Monday, August 06, 2007

Brilliant


Read the comments to find out why.

31 comments:

MaryKate said...

OK. You've given us a lot to think about, Michelle. LOL!

rachd said...

Wow, it *must* be wonderful to warrant just that! LOL. :o)

Julie in Ohio said...

Good Morning, Bellas!!!!

Michelle- You're straight and to the point today, aren't you? No messing around here. :oD
I haven't read Hunter before. Is she historical or comtemporary?


I've two of KMM's Highlanders this weekend and *OOOO DOGGIE* they are a thing of beauty.

Julie in Ohio said...

As I've mentioned before; no coffee equals bad typing.

That should read: I've READ two of KMM's Highlands...


Actually, nevermind. You fill in the blank as you see fit. Maybe I had a better weekend than I thought. ;p

Portia Da Costa said...

I've never read this author... In fact, I've probably never even heard of her... bad me.

What's the buzz then? :)

Must check her out...

Monica Burns said...

Do not MESS with the Queen Bella. No really, Michelle. Tell us how you really feel.

Portia, Madeline Hunter is great. I always enjoy her books. Great characterizations.

MaryKate said...

Very spicy cover, isn't it? I love the her straddling him thing. Not like something I've seen before. That would probably get me to pick it up off the shelf anyway.

I'm glad to hear it's a good book, because very often, Hunter can be hit or miss for me.

Did everyone have a good weekend? Do anything good?

LeeAnn said...

Portia your not alone I haven’t heard of her either. But then I’m always last to find out : )

I read Claming the Cortesen this weekend. I actually thought that it was pretty good. There were a few scenes with mixed emotions but over all I liked it. Just wondering does anyone know if it’s supost to end up being part of a series? If not she left a lot of room to make it part of one.

I hope everyone had a good weekend.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I'll be here in a sec!

Kristina Cook said...

What a tease you are, Michelle!

I can't WAIT to read this book--Madeline Hunter is a favorite of mine.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

First, let me say, Buongiorno, Bellas! I'm so happy to see you this morning.

I have, I know, been a bit absent, but in my defense, Dave has traveled all of July -- and I traveled, too -- so this weekend past was a family one. It was really fun. We grilled some stuff Sat night, and yesterday went to brunch with a nice young woman who visits from Poland each year, and sometimes babysits our kids. Mimosas! Wahooooo!

Anyways: Kristina Cook. Before I explain why I'm COMPLETELY GAGA over the upcoming Madeline Hunter, I want everyone to know:

Kristina's "To Love a Scoundrel" is marvelous! Very tight and romantic. Lovely sensuality.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Which isn't to say, Kristina, that it isn't a little shameful that it took Harry Potter al fresco to get you to delurk.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

MK, the cover's an excellent place to begin. I love it, too. I found myself mesmerized, though I have seen -- and enjoyed the visual of-- the female-dominant straddle before. I love that his hand is so big.

God. Now I'm not gonna get any work done this morning, am I?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

OK. Madeline Hunter. Definitely on my short list of best historical romance writers of all time.

Has a series of medievals that are awesome, though "By Posession" is my favorite. Heard Hunter speak a while ago and she said she had trouble selling it, I think cause it was a little Old School. I found it just dark enough, wonderfully steeped in medival culture and mores and ambiance.

Now. About "Lessons of Desire."

So, you know how every heroine in historicals in which the author is trying to give her gumption that appeals to the modern sensibilities owns a press and/or has read/knows Wollstonecroft? (sp?)

Well, Hunter starts with a heroine -- a secondary from the first novel in this
Rothwell series, Phaedra Blair -- who actually is inheriting a publishing house from her father and is supposed to publish his memoirs. In his memoirs is an assertion that could ruin the family of Lord Elliot Rothwell.

Now, here's why Phaedra has the heft that the other "publishing princesses" lack: Phaedra's been raised by a mother who espoused the notion of "free love," a woman who taught Phaedra the philosophies of the time period that dealt with what women needed to do to be *truly* free and independent.

Phaedra's mother had a monogamous relationship with Phaedra's father, but they didn't marry. Phaedra left home at 16 when her mother told her she must, so she (phaedra) could learn to live the independent life.

So Phaedra believes that, despite her being ostracized by Society, that she needs no one's support. And she believes the male "friends" she chooses to take to her bed are celebrating her independence as well. (Elliot has an amazing piece of dialogue about that issue that absolutely floored me).

And let me say here that part of the appeal of the novel is the setting of much of it: Italy, my Bellas! Hunter is fabulous at getting setting and cultural flavor right. But I'm not talking "Another Book Set in Tuscany" thing. This book grooves because of local political climes, as well as Phaedra's authentic, earthy outsider character).

