire growing between them…

    Bed of Roses, by Nora Roberts
    Nothing more romantic than a winter wedding! Wedding florist Emma has it all: her dream job, dream friends, and a dream love life. What she doesn’t have? One great love…and that’s where Jack comes in. But love isn’t always a bed of roses, even for those in the business of making it beautiful.

    All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire, by Kerrelyn Sparks
    This book combines my favorite things: holiday cheer, and vampires. Toni is on a mission to do the impossible: prove that vampires exist, so she can spring her BFF from a mental institution, where she’s doing a terrible job of convincing people she was attacked by them. So she decides to be a bodyguard for the Undead…never intending to fall in love with Ian, a five-hundred-year old vampire.

    Bring Me Home for Christmas, by Robyn Carr
    Denny broke Becca’s heart three years ago…and then he went off to war. By Christmas this year, she is going to rid her heart of the memories of him by crashing her brother’s hunting trip in search of some distraction (and maybe a tempting guy or two.) But of course, she finds Denny, and the snowstorm between them is even more powerful than the one raging outside.

    A Highlander Christmas, by Janet Chapman
    Camry was a NASA scientist…so why on earth did she leave her job to be a small-town dog-sitter? Only she knows, and she’s determined to keep it that way, by avoiding her family for the holidays. But when her rival, Luke, shows up to bring her home, a battle of the wills erupts between them.

    The Winter King, by C.L. Wilson
    We have reached the fantasy portion of this roundup! This gorgeous romance stars Wynter, a man determined to seek vengeance on a foreign kingdom’s King by marrying his daughter. Khamsin is afraid of marrying the notorious Wintercraig king…but nothing could be worse than her father’s abandonment. And so what starts as an act of revenge soon becomes an act of love—even as evil rises up around them, and a dark magic must be defeated.

    Shield of Winter, by Nalini Singh
    Vasic is a soldier with too much blood on his hands to fathom. Living on the fringes of society, he is drawn back into action to protect people against a deadly virus. Especially Ivy, who is determined to fight back against the contagion—and who gives Vasic something else he is afraid to lose.

    Winter Fire, by Elizabeth Lowell
    Sarah Kennedy needs no one to survive. Not after everything she’s been through. But against the backdrop of the Civil War, she finds herself caring for a wounded Civil War soldier, haunted by a past of his own.

    Dark Celebration, by Christine Feehan
    The Carpathian series continues with this Christmas tale starring Mikhail, the Prince of his kind, who is determined to protect them from extinction. But when his enemies target his wife and daughter, he is forced to turn to tactics unthinkable to him before in order to keep them safe.

    Chasing Christmas Eve, by Jill Shalvis
    It’s never too early for holiday cheer…but Colbie Albright is feeling anything but cheery when she show up in the Bay Area after escaping New York and her fame as a renowned YA author. And when she ends up literally underwater and is saved by Spencer Baldwin, she wants what she knows she shouldn’t have…and come Christmas, she’ll have to go back to her old life.

    Merry and Bright, by Debbie Macomber
    Debbie Macomber returns with a Christmas story just hot enough to lift your spirits as the weather grows colder. She tells the story of Merry Smith, who is living the life she wants—family, career, and holiday cheer. But her mother decides to meddle and give her the gift she won’t give herself: a social life, with prospective matches galore! And while what Merry finds in the online dating world makes her happy indeed, will the fantasy come crashing down when reality sets in?

    A Seduction at Christmas, by Cathy Maxwell
    Fiona has learned the hard way what lengths she’ll sink to in order to save herself…even if it means taking down a rake of a Duke. Posing as his ward, Fiona does her best to get the better of a man who has spent his life distrusting women…but in this steamy tale, even he cannot help but fall prey to her charms.

    Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
    Another winter-themed anthology with beautiful YA stories about a Christmas Eve snowstorm that turns the lives of three teens into a magical night of love.

    Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones
    The Goblin King steals Liesl’s sister, drawing her into the strange and magical world of the Underground in order to save her. This YA novel is rife with gorgeous descriptions, forbidden romance, and the devastation surrounding what happens when a girl is torn between family and fate.

    Ice, by Linda Howard
    I love a good military thriller…especially one starring a guy good enough to make sure his dad’s neighbor is safe during an ice storm. Except Gabriel is not that guy; he doesn’t even LIKE Lolly, the neighbor he finds himself having to rescue from masked strangers in her window. United against a mysterious enemy, determined to survive the storm, Gabriel and Lolly make their way to safety, and to steamy romance.

