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  • Cristina Merrill 5:00 pm on 2018/01/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , curmudgeons, , , , , , jane eyre, , lovable grumps, , , the wolf and the dove,   

    Our Favorite Sexy Curmudgeons: 8 Guys Whose Frowns We Want to Turn Upside Down 

    No one wants to be tied to a grump, but once in a while we come across that brooding kind of man we wouldn’t mind cheering up. You know the type. He doesn’t give the best first impression, but once you get to know him, it’s easy to look past his gruff exterior and appreciate the wonderful man within. (And you just know all of that seriousness and pent-up longing will release itself in some very pleasant ways!) Guys like these may not always make the best Plus Ones at dinner parties, but they’ll definitely make you remember dessert.

    Here are 8 of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance who can brood all they want!

    Hareton from Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
    No, we are NOT going in the Heathcliff direction! (True, he had it rough, but he was still awful.) Instead, let’s focus on Hareton. He wasn’t raised under the best of circumstances, to say the least, but throughout his harsh life he managed to show an innate sweetness. As he grew older he displayed a loyalty that would bode well for his upcoming marriage to young Catherine. A guy like that may not make the best impression on society, and he might curse in your presence upon your first meeting, but he’ll ultimately stay faithful to you and he’ll always be honest about his feelings.

    Sir William of Miraval in Candle in the Window, by Christina Dodd
    Sir William of Miraval is not the happiest of knights. He was blinded in battle, and his caretakers are growing frustrated with his awful attitude and poor hygiene. (Dude’s quite depressed, so he gets a pass at being curmudgeonly.) He meets his match when Lady Saura of Roget is summoned to help him get his act together. She’s blind, too, but this is a woman who know how to run a house and keep everyone in line. William soon falls in love with her, and he displays a fierce loyalty that would make any woman sigh. William, we knew that beneath that rugged, filthy, muscled exterior was a tender-hearted man yearning to break free!

    Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    There are many mighty good reasons why Mr. Darcy ALWAYS comes up in romantic conversations. He didn’t always have the best manners, and he could hardly be called the life of the party, but when a guy is willing to help your crazy family by keeping your nutty sister on the straight and narrow, well, there’s a lot to be said for that. (Imagine a guy who stays with you even though your extended family posts weird things on social media on an hourly basis.) Mr. Darcy, you practically invented the smolder, so you can smolder all you want!

    Wulfgar from The Wolf and the Dove, by Kathleen Woodiwiss
    To be fair, this Medieval knight had an exceptionally harsh life. He was a bastard, which wasn’t easy in those days. (He and Jon Snow of Game of Thrones would probably have a great deal to talk about.) You’re also under a lot of pressure when William the Conqueror wants you to, well, help him conquer England. This attitude of his mostly changes, though, when his posse conquers Darkenwald, the home of the very proud and beautiful Aislinn. It takes a very long time until they actually get along, and boy it’s fun to read that roller coaster of a relationship. Carry on with your growling ways, Wulfgar, and flex your muscles while you’re at it!

    Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
    Love him or hate him, Mr. Rochester was a curmudgeonly curmudgeon who needed some major intervention—and lots of time to soul-search—before he could find some inner peace and have his happy ending with Jane. True, he’d been through a lot in his life—bad marriage, saddled with a kid he wasn’t even sure was his, lost his eyesight, lost his hand, and more—but that doesn’t excuse some of the things he did. (Buddy, you might want to consider taking up poetry writing!) Still, he had some good qualities, and he ultimately changed for the better thanks to Jane. Mr. Rochester, brood as you please, and please make sure you show Jane your appreciation as often as humanely possible!

    Rocco from A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber
    Poor Rocco’s a little bit in over his head. He’s the macho-est of macho men, and he has a teenage daughter with whom he doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Fortunately he meets Nichole, the modern-day equivalent of a gently-bred lady who recently ditched her cheating husband. Rocco may be more at home in a biker bar than, well, in many other places, but he’s solid, muscly proof that surprises can come in the most unexpected of packages. Rocco, bring on the cranky. We know that inside you’re really just a marshmallow with nothing but love for your woman!

