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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2017/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: a notorious countess confesses, a rogue by any other name, , , , , , , , , Joanna Wylde, , , , , , , , nicholas sparks, one good earl deserves a lover, original sinners series, , reaper's legacy, , , 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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

  • Tara Sonin 2:00 pm on 2016/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , nicholas sparks, two by two   

    Nicholas Sparks’ Two By Two is An Unconventional Love Story 

    For the last twenty years, readers have been enraptured by Nicholas Sparks’ stories. Many of his stories feature characters who endure great challenges, but at the end of every tale, there is always a silver lining, a hope for redemption—and of course, true, everlasting love.

    His newest novel, Two by Two, is no different on the surface: a story of two flawed people trying to find love and hope amidst the madness of their lives. But in this novel, Sparks has chosen to examine a kind of love he hasn’t explored greatly in previous novels: the love a father has for his child.

    Russ Green “has it all.” He’s climbed the ladder at a successful Charlotte advertising firm, Vivian, his wife, is beautiful (and within a year of marriage, pregnant with their first child), his sister and parents live nearby…what man could want more? Every man, of course: immediately, we are met with Russ’ concern over having a child so soon into marriage, his lingering suspicions over Vivian’s spending habits, and his annoyance that his promotions at work only seem to be a result of his boss’s interest in Vivian, not him.

    At first, Russ is childishly ignorant of what parenting means. He associates a majority of the duties around childrearing (and housekeeping) with women, and believes that his job is to provide for his family, mainly through financial support. But when he decides to preemptively quit his job (knowing he is on the verge of being let go) and start his own company, Russ learns quite quickly how all-consuming it is caring for his young daughter, London. His business doesn’t take off quite as he’d hoped, which means he is the one manning her packed schedule, coordinating her meals, and becoming frustrated with Vivian when she decides to become the main breadwinner and gets a high-powered PR job.

    Their roles have switched, and Russ finds himself discouraged by Vivian’s lack of concern for his business, and for their changing family. As her star continues to rise, Russ discovers that for all his life experience and business acumen, he never had any clue how much work it took to raise a child, and to keep a marriage intact—and readers will enjoy watching him rise to the challenge as his character matures in new and unexpected ways. His scenes with London are the most beautifully written in the book, and Sparks easily conveys how Russ’s love for London grows as they spend more time together. Vivian, however, grows distant from her husband—and Russ begins to realize he not only may have lost the fight for his marriage and his business…but he might lose London, too.

    It wouldn’t be a Nicholas Sparks novel without romance, of course. Russ reunites with a former girlfriend, Emily, who has a child of her own, and begins to wonder if there might be a second chance for them. And Russ’ sister, Marge, and her partner, Liz, provide ample support to Russ’s character throughout the novel, and serve as a reminder that true love is everlasting, especially when tragedy strikes.

    Two by Two is a gorgeous read with just the right note of somberness, perfect as the seasons begin to change. Make sure to check out the B&N special edition, celebrating 20 years of Nicholas Sparks, with exclusive content and reflections for each of his books, including The Notebook, Dear John, and many more.

    The post Nicholas Sparks’ Two By Two is An Unconventional Love Story appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jen Harper 5:00 pm on 2015/10/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , nicholas sparks, , see me   

    Nicholas Sparks Blends Romance and Mystery in See Me 

    As anyone who ever ugly cried their way through The Notebook knows, Nicholas Sparks is a master at crafting an amazing love story. And that’s precisely what his latest novel—the author’s first in two years—is. But at its heart, See Me is also a tale of redemption, second chances, and changing one’s life path even when the outcome seems predestined.

    At 28, Colin Hancock finally seems to be moving in the right direction. Following a rebellious childhood, a string of arrests for bar fights, and a stint at an anger management facility in Arizona, Colin is now studying to become a third-grade teacher. Plus, he has a good job as a bartender and is channeling his rage into MMA fighting. Unfortunately, he also has Detective Pete Margolis watching him, just waiting for him to slip up—if Colin is arrested again for anything, he’ll be going to prison for a decade.

    Meanwhile, Maria Sanchez, also 28, has taken a more conventional road to success. The oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Maria is a graduate of Duke Law School and now has a job with a prestigious firm in Wilmington, NC. But she has her own dark past from which she’s trying to escape. Maria prosecuted a case in which a young woman, Cassie Manning, was stalked and assaulted by a dangerous ex-boyfriend. After Maria allowed the ex to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault, he promptly sought out Cassie after he was released from prison and murdered her before taking his own life. The woman’s family blamed Maria for Cassie’s death—the brother sent her menacing notes, the father threatened to sue her—and Maria was in such a fragile state, she moved back home.

    As Colin and Maria start to find their footing, a chance encounter brings the unlikely pair together. Neither of them are looking for a relationship, particularly with someone so different from themselves, but they can’t deny their chemistry. However, just as their romance starts to unfold, glimpses of both Maria’s and Colin’s traumatic pasts begin to surface.