Well, I don't need to tell you that Phaedra and Elliot are going to be attracted to each other, and that they aren't goin to rub along like peas n carrots, Forrest Gump.

But I do need to tell you that Hunter explores in this novel the very issues that women still struggle with today when trying to mesh the philosophy of women's issues and feminism they've studied and absorbed with what actually occurs when a woman is faced with a man she's fallen in love with. With what kinds of power one loses and gains within a relationship with a man. Because it's not always what we've been convinced we lose; sometimes strength is gained in the ceding or redistributing of power.

This novel is very powerful in that regard. It is a novel that I will recommend to the next woman who questions my commitment to feminism because I read romance or support a woman's right to her unpopular fantasies.

Plus, "Lessons in Desire" is witty and very sensual -- Hunter is really good at getting the right amount of sensuality for her characters -- and really well written.

Even if you read it w/out a deeper examination of anything in mind, it's one of the best novels I've read in a long, long time.

There you have it.

Portia Da Costa said...

I'm not usually a historical reader. In fact the only two historicals that I've read in donkey's years are 'Passion' by Lisa Valdez and 'A Gentleman's Wager' by my buddy Madelynne Ellis [both fab reads!] But this book does sound good in *so* many ways!

And a bit different. Which I really, really like.

Kate Pearce said...

Cool!
Looks fabulous. I love "By Possession" as well

Mary Stella said...

Brava, Michelle. What a wonderful assessment of Madeline's book. I can't wait to buy and read it. I'm a huge fan of Madeline's work. By Possession is also one of my favs.

For those who don't know her books, I recommend them to everyone. They delve deeper into character, issues of the time period, truly difficult conflicts, etc., and bring alive more of the culture and society of the settings. I always feel like I've received a richer, more complex book without ever feeling that I've sat in an academic lecture. She really is a brilliant writer. Small wonder that a few of her books have earned Rita awards, too.

Kristina Cook said...

Wow, thanks for the praise, Michelle!! I'm glad you liked To Love a Scoundrel! (and yeah, hanging in my head in shame over the cause of my delurkment!)

What a fabulous assessment of Lessons of Desire--now I'm really dying to read it! Madeline is SUCH a brilliant writer--and such an incredibly smart (not to mention gracious, funny, etc.!) lady, and I totally agree that her books are among the very best historical romances out there. She's amazing!

Playground Monitor said...

My weekend involved a family reunion, my car, 915 miles of driving and 59 hours of my time.

But I got to spend time with my #2 son whom I haven't seen since he graduated from college last year. And he told me a graduate assistant position had just come open and he was going today to talk to the department head about it. Oh please, please, please let him get it so he can start back to grad school and achieve his dream.

Anywayz, I'm beat after such a whirlwind trip and am ready for a nap.

Marilyn

Eve Silver / Eve Kenin said...

Michelle, so glad to hear you had a nice, and well-deserved, family weekend.

Okay, I love, love, love Madeline Hunter's books. Unique story lines, brilliant characters that are beautifully rendered. Can't wait to read this one!

And, not to sound like a broken record, but I love, love, love Kristina Cook's books! Very sensual, and fabulous character development. Not a word wasted.

Now, back into my cave and deadline hell...

Stacy~ said...

I read Hunter's "The" series ("The" Seducer, Saint, Charmer, Sinner, Romantic) and I liked some more than others. But the one I really enjoyed was the first book in this series, "Rules of Seduction". I've been dying to read Phaedra's story, and it sounds wonderful. You said it quite eloquently Michelle *g*

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I enjoyed the "The" series, as you call it, too, Stace. "The Romantic?" Oh, God. Julian loved Penelope for sooo long, and was willing to stand back and let her live her life. He's a quiet hero, but not a beta. My fave of the series.

I enjoyed RoSeduction, but I was really looking forward to a stellar Hunter novel to write about for RBtheBook, and LofD is that novel. It' this way: since I write only 4 features a month, I'm probably only gonna feature the same author once a year, if even that. When it's her turn, I want to make sure it's the novel that's gonna really jazz readers about her work, especially if they're not familiar with her. So I'll wait a long time -- let a couple of an author's novels go by -- til just the right one comes up.

A bookseller once told me of her job, "you know, I only get one chance to sell an author. If I recommend a novel to a reader that's not the best example of that author's work [I'm paraphrasing all this], I don't get a second go-round."

I thought that was pretty close to what I do. Except I don't get any money when the book gets bought. I just like to know that I'm helping readers find a good book, and authors find readers.

Stacy~ said...

Oh, yes, "The Romantic". Julian was such a memorable hero. Wish there were more like him.

What a tough job Michelle. Me, I tend to try to find something I like about everything, so I would be ineffective in your life of work - not too discriminating. And I thank you for the job you do because I've discovered quite a few authors I probably would have never considered unless you brought them to this forum and displayed their wares so effectively.