    Get a Clue, by Jill Shalvis
    Breanne has been jilted, so getting snowed in on the honeymoon she should have had sounds like exactly what would happen to her. But when she discovers her room—the last room in the lodge—is already occupied by a very cute, very cynical cop, they strike a bargain to share the room.

    Northern Lights, by Nora Roberts
    Nate Burke got burned watching his police partner die, and so he chooses to start over in Alaska, prepared to endure the cold weather. In a town called Lunacy, what else could he expect but to have an affair with a pilot named Meg…while stalking a murderer on the loose that only he can track down.

    The Bite Before Christmas, by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost
    This book has multiple stories for the price of one! An anthology focused on Yuletide romance starring immortals from both of these authors’ bestselling series, you’re in for a bloody sexy read.

    Frozen, by L.A. Casey
    Neala and Darcy have a love-hate relationship for the ages. But when they both wind up at the toy store determined to buy the last toy in stock, their battle of wills…and sexual tension…burns brighter than a Christmas tree.

    Shadows and Lace, by Teresa Medeiros
    Rowena has been gambled into service for a mysterious—and potentially murderous—knight. Little does she know that her situation has been his ploy all along in a quest for vengeance. This pawn does not expect to love her captor, and the knight never expected to desire his pawn…

    Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
    One of the most beautiful and devastating historical novels in modern times, Cold Mountain tells the story of a couple torn apart by the Civil War. Inman, a Confederate soldier, is determined to trek across the mountains to return home to Ada, the woman he loves. But home is not the same place it was when he left it, and danger abounds as Ada discovers the lengths she will go to in order to survive without him.

    Winter Stroll, by Elin Hilderbrand
    The Quinn family returns in this novel full of holiday hope and laughter…that is, until a series of unexpected guests show up at the Winter Street Inn and throw a few wrenches in the romances everyone thought were going so well.

    Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah
    Russia is known as a cold place, especially during World War II. In this romance that spans time and space between 1941 and 2000, the story of a mother’s determination to survive a war transforms her relationship with her estranged daughters.

    Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
    This paranormal YA novel has serious swoons! The heartbreaking love story of Grace—a girl fascinated by the wolves who live in her backyard, and Sam, a human boy cursed to change with the cold—is dark, romantic, and perfect for chilly nights.

    Winter, by Marissa Meyer
    This sci-fi epic tells the story of a Princess named Winter who dares to fall in love with a palace guard in defiance of her stepmother. A revolution brims beneath the surface and she must decide whether to team up with a group of brave girls to fight—even if it means losing the man she loves.

    Snow Falling, by Jane Villanueva
    I’m super excited about this winter romance—because it’s the “book-within-the-TV-show from the CW’s hit show Jane the Virgin! In Miami at the turn of the 20th century, a girl named Josephine believes her life is perfect: she has a good job at a hotel, and has just gotten engaged…but then a mysterious railroad tycoon shows up to disturb all her plans.

    A Cold Day for Murder, by Dana Stabenow
    A classic detective story that takes place in the Alaskan north. Kate has left the D.A.’s office for a return to her job as a cop…and when a ranger goes missing, she’s the only one brave enough to face the cold.

    Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick
    The classic snowstorm thriller gets a YA twist: Britt is ready to hike the Teton Range, but then her ex-boyfriend shows up. The ex-boyfriend she can’t stop thinking about. The one she gets separated from by a snowstorm…only to be taken hostage, at which point she can only hope that he still loves her enough to find her.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes, by Diana Gabaldon
    So, since this is the 6th book in the Outlander series, I’d recommend reading the other books first…but the title is so wintery, I couldn’t resist including it! (Mild spoilers ahead.) This installment of the epic romance finds Jamie and Claire on the verge of the American Revolution, and worried about whether they will survive the battle to come.

    Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi
    A fairytale retelling like no other. In 1953, Boy travels to a small town and marries a local man, becoming stepmother to his beautiful daughter, Snow. But Boy’s growing hatred towards Snow only increases when her baby, Bird, is born dark-skinned, revealing her husband’s family as African Americans passing for white.

    Snowfall at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs
    Sophie travels to dangerous places to help those in need—but after surviving a terrible trauma, she returns home to Willow Lake. She’s spent enough time saving others; now it’s time to save herself. And what she finds does exactly that: a love with Noah, the local vet, who ignites a passion within her she never thought she’d feel again.