    Rhys Winterborne in Marrying Winterborne, by Lisa Kleypas
    Welshman Rhys Winterborne worked extremely hard to get to where he is. He owns a major department store, and even though he is supremely wealthy, his modest background means that society doesn’t have much room for him at their social gatherings. He’s determined to win over his lady love, and what’s more, he knows he’s not always the most pleasant man to be around. You can’t go wrong with a guy who admits his faults and is eager to prove his devotion. That said, he also shows an exceptionally sweet and caring side. Rhys, no one is fooled! Admit it. You’re a softie.

    Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades series, by E.L. James
    Christian makes all of the other guys on this list seem joyful by comparison. He spends a lot of time brooding over Anastasia and his dark past. (Christian, buddy, you should seriously consider volunteering at an animal shelter. Giving your time just might help!) And he certainly knows how to, ahem, release his frustrations. Whether his dark ways turn you on or off, no woman can deny that life with Christian would never be boring!

    Who are your favorite fictional curmudgeons?

    The post Our Favorite Sexy Curmudgeons: 8 Guys Whose Frowns We Want to Turn Upside Down appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 3:30 pm on 2017/08/24 Permalink
    Tags: , cat on a hot tin roof, , , darkness and light, , , , , , jane eyre, , , , , ,   

    The Gothic Novel Survival Guide 

    So, you’ve found yourself in the 18th or 19th century, stuck in a gothic—or Southern Gothic!—novel. Surrounded by mysterious settings, dangerous characters and a bit of romance, these novels can prove fatal, but nothing you can’t survive, if you follow these instructions:

    1. First, are you in Europe or America?

    The Gothic genre originated in Medieval Europe with The Castle of Ontranto, the story of a man who undoes his life while trying to prevent a prophecy from coming true (think Macbeth meets Oedipus Rex) while Southern Gothic novels like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil are the American response to the popularity of this genre, and deals with the South’s blood-tainted history as a result of slavery. So, depending on where—and therefore, when— you are, you play by different rules.

    2. If you’re in Europe, figure this out first and foremost: if there’s magic, hide on the sidelines.

    Look, I’m not saying Dracula isn’t kind of sexy (especially the Gary Oldman movie version), but in the Gothic genre, magic and mystery almost always spell death. The people who survive are the ones who don’t get mixed up in it. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, wishing for eternal youth has horrific, murderous consequences when a man decides to trap his youth inside a painting, but ultimately damns his soul. (The servants survive though, so probably best to stick to the downstairs parts of the great, gothic houses.)

    3. Are you a woman? Then decide: villain, or victim?

    There are two types of women in gothic literature. There’s the mysterious, often off-the-page villainess (such as Rebecca, in the classic gothic novel about a woman unraveling the truth about her new husband’s dead first wife) and Jane Eyre (whose romantic anti-hero Rochester keeps his mentally unstable wife locked in an attic until she tries to burn their house down). But there are characters like Jane, who is in many ways a victim of circumstance—an orphan, abused, forced into a life of servitude—and Nelly, in Wuthering Heights, the narrator of the story and servant to the family. She isn’t culpable for the tragedy that ensues as a result of Catherine and Heathcliffe’s romance, but she witnesses it, and lives to tell the tale. As I said before: villains usually have a tragic end, but as far as gothic literature goes, they’re usually the most infamous (and interesting) characters.

    4. If you’re in a Southern Gothic novel, outrun your past—fast.

    In books like The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and plays like Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the characters are obsessed with events that happened in the past that they cannot undo. If your past is haunting you, it can be almost as powerful as the magic present in the European gothic novels. For the characters in The Sound and the Fury, three brothers fixating on what happened to their youngest sister, Caddy, caused the ruin of their entire family; and in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s inability to confront the truth about his sexuality led to tragedy both for his marriage, and a close friend. If you’re going to survive the Gothic South, either make peace with the past, or invent yourself a new one.

    On second thought, these books may be much more fun to read than they are to live through, but with these steps, you’re primed to make it to the 21st century intact. Unless, of course, I’m one of those gothic villainesses haunting you from the shadows of your past, waiting to take you down.