Well, "Sleepless @ Midnight" is calling my name. Ciao, Bellas.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Good morning, Bellas~~

Michelle, I could just strangle you!! My pals come home from Dallas with a boatload of books for me, and you just HAVE to wave something irresistable like "Lessons of Desire" under my nose! SHAME!! SHAME!! LOL!!

Seriously, you've made this book sound absolutely wonderful, and to have it set in Italy...~~swoon~~

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

B'giorno (that's Austrialian Italian for good morning) Bellas! Actually, I just made that up.

Anywayz, Cinthia, you know we always aim to frustrate here, so I'm glad we're gettin our biness done for you! And you've got some nice friends if they're hookin you up with RWA books.

Hey, Stace! I hope I didn't give the wrong impression. I'm like you; I can find great good in everything I read, too. I mean, don't we all start out wanting to love a book? That's where most readers start, and where I come from when I'm looking for a book to enjoy or to talk about (which is slightly different from traditional lit crit, where you kinda try to read clinically,not expecting good/bad, at least the first time).

But I meant I just want the book I feature by a tremendously good author to showcase her talent, so readers don't end up with one of those "it was good, buuut, it wasn't her best" experiences.

Just didn't want you to think I'd changed paths all of a sudden. :)

azteclady said...

Buongiorno, Michelle and Bellas!

Thank you for adding yet another title and author to my list, Michelle. *sigh*

I'm still reeling from "Claiming the Courtesan" (in a good way, worry not--I will re read shortly, now that I know where I'm going, it should be easier), and here you are, waving another "Brilliant!" review!

My addiction thanks you, my pockets whimpers ;)

Pam said...

Looks like my first post didn't make it, will try again.

I love Madeline's books, been a fan since the first, I agree with everything Michelle says about her writing. For someone who hasn't read her books yet, I'd recommend her medievals, particularly, By Arrangement, By Possession, By Design (that's my favorite of the meds.), and Stealing Heaven, and then the current series, starting with Rules of Seduction.

The Romantic was my favorites in that series. Did you know Michelle, originally Julian wasn't getting a book until readers kept asking for his story.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I didn't know that, Pam! I think By Design may have been the first of the medievals published? I always get confused, but when I started reading romance, all of her meds were already published, so I was able to pretty much have a week or two binge with them. And they're still comfort reads for me. "stealing heaven" contains a scene in which her hero/heroine discuss battle lust that really floored me, cause I'd never read a hero who'd slept with anyone other than the heroine in the traditional romance before.

And I think that's what Hunter is so good at, really relating male/female politics of the times in sexy, heartbreaking, show-stopping ways. Again, you can just read the books for pleasure, but if you're also a student of history or are learning through romance, you dig em even more.

azteclady writes:
My addiction thanks you, my pockets whimpers ;)


That may be one of the best compliments ever. Of course, I feel guilty, too. But that's the Italian Catholic thing. I'll just have to start having more contests so people can win more books...

ev said...

So should I read Rules of Seduction before this new one?

I don't normally read this genre, but Michelle, you make it sound wonderful, so I will, but I want to do it in order if there is one.

I love it when you can recommend a new author, in a format I would not normally read. Doesn't mean I am going to rush out and start reading everything in that genre, but it does pull me out of the rut I sometimes feel myself in.

I think that so many of the regency and other period novels I read when I was younger (that's what was around the house), made me want to reach into the books, shake the heroine and slap the "hero", that I quit reading them. Until someone like Katie MacAllister comes along with her series. And there are one or two others who's names elude me at the moment, but they also tend to be paranormals of some type.

off to do errands. I hate spending my days off running like crazy. I need a real job, the bookstore is sucking the life out of me.

LeeAnn said...

O h you guys are killing me here. I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to buy anymore books till I read all of the ones that I have now. So I’m keeping a list and will have to do another big buy when I finish the pile I have now.

I have 12 books to read that Michelle sent me for a scavenger hunt I won and another 4 besides those. And I have to do my homework on the books Michelle sent me because I have a feeling by reading the backs that most of them belong to a series and I CAN’T read a series out of order! When I do I end up throwing the book against the wall (figuratively speaking) while saying interesting words (literally). My family always looks at me kind of funny when I do that. So the only books I can buy for the time being is to finish any series Michelle sent me ;)

I’m trying to stay strong here :)

amy*skf said...

D'oh--Michelle, alls I can say is--thank God you don't write a food column...Not only do I have a Kristina Cook waiting for me, now I'm gonna have to wait for a M. Hunter. Not to mention the 50 os so others. Double d'oh.

And even though we all wine--you know we actually love it.

I too had a whirlwind weekend--friends in from out of town--I looked at my husband Sunday night and said, "We've done more in the last three days than in the last three months."

I loved it.