- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
1 tormented hero + 1 innocent heroine + 1 forced marriage = the book that kept me up all night reading — and Samantha James’s first New York Times bestselling historical, THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL.
PASSION is the kind of historical I adore, with a hero who hides a horrible secret, a dreadful scar, and a determination to subdue his passions forever. Of course, as a dedicated romance reader, I at once knew he needed to be — would be — saved by the love of a good woman. That good woman was Lady Annabel McBride. She is a strong, determined, intelligent woman who finds Simon a challenge — “His hair was like the darkest hour of the night, the same thick black as his brows. The brim of his hat cast a shadow over square, angular features. His eyes … were a pale gray, a shade darker than crystal. And unsettling, in a way she could not discern.”
Anne finds herself in the garden with Simon, overwhelmed by passion, kissing him, compromised and forced to wed. Then the story really gets going. Simon and Anne marry and go to his home in the country, where he announces that after a decent amount of time, they’ll get a divorce. Anne is horrified and dismayed. Here’s a man who challenges her in every way, and he refuses to consummate their marriage. Why? Why? What could be so horrible that Simon refuses to live, to explain, to love?
Okay, I know what you’re thinking — I’ve read so many books where the tortured hero is tortured about something really silly and you think — get over it, man!
Ah, there’s the thing. Samantha James has created a hero who deserves his angst. He hides a terrible secret, and only Anne can save him from a long life lived in lonely desperation.
THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL is just the kind of book I adore — the story is big, the emotions are over the top, every moment between the hero and heroine is amazing, poignant, and meaningful. THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL is the kind of story I put myself right in the middle of, living the moments, feeling the feelings, and rooting for the happily ever after.
So … have you read THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL? What Samantha James books do you recommend? And if you haven’t read Samantha James, tell us — do you like tormented heroes, and which ones have worked for you?
Check back later for information about Samantha James who will guest with us tomorrow!
Harlequin Presents. White covers. Clinches. Silly-ass titles. Let’s see how much you know about them.
Which one of these is not a real Harlequin Presents plot?
a) The heroine, an Englishwoman and the estranged wife of a sheik, is kidnapped by the sheik and taken aboard his yacht because the bad guys want to kidnap her and force the sheik to do their will, and they know this will work because everyone knows the sheik is deeply in love with his wife, and the only reason they separated was because she couldn’t conceive a child to be heir to the sheikdom. They can’t seek help with their fertility problems because the ignorant people of his country (who the enlightened sheik is giving education so they won’t be ignorant anymore) would believe that the child isn’t really his, and his counselors are urging him to take a second wife. The heroine refuses to share him, but nobly leaves so that he can create the child that means so much to the sheikdom with a new wife. The sheik and the heroine cruise the Mediterranean, fighting their attraction (unsuccessfully.) They find some compromise so they can be together, fight off take-over attempts, and deal diplomatically with further arguments by the sheik’s diplomatic corps to marry him to a suitable and fertile second wife. Of course, that’s not necessary because their incessant humping has overcome her body’s resistance and she’s pregnant, presumably with a son. And they live happily, wealthily and passionately ever after.
b) Our heroine, an artist, is living on an a lonely island off New Zealand and supporting herself with her painting, when a wild storm hits, a shadowy figure fights its way down the road, and as she watches, a tree is hit by lightning, knocking him out. She saves his life, but he’s stricken by amnesia … and son-of-a-gun, she’s got amnesia, too! She’s forgotten two years of her life. Then, son-of-a-gun, it turns out that he’s the reason she forgot those two years, which she figures out when she gets suspicious and searches his bag and finds his cell phone, which he claims he lost when the lightning struck, and a book on amnesia. He catches her searching the bag, she’s furious and throws things, he tells her she’s his wife and shows her photos that she doesn’t remember, including pictures of a baby boy. (cue ominous music here) They make fabulous love, he leaves her to discover herself, she follows and while on the boat remembers everything, including that they’d had a baby who was killed the same way her mother was killed (in an explosion) which is what made her get amnesia, and after confronting the past they live happily, wealthily and passionately ever after.
