I’ve compiled a fun romance survey to use for the Romance Readers Family Feud game at the RT convention. You’d be helping me out a lot if you took 5-10 minuted to fill it out. Even if you aren’t attending the convention, I’d appreciate any responses. After RT, I’ll post the results!
A Rake's Guide to Pleasure: a somewhat demented love affair
I haven’t been talking much about books lately, so when I stumbled across this today, I thought I’d share! Back in the olden days (2008), I was a brand-spanking-new writer, fresh off the bus from Mayberry. I My first book had just come out a few months before, and I was wide-eyed and rosy-cheeked when Eloisa James was kind enough to say she’d read my second book and consider giving me a quote. You can imagine how overwhelmed I was: excited, honored, and a little scared-to-death about what she’d say. I mean, it was Eloisa James! Reading my book!!!!
She gave me a great quote (“So hot the pages smoke! Don’t miss this book!”) (*cough* book burning *cough*), but I had no idea she’d do a blog post about it. When I read her review, I cried. It’s still one of my favorite things ever, and I just read it again today for the first time again in years. Here it is!
One of the most frequent reader comments I get springs from my Essex Sisters series. Readers don’t like Imogen in the first two books. They write me foreboding, worried letters. They range from the worried –“I loved Much Ado About You,” but I don’t like Imogen and I think I’m going to skip her book” – to the wrathful – “I really love Rafe and how could you even think of pairing him with Imogen: I’m not going to read that book!” My response is complicated. I myself love Imogen. I particularly love her because she is dislikable. I set myself a challenge as an author: I gave Imogen a very disagreeable response to grief and her husband’s death, and then I rehabilitated her. It’s easy to create a sunny, sweet-tempered heroine. Those are the heroines where readers write and say “she reminds me of myself!”
This is all a long lead-up to say that Victoria Dahl set herself a challenge – and succeeds superbly!
You’re waiting for me to say why I didn’t like Emma Jensen, so I’ll start with that: she’s a gambler. She bets wildly on whatever she possibly can, including men who are sliding down flights of stairs, and (literally) thin ice. Put that together with the fact that she’s at a houseparty outside London, pretending to a “Lady Denmore,” widow of the 10th Baron Denmore, and…my stomach curdled at the stress of the whole thing.
I won’t be writing any letters to the author saying that the heroine is just like me. I can’t tell you how Victoria rehabilitates Emma, because it would spoil the plot. But I can tell you that she does just what I most admire in novelists: she gives Emma a complicated, delicate, fascinating interior life. And she weaves together the question of life’s deepest problems and deepest griefs with the question of whether it’s all a game. “I am not challenging you. My life is not a game, Your Grace,” Emma says to the Duke of Somerhart. But Hart (short for Somerhart) is someone who could tempt the angel Gabriel himself to a game of chance. And Emma , frankly, isn’t one to turn down a challenge.
This is an incredibly hot (Somerhart’s challenges are mucho sexy) and, at times, incredibly sad, novel. It sweeps you along like one of those long Russian novels of life and death. When Emma finally succumbs to Somerhart – and then leaves him, I challenge you to stop reading. When he finds her and she forces him away – I gasped. This is no nimby-pimby novel where the heroine wails “Go away,” and the hero walks around the block before going back. Emma is a grown woman and she makes him go. Really go. And then when danger comes…
All I can say is that by the end you’ll really love Emma. And Somerhart too. And you’ll be rooting for them to make it, to bring together their complicated, somewhat demented love affair and turn it into marriage.
This Friday (3/16) at 10 am, I and Ann Aguirre will be on KNPR’s State of Nevada radio program, talking about modern romance novels. You can listen live using the streaming (heh) audio link on the station’s website.
(Clarification: “troll” is not an insulting term for a conservative. A troll is a stranger who posts an insulting or deliberately aggressive comment on your blog or Internets in an attempt to anger, embarrass or put you in your place.)
I’ve been pretty outspoken on Twitter lately about the birth control debate (Really? This is a thing? In 2012?) and Rush Limbaugh. Of course, this sort of talk attracts trolls and I have yet to have one who seems to know anything about anything. I’m getting tired of repeating the same facts over and over, so I decided to write up a little primer, so I could simply point them toward it, pat them on the head, and tell them to educate themselves so they don’t have to weather the shitstorm I’m going to rain down on them.
I’m a layperson, in the sense that any woman can be a layperson about birth control, and I’m also pissed, so please excuse any messiness or disorganization or vulgarity in the delivery. And warning: there be snark in them thar hills. Snark. And maybe bitchiness.
1) Why do you think you deserve free birth control?
I don’t think that word means what you think it means. This debate is about insurance coverage of birth control. Is your insurance free? Mine isn’t. Mine costs a buttload of money every month. When you go to your doctor for a check-up that would cost, say, $300 out of pocket and you pay nothing, do you consider that free? Do you pat yourself on the back for pulling one over on the man? Do you dance your way to the parking lot, shouting, “I’m the most wily welfare queen in a world of welfare queens!!!!”? Somehow I suspect you don’t. It’s not free, it’s a service provided by a policy I pay premiums for.
As a thank you for slogging through the last few days of women’s rights issues 24/7… a little snippet of a scene from Good Girls Don’t. A scene with people who use birth control like responsible folks with brains and junk! (Junk. Heh.)
Um…18 and over only! Because it’s dirty. My heroes and heroines don’t use birth control for medical reasons. They use it for gettin’ it on. As is their right in this country, whether some people like it or not. Stay out of my heroine’s pants, politicians! It’s too crowded in there, what with the big, strong heroes who respect and want these women for who they are.
The bare skin of her back felt like silk beneath his fingertips. Silk or satin or some other unbearably beautiful thing. Something smooth and warm and delicate. Another time, when he wasn’t shaking with need, he’d put his lips to every inch of her skin. But tonight he felt too close to breaking, so he only unclasped her bra before he got too clumsy with lust.
He felt like he was in high school again, making out with this impossibly cute girl on her living room sofa, overwhelmed with the thought that he was about to see her naked.
Luke slid off her bra and smoothed a hand over her ribs until he cupped her breast. She sighed just as he knew she would, then made a low purring noise when he rubbed her nipple between his fingers. He would’ve spent a few minutes on that alone, but Tessa pushed her own jeans down, and how was he supposed to resist that?
Meaning to help ease her jeans off, he lowered himself to the couch, but the sight of her body caught him up like a trap. Her breasts were small and gorgeous. The nipples deep pink and hard with arousal. And as she pushed her jeans farther down, her panties slid off, too, and Luke just sat there like an idiot, his hands on her bare hips as he tried to divide his attention between her breasts and the golden brown hair between her legs. He touched her, and found her still slick from her orgasm, and couldn’t resist sliding his fingers into that heat.
“God,” she groaned as he put his mouth to her waist and bit gently up to her ribs. “Luke. I need…”
Yeah, he knew what she needed, so he shoved her jeans the rest of the way down and pulled them from her legs. And now his own need had set upon him with all the finesse of a bare-knuckled fist. It was all he could think. Insideher. Now. Now.
Luke leaned back on the couch to tear at the button of his pants. Just as he got the button free, she straddled him, settling her ass against his knees. Her legs were spread now, her sex plump and wet, and Luke felt brutal as an animal as she reached for his zipper. Everything in his mind and body had focused on her. Her thighs and sex and her hands reaching in to—
“Christ,” he rasped as her fingers wrapped around his shaft. She stroked him as if he needed more stimulation, and Luke saw stars.
“Very nice, detective,” she crooned, her sweet grin completely at odds with the dirty picture she presented. “Is this all for me?”
Oh, God. It hurt to laugh, but he found himself chuckling and groaning at the same time. Then her fingers traced around the head of his cock, and he was shaking again. He was glad she felt playful, but damned if he could take it a moment longer. Luke slid his hand into his back pocket to wrestle his wallet out. As he pulled a condom from it, Tessa put her knees more firmly to the couch and scooted closer to him. She took the condom from his hand and rolled it on. Her smile was gone now, too, and her breath came faster…
THE END! Okay, not really. You can read the rest in Good Girls Don’t. *snicker* What? I can’t give the milk away for free, or so I hear.
Jezebel has figured out the motive behind this new political war on women. Thank God! “Hundreds of laws, rules, and regulations, and thousands of pages of legislation seems like a really roundabout and inefficient way for conservative lawmakers to encourage women to have buttsex. Just ask, guys. Seriously.”