    What tips would you offer someone who’s just trying to live through a gothic novel?

    The post The Gothic Novel Survival Guide appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 3:00 pm on 2016/06/29 Permalink
    Tags: a walk to remember, , , jane eyre, love on the big screen, , the end of the affair, ,   

    8 Romantic Movies Based on Novels to Add to Your Netflix-and-Chill Summer 

    If you’re in the mood for some Netflix and Chill during these steamy summer months, you’ll love this list of movies based on romance novels! Add a few to your queue and snuggle in, just don’t forget to read the book first.

    The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks
    The Notebook has it all: Allie and Noah fell in love as teenagers only to be torn apart by class differences and familial obligations. They reunite years later for some much needed closure before Allie marries a successful man her parents approve of—and with whom she has fallen in love as well. If you haven’t seen this movie already, I don’t care what rock you’re living under; crawl out from beneath it, and bring your tissues.

    The End of the Affairby Graham Green
    One of my favorite historical novels was turned into a film starring Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes. The story starts at the end: two years ago, Sarah ended her affair with writer Maurice, for reasons he never understood and could never forgive. The movie takes you back in time as you learn how Maurice and Sarah met, fell in love, and what led to Sarah’s decision to leave him, all the while watching Maurice become entrenched in jealousy, trying to find a way back into Sarah’s heart.

    Cruel Intentions (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, by Piere Choderlos)
    Les Liaisons Dangereuses was written by Piere Choderlos de Laclos in 1782—in France. But thanks to movie magic, this film (retitled Cruel Intentions) is set among Manhattan’s teen elite in the 90’s. Kathryn and Sebastian are step-siblings, and despite their mutual appreciation for the lustier things in life, have never slept with one another. Kathryn bets Sebastian that because of his bad boy rep he’ll never be able to win the heart (and body) of Annette, a new girl at their school who is a self-proclaimed virgin until marriage. If he does win, though, his real prize will be her. Of course, Sebastian falls for Annette and the results are catastrophic. (They’re making a TV show sequel to the movie, so once that comes out, you’ll know where to find me.)

    Gone With the Windby Margaret Mitchell
    The most romantic movie of all time may not have been on your to-watch list before, because I get it: who want to watch a movie that’s so long there’s an actual intermission in it? But hear me out: Gone with the Wind is the most swoonworthy romance there is, about a girl who thinks she can find the things she wants by manipulating the men around her…until she eventually realizes that she will only be happy once she is honest with herself. This movie will remind you that there once was a time before technology—the scenery is as beautiful as the kiss scenes!

    Eat, Pray, Loveby Elizabeth Gilbert
    Okay, technically this isn’t a romance novel, but hear me out: who says a romance can’t be about a woman falling in love with herself? The bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she quits her job, quits her marriage, and decides to find herself by eating, praying, and eventually, loving her way through the world, stars Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. The romance doesn’t pick up until the last third of the movie, but nothing after the words Javier Bardem should be necessary to convince you, so I’ll just end with them: Javier. Bardem.

    Jane Eyreby Charlotte Brontë
    Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska star in this adaptation of Jane Eyre, a novel by Charlotte Brontë about an orphan girl who, after becoming a governess, finds herself falling in love with a wealthy and mysterious man. Michael Fassbender could have chemistry with literally a brick wall or a fake sunflower plant or me, if asked politely, so do yourself a favor and watch him clench his jaw a lot in this movie.

    The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
    We’ve got a couple of tragic romances on this list, so here’s one that you know going in ends in a Happily Ever After! While technically not a “romance novel”, The Princess Bride tells the love story of Buttercup, “the most beautiful girl in the world”, and Wesley, her family’s stable boy. Buttercup and Wesley fall in love, but he leaves to find his fortune and be deserving of her—and dies in the process. Buttercup becomes engaged to the terrible king Humperdnik, lives in misery, and is even kidnapped by a rival kingdom! She is rescued by a man in black who eventually reveals himself to be her true love, Wesley! Equipped with a cast of hilarious characters, The Princess Bride is the best movie to watch when you’re feeling even a little bit blue.