    See Me seamlessly combines romance, action, mystery, and suspense. But this isn’t a fairy tale love story filled with too-good-to-be-true characters—both Maria’s and Colin’s flaws are explored as a part of the perfectly imperfect tapestry of their lives. As Sparks shows us, it’s these flaws that often bring people closer together.

    Sparks also fully develops the friendships and family relationships in the story. Readers will dig the bromance between Colin and his polar-opposite best friend, Evan. And Maria has feisty sister Serena, her best friend, and the parents with whom both girls share a deep bond.

    Since this is Nicholas Sparks we’re talking about, you’ll definitely start casting the film adaptation as soon as you start reading. We’re going with Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez as Maria and Faking It’s Skyler Maxon as Colin. You’re welcome, Hollywood (and everyone else).

    Sparks’s See Me clocks in at 482 pages, but you will not want to put it down once you dig in. So clear your weekend plans (that marathon viewing of The Notebook, The Longest Ride, and A Walk to Remember will just have to wait).

  • BN Editors 8:48 pm on 2015/09/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , new for fall, , nicholas sparks, , ,   

    Exciting New Fall Releases 

    We love summer, and few things are as satisfying as lazing on the beach with a great book, but we must admit, we’re thrilled it’s finally fall again. Cooler weather brings the perfect opportunity to cozy up with a warm cup of cider and an engrossing book. Here are eight releases coming over the next few months that we can’t wait to get our hands on.

    Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
    Grisham is a master, and in Rogue Lawyer, he’s created one of his most memorable characters ever: Sebastian Rudd, the title character—sarcastic, brilliant, and single-minded in his pursuit of justice for his clients, who tend to be the sort that everyone else has given up on. Rudd’s tendency to stick his nose in cases no one wants him pursue requires him to employ a full-time body bodyguard, and he never sleeps in the same place twice. His current cases, including the defense of a mentally-challenged young man accused of killing two small girls, aren’t going to make him any more popular. A can’t-catch-your-breath read from one of the best.

    See Me, by Nicholas Sparks
    Sparks is at the top of his game in this deeply human story of starting over and dealing with life’s complexities. Colin Hancock’s past is filled with violence and bad decisions, but he’s committed to turning over a new leaf, pursuing a teaching degree, and living a quiet existence. When he meets Maria Sanchez—a successful lawyer with her own dark past—love springs up despite their mutual hesitation. Their affection is challenged by past secrets, even as ominous events in the present that push them to the breaking point. This deeply emotional book once proves that Sparks understands human nature and relationships as well as anyone writing today.

    Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith
    The third Cormoran Strike novel kicks off with a gruesome bang as a woman’s severed leg is delivered to the inspector’s office, kicking off a classic mystery (no pun intended). Strike quickly identifies four possible suspects from his past who could be behind such a heinous act. While the police pursue a lead he increasingly believes to be a cold one, he must pursue the likelier culprit himself, even as increasingly violent events increase the pressure. Once again, J.K. Rowling proves that even under an assumed name, she’s a crackerjack plotter, consummately skilled at grabbing readers and refusing to let them go.

    The Crossing, by Michael Connelly
    Nobody does crime novels like Michael Connelly, and the seasoned author’s newest work is on pace to continue his never-miss legacy. Half-brothers Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch try to take it easy, they really do. Yet somehow they always manage to end up right in the thick of L.A.’s hairiest criminal investigations. The ex-LAPD detective and the Lincoln Lawyer find themselves in the red zone once again when Mickey asks Harry to use his insider knowledge of LA’s finest to root out corruption. Bullets fly, tempers flare, and bonds are tested in the latest tour de force read from one of crime fiction’s greatest contemporary authors.

    Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, by Jon Meacham
    Coming on the heels of last year’s 41: A Portrait of My Father, by George W. Bush, comes another consideration of George H.W. Bush’s presidency. Meacham casts new light on the career and legacy of one of our most-soft spoken, resolute politicians, a man whose single-term presidency was, at the time, overshadowed by the controversial men who proceeded and followed him into the Oval Office. Through countless interviews and unparalleled access to Bush’s personal diaries, Meacham has assembled a revelatory look at a man who is increasingly considered one of the last great leaders of an earlier era.

    Binge, by Tyler Oakley
    New media star Tyler Oakley commands a huge audience online, and he hasn’t let his platform go to waste. A warrior for social causes and an LBGTQ advocate, he’s dedicated himself to making the world a better place—and a funnier one. In this candid, hilarious essay collection, he shares the weird, wild, and wonderful stories of his unusual journey to fame, from Hulking out at the Cheesecake Factory, to crashing a car with his entire high school as witnesses, to getting violently ill all over a kindly grandmother. The unofficial spokesman for the no-filter generation, Oakley bares it all, and we couldn’t love him more for doing so.

    The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories, by Stephen King
    The Master of Horror takes a break from novel-length fiction for a short story collection binding up 20 pieces of prose and poetry with personal essays that reveal what inspired their creation. The stories prove King is only getting better with age, as he explores mortality, regret and general human frailty through a lens smeared with a touch of the supernatural and the fantastic. We love King’s novels, but he might be even better in brief, and that’s really saying something.

    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom
    The author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven returns with a novel starring one of the year’s most singular, unforgettable characters. Frankie Presto is verifiably the greatest guitarist of all time (just as Music itself, our narrator). A war orphan shipped off to America with nothing to his name but an old guitar and six precious strings, Frankie’s travels take him across the radio dial of music history, from the jazz era to the birth of rock and roll. Along the way, he meets famous figures from Hank Williams, to Elvis, to KISS, and becomes a star himself—before he realizes that his (literal) gods-given talent has the power to alter the destinies of those around him. It’s another heartfelt reminder from Albom that every person you meet has the power to change the world.

  • Monique Alice 8:55 pm on 2015/07/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , far from the madding crowd, nicholas sparks, , , , travel and leisure,   

    5 Books to Bring on Your Honeymoon 

    Weddings are great fun—unless they happen to be yours. As you get closer to the big day, it’s natural to be a bit of a stress case. So why not take a momentary break from such life-and-death questions as, “How can we seat Uncle Fred and Aunt Jan at the same table without bloodshed ensuing?” and, “Why does this dress suddenly resemble my grandmother’s drapes?” by proceeding to the one question that really matters: What will you read on your honeymoon? You know, that magical time when all the stress of your nuptials has faded into a beautiful blur of champagne and smiles and love, and you’ve already forgotten about any detail that didn’t turn out perfectly and are looking forward to some well-deserved R&R. Whether you’ll be lounging with your sweetie on a faraway beach or in a nearby backyard, the reads below will be the icing on the cake of your newfound wedded bliss.

    Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    Eleanor and Park are high school misfits madly in love. As anyone who hasn’t blocked out their high school years will remember, there is no love more vibrant, more earth-shaking, or more heart-rending than the love that is sparked between study hall and gym class. Eleanor and Park are as entranced by their differences from one another as their are their similarities, and must help one another navigate increasingly complex lives in order to give their union a fighting chance. Be prepared for this book to transport you back to the moment you came face to face with love for the first time, and then make you thank your lucky stars you never have to go back to high school.

    Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
    Looking for travel, wonder, excitement, and a love that spans decades and continents? Look no further than this epic tale from the never-disappointing Jess Walter. This big-budget story begins with a missed opportunity in the Italian Riviera in 1962, and picks up again half a century later in Hollywood. Readers are taken on a joyride of a love story that will make you wish you could stay on vacation with your true love forever. With its windswept pacing, glamour-filled settings, and vivacious characters, this novel hits all the marks for prime honeymoon reading material. We recommend cracking it open on the plane to get your whirlwind honeymoon vibe on ASAP.

    Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
    At first glance, this book might seem a little heavy for a honeymoon pick. Indeed, it does feature some serious subject matter—after all, the lead character, Lin, is an escaped convict who has a knack for entangling himself with a criminal element. But don’t be fooled, since at its heart, the novel is really about two things: love and freedom. Lin’s lot is constrained by his circumstances; he’s on the run from the law in 1980s Bombay with seriously limited resources. Yet somehow, he manages to embrace a sense of optimism, compassion, and adventure, stopping along the way to fall passionately in love with a mysterious stranger. Although Lin’s luck is unpredictable and quick to desert him, he proves again and again that love is the only antidote to suffering. This novel is sure to leave its mark on your inner world, and it’s so good you just might have to read it again before your first anniversary.

    Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
    This classic tale follows the life and times of one Bathsheba Everdene, a ferociously independent young women determined to run her inherited farm on her own. As though she didn’t have enough on her hands, Bathsheba can barely keep up with the constant parade of suitors marching onto the scene. What follows is an unrelenting competition for Bathsheba’s hand, complete with wounded egos, broken hearts, and one actual murder. The reader can decide if the marriage that at last takes place has been worth the chaos. The first of master auteur Hardy’s novels to be set in his fictional English county of Wessex, this novel conjures up the spirit of a gritty, passionate way of rural life that thrived before the rise of industry.

    The Best of Me, by Nicholas Sparks
    What would a honeymoon reading list be without a healthy dose of Nicholas Sparks? The author of The Notebook is truly one of the masters of the contemporary love story, and The Best of Me is one of his most poignant works. Amanda and Dawson are from opposite sides of town—so much so that only fate could have brought them together. They’re instantly smitten and determined to live happily ever after, until an unforeseen event appears to pry their destinies apart forever. Reunited years later, will they be able to bridge the divide between their two worlds? Grab a chaise lounge and some sunscreen and find out for yourself.

    What are you bringing to read on your honeymoon?

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