c) A young woman gets a job as the secretary to a handsome, dark, wealthy international playboy who has successfully saved his profligate father’s corporation and turned it into one of the richest companies in the world. The secretary dresses in drab clothes because she doesn’t want the hero to hit on her, and since she’s raising her sister’s child as her own she really needs this job, especially since the father, a man her sister described as the worthless younger son of a wealthy Italian/Greek/Australian family, and they want the child. Our heroine is determined to keep the child so it will be raised in a disciplined, yet loving atmosphere. Then our hero sees her playing in the park with the child, realizes she is beautiful without her glasses, that the child is the spitting image of his dead brother, and that the heroine is the one who’s been thwarting his hunt for the child. Infuriated and impassioned, believing that his humble secretary is the mother of the child and knowing that she’s been making a fool of him, he insists they marry or he’ll take the child away from her. On their wedding night, he discovers she’s a virgin, and sweeps her away, seducing her over and over. She falls in love with him, but she knows he intends to divorce her when the child is old enough because of the lies she’s told him.
C) is not a real Harlequin Presents. I mean, really. A virgin secretary who doesn’t get pregnant the first time they have sex? Puleaze.
What is the most ghastly boring plot line in the Harlequin Presents line?
a) The secret baby
b) The secret baby
c) The secret baby
d) All of the above
Which of the following titles does not belong in Harlequin Presents?
a) The Millionaire Buys His Virgin Secretary
b) The Sheik Seduces His Virgin Wife
c) The Prince Blackmails His Unwilling Royal Virgin Bride
d) Virgin Scandalous Amnesia Boss Revenge Affair Bed The
A, B, C and D are all great titles.
Okay, so maybe the quiz makes it sound as if I’m making fun of Harlequin Presents. I’m not. My entire house is littered with white covers — except that some covers are so old and have been re-read so many times, they’re yellow and tattered (Charlotte Lamb, anyone?) While I buy by author, if a title mentions a secretary, the book goes in my cart. In fact, that’s one of the things I admire about Harlequin Presents — I don’t even have to read the back to know whether I like the plot line. The title tells me everything I need to know — amnesia, secretaries and sheiks are auto-buys for me. I don’t enjoy all the authors, but I’ll always pick up Robyn Donald, Anne McAllister, Susan Napier and Michelle Reid.
Isabelle Swift, top editor poobah of Harlequin/Silhouette, says, “"I love reading Harlequin Presents because the authors are fascinated by what intrigues me about relationships and romance — the puzzle of how to get along, the battle of two personalities and finding the right balance, a true partnership. They consistently deliver on an emotional plane, and emotion — love — is capable of miracles. Indeed bringing a brilliant, bullhead billionaire to his knees. Literally. Monthly. Who could ask for anything more?” She also told me that in eBooks, right before the movie THE DAVINCI CODE came out, Presents titles were #1 and #2 on the bestseller list above the book — and they continue to be top sellers.
Why am I such a fan of Harlequin Presents?
Because they carry on the tradition of pure romance. They don’t mess around with subplots and secondary characters. They’re not interested in politically correct heroes. All their heroes are big, brawny, devilishly handsome and uncompromisingly alpha. The heroines are intelligent, feisty and virginal. In 200 pages, the hero and heroine fight through Big Conflicts (check out the plot of A in the first question — THE SHEIKH’S CHOSEN WIFE by Michelle Reid) to a true love forever. The writing can be delicate, sensual or funny (the first line from Anne McAllister’s GIBSON’S GIRL impressed me so much I can quote it almost exactly from memory — Gibson Walker stared at the six naked women dancing before him, and all he could thing was … Why aren’t there seven?)
Most important, the sexual tension is palpable. The hero and heroine are always opposites. Tough/delicate. Aggressive and sexual/innocent. Vengeful/peacemaker. Dark and dominating/bright and soft. The epitome of male and female. He is always angry, bitter, determined to take his revenge/have his way with her. Yet no matter how reserved, shy, kind and artless the heroine is, she always wins. Wins his love, wins his fortune, wins, his protection, wins his dedication, wins his admiration. Wins the best sex in the history of the world. She binds him in her arms.
