Monday, October 30, 2006

Smart Bitches GuestBlog: That Thang We Do

Just in time for Hallowe'en: Two Scary Bitches. I mean, these chicks are frighteningly funny and smart, and recently got an (oblique) nod from NY Times -- although since the Times got all missish about printing their blog name, out of bitchnost (a form of solidarity) I'm jumpin to the Journal as my paper of choice.

Ellora's author, Cynthia Williams, turned me on the Bitches last fall, and since then I've enjoyed watching them take romance by storm with their fusion of intelligent analysis and outrageous behavior. Am I envious? Youbetcha. Paraphrasing what Sarah once wrote me, "one day, Michelle, you, too, may be able to write about scrotums and man-titty for the rest of the Free World."

For now, I can only dare to dream, and ask you to give our very special GuestBloggers a warm Bella welcome. Ladies...

Hi there! Thanks for having us guest-blog. If you've visited our site, and we have to warn you, thar be saucy language, matey, you know we dish out frank reviews of romance novels.

We started our site because we were finding that honest, incisive reviews of romance novels were in short supply, and we wanted to treat romance novels with the samSB Sarahe critical techniques that are applied to any other piece of fiction.

Sarah: So how do I write a review? First, hold on to your pencils: I read the book. My technique is to dog ear the top corner of a page where something bothered me, and dog ear the bottom corner of a page that contained something unique, charming, clever, or just plain good. At the end of my reading a book, you can somewhat tell how my review will go based on how many upper and lower "teeth" the book has.

Candy and I don't always agree on our grading, and when we do tandem reviews we're often a grade or more apart. Thus we never established a rubric against which we would both grade romances. But I can tell you that an A+ book is generally a well-crafted romance with vivid characters and genuine emotion. But it always does more than just entertain: an "A" book can also reveal or subvert the structure of romance, and reexamine elements that we readers take for granted.

When that happens, I'm challenged mentally and emotionally - and that's precisely what critics who rage against romance miss. Romance can be both entertaining and thought-provoking, and the best of the books I've read and graded are both.

Candy: My methods don't differ that much from Sarah's. When I read a book for review, I dog-ear pages if something is bothering me. Because I was raised to treat books really, really well, I don't dog-ear casually; the badness must be truly noteworthy in order for me to sully the pristine innocence of a page with my rampaging fingers (snerk).

Unlike Sarah, I don't bother to dog-ear any pages that contain brilliance--I like to think it's because I don't need special reminders for the good bits of a book. Not because I'm a stone-cold beyotch who focuses on the bad, no no no. *halo*

I also like to have the book stew and kick around for a little while in my head before I write the review--I'm looking for the aftertaste of the book, so to speak. I like some books quite a bit right after I finish them, but as time goes on, I find they don't leave much of an impression.

Others have the opposite effect: the more I think about them, the more I appreciate certain subtleties that escaped me while I was reading them. The way I feel about a book can also change slightly as I write about it; the process of articulating what I think or feel about a book often has a clarifying effect.

A book that gets an A from me is one that drags me into its world and refuses to let me go, one that engages me on every level, especially intellectually and emotionally. I do distinguish between books I enjoy reading and books that really matter to me; the latter category is quite sparsely populated, but there's certainly a romance novel or three kicking around in there.

A romance novel that gets an A grade from me is one that satisfies me intellectually and emotionally, one that grips me and drags me into its world and refuses to let me go. I do distinguish between books I really enjoy and books that actually impact me and the way I feel and think, that become important to me; either types of books can receive As from me, but an A for the latter category is relatively rare.


So on to our discussion question: What books rank among the best romance you've ever read?Have you read a romance that reaffirmed what you love about the genre, but also challenged you to think about romance in an entirely new way?
***
Encore! Above may be the only known photos in cyberspace of SB Sarah and SB Candy. They also sent along 2 photos each of fave snaxy guys. Can you match the guy with the SB?

37 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

Do I get to be first?

Playground Monitor said...

Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips immediately comes to mind as one of the best. Sugar Beth Carey is every teenage girl's nightmare and many of us have known a Sugar Beth or two in our lives. But watching her character arc from "the girl you love to hate" to "the girl you love to love" was magnificent.

Reaffirm what I love about romance? You betcha! Challenge me to think about romance in an entirely new way? I'm not sure though it did show that even bitches can be loveable.

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome you Smart Bitches!! I've lurked on your site and enjoy your POV.

I have recently read Anna DeStefano's The Unknown Daughter and The Prodgial's Return. They were both such good romance stories. I haven't read books quite like these in a long time. I found them refreshing.

I can't answer the first question because my list is too long. I love romance. Period. And it depends on what I'm looking for at the time (para, suspense, historical, etc) which one is the best.
The only ones that I can say for sure the bestest are paras; The Black Dagger Brotherhood. I've just reread them and they just keep getting better. :o)

MaryKate said...

It's the SBs! I'm also among the lurkers on your site. I'm thrilled that you guys are here! Your site is a daily stop for me.

My favorite romance of all time is THE WINDFLOWER by Tom and Sheila Curtis (I know Bellas, would I just SHUT UP about this book?!).

I know that this is a book that tops a lot of lists. For me there are three things that make the book stand out for me. First, the writing is superior. The prose is beautifully written and they do a terrific job of fully fleshing out both characters and setting. Second, the heroine, Merry. She achieves real and lasting growth throughout the story, and her reactions to most everything that she encounters rang true for me. Third, the secondary characters. I've never been more bewitched by a secondary character than by Cat. I wish desperately every single time I read the book that they would have written a story for him. I also love Rand, and found him to be such an amazing anti-hero that I wished that he'd find a woman to knock him on his a$$. For all these reasons, this book is a once a year re-read for me and it works every single time.

I also loved LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase, although, like you Candy, I found that I had to ruminate on it for a while before I really began to enjoy it. My enjoyment of that book is solely based on the heroine, Jessica. She's outrageous in all the best ways, and the scene where she shoots Dain is easily the most memorable in romance for me.

Both of my choices are somewhat predictable, but at the same time, I figure that the reason these books are chosen over and over again as fan favorites is that they stand up to the test of time and the writing and characterization is superior.

Thanks again for coming to visit! I'm so excited that you guys are here.

SB Sarah said...

BITCHNOST! Now that is brilliant! Ha!

Thank you, ladies, for welcoming us and for the compliments to our site. We're glad you enjoy it!

I know The Windflower is one of Candy's favorite books, and she keeps wishing the Curtis duo would get back on the romance asap. As for me, one of the books that made me take a look at what can be done with subverting expectations is another book that tops all the best-of lists - Bet Me by Jennifer Cruisie. She tackles issues of self worth, weight, sex, and personal esteem with the heroine, and then brings a selfish hero up to snuff to be worthy of her in the end - they both grow up, essentially, to become each other's happily ever after, and it's marvelously done. Plus, Cruisie invokes several dangerous cliches of romance- potentially precocious child ahead! Danger! Heroine who is not waif-thin with personal issues regarding weight! - and then deals with them frankly so that I was never disappointed with the character development. It made me think, 'Here are several pitfalls of romance that are constantly done badly and she did them well. Bravo!'

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas and Smart Bitches! Man, oh, man, we're happy to have you here today.

The chicks here love to talk romance, and like to hear how different reviewers do what they do.

Um, and MaryKate pretty much works Windflower into any discussion, so don't say you weren't warned.

JulieO, I'm on my way to email Anna about the nice things you've said about her novels. I can't seem to get TPR out of mind either. I think it's a great example of the depth people overlook when they dismiss category.

Anna's our Valentine in '07, btw; she'll visit Feb 14 to talk about the book out then, the one she shared excerpts from as she wrote them last time she GuestBlogged.

Hey, Play, I hear so many list that SEP as a fave, seminal really. It's one youz turned me on to.

Sarah and Candy: what's the novel you didn't like, tossed aside, then grew fanatical over when you tried it again?