    Biting Cold, by Chloe Neill
    Imagine being turned into a vampire without your consent…that’s what happened to Merit. But she’s made lemonade out of a dark situation, turning her position into one of power, tracking down a supernatural creature with the goal of causing havoc.

    Cold-Hearted Rake, by Lisa Kleypas
    Devon Ravenel is a rake, and proud of it—he wants no other responsibilities than figuring out which woman to charm that week. But when he finds himself responsible for the fates of three young girls after inheriting their father’s earldom—and one of them, in particular, who beguiles and tempts him—he knows it’s time for his cold heart to let in a little warmth.

    The Snow Queen, by Mercedes Lackey
    A queen with a heart of ice is accused of attacking innocent people, and in response she decides to journey through her kingdom of winter to find the imposter responsible for damaging her reputation.

    The Winter Crown, by Elizabeth Chadwick
    Fans of the classic movie Lion in Winter will love this historical novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Frustrated with her role as mother, isolated from her husband, and tempted by the promise of power, Eleanor makes a dangerous choice to defy her King and seize power for herself.

    Marrying Winterbourne, by Lisa Kleypas
    Ambition can turn the heart cold, which is what has happened to Rhys Winterborne; a common-born man who has risen to success. So when he decides he must bed Helen Revanel, he is unprepared to be met with ice. Helen finds herself tempted by Rhys’ passion and looks, but when an enemy threatens their growing love, she finds herself willing to risk it all to keep it.

    The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin
    Okay, I admit it: this one is kind of a joke. Winter has come, but will The Winds of Winter ever be published?? Only time will tell, and we all know Westerosi winters are long.

    What winter romances do you love?

    The post 50 Delightful Winter Romances appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2017/12/11 Permalink
    Tags: diana gabaldon, , , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 13 Recap: Eye of the Storm 

    This season’s trip to Jamaica has been bonkers enough that you couldn’t be blamed for periodically forgetting the reason we’re here: young Ian.

    As the season finale begins, our feisty young abductee is still being held by Geillis Duncan, First of Her Name, the Unkillable. Meanwhile, the Scooby Gang has been split up. Jamie has been taken into custody by the precocious Captain Leonard. Claire is on a solo mission to raid Geillis’ lair of doom. Willoughby is M.I.A. And Fergus and Marsali are trying to make sure everyone else doesn’t die.

    There is good news, though, namely that the island of Jamaica is populated solely by characters of this show. Just as the insufferable Leonard is about to whisk Jamie away to face murder charges, he’s stopped by a (for once) welcome squad of redcoats. Next thing you know, John Grey—tipped off to the situation by Fergus—is going toe-to-toe with Jamie’s teenaged pursuer, outranking him in a battle of military jurisdiction.

    Best Friends Never
    For her part, Claire is also a prisoner. While snooping around the slaves’ quarters, Claire’s scooped up and deposited in Geillis’ parlor. Here we learn just how far Geillis has traveled on the paranoia train. From her perspective, Outlander is the story of how a conniving British know-it-all traveled through time to thwart her reasoned and reasonable plans to restore Scottish sovereignty.

    To prove that she couldn’t care less about Geillis’ psychotic nationalism, Claire makes a mistake. She divulges that for the last 20 years she’s been in the 20th century, raising her daughter, a bouncing 200-year-old baby. With that admission, Geillis has the final piece of her prophecy puzzle from last week. All she’s got to do to summon a new Scottish king is kill Brianna. Mother of the Year, Claire.

    There is one other notable item in their exchange: for the first time, we get a real discussion about the mechanics of time travel, or at least how Claire perceives them. Claire tries to explain to Geillis that, no, you don’t need to sacrifice your husband to travel via the stone network. “I think it has something to do with who’s on the other side, drawing you to them,” she says. “That might be so,” Geillis admits, “but I’d just as soon have blood. A girl can’t be too careful.”

    You get the sense that the dead husband bit was always just a perk to Geillis.

    As she tries to find a way out of Geillis’ Haunted Mansion, Claire spies young Ian being hauled off into the darkness. On her way to catch up with his captors, she bumps into Jamie, newly freed by John Grey. There’s little time for a reunion, however, as they’re drawn toward some kind of island ritual that evokes memories of the witch circle at Craigh na Dun.

    Being historically bad at sneaking, Claire and Jamie are discovered, only to be saved by Willoughby. Apparently, after last week’s episode, Willoughby and Margaret Campbell’s date continued, and she was invited to these proceedings out of appreciation for her “gift.” Things have gotten serious for the two; Willoughby discloses that they plan to run off and start a life together.