I love Harlequin Presents, and even if you don’t read them now, I’ll bet at some point in your life, you have. What do you think? Are Harlequin Presents too simplistic for you? Do you hate the alpha-jerk-hero guys? Are you a fan? What do you think the appeal of Harlequin Presents are across all cultures and through all languages?
And don’t forget to check back later when I’ll be announcing the winners of our membership drive contest!
Once upon a time a young woman picked up a novel which was so engrossing, thrilling, and full of passion it began a lifelong quest for other books that made her feel the same way. She read many, but only a few brought her to the heights of ecstasy. Those few went on her keeper shelf, and she re-read them when life was hard and she needed to be swept away, when she was lonely and wanted to visit old friends, when she was happy and wanted to celebrate. Those books, those romances, held a special place in her heart.
Which is why, here for your enjoyment, the Squawkers have each put together a list of their two essential romances no bookshelf should be without.
Christina Dodd thinks keeping it down to two is way too difficult, but here goes:
Jayne Ann Krentz was a pioneer in paranormal romances, writing them long before the current craze. (When I asked her about them, she said, “Can’t say that using the psychic thing was one of my more brilliant career moves. Not to put too fine a point on it, the books were not exactly a roaring success. Actually, the opposite. The books eventually found a niche (okay, cult) market but, sadly, it took years.") In GIFT OF GOLD, Jonas makes a physic connection to Renaissance weapons used in acts of violence. They transport him into the past where he reinacts the battle — and can kill in the present. He’s been used as a guinea pig by researchers, but nothing helps him control his gift until a chance meeting with Verity sends him after her. He stalks her to her restaurant, hires on as her dishwasher, and the story unfolds as they discover how their unique connection works, fight a terrible villiain … and fall in love. GIFT OF FIRE continues their story into a new adventure and a deepening relationship. This duo of books stands out in my mind as first, fun and fabulous, the Jayne Ann Krentz books I recommend first among her impressive body of work.
MACKENZIE’S MOUNTAIN is my first Linda Howard book, and in the past I’ve given speeches to romance writers dissecting the story. She constructs the book out of clichés and proves that in the hands of a master, clichés work. The setting is the rugged Colorado Rockies. The hero, Wolf, is Indian, a horse-breeder, a former Green Beret, and a man unjustly convicted of rape. The conviction was overturned, but only after he spent time in prison. He’s now a hard, bitter man, at odds with the mountain town. Mary is a Southern gentlewoman and a school teacher, determined to give Wolf’s teenage son — a brilliant boy and a drop-out — a chance at a scholarship to the Air Force Academy. Please note, the hero and heroine are exact opposites, and even their names are clichés. During the course of the story, Wolf saves Mary’s life, tames him and brings him back to the civilization which he scorns, cares for his son, and Wolf and Mary have the greatest sex in the history of the world. Politically incorrect? Yes. Great romance? You bet.
Eloisa James here, about to hit Amazon for Gift of Gold—a Krentz paranormal I haven’t read!—but I’ll pause just long enough to list two of my keepers:
Loretta Chase once described Lord of Scoundrels as a gift—one of those books which just fall into a writer’s hands (or computer) once in their lifetime. To me, it reads like one of those very, very rare romances: one in which the hero is really a man—not a woman in men’s tights. He thinks like a man and he falls in love like a man. And he makes emotional mistakes just like the same flat-footed men we know. This is one of the most beautifully written, sexy, funny and deep books I know. I think I’ve read it 14 times. If you’ve never encountered it, then I’m deeply envious.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes the kind of books that make you laugh out loud, maybe even fall off the couch laughing—as I did when I read It Had To Be You for the first time. From the moment Phoebe Somerville sauntered across the page and into my imagination I loved her--but even more than that, I loved the prose that created her. The incredibly funny one-liners balanced against grief, laughter and deep sexual desire. This book is the kind that gives you not just laughs ,but a deep, satisfying sense of rightness at the end. I feel the same way about this one that I do about Lord of Scoundrels: I just wish I hadn’t read them, so that I could discover them now!
