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  • Cristina Merrill 4:00 pm on 2018/06/13 Permalink
    Tags: all we ever wanted, by invitation only, calypso, cottage by the sea, , , , , , , , , love and ruin, , nora roberts, , rainy day friends, , , the cast, , the perfect couple   

    10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind 

    Summer is nearly here! That means plenty of time for lounging about in the great outdoors. Here are 10 page-turning stories to enjoy as you soak up the sun. Some are light and breezy, and others are a bit darker—covering everything from murders to social media scandals. There are fresh starts and betrayals and secrets. They all have one thing in common, though: They’re each filled with beautiful, colorful characters who will make you want to keep turning the pages, even when the going gets rough. (Especially when the going gets rough, actually.)

    So put on your biggest shades, slather on the SPF-whatever-you-need, and enjoy! Just don’t forget to turn over once in a while.

    The Cast, by Danielle Steel
    Hoping to dip your toes into a glamorous, Hollywood-esque story? Seek no further! Steel’s yarn is about a woman, Kait Whittier, who has a respectable magazine writing career. After meeting Zack Winter, a television producer, Kait becomes inspired to write a TV series based on her grandmother’s life. She soon finds herself in the middle of a major production filled with all kinds of people. All is going quite well, until she is confronted with a major maternal-related issue. Will she be able to get through it? And will her new inner circle help her?

    The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand
    Fans of The Castaways and A Summer Affair will have a chance to revisit some of their favorite characters in this novel! It’s wedding season on Nantucket, which doesn’t exactly thrill the locals. (So. Many. Tourists.) Then a bride-to-be is found dead just a few hours before the ceremony was supposed to begin, and many of those who were close to her are prime suspects. Chief of Police Ed Kapenash is on the case, and he soon realizes that no lovey-dovey couple—or family, for that matter—is perfect. He’s going to have to ask some difficult questions in order to solve this case and bring the bride’s loved ones closure.

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin’s latest tale is about a major incident that goes viral on social media. Nina Browning is living the good life in Nashville. Her wealthy husband just sold his tech company for a major profit, and their son got accepted to Princeton. Living a very different life is Tom Volpe, a single dad working multiple jobs to raise his daughter, Lyla, while making sure she doesn’t screw things up at her new prep school. One night, at a wild party, a scandalous photo is taken that can shake up everything these two families have worked for. Can they manage to survive the scandal and pick up the pieces of their lives?

    Calypso, by David Sedaris
    Humor book alert! Funnyman David Sedaris’s latest book is about his purchase of a beach house. This may seem like The Dream for just about anyone, but, as Sedaris learns, it’s not all fun and games. He thought it would be a relaxing retreat, but he still can’t escape the facts of life, such as middle age and mortality. There are plenty of his patented and hilarious ruminations on both in this volume, so be prepared for lots of belly laughs in spite of yourself—and maybe some stares from the people sitting nearby.

    Shelter in Place, by Nora Roberts
    Roberts’ latest book deals with a mass shooting at a mall, and how it affects the lives of the survivors for years to come. One man decides to go into law enforcement, while one woman finds a much-needed outlet in her art. Years have passed since that horrible night, but the pain still lingers, and it may not even be over yet. Let’s just say that someone bad is waiting to cause more chaos. Fans know that Roberts (and her alter writing ego, J.D. Robb) consistently delivers thrillers filled with the most wonderful human characters.   

    The High Tide Club, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Attorney Brooke Trappnell has been summoned by 99-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick to the old lady’s beach home. Josephine wants to make things right with the descendants of her old girl gang. They called themselves The High Tide Club back in the day, and let’s just say they used to have oodles of fun together. (Case in point: They went skinny dipping. A lot.) Of course, many things have happened since those days. Oh, and Josephine also wants Brooke to help her protect her land from greedy hands. Brooke soon finds herself in the middle of decades-old drama as she reunites everyone at Josephine’s home.

    Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain
    McLain is at it again! After the success of The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first of multiple marriages, this new tome delves into Hemingway’s marriage with journalist Martha Gellhorn. Martha travels to Madrid to report on the Spanish Civil War and ends up crossing paths with the soon-to-be-super-famous writer. Throughout their relationship, one of her main struggles is to make sure she remains her own person, which many a modern reader can appreciate. Hemingway scholars know how this particular love story ends, but it’s still fun to read about a romance between two interesting and intelligent people with lots of inner turmoil.

    By Invitation Only, by Dorothea Benton Frank
    A wedding is about to take place, and let’s just say the bride and groom come from very different backgrounds. Fred’s family are Southern peach farmers, while Shelby comes from a wealthy Chicago family. One side is very hardworking, while the other side—or certain folks on it—have a bit of a sense of entitlement. Everyone is feeling a little bit out of their element, especially the two mothers. Will Fred and Shelby’s relationship survive class differences? And will everyone be feeling the love when Fred and Shelby say “I do?” (That is, IF they do?)

    Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber
    Annie Marlow has been through some pretty painful experiences, so she decides to hightail it to the Pacific Northwest. There she meets a colorful cast of characters, including Keaton, who helps her fix up her seaside rental cottage. He’s a very nice, zen kind of guy, which Annie really needs right now. Life is going smoothly, and then Annie gets a major opportunity thrown her way. Add to that a landlady with some major emotional walls around her and a teenager who might be in desperate need of Annie’s help, and you’ve got a page turner you won’t be able to put down.

    Rainy Day Friends, by Jill Shalvis
    Lanie Jacobs’ husband recently passed away, and she’s still getting over her grief when she discovers that she wasn’t his only wife. She’s devastated, to say the least, and she decides to make a fresh start for herself by working at the Capriotti Winery. It’s a family-run venture, and Lanie gets plenty of distraction from the noisy Capriotti family. There’s also the matter of Mark Capriotti, an Air Force veteran who is now the deputy sheriff. He and Lanie soon realize that they really like each other. Then a 21-year-old newcomer with some dark secrets shows up, which just might ruin everything that Lanie has worked for.

    The post 10 Beach Reads to Get You into That Summer State of Mind appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Cristina Merrill 2:00 pm on 2018/05/15 Permalink
    Tags: , bound for eden, , midnight promises, nora roberts, pamela yaye, pleasure in his kiss, , , shadow keeper, , , tess lesue,   

    Romance Roundup: Tea Shop Ladies, Personal Trainers, and Beauty Bloggers 

    This week’s Romance Roundup includes a wagon train-leading cowboy, a sanitarium escapee who finds romance, and a beauty blogger who is spending her nights with a very sexy judge.

    Bound for Eden, by Tess LeSue
    Our plucky heroine, Alexandra, is escaping a dangerous, murderous pack of brothers with her own brother and sister, so she doesn’t have time to dilly dally. They join a wagon train, which is led by the very libidinous Luke Slater, who is pretty much every historical cowboy fantasy we’ve ever dreamed of. (Luke, we would all LOVE to get on your wagon train!) The trouble is, Alexandra has disguised herself as “Alex,” and she can’t let Luke know that she’s actually, you know, a lady with some very womanly needs. (At one point, Alexandra sees him nekkid in a tub and the pining just gets even worse from there.) Hang in there, Alex! I mean, Alexandra! You already had the courage to save your family and dodge the bad guys, so you absolutely have what it takes to get your dream guy. This is the first book in LeSue’s Frontiers of the Heart series. (Available in paperback and NOOK.)

    The Other Lady Vanishes, by Amanda Quick
    Adelaide Blake just escaped a private sanitarium, so she’s got to lay low for a little bit. (Adelaide, we’ll do whatever it takes to help throw the hounds off of the scent!) She goes to Burning Cove, California, which is a Hollywood R&R haven, and gets a job at an herbal tea shop. Her work brings her in touch with widowed businessman Jake Truett. He’s pretending to just be another tired soul looking for some respite, and let’s just say that women would line up around the block for the chance to make him happy and relaxed. (This just miiiiiiiight be his cover, though.) When a famous local psychic is found dead, Adelaide and Jake get swept up in the mystery—not to mention a world of gangsters and other shady characters. Can they solve the murder and keep themselves above the fray? And can Adelaide be 100 percent honest with Jake about her past? (Available in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