    But not before we get one more of Margaret’s bizarrely on-point visions. She seems to channel Brianna for a moment before repeating the name of a nearby cave, Abandawe, where there’s another set of stone circles. As Claire figures out that Geillis plans to travel to 1968 and kill her daughter, Willoughby stays behind to defend Margaret and to kill her abusive brother who conveniently wandered up to reveal important details about the prophecy. RIP Archibald, you served your expository purpose, you scoundrel.

    Let’s Avoid the Time Warp Again
    For two people who fail miserably at stealth, Claire and Jamie are generally skilled with navigation. In short order, they find Abandawe and some real déjà vu. Claire warns Jamie that if she’s drawn through the stones, she may not be able to return. (Who’s to say how she knows?) Jamie then instructs her that she must go through the stones if anything should happen to him.

    That well-rehearsed dialogue aside, the two descend upon Geillis, in the midst of going full Gollum, and a bound-and-gagged young Ian. This particular time portal works a little differently than Craigh na Dun; it’s a shimmering pool of time goo. While Jamie works to incapacitate Geillis’ bodyguard, Claire tries to warn Geillis away from the path she’s chosen.

    Sometimes, though, warnings don’t work. Sometimes, for the sake of your child, you have to decapitate your problematic gal pal. And that’s just what Claire does, in one fell swoop. It’s an undeniably awesome moment, though it leaves Claire particularly shook. Remember the skeleton she saw back in Joe Abernathy’s office? Remember how Claire just knew that the woman had been murdered? It seems we now know why: she did the murdering. The time goo, man, it leaves a trace.

    Whatever the mechanics, the day has been saved. But … it’s been saved a bit too quickly. It’s always concerning when things are tied up neatly with 20 minutes left in the episode. Either it means we’re going to get some extended love-making or some villainous scum is about to disrupt some extended love-making.

    Sturm und Drang
    We get the former—Jamie and Claire indulge in a night of unfettered nookie aboard the Artemis—followed by an act of God. The ship is soon caught in the middle of a ferocious storm. While the rest of the gang hangs below decks, Jamie and Claire end up as the only two above deck as a monumental wave swallows the ship.

    Jamie manages to stay aboard, but Claire winds up in the drink, her hair looking as luscious and well-coiffed as ever. Thankfully, Jamie is part Scottish, part Merperson. Not only does he find his submerged wife, his kiss serves as her own personal snorkel.

    We don’t know exactly what’s happened until the camera zooms in on Jamie, face down on an unknown beach, being poked in the butt by some cherubic little girl. She runs off and Jamie crawls to another body on the beach, this one Claire, who finally decides it’s time to resuscitate herself.

    When the little girl’s quaint family arrives to inspect the bedraggled pair, we learn a couple of things. First, the Artemis and its other passengers survived; they’re marooned further down the beach. Second, we’re in Georgia, y’all!

    Welcome to the Colonies, folks, where a whole new crop of British soldiers can harangue our favorite Scotsman and Sassenach. All that’s left to do is get ready for Season 4: Outlander Takes America.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 13 Recap: Eye of the Storm appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2017/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: a notorious countess confesses, a rogue by any other name, , , diana gabaldon, , , heather cocks, if you deceive, jessica morgan, Joanna Wylde, , julie anne long, , , , , , , one good earl deserves a lover, original sinners series, , reaper's legacy, , sarah maclean, slightly wicked, , , , trouble at the wedding, unclaimed, when he was wicked   

    A Romance Novel for Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation 

    It’s been over a week, we’ve listened to it over a thousand times…and now the moment has come: we’re pairing up romance novels with Taylor Swift’s newest album, reputation!

    “…Ready For It?”

    I immediately thought of Claire and Jamie for this song, so Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is my pick! It’s fast-paced, like their adventures, but also sensual and sexy, like their relationship. “Younger than my exes but he acts like such a man” make sense since Jamie is younger than Frank (and Claire herself) in the series. And of course all the references to islands reminded me of the current Season Three (no spoilers, if you haven’t seen it!)

    “End Game (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future)”

    “Ahh, and I heard about you…you like the bad ones too.” This song is all about a couple whose reputation precedes them, making them probably the least likely to work. “And I bury hatchets but I keep maps of where I put ‘em” made me think of Devon Ravenel of Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas: he’s a rake who lives up to his name. But then he inherits an earldom and must step up to the plate and assume responsibiity for his status—and the honor of the late earl’s three sisters. “You’ve been calling my bluff on all my usual tricks” is what happens when he meets Kathleen, who knows better than to ever fall in love with a man like Devon…except, as the song implies, they both wind up wanting to be one another’s end game.

    “I Did Something Bad”

    Unclaimed by Courtney Milan is about a handsome Bachelor known for having unimpeachable character…who finds himself entangled with a secret courtesan, not the high-bred lady he assumed her to be. “I never trust a playboy, but they love me…” totally embodies Jessica’s character: she’s a woman who knows what she wants, and is willing to do “something bad” in order to get it…like team up with the bachelor’s enemies to take him down in exchange for money. But of course, doing bad things makes you feel oh so good, and Jessica and Mark are no exception to the rule.

    “Don’t Blame Me”

    The moody, rumbling, erotic nature of this song brought one threesome to mind: Nora, Soren, and Kingsley from Tiffany Reisz’ Original Sinners series. “For you, I would cross the line/I would waste my time/I would lose my mind/They say, “She’s gone too far this time…” are definitely words worthy of Nora, preeminent Dominatrix and submissive only to Soren, a Priest she credits with saving her life. And of course, there’s Kingsley, the owner of the BDSM club, Dominant in every way…except when it comes to Soren. “If you walk away/I’d beg you on my knees to stay…” The pulse-pounding romance between these three people over the course of the series is the perfect accompaniment to Taylor’s pining words.

    “Delicate”

    Two people with broken pasts—and reputations that have never been worse, as this song croons—meet and marry for convenience in A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. It’s just business between them: Bourne runs a casino after being stripped of all societal influence a decade ago, and Penelope is just trying to secure her future after a string of failed relationships. But eventually their boundaries start to slip. “Is it cool that I said all that?/’Cause I know that it’s delicate…” That’s contemporary speak for the passion that ignites between this regency couple when they least expect it.

    “Look What You Made Me Do”

    A revenge song needs a worthy book—and I can’t lie, this one made me think about one particular villainess in the 50 Shades Series…Christian Grey’s ex-girlfriend, Leila. “I don’t like your kingdom keys/they once belonged to me…” those words might as well have come out of her mouth in Fifty Shades Darker. We all know that Taylor likes to parody the “man-eater” persona the media has developed for her, but in this case, Leila’s instability was totally real. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”, indeed.

    “So It Goes…”

    This is one of the quieter songs on the album, but with lyrics like “You know I’m not a bad girl/but I do bad things with you” and “I’m so chill, you make me jealous” the book to match needed to have the right balance of sweetness with an undercurrent of passion. Sarah MacLean’s One Good Earl Deserves a Lover totally fits! Pippa is a good girl from a good family who wants nothing more than a quiet life…and the freedom to pursue science. But before she settles down in that life, she wants one little taste of true passion. So she goes to Cross, a notorious gaming hall owner, and proposes an arrangement between them—all in the name of science. But of course, Pippa can’t stay “chill” when it comes to Cross for long.

    “Gorgeous”

    This upbeat song is definitely worthy of a happily ever after! Julia Quinn’s When He Was Wicked follows the track of the song: a man and woman meet, and sparks fly…the problem—well, in the song it’s that she’s got “a boyfriend, he’s older than us…” but in this book, it’s a betrothal! And to make things worse, the guy she’s marrying is the cousin of the one she falls for. “You’ve ruined my life, by not being mine…” That’s exactly how Michael Stirling feels when she marries the guy anyway. But trust me, there’s a happily ever after waiting for this gorgeous couple.

    “Getaway Car”

    One of my favorite songs on the album spins a story about doomed lovers caught in the aftermath of their betrayal. “Nothing good starts in a getaway car”, the song begins…and the statement rings true in Reaper’s Legacy by Joanna Wylde, except for one thing: you can swap out “car” for “motorcycle”. A love triangle winds its way through the story of Sophie, Zach, and Ruger: Sophie and Zach slept together, resulting in their baby, Noah…but Zach’s a deadbeat dad, leaving his brother Ruger to pick up the pieces. But living—and loving—a man in a motorcycle club can be dangerous, and even when he tries to provide security for Sophie and her son, the past always finds a way of catching up with a speeding bike. After all, remember what Taylor says: “Us traitors never win…”

    “King of My Heart”

    This song makes specific reference to the “American” identity of the heroine (and of course, there’s been rampant speculation on the British identity behind most of Taylor’s new songs) so for this one I chose Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke, a story about an American falling for a Brit! Annabel does not want true love (just like the heroine of the song, who knows she is “better off being alone,”) but still, she agrees to marry a high-born man with a British title as a way to protect her new, “Southern” estate. The problem? Christian, the Duke of Scarborough, does NOT approve of Annabel’s choice. “Change my priorities/the taste of your lips is my idea of luxury…” And that’s exactly what Christian decides to do: make Annabel fall for him, instead, and become King of Her Heart.

    “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”

    Mary Balogh’s Slightly Wicked is about the ramifications of one reckless, erotic night that you think no one else will ever find out about. When Judith meets Rannulf after an accident with her stagecoach, she indulges in a passion she knows she will soon have to bury. (“First sight, yeah, we love without reason…”) But when he shows up at her aunt’s house, intending to court her cousin, Judith knows her secret will not be kept in the dark for long, especially when she can’t stop her feelings from pouring out. As this song says, “I knew there was no one in the world who could stop us/I had a bad feeling”, and soon enough, Judith and Rannulf are dancing with their hands tied, too.

    “Dress”

    One of the sexiest songs on the album deserves a romance to match. A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long made me think of some of the song’s steamiest lyrics, starting with “All of this silence and patience, pining and anticipation/My hands are shaking from holding back from you (ah, ah, ah).” Evie is an ambitious actress, and has charmed all of London…until her scandalous marriage goes down in flames. (Sound at all like a familiar narrative?) She escapes the tidal wave of gossip only to find herself tempted once more…by Vicar Adam Sylvaine, a man sworn to piety and prayer. “Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me…” Soon enough, they can’t stop their passion from overflowing, and the costumes come off to reveal their true hearts to one another.

    “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

    You can finish the title of this romance novel with the title of Taylor’s diss track: If You Deceive…this is why we can’t have nice things! Two people caught at the center of a family feud (aka, a “narrative” they’d like to be excluded from, perhaps?) in the third novel in Kresley Cole’s MacCarrick Brothers series find themselves irrevocably drawn to one another despite the pain and anguish that their families have wrought. “But then you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand…” What starts as a quest for revenge soon becomes a mission to keep the one thing they both hold dear in this Highland romance.

    “Call It What You Want”

    The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks is a sweet romance with just a tad of high-stakes drama: Bex Porter has a real-life fairytale in the form of Nick, the heir to the throne of England. But just like Taylor Swift, loving a famous person comes with consequences. “All the drama queens takin’ swings/All the jokers dressing up as kings…” is right: between the paparazzi, backstabbers, and family baggage, it’s going to take everything she has to keep their relationship together.

    “New Year’s Day”

    This poignant, piano-based closer is heartfelt and raw with emotion, all about what happens when the glitz and glamour fades and the reality of life sets in….and who will be by your side when it does. “I want your midnights/but I’ll be picking up bottles with you on New Year’s Day…” It’s not a New Year’s story, but that sentiment really reminded me of The Notebook: a love story all about choosing the harder road, but the one that’s ultimately true to who you are.

    What do you think of our pairings?

    The post A Romance Novel for Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 5:00 pm on 2017/12/04 Permalink
    Tags: diana gabaldon, , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 12 Recap: The Bakra 

    Remember the end of last week’s episode of Outlander when everything was great and sexy and no one was in mortal peril? That did not last long. And do you know what ruins that peace? Geillis Duncan bathing in a pool of goat’s blood.

    If you have not read Voyager, the tropical lair of a woman presumed to be long-ago burned at the stake might not have been where you expected young Ian to turn up, but nevertheless, we have found him. This is Outlander, where the rules are made up and plot assumptions don’t matter.

    Everything Is Awful
    It seems Geillis, known here as the Bakra, is the ringleader of the pirates who kidnapped young Ian. Furthermore, those sapphires on Selkie Island were hers, and she’s mighty sore about one of them going missing. After toweling off her bloody skin regimen, Geillis plies young Ian with cakes and some sort of truth-serum tea. (She’s throwing off both some serious White Witch and Circe vibes.) Young Ian blurts out that his uncle Jamie took a sapphire from the island once. A small note of surprise crosses Geillis’ face at the name James Fraser. She’s clearly been set up to be sinister here, and the rest of the scene confirms that, ending with Geillis on the verge of raping the young man.

    As I said, the good times are gone.

    Meanwhile, Claire and Jamie have arrived finally in Jamaica. Fortunately, no law enforcement greets them at the docks, so it seems the intrepid Captain Leonard has not yet arrived. Instead, they’re greeted by one of Cousin Jared’s associates who invites them to a welcome gala at the new governor’s mansion.