Teresa Medeiros knows her choices won’t shock anyone since she’s always raving about these two books:
THE WINDFLOWER by Tom and Sharon Curtis (Laura London - 1984) - As I’ve said before, this is not only my favorite romance but my favorite novel of all time. You’ll find the writing a little more detailed than most romances today but it’s so exquisite that I love every syllable. The cast of unforgettable characters include Merry Patricia Wilding, whose innocence, courage, and good humor prove irresistible to even the most jaded of pirates; Devon, her handsome abductor, whose passion is exceeded only by his compassion; enigmatic pirate king Rand Morgan and his young protégé, Cat. To this day, Cat remains one of the most beloved secondary characters in all of romantic fiction. No longer a boy, but not yet a man, he reluctantly assumes the role of Merry’s champion and steals our hearts just as surely as Devon steals Merry’s. (Alternate Curtis Pick - SUNSHINE AND SHADOW and every one of their short Regencies and categories.)
A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux (1989) - This is the ultimate time travel romance that rocked the publishing world back in 1989. It was fresh and unique because Jude brought her hero forward in time to the present day before sending her heroine back in time to search for him. It was the first time I realized just how compelling a “lovable loser” heroine could be. And I still smile when I think about Nicholas being introduced to the modern joys of the vacuum cleaner and can opener and get a catch in my throat when I think about the ending. Jude has always had the ability to write in almost any genre because she’s such a consummate storyteller. (Alternate: WISHES, the VELVET series).
Most of Lisa’s keeper books have two things in common : deeply tortured heroes and blazing sensuality.
I know it rings of nepotism for me to mention a fellow Squawker’s book, but there is no denying it: Connie Brockway’s All Through The Night is one of the greatest historical romance novels ever written. It features a tortured hero AND a tortured heroine, who find love and acceptance through sexual healing. The writing is sensitive and elegantly poetic without being flowery. And above all, it is haunting in the way it unfolds a careful pleating of savagery and tenderness, until you are madly in love with the story and every character in it. Especially Jack Seward and his ragged voice and his poor gimpy hand and his untamed libido. Back off girls: he’s mine.
You may say it’s too soon for this book to be called a classic, but I know one when I see one. A romance so good it transcends the paranormal genre . . . I don’t care if you like historicals, contemps, Americana, whatever, I defy you not to get a rush, a thrill, even a swoon, upon your first reading of Lover Awakened by JR Ward. This burning, over the top, heartbreakingly intimate Beauty-and-the-Beast story of vampires in love is nothing short of a thrill ride. The urban backdrop only enhances the story’s surprising qualities of sweetness and innocence, which persist even as Z and Bella indulge in shockingly erotic loveplay. And Z easily wins the title of Most Tortured Hero Ever. Two Fangs up for this great novel.
CONNIE finally decided to go with opposite ends of the spectrum starting with the sexually charged SHADOW AND THE STAR by Laura Kinsale
a Victorian story about impoverished, naive and sweet Leda, the shopgirl’s romance with the Samuel Gerard, child-abuse victim, tormented, twisted and a virgin. Poor Samuel wants so badly to ignore every sexual impulse and love only “purely” at the same time he is being honed into a weapon by his guardian’s mysterious butler. Taught self-control through years of studying martial arts, the only person who threatens that control is Leda. Okay, what’s better than a hero who loses it for love? Not much.
Up next, at the opposite end of the spectrum, with a hero who knows all too well the difference between lust and love and is on the rack because of it, is an amazing romance, LOVE IN DISGUISE by Edith Layton.
Educated as a lady, but the daughter of a wealthy fishmonger, beautiful Susannah doesn’t fit into either society. She aspires to a nobler class and so when one of her father’s business contacts the cynical, witty and fabulously wealhty Warwick Jones offers to sponsor her, she accepts. On Warwick’s part, their friendship soon becomes more, unfortunatley Susannah has already fallen for one of his best friend’s the gorgeous, honorable, athletic and dirt poor nobleman, Julian. What makes this romance so sumptuous is that you can feel Warwick’s pain as Julian, in turn, slowly awakens to Susannah’s charms. Warwick is convinced it’s a perfect match as they are both young, beautiful, and decent. But what about Warwick? He yearns, he pines, he does hius damndest to be honorable, to encourage the relationship between the two people he loves and it’s wonderful to read through his torment and eventual...?