R*belle said...

Oh, I love having insight into the greatness that is SBTB. And I am going to guess that SB Sarah has the hots for Jason Statham.
;)

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle, I'm ashamed to admit that I was one who dismissed category. They are smaller books and I want to get my moneys worth. Well, Miss Anna showed me the error of my ways. I'm working my way through her backlist because they are just that good. :o)

Vivi Anna said...

Welcome Smart Bitches to RBTB! I also lurk on your site once in awhile. In all honesty, the snark of some posters is starting to grate on my ass. I have to bite my tongue so to speak from posting scathing rants about the stupidity of some people...

Although I like it when Nora posts...LOL, those are always great ones.

I'm sorry to say there aren't too many romance books that have really affected me in any way. My first Honest Illusions by Nora, has always stayed with me because of its rich character development, but you always remember your first...

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes affected me, and is one book I have reread a few times. It's about a selfish woman that has a drinking problem and drug problem who ends up in rehab and learns so much about herself it's scary. In the end, she gets clean and changes so much...one of a very few books that I've cried during.

I only read paranormals now....a couple books that I really liked are A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole, I love a tortured hero...and he was literally tortured...the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. I didn't like the first one, it was the second one that dragged me into their world.

I love Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series, but they aren't romance.

Hmm, I guess I haven't read too many romances that have affected me in any way.

MaryKate said...

Um, and MaryKate pretty much works Windflower into any discussion, so don't say you weren't warned.

I really do. I know. But Michelle, once you read it, you'll understand the greatness. Right Rach? Back me up on this!

I also liked Bet Me, and recently re-read it, although it didn't crack my top 100. I enjoy Cruisie's work, but generally don't feel smart enough for it. You know? Like I'm missing the joke. I feel that way about Nonnie St. George too. I always feel like I'm two steps behind them because they're so witty. I guess that's silly, but I don't think of my self as an intuitive reader, and I think that's what Cruisie's books require. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy her stuff, just generally feel a little slow when I'm reading them.

LOL! And you guys thought you had issues! I've got an inferiority complex about a book that no-one is seeing me read. SNORT. What's that about?!?!

SB Sarah said...

Book I hated then learned to love? That's a tough category. I'm going to have to run up the flag of Kinsale and say that when I first read Flowers from the Storm I was caught in a big storm of WTF with a hero who couldn't communicate and a heroine who was a Quaker and how in the WORLD is there going to be a happy ending?! I didn't hate it but I wasn't enjoying it much either. I read that book over two years ago and I still think about it now, and have learned to appreciate the experience of having read it. It's not the book I'd re-read when I'm thinking of having a good old time reading a romance, but it's a genuinely gifted story that I'm still enjoying in remembered pieces even now.

And MaryKate, you want to hear slow? Bet Me. Shoes. SHOE on the COVER. Heroine who has a complete personal metamorphosis and learns to change her way of thinking about herself and her worth.

And did I make the Cinderella connection. Not for, like, a freaking MONTH or more. Say it with me now: DOH! It wasn't until I started writing reviews all the time that I thought more critically about romance novels, which was to my own detriment. Makes me want to go back and re-read a lot of books I didn't appreciate enough the first time around when I read them years ago.

So don't worry. It's not just you. But that's what I love about rereading good romance - the little voice in my head saying, "Dude, something all kinds of smart was going on in there. Go read again, fool!" Romance has Layers, you know. Like an onion. Or a parfait. Or me in the winter when it's 12 degrees out.

And all this discussion of the Windflower means I'm going to go find myself a copy, I think.

SB Sarah said...

Oh - and Julie, I dismissed category, too. Something about the slimness of the book giving me enough bang for my buck. I was so so wrong. Like, you have no idea how wrong. Mega wrong. Metric tons of wrong. So I can relate.

Julie in Ohio said...

LOL, Sarah- I feel the same way. I'm just glad I have learned my lesson. Now I read all romances, except ghost stories. They are the one thing I can't seem to get.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thanks for dropping by, r*belle.

I guess hate was a strong word, Sarah, cause I've never hated a romance, even one I couldn't get into. Just thought maybe the author could do better, or maybe I'm a moron and couldn't see the beauty. Happens.

I totally didn't get para for a long time, cause I just didnt think that way. Eve Silver said: read Dark Lover. Got it. Tried the first chapter and was, like, vampires who drive Escalades and have a valet?

Picked it up, like two weeks later. Now, I can barely breath waiting for new Black Dagger Brotherhoods to come out.

I bought Windflower used and plan to read it over Christmas. (Just so MaryKate will talk about something else for a change. But keep that between us. I just hate when people get obsessed with a topic or a celebrity or something. You won't see me doing that.)

Vivs, for a girl who likes her some sammiches, you're pretty heroine-focused in your reads and the books you write. What's up with that?

Cinderella? I thought it was because the hn liked sexy shoes. See, I'm not smart enough even for the covers of Jennifer Crusie's novels, MK.

And if you think that's pathetic? JC and Bob M spoke at my MFW last month. Kathleen Eagle drags me up to them and says, gesturing to me, "See? Isn't she just (and she really used this word in front of ultra-feminist Crusie) darling? And Michelle was Miss Pennsylvania, too!"

Thankfully, JC is a classy broad and -- I think she was resisting patting me on the head at the time -- said, "oh, I think she's smart, too."

Bob said nothing.

Candy said...

Dude! Jason Statham is mine, MINE, you hear me? I will duke it out with Sarah in a cage match for a piece of that fine, fine ass. Look, I sat through Crank and loved every second of it. If that's not love for the Statham, I don't know what is.

And to answer the original discussion question:

I think the two that had the greatest impact on me in that way are Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale and To Love and to Cherish by Patricia Gaffney, for entirely different reasons.

Seize the Fire has one of the most fascinating and complex anti-heroes to grace Romancelandia. He's an asshole, and lord knows Romancelandia knows no dearth of asshole heroes (*koff*Linda Howard*koffkoff*), but Kinsale does such a stellar job of showing us his trauma and what really, truly drives him that I rooted for him, almost despite myself. Also, Sheridan, unlike many other assy heroes in Romancelandia, is self-aware. He's not deluding himself that what he's doing is all in the heroine's Best Interest. He knows he's being bad, and he regrets it sometimes, but he's going to do what he's going to do anyway. It's hard not to like him, even as he subjects Olympia, the heroine, to perversity after perversity.

And the ending... good grief, I'm not sure I've ever cried that hard over a book. It's definitely not a traditional "Hearts and flowers and gambolling puppies and 2.3 kids underfoot" sort of a romance ending. The characters have been through hell, and the redemption they find with each other at the end is fraught and fragile, and absolutely perfect for the book. I do, however, wish Kinsale would write a short little epilogue or sequel to the story, just so I can see how they're doing. I worry about those two sometimes, almost like I would real-life friends.

To Love and to Cherish, on the other hand, has a romance that doesn't even start until almost halfway into the book. Anne and Christy find their love slowly because of the turmoil that surrounds them and their circumstances, and watching Christy struggle with his moral convictions vs. his desires is truly heart-wrenching. Out of all the romances I've read, this is perhaps the most literary of them all; when I finished it, I thought "Wow, that was a great love story," and then felt briefly uncertain that it was a romance at all, even though it adheres to every part of the romance formula: the story is about Anne and Christy finding love with each other, and it has a fairly conventional happy ending. However, the slow pace and the intense focus on the two of them as whole entities, even more than their relationship with each other, probably lends itself to the feel that this is Romance But Also More Than Romance.

Holy crap, that was long-winded. Uh. Anyway, will answer question numéro deux when I have a few more moments at work.

p.s. Awesome to see another fanatic for The Windflower! WOO HOO!

MaryKate said...

Cinderella? I thought it was because the hn liked sexy shoes. See, I'm not smart enough even for the covers of Jennifer Crusie's novels, MK.