    Shelter in Place, by Nora Roberts
    Roberts’ latest thriller deals with a mass shooting—and the long-term effects it has on the victims. One guy decided to become a law enforcement officer, while one young lady grew up to become an artist. (She uses her artistic abilities to deal with the pain and help others, so yeah, she’s pretty awesome!) Just when everyone thinks they are finally healing from all of the tragedy, they realize that the whole ordeal may be far from over. Here’s hoping they manage to catch the bad guys and that everyone is able to heal together and move on! (Ideally over lots of fireside chats and s’mores and wine.) This is definitely a deep, dark, intense world to sink into, so grab your reading blanket and a beverage of choice and get cozy! (Available in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK on May 29.)

    Shadow Keeper, by Christine Feehan
    Giovanni Ferraro loves to live up his Sexy Bad Boy reputation, mainly because it helps keep people from focusing on his family’s business. (He might be a shadow rider, which is not the easiest job to explain to your accountant.) Then he meets Sasha Provis. She grew up on a Wyoming ranch, so suffice to say she’s VERY different from the ditzy ladies who fawn over Giovanni. (True, he is worth fawning over, but so is our gal!) Sasha can take care of herself, thank you boys very much, but some bad people have evil designs on her. This makes Giovanni want to step up his cuddle game and prove to Sasha that he’s a guy worth keeping. Here’s hoping they manage to stay above the shady drama—and that Giovanni shows Sasha a great time in many imaginative ways! This is the third book in Feehan’s Shadow Riders series. (Available in paperback and NOOK on May 29.)

    Midnight Promises, by Sherryl Woods
    Elliott Cruz worked REALLY hard to win the heart of single mom Karen Ames. (He’s a personal trainer, so you know he’s got stamina!) They’ve been married now for a few years, but some conflicting desires and major family drama are causing a kerfuffle. Elliott wants to finance an opportunity with the money he and Karen have saved. (They initially wanted to use this money to have a baby, which is A Very Different Thing, and so Karen isn’t too thrilled with her man right now.) Oh, and a relative is cheating on his wife and dragging everyone else into the mess. Elliott and Karen, you two just focus on each other and figure out a nice compromise! Don’t forget why you got together in the first place—love and feelings and Elliott’s stunning biceps. Oh, and we will all babysit so that you two lovebirds can have a date night. Enjoy! This is the eighth book in Woods’ Sweet Magnolias series.

    Pleasure in His Kiss, by Pamela Yaye
    Karma Sullivan is a popular beauty blogger and the owner of the trendiest salon in the Hamptons. (Karma, we’re all booking our appointments—our many appointments—ASAP! Oh, and we are totally open to any DIY beauty tips you may have!) She’s also involved with Judge Morrison Drake, and let’s just say he’s more than welcome to wear nothing under his robe. Karma doesn’t want to get too close to him, though, because she’s got a family secret that can ruin everything Morrison has worked for. Karma, would you please realize that Morrison is a great man who loves you with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of passion? And Morrison, make sure you show Karma how much she means to you. (Over and over and over and—well, we’re all sure you get the picture, buddy!) This is the first book in Yaye’s Love in the Hamptons series. (Available in paperback and NOOK on May 22.)

    What romance novels are you excited about this week?

    The post Romance Roundup: Tea Shop Ladies, Personal Trainers, and Beauty Bloggers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 3:00 pm on 2018/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: , a swift purse cry, broken harbor, Brooklyn, circle of friends, , , , darkfever, donna jo napoli, duchess of sin, edward rutherfurd, , , forbidden love, golden surrender, , hush, irish born, irish lady, irish warrior, jeanette baker, , karen harper, , , kathleen grissom, lady of conquest, laurel mckee, , luck magic & mystery, maeve binchy, nora roberts, robin maxwell, , santa montefiere, scandalous desires, seduce me at sunrise, siobhan dowd, talk sweetly to me, , , the girl in the castle, the irish princess, the kitchen house, the lost duke of wyndham, the princes of ireland, the wild irish, the wonder   

    24 Swoonworthy Novels Inspired by Ireland 

    Here are twenty-five novels with stories, settings, and characters inspired by Ireland. Sláinte!

    Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts
    Set in County Mayo, Ireland, the place Iona Sheehan has come to learn about her ancestors thanks to the stories from her grandmother—this romance is as spellbinding as its setting. Iona meets family she never knew, and a handsome stable owner, Boyle McGrath. But falling for her homeland and for him become more complicated when secrets from the past are revealed.

    Darkfever, by Karen Marie Moning
    The start to this bestselling paranormal romance series begins with a murder. When Mac’s sister is murdered, she goes to Ireland, determined to track down the evil that took her family away. But soon she realizes the journey to the truth involves another world, living amidst her own: the world of the Fae. Can she find the truth, defeat evil forces, and find love—and get out alive?

    Seduce Me at Sunrise, by Lisa Kleypas
    Kev Merripan is half Roma, half Irish…so he knows can never have the woman he wants. His background, and a dangerous past, would prevent it forever. That is, until Winnifred Hathaway returns home and another suitor begins to compete for her affection.

    Scandalous Desires, by Elizabeth Hoyt
    Mickey O’Connor, an Irish man raised in London, is a self-made man on the wrong side of society. He has everything he wants, except one thing: a woman. Silence Hollingbrook has wedged her way into his heart after one night…and now, he has another chance to make her his.

    The Lost Duke of Wyndham, by Julia Quinn
    Jack Audley is a soldier, a lone-wolf…and now, unfortunately, named the Duke of Wyndham. A title he never asked for, in a society he reviles. But there is a chance that his claim is illegitimate…if his parents married in Ireland, before he was born. And then he meets Grace Eversleigh, and everything Jack thought he wanted is suddenly secondary to loving her.

    The Princes of Ireland, by Edward Rutherfurd
    An epic historical saga of the entirety of Irish history from Ireland in A.D. pre-Christian society through the founding of the Free Irish State, this novel follows fictional families through eras of Irish triumph and travails.

    Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
    The coming of age story of a girl caught between homes: the one she left behind, in Ireland, and the one she might have to leave when family tragedy strikes, in Brooklyn. Eilis wanted a chance at a new life, but never imagined she would find love with an Italian man in America. But will she give it up, to honor her homeland?

    The Girl in the Castle, by Santa Montefiore
    Kitty Deverill has a lovely life living in Castle Deverill in beautiful Ireland. She and Jack O’Leary fall in love…a love threatened by a jealous friend, a war between the Irish and the British, and the destruction of her home. Downton Abbey fans will love this dramatic portrayal of upstairs-downstairs hope and heartbreak.

    The Irish Princess, by Karen Harper
    If you love historical narratives from outside perspectives, you will love the story of Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a girl born to Irish royalty…and a girl who knew the wrath of Henry VIII almost as much as his wives. The King imprisons her father, destroying her family, she must seek allegiances and avoid enemies in the perilous English court.

    A Swift Pure Cry, by Siobhan Dowd
    The death of Shell’s mother sends her religious father into a tailspin. As Shell tries to mourn while helping her brother and sister, her best friend Declan drops another bombshell: he’s leaving Ireland for America. Scandal, love, betrayal, and more can be found in this beautiful story of grief and growing up.

    The Wild Irish, by Robin Maxwell
    Elizabeth is Queen in England, having just proved victorious against the Spanish Armaada. But across the sea, Ireland is brewing with conflict. Grace O’Malley is more than just a pirate—she is the protector of her homeland against English invaders. And the only way to protect them now is to meet Elizabeth face-to-face.

    Broken Harbor, by Tana French
    The Dublin Murder Squad is back, with Mick Kennedy investigating cases other detectives couldn’t handle. When a man and his children are murdered and his wife ends up in the hospital, Mick is ready with the answers…until evidence arises that he cannot explain, and his own past begins to dangerously mingle with the present.

    Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy
    In the beginning, it was Benny and Eve. They grew up in Knockglen with different circumstances, but always had one another. In Dublin, their circle widens to include Nan and Jack. But happiness in this circle of friends is not meant to be, as friendships new and old are tested when secrets from the past are unearthed.

    Hush, by Donna Jo Napoli
    A young adult novel by celebrated author Donna Jo Napoli stars an Irish princess who is kidnapped by her kingdom’s enemies. She vows to remain silent in order to save herself—and the secrets of her kingdom—while her captors take her to a world she never thought she would see.

    The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
    Lavinia arrives on a Virginia plantation in the years before the Civil War traumatized by her journey from Ireland, that left her parentless and alone. But her loneliness only increases, because even as she is invited into the good gracious of her masters, she is still apart from them—and even more apart from the slaves on the plantation, including Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter.

    Duchess of Sin, by Laurel McKee
    Dublin is no match for Conlan McTeer, the Duke of Adair…but he is no match for Lady Anna Blacknall. When they meet in a nefarious location and succumb to a moment of temptation, nothing is ever the same…but years later, when they reunite, their passion certainly is.

    The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue
    From the author of Room comes a haunting tale of a nurse visiting an Irish village to witness a mystery…a girl no older than eleven, living alone in a cabin, who believes she is living off manna from heaven. As in, has survived months without food. Part mystery, part thriller, but all heart, this novel is not to be missed.

    Forbidden Love, by Karen Robards
    Exactly what the title suggests! Once, Megan was a student at Maam’s Cross Court. Justin—the sixth Earl of Weston—was her guardian. But she is no longer than young girl she once was, and now she wants him in her heart, and her bed. One catch? He’s married.

    Lady of Conquest, by Teresa Medeiros
    Conn is a fearless warrior of Ireland, commander to the Fianna, his soldiers. But one enemy he never thought he’d meet is a beautiful woman named Gelina—and she wants his life as payment for the ones he ruined. But instead of killing one another, they find themselves falling in love, instead…

    Irish Lady, by Jeanette Baker
    Meghann McCarthy has a new life It looks nothing like the one she had before, in Belfast, poor, and desperately in love with Michael Devlin—until he broke her heart. But then he gets accused of murder, and since she’s a lawyer…well, she’ll put it all on the line to save him.

    Golden Surrender, by Heather Graham
    Princess Erin is the beautiful heir to the Irish throne—a throne of vengeance, if she has anything to say about it, against one man: Prince Olaf of Norway, the one who destroyed her kingdom. But her father has other plans…such as marrying her off to the prince himself, thus uniting once warring kingdoms. Can she learn to love a man she hates?

    Talk Sweetly to Me, by Courtney Milan
    A romance between a British wallflower and an Irish rake is complicated by the fact that she has no interest in romance, or scandal, or anything he can offer…except, perhaps, his heart.

    Irish Born, by Nora Roberts
    All of the Concannon sisters are found in this trilogy bind-up! Maggie, the free-spirited girl who carves her own path; Brianna, the loving caretaker; and Shannon, the American who yearns to find her home in Ireland.

    Irish Warrior, by Kris Kennedy
    A captive Irish warrior, Finian finds help in the most unlikely of places…a beautiful woman, Senna de Valery, who wants out just as much as he does. Despite their attraction, they must focus on the difficult journey to come…including what it means for Senna, and the secret she holds that many men would kill for.

    The post 24 Swoonworthy Novels Inspired by Ireland appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Cristina Merrill 3:00 pm on 2018/03/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , his san diego sweetheart, irish thoroughbred, , , , nora roberts, , , the woman left behind, yahrah st. john   

    Romance Roundup: Summer Getaways, Highland Dragon Men, and Naval Officers 

    This week’s Romance Roundup includes a woman who is working hard to keep Dublin safe—and save humanity, three ladies who need a breather, and a former naval officer-turned-millionaire who has found a woman worth fighting for.

    High Voltage, by Karen Marie Moning
    Dani O’Malley had some pretty horrible things done to her when she was a child. Namely, she was transformed into a killer. But instead of brooding about it all, she’s managed to use her powers to protect innocent people and track down bad guys and keep the streets of Dublin safe. (Dani, we admire your ability to turn a bad—like, really bad—situation into something positive! Oh, and can we join you on your prowls? Because we love Dublin. Thanks!) Dani’s enemies are up something new, and it does not bode well for the human race. Our gal will get help from immortal hunk Ryodan in her quest to save humanity, but a lot of the major responsibilities will still be on her shoulders. Can she do it? And when it’s all over, can Ryodan give Dani a well-deserved foot rub? This is the tenth book in Moning’s Fever series. (Available in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK on March 6.)

    As You Wish, by Jude Deveraux
    Three different ladies are having a bit of a difficult time, so they go to Summer Hill, Virginia in order to get some zen time. Kathy is happily married—until she finds out that her husband is in love with someone else. Elise isn’t loving her life or her husband—and that’s probably because her parents chose both for her. Oh, and Elise’s husband just knocked up his mistress. Then there’s Olivia, who at 60 has finally found true love. (She was married before but her ex-husband was, to put it mildly, a big doofus.) Here’s hoping they all find plenty of inner peace, that Kathy and Elise each find a man who appreciates them for the fabulous women they are, that Olivia shares some words of wisdom, and—best of all—that all three women develop a friendship that will last for the rest of their lives! This is the third book in Deveraux’s Summerhouse series. (Available in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK.)

    The Woman Left Behind, by Linda Howard
    Jina Modell works in communications for a paramilitary organization (drones are involved), and the best part about her job is that she can remain in the relatively safe and comfortable environment that is Washington, DC. Unfortunately for her, she also possesses some valuable skills that get her forced into the field—where you get dirty. She’s put under the wing of team leader Levi, who is a tad skeptical that the un-athletic Jina will be able to do anything. But Jina has a lot to lose if she doesn’t make this work, so she trains harder than ever. Pretty soon, Levi is quite impressed with her. When Jina ends up alone in the desert after a mission gone wrong, she’s going to have to use all of her newfound skills in order to survive. You can do it, Jina! Just think, when it’s all over, you can rest in Levi’s muscular embrace—and then we’ll all take you out for a much-needed mani-pedi! (Available in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK on March 6.)

    Irish Thoroughbred, by Nora Roberts
    This reprint is the great Nora Roberts’ first novel – literally, her first novel ever! It all starts with Adelia “Dee” Cunnane, who has lost everything in Ireland and has no choice but to accept her uncle’s kind offer to join him in America. She ends up working on the Maryland horse farm of Travis Grant, and let’s just say no woman would throw him out of bed for eating crackers! Dee soon gets swept up into Travis’ world, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he has a face and body worth crossing an ocean for. Dee’s pretty confident that she’s falling in love with him, but she’s worried their backgrounds may be too different. Can she get over her insecurities? And can Travis prove to her that he’s a great guy who won’t ever abandon her? (Step it up a notch, Travis, and prove how much you care!) This is the first book in Roberts’ Irish Hearts series. (Available in hardcover on March 6.)

    His San Diego Sweetheart, by Yahrah St. John
    Former naval officer and millionaire Vaughn Ellicott needs to keep the gold diggers off of his impressively muscular back. (Vaughn, we just want to massage you, we swear!) He finds help in the beautiful form of hotel manager Miranda Jensen. She’s set to inherit a ridiculous amount of money from her grandfather—but she needs to be married in order to claim it. They get married out of convenience, but they are soon completely swept up in each other. This is absolutely understandable, as Miranda is a stunning and intelligent woman and Vaughn has a big heart to go with his impressive…brain. We’ll go with brain. They soon start to have lots of fun together, both during quiet nights on his beachfront home and when they’re out and about on the town. But they both also soon realize that they just might want to be in it for the long haul. This is the fourth book in St. John’s Millionaire Moguls series. (Available in paperback and NOOK.)

    Highland Dragon Master, by Isabel Cooper
    Highland dragon man and impossibly cute hunk Erik MacAlasdair has suffered defeat at the hands of the English. He needs a break, and finds a very welcome distraction in Toinette. He once saved her life, and she is still extremely grateful to him. (Fact: Simply picking up a woman’s dropped glove will make said woman want to follow Erik to the ends of the earth.) They go on a seafaring journey together, and end up stranded alone on a cursed island. They will need to use every trick up their sleeves in order to, well, stay alive and defeat some pretty dark forces. Here’s hoping they accomplish what they need to do—and that they can enjoy at least one rollicking lovefest on that island! (Or two. Preferably two. Three wouldn’t be so bad, either.) This is the third book in Cooper’s Dawn of the Highland Dragon series. (Available in paperback, audiobook, and NOOK on March 6.)

    The post Romance Roundup: Summer Getaways, Highland Dragon Men, and Naval Officers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Corrina Lawson 7:00 pm on 2018/03/01 Permalink
    Tags: , come spring, , , jill marie landis, , lavryle spencer, lord of the night, morning glory, nora roberts, , , , , , the prince of midnight   

    The Great RITA Read: The “Best Romance” Award 

    As I was studying the list of Rita-winning books in preparation for this great adventure in romance reading, I noticed an anomaly.

    From 1989 to 1996, the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award included winners of the “Best Romance” of the year. Then again, in 1998, an award called was “RWA’s Favorite Book” was given.

    And, then, alas, the award was dropped.

    I say “alas” because the books that received this award were some of the best of the genre, represented numerous romance subgenres, and would be ones I’d point to even today as a place to start reading romance.

    The authors?

    LaVryle Spencer. Laura Kinsale. Jill Marie Landis. Susan Wiggs. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Nora Roberts. Diana Gabaldon.

    The books?

    Morning Glory. The Prince of Midnight. Come Spring. Lord of the Night. It Had to Be You. Born in Ice. Outlander.

    The sub-genres?

    Historicals set everywhere from late 1930s America, to Regency England, the American West, and Venice in 1531. A contemporary in which a supposed “bimbo” inherits an NFL team. A time travel story in which a World War II nurse steps through standing stones and into another era.

    Morning Glory was made into a movie starring Christopher Reeve. And, of course, Outlander is now a popular television series. All these books are still available and in print, over 25 years later.

    I applaud the taste of the RWA membership, who were responsible for honoring these books. The rest of the RITA Awards were judged by a jury of their peers. The “Best Romance” and “RWA’s Favorite Book” RITA Awards were chosen by an open vote of RWA members.

    That means these stories were not only quality, but they were also beloved by their fellow writers and thus have had had a huge influence on the genre.

    As someone who rarely read romance growing up, all these books save Outlander were new to me. I wish I had read them earlier, because they’re wonderful examples of the genre and probably would have hooked me on at least three of the authors.

    The Prince of Midnight is the story of a disabled former highwayman living in the ruins of a castle in France with a pet wolf. (Note: sold already!). Our hero is suffering from deafness in one ear and vertigo from a grenade that ended his rakish career. Then a young woman disguised as a man shows up, intent on learning from him how to kill people and avenge her wrongs.

    This heroine is fascinating. While the hero has obvious physical disabilities, the heroine has been emotionally destroyed by the systematic murder of her family and the failure of her friends and neighbors to protect them. She’s emotionally closed off, focused only on revenge, and is what we’d call today someone suffering from intense PTSD. She’s buried in her own anger, as it’s the only emotion keeping her functioning. She reminded me very much of the television show Jessica Jones, and I’ll just note here that Prince of Midnight won in 1989, many years before the superhero genre explored female emotional pain and trauma with any subtlety. So, the Prince of the title is attempting to reclaim his former panache, while the heroine is struggling to hold onto her anger, lest she fall apart. Of course, she eventually does, and it’s a powerful and healing moment. I immediately wanted to binge all of Laura Kinsale’s books but I have many more RITA winners to read before I can do that.

    This book should be a movie. Why isn’t this book a movie, Hollywood? No, scratch that. We need a British TV miniseries which casts all those wonderful British actors who pull off historical drama with panache. Did I mention the part where the hero has to train the heroine in swordfighting? Or how chilling the book’s description of the cult is?

    The book that did become a movie, Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer, dials the world down to one farm in small-town Georgia, in an America on the brink of World War II and still suffering from the effects of the great depression. It’s a quiet, intense book about two broken people, a hero who’s never had a family and whose one friend betrayed him, and a heroine whose family believed her very existence was a sin. Slowly, these two shattered people find what they need in each other and create a family together, culminating in a beautiful love story.

    Come Spring by Jill Marie Landis is the prototypical “hero and heroine trapped in a cabin because of snow” book. In this case, the hero is a mountain man of sorts with a toddler niece to care for and he mistakes the heroine for the mail-order wife he needs to ensure the child’s safety. There is a class difference, as she’s from Boston money and he is assuredly not, and he must change to become the foster father the child needs and the person the heroine can love.

    Lord of the Night is a romance set in the Venice of the 1500s, where titles are everything, women are restricted to being wives or whores, and one women refuses to accept that her gender makes her any lesser, especially since she’s determined to become an artist. The hero is the head of what we’d now call the police, investigating a series of murders of men who are mutilated after death. Around them is all the intrigue of Venice, from the whispered meetings in canals to the festivals, to the way lordly men run amok when there is no one to check them. The descriptions of the heroine in the midst of artistic inspiration are amazing, as are the descriptions of her paintings, particularly those inspired by the hero. One note: the motivations of the killer, who turns out to be sympathetic and worthy of pity, may seem a bit dated.

    And then the contemporaries!

    It Had to Be You is Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ first entry into her now famous Chicago Stars series and it breaks all the supposed “rules” of romance. Sports hero. Check. Bimbo heroine. Check. But the heroine is so much more than the bimbo she projects to the world as a kind of emotional armor, and the hero is far smarter and savvier than the stereotype of the dumb jock. It begins with a hilarious opening at the funeral of the heroine’s father, who bequeaths her his football team. But Phoebe has more depth and more trauma than anyone gives her credit for and, like most great comedies, there is something very serious at the heart of this story.

    It was inevitable that a Nora Roberts book would be among those chosen for this award and Born in Ice is a terrific example of Roberts’ contemporary romances, the second in the Irish Born Trilogy, set in a small town in Ireland. The heroine runs the local B&B and the hero is a mystery writer whose books have been made into movies. They’re both holding close the damages imposed by their lack of parental love, and it takes chipping away at each other to get to the truth. In the meantime, there’s a lovely dream trip to New York City for shopping and a movie premiere. Easy to see why this story was chosen, as it’s an incredible fantasy to sink into and yet, it deals seriously with the wounds caused by family.

    Then there’s Outlander.

    The popular vote explains why Outlander is among these award-winning books. Gabaldon has been clear in interviews over the years that she believes the Outlander series should not be termed a romance. Her well-known insistence on “not a romance” was my biggest clue when it came to realizing that the “Best Romance of the Year” Award was not like all the others, as it seemed highly unlikely that Gabaldon would have entered the RITA Awards if she did not believe her book to be a romance.

    Nevertheless, Outlander was voted Best Romance of 1991. Note: having read the book, I believe it’s a romance that ends in a Happily For Now (as opposed to an HEA—a happily ever after). Later books in the series are part of the continuing story and, thus, probably not romance.

    Ending the “Best Book of the Year” award was one of many changes in the RITA Award categories in the 1990s. “Best First Book” was added and, for the first time, awards would be given in the paranormal and romantic suspense. I’ll take a look at those early paranormal books in the next article and see how that subgenre has changed over the years.

    For earlier articles see, The Great Rita Read: In the Beginning, The Great Rita Read: Nora Roberts, and The Great Rita Read: Young Adult Romance.

    Final note: A big thanks to the help of the RWA office, who researched the Best Romance Award and provided a copy of the original advertisement from 1989 that called for nomination;  nomination that resulted in the win for Morning Glory.

    The post The Great RITA Read: The “Best Romance” Award appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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