LIZ Rounds Things Up with Two of Her Very Favorite Books
I’ve been a sucker for ghost stories ever since seeing “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” when I was a girl. So it’s no surprise that whenever I see a ghost romance in stores, I snap it up without a second thought. But this, A SPIRITED SEDUCTION by Casey Claybourne is, hands down, my favorite. In an effort to care for her younger brothers, spinster Sabrina Simmons will do just about anything--even if it means being a kept woman by the man who has his sights on the family home. Unfortunately, bluestocking Sabrina doesn’t know the first thing about seduction. So it’s good when Nell, the ghost of a London Madame, shows up to give her pointers, right? Never mind that Nell’s not exactly up on proper courtesan protocol… It’s just a wonderful, funny story that always makes me feel better when I need something to cheer me up.
It’s SO hard to narrow down one Theresa Weir book as my fave by her, ‘cause I love all of them. But this, AMAZON LILY, barely edges out IGUANA BAY and FOREVER. (But both are still highly recommended, said the sneaky author, adding another two books to the list.) What can I say? I’m a sucker for jungle romances, too. Farmgirl Corey McKinney, on a church mission to the Amazon, ends up relying on bush pilot Ash Adams, who saves her from death pits, hostile natives, spiders and, scariest of all, a potential life of routine and boredom. Who could resist such a man? You want a romantic hero? I gotcher hero right here, babe.
So what books would you add to the list of essential romances no one’s personal library should be without? We especially want to hear about those that might have flown under our radar the first time around that we missed. And remind us of the ones we need to go back and read.
TODAY’S SQUAWK 2ND ANNIVERSARY CONTEST MEANS MORE PRIZES FOR EVERYBODY! WE’LL BE GIVING AWAY 6 AUTOGRAPHED SQUAWKER BOOKS TO 6 DIFFERENT READERS FROM OUR MEMBER LIST! CHECK BACK TONIGHT FOR A LIST OF WINNERS AND GOOD LUCK!
I first fell in love with Sloane Tanen’s work when I read the caption above this photo: “Samantha looked around the playground in amazement. Her mother had been right. She really WAS the smartest and the prettiest.” Now I ask you--has there ever been a more apt mascot for the chicks of SQUAWK RADIO? (All you have to do is cross out SAMANTHA and write in CHRISTINA or ELOISA.)
If you thought you had to give up picture books when you graduated from second grade (Connie, you DID graduate from second grade, didn’t you?), have I got a treat for you! Writer Sloane Tanen and photographer Stefan Hagen take those tiny little stuffed yellow chicks you can find at Easter and put them in wickedly funny scenarios in gorgeously detailed dioramas. The first book in the series BITTER WITH BAGGAGE SEEKS SAME: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SOME CHICKENS beautifully captures the two qualities I most love about Liz--they’re both bitter and sunny-natured. And I know that Lisa will be able to relate to adorable little spoiled tyrant Coco who is rarely seen without her tiara and dreams “that one day she would grow up to be a benevolent queen...or a supermodel.”
The second book in the series--GOING FOR THE BRONZE: STILL BITTER, MORE BAGGAGE is equally hilarious. One of my favorite pages shows two chickens peering over the side of the Titanic while a chicken floats beneath them and one of them comments, “I don’t know, the last thing he said was something about being king of the world and then I may have accidentally pushed him.” No one is safe from the satire including Charles and Camilla, American Idol, and Hooters. And the photographs are so detailed that you can spend hours just noticing things in the background.
I should warn you that, due to a wee bit of naughty language, these picture books are for adults only, but Sloane Tanen has also written a children’s book called COCO ALL YEAR ROUND. If you want your child to develop a deliciously dark and dysfunctional sense of humor right along with you, you can read them rhymes featuring the adorable Coco like “I walk down the street with my whole Girl Scout troop. It would have been fun had I not slipped in poop.” (I’ll spare you a description of the illustration on this one.)
If you enjoy the humor of SQUAWK RADIO, I think you’ll definitely enjoy visiting Coco and company!