    This moment of levity is tempered by Claire and Jamie’s journey to the slave market in search of young Ian. It is predictably gruesome and ugly and awful, and it’s doubly gut-wrenching for 20th-century Claire. Witnessing a particular bit of public cruelty on the auction block, she can’t hold in her disgust any longer and disrupts the sale. (Claire’s justified in her wrath, but this may not have been the best way to keep a low profile while her husband’s a wanted man.)

    To appease the powers that be and to rescue the slave at hand from further abuse, Jamie purchases the man in Claire’s name. They promise to free the man, Temeraire, “as soon as it’s safe to do so.” In the meantime, they ask him to circulate among escaped or freed slaves and ferret out any news of young Ian he can.

    Reunion Special
    The governor’s party provides a jarring juxtaposition to the quiet moments with Temeraire. Of course, Claire and Jamie still cut quite the figures in formalwear, even if the style of the times now requires Jamie to try to pull off a powdered wig. It’s almost like we’re back in France again because everyone looks beautiful and yet everything is absolutely terrible.

    As is custom, there are several ghosts from episodes past in attendance. For starters, do you remember Archibald Campbell and his sister, Margaret, the fortune teller who Claire tried to treat before she left for the West Indies? Well, they’re here and in the employ of Geillis—everyone is, apparently. Geillis herself makes an appearance, stalking the party like the cartoonish time-traveling villain she is.

    On the other side of the room is the new governor of Jamaica: Lord John Grey! After some pleasantries and some exchange of information (young Ian’s been kidnapped yadda yadda yadda your son, Willie, will be here next month yadda yadda yadda), Jamie notices something glistening from John Grey’s waistcoat pocket. He’s wearing the sapphire Jamie gave him. That’s so sweet, so sad, and is so not going to end well.

    While our main characters revisit many of their past foibles, Willoughby circles back to Margaret Campbell. In a tender moment in the gardens, he finds her alone and tells her what we all know: her brother is a dog and she deserves better. Their eyes meet and I find myself shipping this more than I expected.

    Claire and John Grey have their own intimate moment, in which each word from Claire sends daggers through the young man’s heart. It’s always fun to run into your ex’s presumed-dead-but-totally-alive stupid-beautiful wife.

    That interaction, however, is roughly 100 times less awkward than Claire’s ensuing conversation with Geillis. “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in the world,” Geillis greets her, before launching into how she’s still alive. Long story short: They waited to burn Geillis until she’d given birth. That gave Dougal time to bribe her way out, throw the kid in foster care, and get Geillis safely away.

    Side note: The only person, I think, who’s truly dead on this show is Dougal. Everyone else could pop up at any moment.

    Claire brings Geillis (really, Geillis saunters in with Claire trailing behind her) to see Jamie, who’s chit-chatting with John Grey. In the course of conversation, Geillis spies the sapphire hanging at his hip.

    Why Geillis so wants that gem is somewhat vague and complicated, but the three sapphires have something to do with a prophecy about the Scottish king. (She’s got a one-track mind, that woman.) She orchestrates a complex public fortune-telling and maneuvers John Grey to the front of the line so Margaret can do her prophesying with all three stones in her hand.

    Things Can Will Get Worse
    The prophecy involves something about Scotland’s next king and a 200-year-old baby. Geillis gets frustrated and makes a Benjamin Button joke, but maybe we should be concerned because we know someone fitting that description: Brianna.

    That’s drama for another day though, because we’re up to our eyeballs in it here: Captain Leonard finally arrives, as does Temeraire. While our crew flees the party and their Type-A pursuer, Temeraire shares what he’s learned from the other slaves in attendance. They’ve seen someone fitting young Ian’s description. He’s at Geillis’ place, obviously. Claire and Jamie drop off Temeraire at an enclave of escaped slaves just in time for Captain Leonard and his men to show up and take Jamie into custody. Weeeee.

    With one episode left in the season, it looks like it’s all up to Claire to dispose of Geillis, rescue young Ian, and, subsequently, free Jamie. Just another day in paradise.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 12 Recap: The Bakra appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2017/11/27 Permalink
    Tags: diana gabaldon, , , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: Uncharted 

    Welcome, friends, to a bonkers hour of Outlander. In the opening scenes of “Uncharted,” it’s clear Claire has had better days. We find her lolling about on her makeshift raft, just reaching the shore of an island of undetermined identity. She’s dirty, wet, marooned, and, once more, husbandless.

    “I had no idea where or how I would find Jamie,” she says in voiceover. This would be more concerning if it were not already an alarming pattern in Claire’s life.

    The situation, nevertheless, is concerning. Claire tromps around this unknown island, hunting for some sort of fresh water or some sign of civilization. (Unfortunately, the first one she finds is a colony of fire ants.) I’m sure the memory of her nice, plumbing-laden home in Boston does nothing but haunt her as she tries to suck water from every plant she passes and wakes up with a perfectly enormous snake trespassing upon her person.

    Still, Claire is one to persevere. On the plus side, the three days that pass with no human interaction, I believe, is the longest she’s ever gone without a fusty man of the establishment explaining something to her. This realization must also dawn on Claire as, finally, she passes out on the threshold of some (hopefully) friendly island-dweller’s doorstep.

    She awakens, bound to a bed, with a woman, later identified as Mamacita, fussing over her bug-bitten legs. When Claire next wakes, the fusser standing over her is a shabby Englishman, encouraging her to drink some water—but not too fast.

    “I know,” Claire replies. “I’m a doctor.” Her host’s first reaction, naturally: “A woman?” Some things never change.

    Despite the fact that his best friend seems to be a coconut, Father Fogden does provide some important exposition. She’s on Saint-Domingue! She knows where she is! (Though both we and she know the island as Haiti.) Claire’s two days from Jamaica, if only the priest and “Coco” the coconut will send her on her way, which they’re reluctant to do.

    Coconut Mather and the rather salty Mamacita, the mother of his departed wife, spend dinner arguing over whether Claire should stay, go, or just die already, who cares. After a heart-to-heart on the topic of lost love, Claire persuades him to consult the coconut in the morning and (again hopefully) take her to a port. Calling upon the acting chops she honed on her roadshow with Murtaugh all those episodes ago, Claire puts on an elaborate discussion with the coconut.

    We will never know if her performance was successful, for it is interrupted by Mamacita’s frantic cries. A prized goat has been roasted by a “Chinese sailor.” That rings some bells for someone who only recently set sail with Mr. Willoughby. Eager to see her go, Mamacita frantically tells Claire where she found the sailors and the ship, and off the Sassenach goes into the jungle with vague directions to turn right and go straight.

    We come to a beach where Fergus, Jamie, and crew have decamped to fix damage that occurred to their ship somehow. That same somehow claimed the life of the prickly Captain Raines. (Dying off-screen: You’d think he was Frank or something.)

    Unfortunately, Claire, only recently on the brink of death, does not run faster than the repair job. She arrives just as the crew has boarded the newly fixed ship. Luckily, she’s got a mirror in her pocket with which she’s able to attract Jamie’s attention and keen eyesight.

    The emotional music swell tells you what you need to know: a dramatic reunion is in store! Claire and Jamie meet on the beach, lips first. One of Jamie’s old prison friends (whose name I am incapable of retaining) swoops in with the line of the episode: “Mac Dubh’s wife turns up in the unlikeliest of places, does she not?”

    While Mr. Willoughby stitches up Claire’s scraped arm, she and Jamie talk shop about how to avoid the ambitious young Captain Leonard and his pesky arrest warrants. It’s in this conversation that Jamie reminds us that we’re out here looking for young Ian. (For a hot minute, I’d forgotten.)

    He also floats a proposal to Claire: he’s in such a romantic mood upon their reunion that he wants to throw a wedding for Fergus and Marsali. Claire knows just the kooky priest to do the job, at least once Mr. Willoughby brings a peace offering for his pilfered goat.

    As she helps the bride get ready for the wedding, Claire finally finds a way to bond with Marsali, who has as much Jenny Fraser in her personality as Laoghaire. Claire delivers a micro-talk on the birds and the bees—and the best way to prevent baby birds and bees. “Maybe you’re not the devil after all,” Marsali admits. Aw.

    The wedding itself is a touching ceremony—despite Father Fogden’s preoccupation with whether Fergus lost anything besides his hand—that formally brings Fergus and Marsali into the Fraser clan. Furthermore, no fiends interrupt the proceedings and no danger lurks in the shadows.

    Claire and Jamie’s separation resolved within two episodes, what a world we live in! Dosed on the world’s sexiest penicillin injection and full up on Mr. Willoughby’s turtle-soup aphrodisiac, Claire celebrates with a rowdy romp in the captain’s quarters with her husband. For now, the worries awaiting them in Jamaica are less pressing than other more stimulating marital relations.

    As it turns out, rarely has Claire had a better day.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: Uncharted appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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