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  • Cristina Merrill 5:00 pm on 2018/01/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , curmudgeons, , , , , , , , lovable grumps, pride and prejudice, , 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 7:00 pm on 2016/06/22 Permalink
    Tags: castles, , here comes the bride, , pride and prejudice, , something borrowed, the bride quartet,   

    7 Romances to Read During Wedding Season 

    Summer is the season of love and weddings, so no matter where you are in the process of planning your wedding (or just find yourself a frequent guest at one!) here are some sweet and swoony romances to sweep you off your feet.

    The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
    If you’re constantly scrolling through royal weddings for inspiration to add to your Pinterest board, then definitely read The Royal We! It’s a tale as old as time: regular-gal Bex travels from America to Oxford and finds herself falling for Prince Nicholas, the heir to the British crown. What I love most about this book is that it covers their entire relationship, not just the falling in love part! Over five years you see Bex wrestle with the changes and challenges of living and loving a monarch— and we, the readers, get to live vicariously through her.

    Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Sign me up. The roles of women have certainly changed, as has the general acceptance of their being single as they approach middle-age, but the central plot is still the same: Liz is a magazine writer who lives in New York City, as does her sister, Jane. But when their father has a health scare, they go home to find their family in shambles. Enter, of course, the men: in this version, Bingley is a doctor who took a turn on a Bachelor-esque  TV show, and Darcy is a neurosurgeon (still with a chip on his shoulder). The modern updates to the characters make for a much more relatable and funny read.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Of course if you’re going to read the retelling, you should try your hand at the original! Did you fall in love with your intended the moment you set eyes on each other? Or, like Lizzie and Darcy, did you have some “prejudices” and “pride” (see what I did there?) to overcome before you could say “I do”? A classic historical romance that will remind you that people are always more than what they seem.

    Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin
    Okay, so this scenario might be every bride’s nightmare, but I love this book so much (it’s my favorite of Emily Giffin’s novels). Rachel has always been a good girl, a loyal friend, a rule-follower…until one night she ends up in bed with her best friend’s fiancé. This novel is all about how falling in love is NOT always a fairy tale. When Rachel has to make a choice between keeping her BFF in the dark-and keeping silent to save her own skin, the lines between good and bad are crossed, friendships are tested, and true love comes at a cost.

    Marrying Winterborne, by Lisa Kleypas
    I had to put one of Lisa Kleypas’ novels on here—she’s the queen of historical romance, and a perfect pick for a bride (or bridesmaid) looking to escape the harsh realities of seating charts and family feuds. Her newest novel, Marrying Winterborne, will introduce you to one my new all-time favorite heroes: Rhys Winterborne, a man of “new money” and cunning, with an eye for beautiful things. When he meets lady Helen Ravenel, nothing will stop him from possessing her—least of all her virtue. We first met these characters in the first Ravenel’s novel, Cold-Hearted Rake, and they do not disappoint! Winterborne is devastatingly charming, and eventually, compassionate, while Helen is a passionate heroine with a mind of her own.

    Castles, by Julie Garwood
    Alessandra and Colin from the Crown’s Spies series are one of my favorite reluctant-to-wed couples. An orphaned princess taking refuge with a Duke’s family, Alessandra must wed to protect her kingdom from the will of a bloodthirsty general who would marry her first. But Colin, the Duke’s son, does not want to marry—especially someone his father picks. They strike up a bargain that he will help her choose her husband from the leftover candidates…and in the process, they fall in love.

    The Bride Quartetby Nora Roberts
    Okay, I’ve cheated a bit: this option is four books in one: Vision in White, Bed of Roses, Savor the Moment, and Happy Ever After. Whether you’ve just gotten engaged, are in the middle of planning your wedding, or are about to embark on your honeymoon, the Bride Quartet is one of my favorite Nora Roberts series. Four best friends run a wedding planning company together, and in each installment, meets the man of their dreams!

    What are your favorite wedding-season romances?

  • Kat Rosenfield 5:15 pm on 2016/04/07 Permalink
    Tags: , curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal, dangerous liaisons, , pride and prejudice, public enemies, ,   

    The 10 Worst Traitors in Fiction 

    Whether for love, for money, or just for the fun of it, hideous betrayal never fails to make for a compelling story. From classic literature to contemporary fantasy, some characters are the best of the best (or worst of the worst, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to disloyal shenanigans. Below, we’ve rounded up the ten biggest traitors on the page.

    Winston, 1984
    There’s no shortage of double-crossing in George Orwell’s bleak dystopian novel about a man struggling beneath the thumb—and constant surveillance—of an all-powerful government; Winston has been sold up the river several times over by the time he turns traitor himself. But the moment when he cries out, “Do it to Julia!” (the “it” in question being mauled to death by rats) is a stunner of a betrayal, as Winston gives up not just the woman he loves, but the last dying shred of his own humanity.

    Brutus, Julius Caesar
    Et tu, Brute? Damn straight, Ceezy. The whole Roman senate rose up to assassinate Caesar in Shakespeare’s political tragedy, but it was Brutus’ knife that cut the deepest —because in addition to doing serious damage to Caesar’s epidermis and internal organs, it also really hurt his feelings.

    Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Everyone put your hands together for the most hideous traitor in wizarding history. Peter Pettigrew not only sold out his friends to Voldemort, he allowed Sirius to take the fall for it while he himself lived a life of luxury as the Weasleys’ prized pet rat. If not for this son-of-a-blast-ended-skrewt, James and Lily Potter would still be alive—along with Cedric Diggory and all the many wizards who lost their lives during the second coming of the Dark Lord.

    Charles Trask, East of Eden
    Steinbeck’s novel inspired by the story of Cain and Abel is packed end-to-end with double-crossings and back-stabbings by three generations of perpetrators. Out of the book’s many betrayals, the moment when Charles Trask drugs his brother Adam and takes his wife to bed is a standout for sheer soullessness.

    The Marquise de Merteuil, Dangerous Liaisons
    This old-school epistolary dive into the sexual intrigues of the aristocracy in France’s Ancien Regime is rife with two-faced friends and lovers, but no one plays all sides like the beautiful, villainous Marquise. By the time she gets her comeuppance in the form of exile and a ruined face, she has betrayed basically every major character in the book—sometimes more than once.

    Edmund Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    The good news is, Edmund ultimately redeemed himself to become a crowned King of Narnia and a wise, just ruler, along with the rest of the Pevensies. The bad news is what he did to require redemption: he sold his sibs and Mr. Tumnus down the river for a few bites of Turkish delight—which makes him not just a traitor, but a traitor with abominable taste in candy.

    Dennis Nedry, Jurassic Park
    Granted, Nedry didn’t have a world-ending catastrophe in mind when he betrayed his employer, stealing a bunch of dinosaur embryos and shutting down Jurassic Park’s security systems in order to make his escape. He just wanted to make a quick, cool million bucks. But for sheer scale of consequences, Dennis Nedry is one helluva turncoat; even Benedict Arnold fell short of unleashing a horde of hungry velociraptors on an unsuspecting public in the process of changing sides.

    Mr. Wickham, Pride & Prejudice
    Bad, naughty Wickham made a play for the honor of Darcy’s sister, shamelessly flirted with half the Bennett daughters, and nearly brought the family to ruin when he seduced Lydia into eloping with him when he abandoned his military post. Not only is the dude a traitor to King and country, he’s a traitor to every basic Edwardian notion of common masculine decency.

    Danglars, Mondego, and Caterousse, The Count of Monte Cristo
    These so-called “friends” of Edmond Dantès were so jealous of his good fortune in life and love, they accused him of treason, kicking off a series of increasingly unfortunate events that culminated in Dantès’ imprisonment in a 19th-century island supermax jail. (Bonus extra traitor credit: Mondego not only sold Dantès up the river, he married the man’s fiancé to boot. Rude.) On the other hand, you don’t get this epic tale of adventure and vengeance without a big, stinkin’ betrayal to kick it off, so…thanks, gentlemen.

    Gollum, The Lord of the Rings
    Poor, pathetic Gollum battled his demons all the way to Mordor, but his heart always belonged to the One Ring—aka his preciousssssss. Hence, the ghastly moment when he stopped leading the heroic Frodo toward Mount Doom, and started luring him into the lair of a giant, Hobbit-eating spider.

  • Nicole Hill 3:30 pm on 2014/12/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , charlotte's web, , , , , , , , minerva mcgonagall, pride and prejudice, , , , , ,   

    9 Characters We Resolve to Be More Like in 2015 

    Ms. FrizzleConsidering the sheer quantity of baked goods that has traveled coast to coast this holiday season, it would be easy to peg weight loss or fitness as a New Year’s resolution. But let’s be real: same story, different chapter. You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darlings. In fact, you can easily draw inspiration from some literary favorites. Here are but a few of the characters we resolve to be more like in 2015.

    Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
    As S Club 7 once said, “Reach for the stars.” Discounting the biblical, there are few more wholly, purely good characters than Atticus. The saintly Maycomb lawyer doesn’t let his children, Scout and Jem, backslide, and holds himself to an equally high standard, in more ways than just his heroic representation of Tom Robinson. For 2015, a nice mantra would be Atticus’s wise words: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

    Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling)
    Minerva McGonagall takes no ish, and she is glorious. Our resolution to act more like Atticus Finch does not extend to dealing with the likes of Dolores Umbridge, who is so artfully treated to McGonagall’s pitch-perfect passive (and outright) aggression: “May I offer you a cough drop, Dolores?” She is as skilled at transfiguration as she is at zingers: “I generally do not permit people to talk when I am talking.” She is wise: “Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger, at any rate.” And though she’s a strict disciplinarian, she knows how to let her hair down: see Ball, Yule. Basically, she’s perfect.

    Elrond Half-elven (The Lord of the Rings, et al, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
    The saga of Middle-earth could very well have been called Elrond and the Unending Parade of Undesired Houseguests. And he is nothing if not an obliging host, even when Boromir gets sassy at his Council or when a gaggle of hobbits are eating him out of his Last Homely House. Maybe that sense of patience and hospitality comes with being 6,000 years old, or maybe he’s got access to something better than Old Toby. However the Lord of Rivendell does it, his elvish flexibility is something to emulate.

    Arthur Dent (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, by Douglas Adams)
    Acting like Arthur Dent is a wonderful resolution simply because it seems so achievable. An ordinary (if civic-minded) man is thrust into the middle of repeated intergalactic hijinks and, if somewhat grumpily, rises to the challenge and adapts. The man just wants a cup of tea in his own house, and instead he winds up on a cross-galactic joyride to hell with history’s most dysfunctional Scooby gang (former crush, not-human-after-all best friend, manic two-headed despot, depressed robot, and all). Of course he’s a bit irritable. But overall, he handles the time-traveling, planet-exploding, and temporal-state-shifting with poise. So by Magrathea, you can make it through whatever obstacles are thrown at you.

    Hodor (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin)
    Gentle giant Hodor is, I’d wager, the most overall contented person in Westeros. I grant you, this is not a high bar to set, but that should not diminish Hodor’s loyalty, genial nature, or empathy. Bran is not always a peach to serve, but Hodor never treats the little lordling like a royal pain in the Hodor. He just keeps on plugging. He is a national treasure of endurance and goodwill.

    Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
    A modern woman way ahead of her restrictive time, Lizzy has a lot to teach us about being comfortable in your own skin. Unlike others around her *coughLydiacough*, Elizabeth is sharp as a tack with a quicker sense of humor and suffers little in the way of foolishness. She’s not perfect (sometimes being headstrong can be a flaw), but she’s an attainable version of confidence and clarity, which is apparently catnip to swoony country gentry.

    Templeton (Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White)
    Charlotte gets all the (admittedly, deserved) praise, but the rat is admirable in his own “carpe diem” sort of way. Life is too short, so eat the danged cake…and the cheese, and the grapes, and the corn dogs, and the whole watermelons…

    The Lorax (The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss)
    Unlike that masochistic martyr The Giving Tree, this voice of the woodlands sets nothing but a healthy example. A tree-hugger with a fabulous mustache, the Lorax is a portrait of stewardship and activism. It should be everyone’s goal this year to plant a Truffula Tree and watch it grow.

    Ms. Frizzle (The Magic School Bus series, by Joanna Cole)
    Because sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is how maintain your joie de vivre. Look to Valerie Frizzle, the world’s most reckless and popular science teacher, when you need some inspiration to make each and every day fun and educational. Forget the waivers and safety training—just dive right into life.

  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 3:30 pm on 2014/11/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , dysfunctional families, , , , , , , pride and prejudice, , ,   

    10 Fictional Families We’d Love to Spend The Holidays With 

    Little Women movie castThe holidays are about spending time with your family. They’re also about drinking more wine than usual and stuffing your face with stuffing, various types of brittle, and all-of-the-cheese-there-is in a bid to keep you from throttling said family within an inch of their lives. That’s what family is: food and resisting the urge to sucker punch your brother for asking you why your new haircut makes you look like George C. Scott. Instead of adding another mountain of calories that no holiday sweater (no matter how ugly) could hide, why not spend this holiday season with some of fiction’s most interesting families? From kindly to eccentric, feuding to nerdy, each family listed below has one splendid thing in common: They aren’t yours.

    The Cratchit Family
    To be clear, I don’t want to bro down with the Cratchit family in that one scenario where Tiny Tim has been killed due to Scrooge’s lack of altruism. That would be one epic bummer of a holiday fete. But the Cratchit family throwing down and giggling over a Christmas goose? Bring. It. On. That said, I don’t think I’d want to be there the day Scrooge invites himself over for Christmas dinner, because yes, brilliantly kind gesture dude, but also dining with one’s boss is almost always ten shades of awkward.

    The March Family
    Spending the holidays with Jo, Laurie, Beth, Amy, Meg, and Marmie would be the greatest. Sure, you’d have to stomach a lot of religious instruction and hear lectures about kindness, but you know that nine times out ten their family meals end with them braiding each other’s hair in front of a fire while Jo wears a top hat and practices her gentleman walk.

    The Weasley Family
    Reason number one I’d kill to spend the holidays with the Weasleys: Magic. Powers. Reason number two: Gingers are the best and greatest breed of people who exist currently on our planet. Reason number three: You know they’ve got dirt on Potter. Reason four: At least three of the foods served will probably involve magical properties, and there is nothing un-awesome about that.

    The Quimby Family
    If you’re at a meal with Ramona Quimby and her parents and her sister Beezus, you don’t need to worry about being the center of attention or putting on a good performance as a host, because everyone will be in a tizzy about Ramona cutting her hair with pinking sheers or dying her entire body with bluing. As different folks yell and Beezus glowers, you can get blitzed on rosé and be all, “Ramona you lovable buffoon!” and then eat all the rolls free of fear of censure.

    The Capulets/Montagues
    Admittedly, this dual-family affair would be mad tense, but that’s only until ale has been quaffed and swords draw—then the drama kicks in! If you like reality TV, than dinner with Shakespeare’s dueling families should be right up your alley. Just avoid that Mercutio character: he talks, like, a lot.

    The Murry Family
    When I was a kid I wanted the Murrys to adopt me. Admittedly, I would not have done well in this math- and science-loving clan, but I get the feeling they would at least have been kind about it. Though frankly, if grasping math meant I got to travel through time and the universe, I’d probably be down. I like the idea of eating a big meal with the Murrys, because you know it would be served at least partially out of beakers and test tubes.

    The Cuthbert Family
    Being a part of the Cuthbert family means you’re probably getting blitzed on elderberry cordial and attempting (and failing) to color your hair for the big party. That said, while I wouldn’t necessarily want to be Anne of Avonlea, living on Prince Edward Island and hanging out with two dope as hecks old folks eager to impart wisdom and love sounds like the perfect way to spend the holidays.

    The Everdeens
    If I had to pick any family with whom to dwell during the holidays in an apocalyptic version of earth, it would have to be the Everdeens. That’s mainly because if I overindulge in my food rations, Prim or Mama Everdeen would be able to brew up some sort of herbal tincture to treat my indigestion. That being said, the “cornucopia” utilized in the Games themselves is a cruel mockery of the symbol of a day when the only battle to the death should be over the last piece of pumpkin pie.

    The Bennet Family
    You know what? I’d like to have my holidays with the Bennets because I think poor, homely Mary gets a raw deal! I’d go hang out with them, wear a dress that makes me look pregnant and a severe center-parted hairstyle, and listen attentively while she played the piano for hours and hours and hours. I’d also wisely impart to Kitty and Lydia the virtues of the single life, all the while being thankful for the opportunity to ogle Mr. Darcy to my heart’s delight.

    The Sedaris Family
    Anyone familiar with David Sedaris’s writing knows that holiday dinners are when his eccentric family comes most colorfully to life. Remember when Amy wore just the bottom half of a fat suit, sending her dad into a veritable fit? The idea of breaking bread with David Sedaris and his entire clan sounds unmissable. Though there’s always the chance you’d make it into one of his essay—a thought that does not rest easy in my mind.

    The Mortmain Family
    A family cool enough to move into an abandoned castle, ruled over by a writer-father and an artist stepmother: how can their parties not be epic?! Cassandra and her sister, Rose, are forever weary of their family’s artistic inclinations and bohemian life, but I’d gladly trade with them, especially on the holidays. You know Topaz makes excellent crafts.

     What fictional family would you love to visit this holiday season? 

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