So how about YOU? What is the funniest book--fiction or non-fiction--that you’ve read lately?
I have a magic writing t-shirt.
It’s a t-shirt that I bought for myself at a convention, back when having a book published seemed a distant dream. I’m not sure what year, but I do know that I’d just started working on WARPRIZE.
It’s getting old, now. The design on the front is cracked and faded. There is a slight tear in the front, because one of my cats used me as a launch pad at some point. The hem is getting worn and frayed. There are big holes developing under the sleeves.
Why don’t I get rid of it?
Ummm. Did I mention that it’s magic?
I have a day job, as some of you know, so I tend to write in the evening, or on the weekends, wearing worn jeans and my magic writing t-shirt.
I usually write in snatches. I carry a pad of paper and during the day, when my characters are talking in the back of my head, I will make a note or write a paragraph, so that when I get time to sit down and write in the evening, the information is there waiting for me. Usually my characters are fairly talkative, and let me know of what is happening in the story. Lots of little notes, bits of dialogue, even the outline of a scene.
Those are good days, when the words flow like water from a spring, clear and cold and perfect, and my fingers dance over the keyboard. When I look up and realize that its midnight, and I have to work in the morning, but if I can just get one more paragraph down on the page. . .
That is the best feeling in the world.
But then there are days where. . .
Greetings. You have reached the Castle of Water’s Fall, in the Kingdom of Xy. No one is available to take your call at this time. Please leave your message at the tone. Your call will be answered as soon as we have developed the technology to retrieve this message.
[sigh] You get the idea.
Somehow, when I put on my magic t-shirt, with its worn hem and cuffs, and its holes, somehow it helps. I don’t know why or how it works, but the act of putting it on helps me focus. Now, maybe that is all in my head. . .but hey, that is where my characters are too, right?
Now the rational part of my brain knows darn well that my skills don’t actually change by putting on a piece of clothing. At least I hope not, because I am going to have some explaining to do when that poor shirt is nothing but tatters. But as humans, we aren’t completely rational, now are we?
In my new book, WARLORD, there is a scene where Lara appears before the Council of Elders:
I stood before them all, in the flame red dress, and matching slippers. I’d put on the bracelets, dotted a bit of my precious vanilla oil between my breasts, and braided my hair down my back. I also had my satchel slung on my hip, and while the strap may have marred the cut of the dress, I’d carried it anyway. In my own way, I was armed for combat, although they might not recognize the dress or satchel as such. Still, there had been a stir when I’d entered the pavilion, and it had given me a bit more confidence.
I would take every morsel I could find.
Who hasn’t used a piece of clothing, a bit of perfume or a favorite purse to ‘gird their loins’ for the day? While we may not be facing a hostile Council of Elders, we all have private battles and difficulties that we need to confront. How do you prepare yourself, or give yourself that extra edge? A favorite pair of shoes? A piece of jewelry?
Laura Lee Guhrke is one of those rare writers who burst on the publishing scene flaunting word of mouth. Everyone talked about her gift for realistic conflict, her dialogue which deftly moved the story forward and revealed the characters, the romance which moved the reader to laughter and tears, and most of all, everyone gushed, gushed, about her characters, heartrending and heartwarming at the same time. After reading her first book, I at once realized it was all true, she was a true artist with the pen.
Despite all her gifts, I still like Laura a lot. I didn’t want to — nothing’s as irritating as meeting a truly talented writer. But what can I say? She’s smart, keen of eye and sarcastically inclined to revel in the foibles of humanity. In other words, she fits right in here at Squawk Radio.
Laura’s current release, AND THEN HE KISSED HER is the perfect historical romance. It hits all my fantasies right on target. Our heroine, Emmaline Dove, is plain, sensible, a spinster secretary in a man’s world … and an aspiring author. Our hero, Harry, Viscount Marlowe, is a successful publisher, a smooth, handsome charmer who makes lots of money, cares for his female relatives, dodges marriage … and he’s Emmaline’s boss.