Thank goodness, I read that and thought, "See? This just drives home that I have no clue about thematic elements in romance!" It's why I was so lost during back to school week. I read romance strictly as it stands and can barely draw parallels. Well, except with AN OFFER FROM A GENTLEMAN. I got that that one was Cinderalla. But for God's sake it actually had the shoe in it!

Michelle, don't tease me about reading THE WINDFLOWER over Christmas, I almost don't believe you. But, I will accept your due gratitude and be paying you with a big ole', "I TOLD YOU SO!" when you write the gushing Old Flame about it! LOL!

Vivi Anna said...

Hmm, Michelle, are you trying to imply that I bat for the other team????

Yes, I do prefer books about strong independent women than actual romances. Most of my favorite books and authors write series about a kick-butt heroines doing her thing, and the men she butt-kicks and has sex with...

I guess it's really a reflection of me and how I live my life and what I want from my life.

But be prepared, my new series with Silhouette Nocturne is ROMANCE, and the main protaganist is the hero. Eeek, I know! It's a departure for me, but a good one. I love writing this series, and I hope that it shows that I love romance just as much as you do!!! :-P

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

You know, Vivs. When I wrote that, I thought it might read that way. But I remind you, you did say, right here in b and w, that if you ever did do f/m/f, you'd include me. I was flattered, so don't take that away from me. I'm needin a little ego boost today. :) And we're lookin forward to your romancy romances, too.

You know, Bellas, I think I may have given the Bitches the impression they had to write veddy, veddy seriously today, which didn't give them a lot of room for the bitchery we so love.

See, I just knew Romance Scholar week was gonna give us a bad reputation. I mean, what if everybody thinks this is the place where all the band geeks hang out? (shhh. not everybody has to know the truth, ok?)

What can we do about that? Maybe Candy and Sarah have a little rant they might like to share...

Julie said...

Who is that first guy? He's gorgeous. (I guess he's Candy's, since it is labelled "candy2.jpg")

Vivi Anna said...

Oh, you know it Bella! You and Angelina Jolie are the only women I'd make a sandwich with!!! LOL

Not together though...there has to be some manly filling in there somewhere!!!

Karla said...

Nightfall by Anne Stuart is one of my all time favorite romances because it is so dark and yet somehow manages to make the hero go from a guy you detest a guy you can admire.

Connie Brockway's As You Desire is another romance that I always dig out to prove that romance is good. The heroine and hero have such a good mesh, and Brockway builds the characterization up nicely - especially since there isn't even a Big Mis or an overall bad guy.

Marie said...

I'm pretty sure the guy on the first picture is Alex Lundqvist. A model from Sweden. I agree, he's gorgeous :)

Arethusa said...

For me Menage and Personal Assets by Emma Holly would both rank as books that reaffirmed my love of romance and challenged me to look at it in a new way.

Before Holly I thought that the line between what is commercially viewed as "erotica" and romance was permanent and uncrossable. Yet with these two books she confidently proved to me that the two could come together; that a woman could be sexually liberal and still deserve and attain that happy ending. They didn't have to be virgins, or "inexperienced", or who somehow never ever had good sex and almost always blamed themselves, or the dozen other ways romance authors try to keep their heroines "nice". That heroes didn't have to be dumb alphas. And whether the novels were set in Paris or Phili, the world the characters lived in felt more real to me than the typically urban settings or the small town white America.

She just rocks. :)

MaryKate said...

Sarah and Candy, thanks so much for coming to visit us! I've enjoyed hearing from you, and will continue to visit your site regularly!

MK

ann said...

Sorry I’m coming into this discussion so late. But it doesn’t really matter because, typically, I want to weigh in with a couple of ass-backward answers. Since I’m a writer of MMF romance--Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander--that seems only appropriate anyway ;)
On the question of what are the best romances I have read, I have to qualify my answer by saying I don’t actually read a lot of romances, and those I do read are historicals. I know that’s insane for somebody who actually wrote one and who enjoys lurking on sites like this, but what can I say? I love history and I love historical novels, romances or not, but it’s historical romances that really turned me on to my love of history, the realization that behind every dry date or fact is a romance or at least a human story—or several—waiting to be discovered. To me, history is history
I started by reading Georgette Heyer’s romances, which were also the first Regency romances, and found them such a great guilty pleasure. They were also immensely frustrating, because they had this intense feeling of sensuality without any actual sex. Later I was delighted to discover modern Regencies, with genuine all-out (or all-in?) sex scenes that satisfied my pent-up desires that the writer’s good storytelling built up in me. Jo Beverley and Mary Balogh are my current favorites. I especially loved Beverley’s “Rogues” series, An Arranged Marriage and An Unwilling Bride. As Beverly explained in the introduction to one of them, these aren’t technically “romance” novels, but “marriage” novels. But that’s what I love about them. She takes a situation that is foreign to most of us, the arranged marriage to a stranger, and shows how it can develop into a love story. Naturally, I used this situation as the basis for Phyllida.
Finally, I’m going to be really perverse here and say that the “romance” novels I read that had the greatest effect on me, the ones I used to read over and over faithfully until I practically knew them by heart, aren’t really romance novels at all. They’re two of Mary Renault’s historical novels set in ancient Greece: The Persian Boy and The Last of the Wine. OK, I guess you see where I’m going with this. These are same-sex, m/m love stories. I used to just weep and weep over them. I also used to wish that Renault had lived in a time where she could have included some hot, explicit man-on-man action, but that’s where my love of romance, and MMF stories meets the Trashy Novels world.
I love the Smart Bitches site, because they call the romances “trashy” novels in the same affectionate way that I do. It’s both a put-down and an affirmation. It’s what we want, something that entertains and enlightens in a sexy, exciting way.

ev said...

I don't think a romance novel has affected me in a way that they have some of us.
One novel that did though, is Jennifer Weiner's first one, Good in Bed. I spent most of it not only identifying with the H, but laughing/crying all the way thru. to this day it is one novel I have no problem reccommending to anyone.

Like Vivi, I prefer a story with a strong H, not one who sits back and lets the guy take the lead all the time. Has nothing to do with my sexuality either, I just identify more with someone strong.

I also, now, identify with the series of novels from Haywood Smith, The Red Hat Club books. I think I am beginning to be able to identify with these women in more ways than I do with the younger H/H in most romances, much as I do with ones in the military/former military.

Anonymous said...

I LURUUUURVES the Smart Bitches, yes I do! and I LUUURVE Michele, too!

So great to see you guys together online. This is such a treat.

I'm a big fan of romance and amongst my mainstream fav's are the Wallflower Quartet books by Lisa Kleypas, The Wife, Husband, and Marraige Test books by Betina Krahn, and just about anything by Nora Roberts or Jayne Ann Krentz. Amongst the romantica (erotic romance) fav's are the Wolf Tales books by Kate Douglas and just about anything by the Sizzling Scribes authors.

As far as romance novels that had me think about romance in an entirely new way, I guess that would have to be my initial exposure to romantica books. I actually was looking for a good scifi romance (now there's an area where you don't see many books) and I wound up finding a number of good ones in the steamier side of romance - romantica. I'd never read anything that explicit before and it was a surprise to me that they even existed. That was back in 2002, when almost all of that was in ebook format only. Now it's one of the largest growing trends in romance and I'm seeing many bookstores with shelves of them.

Cynthia Williams

Playground Monitor said...

Ev... I've read the first of Haywood Smith's Red Hat books and loved it. I'm a bonafide, card-carrying Red Hatter myself. But most special of all was the hour and a half I spent in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta just chatting with Haywood. I'd sat down just to rest and she was writing so I didn't bother her. Then she put away her writing and started to chat. And 90 minutes later, I'd laughed a lot, felt a little teary-eyed at moments and came away feeling like I'd been in the company of genius. And then I pulled out my cellphone, called my mom and said, just like a giddy teenager, "Mom! You'll never guess who I just talked with." :grin:

Marilyn

Playground Monitor said...

Count me in as one who devours category romance. I read tons of it, mostly in one or two lines, and love, love, love it.

Marilyn

SB Sarah said...

"they call the romances “trashy” novels in the same affectionate way that I do. It’s both a put-down and an affirmation. It’s what we want, something that entertains and enlightens in a sexy, exciting way."

Thank you for understanding that, Ann! You'd be surprised how many people think we're dissing romance, when really, we're just co-opting the term "trashy" for our own ends, as well as the word "bitch" while we're at it!

And thanks for having us!

ev said...

Play- How cool was that!! I am soooo jealous. I haven't quite hit that magic number yet, but am close. Close enough that someone always adds to the red hat stuff for b'day's and xmas (and they think it's a joke!!)

Anna Destefano said...

Hey Bellas and Smart Bitches!!

Michelle, thanks for nudging me to poke my head out here this week. What a great topic. And when a girl's slaving away in deadline dementia, hearing someone say how much she's enjoyed your stories is better than just about anything. Julie, ((((HUGS)))) my friend ;O)

Vivi, I can't wait to read your Nocturns. What a cool new line.

Those of you who've met Haywood, isn't she a doll? She's a member of our local RWA chapter and one of the "realest" people you'll ever meet.

Life changing romances for me--I'd have to say Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Dream a Little Dream and Linda Howard's Shades of Twighlight. Both are amazing character studies, and I'll be forever in awe of how SEP so deftly manges to mix the angst with the funny. I've never read anything--mainstream, classic, best seller--that made me feel more than these to ladies have in their writing, and the above books I think shocase them at their best.

I was actually reading DALD, commenting on how incredible it must be to be able to touch strangers the way SEP does through her stories, when my husband reminded me that that had always been a dream of mine. Why didn't I give it a try? I went searching for my local RWA chapter the next month.

Sarah, if you're still checking in, I think you ladies are doing a great job!! Most savy fans of romance get that you're cheering romance on, rather than defaming it. Your title (and the site) rock!! Glad to have you on the team ;O)

Gotta chain myself back in the basement. Too much ticking and treating to do tonight to have any work left once the kiddo gets off the bus.

Great to see everyone!!

Julie in Ohio said...

Hi, Anna!!!!
I do love your books and didn't even think about category until I read The Unknown Daughter followed immediately by The Prodigal's Return. Now I'm addicted. :o)

I can't wait for the next one, so get back to work. :P

MMUUAAHHH!!

Anna Destefano said...

Hey Julie,

Maniacal laughter... love it!

Actually, the sequel to The Unknown Daughter was out in February--The Runaway Daughter. And the final book in the series will be out Feb. '07, The Perfect Daughter. Maggie is finally getting her own romance ;O)

And Michelle's right, this is the book I was writing when I guest blogged in July--remember the hot love scene I teased everyone with???

Hope you enjoy!

Julie in Ohio said...

Anna- I have Runaway Daughter on order. I'm just waiting for my friends at Amazon to deliver... :o)
Yay, Maggie gets her own story. I can't wait. Now I have to go back to July and reread your teaser. I remember it being quite steamy... :o)

Manda said...

So many great topics, where do I begin???

I guess as far as genre reaffirming romances I'd have to say Pam Rosenthal's Almost a Gentleman was a real eye opener for me. She pushes the boundaries of the genre is such a way that you don't even realize until after it's over what she's done.

Another one was Eloisa James Taming of the Duke. She does it in all of her novels, but in this one especially she thwarts reader expectation in a way that keeps it fresh. You'll feel yourself reaching a fork in the textual road and she never takes the cliche road--or if she does it's always in a fresh way.

Vivi, I love Rachel Caine's weather wardens series too. Haven't read the latest yet, though.

Anonymous said...

j.r.ward- the black dagger brotherhood- cant get enough these books ROCKS- EVERTHING A WOMAN OR MAN WANTS. HE FIGHTING IS GREAT AND THE SEX IS EVEN BETTER.