    A Walk to Remember, by Nicholas Sparks
    Every millennial kid sobbed buckets at this movie when it first came out, and possibly hasn’t seen it since, it’s so heartbreaking. But the love story between bad boy Landon and Christian good girl Jamie is worth the re-watch; it’s one of those films that withstands the test of time. Landon meets Jamie while being forced to participate in the school play—because of his bad behavior, it’s that or expulsion. Over time, he finds himself drawn to Jamie, who warns him not to fall in love with her. By then, of course, it’s already too late for them both: Landon leaves his old life and friends behind to be with her, and when Jamie reveals a devastating secret to him, they cling to one another despite all hope being lost. Mandy Moore is a gem in this movie, and if you’ve never slow danced to “Only Hope” while all your friends looked on in jealousy, then you haven’t lived.

    What film adaptations of romance novels do you love?

     
  • Nicole Hill 9:15 pm on 2016/03/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , jane eyre, jane steele, lyndsay faye, ,   

    Jane Steele Is the Hard-Edged Jane Eyre You Never Knew You Wanted 

    Lyndsay Faye is a certifiable meddler in fiction. Her debut novel, Dust and Shadow, pitted Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper in a masterful showdown between a fictional giant and an enigmatic true-life menace. The pairing seemed a more even match than even Moriarty could provide. In a world where Holmes pastiche is a cottage industry, Faye captured Doyle’s characters near-flawlessly, while setting before them a new challenge worth their respective salt.

    Now she’s back, focusing that same tender, exploratory devotion to Charlotte Brontë’s masterwork with Jane Steele. In Jane Eyre, poor, plain Jane gets hurtled from mistreatment to mistreatment, until finally she finds ethically questionable romance with Mr. Rochester. As readers, you can connect deeply with Jane on an emotional level, as she endures an endless parade of indignities and anguish. While she’s an incredibly strong woman—you’d have to be to withstand the secret in the attic—Jane is at the disadvantage of living in the 19th century and having little control over her own circumstances. As an orphan, and then as a governess, she’s got little means to rise above whatever misery befalls her.

    Not so much with young Jane Steele. Jane Steele gets things done, and she’s got the trail of bodies in her wake to prove it. Faye’s novel shares the basic elements of Brontë’s: a heroine orphaned at a young age, a sinister aunt, a demented boarding school for wayward young women, a new life as a governess, a secretive, erudite lordling pitching woo despite his shady past.

    It’s all there, because it all makes a great story. What makes the narrative unique is that Jane Steele knows this story. She’s not a stand-in for Jane Eyre; she’s her biggest fan. It’s a unique device, bestowing this meta awareness on Jane, and it adds a winking playfulness to the proceedings. Truthfully, it’s a quality any story about a serial-killing Jane Eyre groupie should have.

    Yes, Jane Steele has murdered, “for love and for better reasons,” and the story of Jane Eyre has inspired her to tell her own, deepest, ugliest secrets and all. Each chapter begins with a relevant passage from Brontë, serving as an anchor for Steele, who is buoyed by the similarities between herself and her fictional hero, yet dryly critical of how her predecessor handled her trials and tribulations.

    This Jane is a different bird. Though still sensitive and quietly altruistic, she’s also scrappy, droll, and endlessly industrious. Often, she’s a firecracker just waiting for a fuse to be lit. But she’s far from a manic menace; Jane Steele is plagued by the deeper consequences of her actions, by the perilous fragility of truth, by the weight of her own conscience.

    Thus, by the time Jane Steele meets Mr. Thornfield, the splendidly sarcastic army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars to inherit her childhood home, she’s more a match for him than Mr. Rochester’s Jane ever was. She and Thornfield both have skeletons—many literal—in their closets, and it puts them on a more even footing as they pursue a romance. Whereas Jane Eyre’s innocent, unyielding stoicism endeared her to Rochester, adrift in his own failings, it’s Jane Steele’s crackling chutzpah that catches the tormented Thornfield’s eye. He sees in her much of what he sees in the mirror: someone running from a past darkened by tragedy not entirely of their own making.

    The result of all of this is a Jane Eyre for our age, with a heroine who can wield both a knife and a well-placed insult. That her crimes are endearing instead of alienating is both a tribute to Faye’s deceptively charming style and to Jane’s sturdy yet pliant moral code. Who could begrudge a few casualties when you’re having this much fun?

    Jane Steele is on sale March 22, and available for pre-order now.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:15 pm on 2015/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , george bernard shaw, , , jane eyre, ogden nash, , the devil's dictionary, , , wedding toasts,   

    9 Incredible Book Quotes to Include in Your Next Wedding Toast 

    The chances you will at some point in your life be called on to make a wedding toast—or, perhaps, will decide all on your own to drunkenly stand up and make an unscheduled wedding toast you were not called on to make—are pretty high. The shy, the gregarious, the loners: no matter what we do to avoid them, wedding toasts will find us all.

    Of course, the vast majority of wedding toasts border on, or at least dip into incoherency, rambling, and inappropriateness. So if you have a wedding toast in your future, don’t wing it: treat it like a job interview and do some prep work, because you will be judged based on your performance. One foolproof trick? Keep it classy with some ace literary quotes. Here are a few suggestions from our infinite library.

    For 100% Ugly Cry Sincerity: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
    Want to ruin everyone’s makeup? Hit them with this gem from Bronte’s classic: “I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel—I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you—and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

    To Establish Yourself as The Smartest Person in the Room: The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
    Feeling a bit saucy and need to establish intellectual supremacy over everyone in the room, including the happy couple? Bierce’s fierce sarcasm will do the trick: “Marriage: A community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves—making in all, two.”

    For Total Nerd Domination: The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    If you’re a couple—or celebrating a couple—who has a closet designated for cosplay outfits and a wedding reception theme best described as a LARP, hit them with some serious Ent love: “When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay; When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day; When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain; I’ll look for thee, and call to thee; I’ll come to thee again!”

    For Harry Potter Cool Points: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
    All you need to do is somehow work up a speech incorporating the concept of the Patronus, then offer a quote about a man who knew the true nature of love: Severus Snape. “From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‛After all this time?’ ‛Always,’ said Snape.”

    For 100% Efficiency: Ogden Nash
    Called upon to make a toast and just want to get in and out as quickly as possible without making a fool of yourself? Nash, the master of the short, whimsical poem, solves your problem: “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.”

    For that Timeless Romantic Vibe: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    If you think there’s a more romantic couple than Jamie and Claire from Gabaldon’s time travel series, you’re lying to yourself. When trying to come up with a romantic toast, what could be better than “Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone, I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.” No, you’re crying.

    For Affectionately Insulting the Groom: Murder in Mesopotamia, by Agatha Christie
    Christie was a fount of quotes about marriage, including this gem from one of her classic mystery novels, ideal for tweaking the groom: “Women can accept the fact that a man is a rotter, a swindler, a drug taker, a confirmed liar, and a general swine, without batting an eyelash, and without its impairing their affection for the brute in the least. Women are wonderful realists.” That round of applause you’re getting from the women is real.

    For When You’ve Just Burst in to Stop a Wedding: Man and Superman, by George Bernard Shaw
    Did you just race across town with the assistance of a zany group of friends in order to stop someone from making a huge mistake? George Bernard Shaw, as usual, has the ideal quote for you to use after you’ve ruined the ceremony: “Those who talk most about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows are the very people who declare that if the chain were broken and the prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric would fly asunder. You cannot have the argument both ways. If the prisoner is happy, why lock him in? If he is not, why pretend that he is?”

    For Cracking Up the Entire Room: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
    Want to bring the house down? Clink your glass, wait for total silence, and announce you’d like to share the very wise words of the very wise man the Archdean of Florin. Then take a deep breath and say “Mawidge is a dweam wiffin a dweam. The dweam of wuv wapped wiffin the gweater dweam of everwasting west. Eternity is our fwiend, wemember that, and wuv wiw fowwow you fowever.” Prepare to be carried out of the room by a cheering crowd.

     
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