Harry’s a good guy, but he carelessly accepts Emmaline’s devotion as his secretary without ever realizing that she wants more from life than serving his every whim. He rejects her manuscripts — four of them — after reading a single paragraph, because he believes no one would be interested in how to shop for parties, in home decorating, or in the proper etiquette for single women. In other words, he totally dismisses what women care about. I immediately knew Harry was a charismatic jerk. I also knew that Emmaline was going to give him such a come-uppance. I don’t know about you, but that’s guaranteed reader satisfaction for me.
Fortunately for Emmaline, after five years of working for Harry, she realizes she doesn’t have to put up with his prejudices and quits. Unfortunately for Harry, Miss Dove is running his business and his life and he can’t function without her. Even more unfortunately, Miss Dove goes to his rival to get published, is wildly successful, and is not at all interested in returning to work for Harry. Did I mention there’s a lot of reader satisfaction in this story?
Emmaline has no illusions about Harry. She has seen him at his worst. Harry is now forced to observe Emmaline’s intelligence, wit and passion as she forms her career. The bridge they build with their mutual endeavors is a joy to watch, but even more fun is the slow build of passion between the mismatched pair. I don’t know whether to call AND THEN HE KISSED HER a classic secretary/boss story or a classic spinster/rake story, but I definitely know it’s one good time.
A lot of people agreed with me, because AND THEN HE KISSED HER debuted at #51 on the USA Today Bestseller List. If you like a fabulous historical romance a la Amanda Quick, run, do not walk, to the bookstore and buy a copy of AND THEN HE KISSED HER by Laura Lee Guhrke.
Laura Lee Guhrke has promised to stop by, so ask your questions and she’ll be glad to answer them. Oh, and she also offered to award an autographed copy of AND THEN HE KISSED HER to one of the commenters!
The sky dumped about 20 inches of snow on us over the last few days. These pictures were taken from my office window and this was before it all ended. So what do you do when the sky is falling and the wind is whipping and the temperature is diving? Aside from anxiously watching your husband challenge the Coronary Gods by shoveling tons of snow?
Do any of you have a “go-to” cookbook? The kind that doesn’t have a million recipes but a choice, fabulous fistful of perfect ones? I do.
It’s Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson’s SAVORING THE SEASONS. Lucia Watson is chef-owner of Lucia’s one of the most highly rated restaurants in Minneapolis, a small gem of a place that insists on using local produce and products. The results, borrowing from traditional fare, are uniformly fresh, flavorful and fantastic but never fussy. She brings that same discipline to this cookbook—a happy and loving tribute to the various ethnic settlers of the upper Midwest.
Interlacing culinary history, anecdotes, and old pictures with mostly one page recipes using only fresh ingredients, she returns you to your grandmother’s kitchen (if your grandmother happened to be a Croatian, Irish, Welsh, Scandinavian, Italian, Polish farm wife) where everything is made from scratch and tastes sublime. Don’t get me wrong. This is not church basement food. There aren’t a whole lot of casseroles (hot dishes). This is comfort food, yes, but with a clean, contemporary vibe borrowed from a dozen cultures.
You can find a simple recipe for homemade ricotta cheese, then turn the page for tender, melt-in-your-mouth corn blintzes and the ricotta, parmesan and herb filling that accents it perfectly. If you’re a baker, you’ll be in heaven choosing between Limpa Rye, Black Walnut Bread, Stollen, Kolache, Potato Bread and, yes, Lefse. For myself, I tend toward the soups: Spring Borscht, Creamy Chicken and Barley (tonight!) or Sour Cherry Riesling. Fresh Corn Pudding, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hazelnuts, Chicken with Juniper Berries and Gin, Thresher Beef Stew with Onion, Beer, and Blue Cheese, Chicken Pot Pie with a Buttermilk Biscuit Crust are just a few of the recipes I’ve done time and time again. Much to my waistline’s dismay and my family’s delight. But they’re never so delighted as when I hit the last chapter for the meal course where farm wives (and Lucia Watson) pull out all the stops. Schaum Torte, Apple Strudel, Pumpkin Spice Roulade,Three Citrus Chiffon Cake or--- wait for it-- the cake that makes grown men weep and little children believe in fairy godmothers (or is that food godmothers?) the five egg, five ounce of chocolate, four layer, Minnesota Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting.