Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It Had To Happen Eventually

Yeah. You knew we'd get to talkin' Gabaldon one of these days.

Never read her. Got no problem with her. Just haven't had the time in the midst of promoting traditional Happily Ever After romance and erotic romance to dig into what I know would probably become yet another addictive series.

A girl's gotta protect herself, don't she?

Anywayz, Diana Gabaldon's got a new hardcover out this month, "Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade." Then, in November, you can buy another hardcover that sports two previously released Lord John novels, "Lord John and the Private Matter," which, frankly, makes me want to suggest all kinds of silly ailments his lordship might be suffering from and might not want to discuss in polite company -- thus keeping the matter private.

Well, I must say I'm intrigued by this Lord John Grey, and am a) wondering whether he's any relation to Earl Grey whose tea I so enjoy, and, 2. whether these novels are romantic enough to interest me. There are hints in the press materials of love affairs that could destroy. But you know how I likes me a HEA.

So, before I expire from curiosity: Tell us why Diana Gabaldon is great! What's up with Lord John? Are you a Gabaldon fan? Does she even write romance (anymore, cause I know some fans feel she's writing in a far different direction)?


Kati said...

Well, I'm sure I'm in the minority. I like, but don't love, Gabaldon. I read Outlander. It took me almost 100 pages to get into it. That's too long, IMHO.

That being said, I totally get why Jamie Fraser is one of the greatest romantic heroes of all time. He is amazingly written, and very devoted to Clare. But for me, Gabaldon doesn't really qualify as romance. It's more like romantic historical fiction. Her books have an incredible amount of "there" there. Do you know what I mean? They're very, very meaty and gorgeously researched and IMO, intermittently romantic.

I guess I'm shallow, I like less historical detail and more hot sex! LOL! Deep like a puddle, that's me.

Playground Monitor said...

I've not read her books, but I have friends who have read them repeatedly. I suppose it's just another of those "different strokes for different folks" things.

I'm eager to read every else's comments though.


Portia Da Costa said...

I'm afraid I've never read any of Diana Gabaldon's books. Just another huge gap in my 'classic' reading...

Anonymous said...

I am a huge Gabaldon fan. While I've not read the recent series - I read every word of Jamie and Claire's first three books. By the fourth - I couldn't take some of the ridiculous situations she put her hero and heroine through - so I stopped mid way through.

Having said that - The first three books were terrific. It's an incredible love story that kept me up way past when I should've been in bed, and the series had me thinking about Jamie and Claire long after I'd read the books. I strongly recommend Outlander if you haven't read it.

Warning - it's time travel. I happen to be a big fan of time travel. If you aren't skip it - it won't work for you.

Kristi Cook said...

I'm with you, Maria. I LOVED the first three Outlander books--simply devoured them. I skimmed the next two, and haven't even ordered A Breath of Snow and Ashes yet, though I keep meaning to.

But I agree that it's more romantic historical fiction than romance (but VERY romantic in parts!). I think I started losing interest when the focus shifted somewhat from Claire and Jamie to Brianna and Roger--and also there's the feeling that the end will eventually come for Claire and Jamie, and I just dread that.

I haven't read ANY of the Lord John books.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongio-oops! Wait. Good ahfternoon, darlings! See? See what Maria and Kristina are talking about? That's exactly why I never started reading the Gabaldon. Cause I knew I'd get lost in them. And I barely feed my kids as it is.

And I love historical novels of any kind. But remember the Old School Romance for Nerds? I mean, the really meaty historicals, which were like big, fat historical novels, but they had big, fat romances, too? Yeah, those were the dayzes.

I guess there's not enough turnover in them -- people take too long to read them or don't wanna take so long to read a book -- and the publishers want to sell more books. And let us remember, that works out for all of us, right?

I've heard folks talk about Jamie Fraser before, and I must say, even his name is hot. I mean, that whole Jamie for James thing is so cool. Kinda like Jack for John. But add in the Celtic thing? Sheesh.

My son asked me today what arcane meant, and I started making a joke with an arcane reference to Culloden in Scottland (a bluidy battle against the evil English after the Scots had tried to put Bonny Prince Charlie back on the throne), and explained it was arcane to folks who hadn't read romance or those particular kinds of novels. I also think arcane humor is a little rude, like inside jokes, ya know?

Anyway, my point is -- well I can't remember my damn point.

Mk writes:
I guess I'm shallow, I like less historical detail and more hot sex! LOL! Deep like a puddle, that's me.

Well, mk, I'm thinkin today, Portia and Play and I are with you. Sometimes I consider myself about as deep as a, what, drop of water? What's smaller than that? I mean, wallpaper historicals? Sometimes I don't care if the only thing historical is the big ol broadsword tucked in the cover model guy's kilt! As long as the story's hot and the love story rocks.

Oh, my. I don't know where that came from. Thank God I'm sitting down. I feel all flushed.

Portia Da Costa said...

Yeah, I'm with you, Michelle, really. I don't mind historical stuff woven into a love story, as long as it's not like a whole lot of research being shoved in my face. But I'm really much more interested in the hot romance and the gorgeous studmuffin hero! :)

My depth? If we're talking in terms of drops of water... well, I'm about as deep as a film of moisture approximately a molecule in thickness. LOL

Unknown said...

Michelle wrote: “Sometimes I don't care if the only thing historical is the big ol broadsword tucked in the cover model guy's kilt! As long as the story's hot and the love story rocks.”

I totally agree! There is nothing worse than a bland couple. There are times I start to flip ahead to see if it’s ever going to get hot. Most eventually get there.

I actually had a book the other week that after reading over 100 pages I was still able to put it down and do something else. That never happens to me. I finally put it to the side and moved on. The thing that I found so funny about the whole thing was that for the next two nights I had to justify to myself why I put the book down. It just felt so wrong, so I kept telling myself that after halfway trough a book if you’re not totally into it it’s ok to put it down and move on there are so many other books that I want to read anyways. I think it put it down because there was no real hot romance between the hero and heroine. But does that make me shallow? I mean it was well written but just not holding my attention.

Kati said...

My sister adores the Outlander series. I mean seriously loves them. I read Outlander because of her.

I will say this about Gabaldon books. They're so researched, and descriptive, and the prose is very lush and evocative. I totally get why so many people feel so passionately about her work. It's just not my cuppa.

Then again, *MK whispering*

I also don't really get the Marsha Canham thing either.


It's not that I don't like the historical descriptions, I do. I just...I dunno. Maybe I don't like the "epic-ness" of them. Not sure.

Like I said, I have the relative depth of a puddle, so maybe it's just me. In fact, it probably is just me.

Anonymous said...

MK - You ain't shallow - "different strokes as they say."

For me the Gabaldon series went awry around book four - way to freakin' much history and absurd situations and who really cared. What I LOVED was the love story,(particularly in 1st and 2nd book) the passion both physical and spiritual between the two characters OMG!!! IMO of course.

For me - when the h/h have passion, whether it's in the dialog, or the physical tension between them or any place else - that's what keeps me turning the pages -

Kati said...

But does that make me shallow? I mean it was well written but just not holding my attention.

Leeann, I have to be in the right "mood" for a book. Sometimes, when I'm reading a book that doesn't really capture me, I'll put it down and walk away, sometimes for months, and then pick it up again, and it works for me.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhnononononononononono. I'm sure I didn't read that right. Surely marykate didn't just piddle all over the author for whom I am the veriest of fangrls.

Perhaps I read it wrong. Just a sec, while I check it out again. Well, there's leeann agreeing with me as she's supposed to. Then there's Portia, and -- oh, look! -- she's agreeing with me, too! Then if I continue to scrollll down, I find marykate. mmhh. mmhh. Gabaldon. Evocative. Cuppa....

ACK! It can't be. It simply can't be. Doesn't marykate realize that you simply must agree with everything I like and recommend to hang here? Yes. And you must tell me how beautiful and funny I am, too.

Perhaps if marykate were to grovel a little, show me some love, remark upon how youthful I look for my age. I might begin to forgive her flight of fancy for [whispering] her little flight of indiscretion.

Oh, my. I think I need a tub of chocolate frosting and a hot novel STAT...

Anonymous said...

MK - you're not shallow in the least!

No matter how well written - if a book doesn't hold my attention - I'm outta there - I agree with you.

I remember I didn't read JR Ward for the longest time - I just wasn't in the mood for Vampires. Then boom - I was in the mood and I COULDN'T put it down.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oooo, look at those pretty little garbage can icons, marykate! I wonder what will happen if I click on them inside your comment boxes?

So silly. That would be evil of me, and unethical.

Anonymous said...

Michelle - we were both writing at the same time - Look for the fedex coming your way with the chocolates.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Maria, you're not the only one with the Ward. A bunch of us here had the same experience. I started the first at the rec of our girl Eve Silver, and was like, "Eve, are you kidding me?" And I picked it up again 3 weeks later and am now hooked. Sheesh, this new one, this new one, this Lover Unbound...

Portia, you know, I actually love the research, but I just want to know what I'm getting: is it an historical romance? Is it an historical with a little romance? Is it an historical that just happens to mention a romance but is being marketed with a romantic cover? I just wanna know so I know which to read when I'm in the mood.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

God bless you, Maria -- chocalate and a fedex man. Which, oh, which to unwrap first...

Kati said...

Perhaps if marykate were to grovel a little, show me some love, remark upon how youthful I look for my age.

Hey, Michelle, you look pretty good for an old broad.


Kati said...

Admit it, Michelle, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone for 10 days. LOL!

Portia Da Costa said...

Don't get me wrong... I like a book to be well researched, but I like the historical detail to be woven in with such a light and clever hand that I absorb it and enjoy it without feeling that I'm being given a history lesson.

And yes, I want to know what I'm getting in terms of historical or romance and how much of both... but I guess publishers know that there's a huge great army of us romance readers out here, and they want our dollar or our pound sterling and they think if they stick 'romance' on the cover, we'll cough up and buy.

Unknown said...

Thanks MK I will have to wait and try it again and see how it goes. I just wasn’t really into the whole praying thing through out the book, but feel guilty because the author signed it, so I think I will give it another shot. I was looking for more steam that night, so you’re right about the whole mood thing ;)

Anonymous said...

I definitely have to be in the right mood for Diana Gabaldon. Much more historical fiction in there than romance, but the romance that is there, is quite good. She doesn't pull any punches either.

The first time I read Outlander, I was in a meh kind of mood. When I re-read it years later, I really enjoyed it.

Maybe a Gabaldon fan can correct me, but wasn't Lord John the villain in the Outlander series? I honestly don't remember.

One of my favorite historical fiction books is Judith Merkle-Riley's A VISION OF LIGHT. The heroine Margaret is just wonderful.

But like the rest of you, I'm all over a hot romance novel anytime! ;)

Unknown said...

Spoiler alert- if you haven't read any of the books

I loved the first 3 Outlander books and found the later ones which got bigger and bigger a bit hard to read.

But Lord John is a fascinating character. He starts as kind of a villain but he ends up helping Jamie Fraser (who is one of the best romantic heroes ever) -why?
Because he's in love with him.
He's a bit like the Jules character in Suzanne Brockmann-we come to care about him, even though he's basically gay,maybe bi (and you know how I love characters like this)

I'll definitely be getting it.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, portia. Now I'm gonna get all Pollyanna and be, like, "no, I didn't mean to imply you didn't think research was important. And I hope I didn't make you feel unwelcome."

But you totally get what I mean about the wanting the publisher to make clear what it is we're buying.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh no he di int! Really, Kate? Suddenly the Outlander books have oh, so much more appeal for me...

Unknown said...

MaryKate said...
"Then again, *MK whispering*

I also don't really get the Marsha Canham thing either."

OK I'm lost who's Marsha Canham? She must be someone big for Michelle to go postal on MK ;)

Anonymous said...

Morning Michelle and Bellas :)

I've read the first Diana Gabaldon Outlander book - my flatmate and my best friend were both reading them (and raving) so I didn't stand a chance.

I did enjoy it but as the other Bellas have already mentioned, it is very descriptive. Sometimes I don't mind books with lots of descriptive..umm..chapters, but other times I'm like 'enough already...give me plot!'.


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

orianna, do you remember the Clan of the Cave Bears/Jean Auel books? Talk about descriptive. I loved em, but now I'd be hard pressed to find the time to read all those herb descriptions and still, well, you all know, feed my kids. But howabout when Ayla created every advancement known to man. And Jondalar just hung around building great weapons and,well, you know...with Ayla and all. Ooo, there actually was a good scene where the prehistoric boy took himself in hand...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

hiiiiaack! NOT you, too, leeann! Oh, I don't know what I'm going to do. I have to get behind the wheel of my car and pick up my children now, despite the trembling of my hands and body in shock.

Oh, will the horrors never cease!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

oh. scusi. you were just repeating mk.

my bad. you're still my friend, leaann. unlike some other ungrateful Bellas who should just run and hide away on their little pleasure cruises for 10 days. pttht.

Kati said...

unlike some other ungrateful Bellas who should just run and hide away on their little pleasure cruises for 10 days.

D*mn right we do! And I'll be thinking of you the whole time I'm sitting on a lounge chair, reading a romance and waving over the waiter with his little tray (named Raoul or Sven or something) and ordering a fruity, girly drink with an umbrella and whipped creme in it.

No really, I will.


Kati said...

LOL! The waiter is named Raoul...not his tray.

Talk about your dangling modifiers.

Unknown said...

I was about to say dang Michelle I was only asking a question (remind me in the future to recap someone else’s comment better so I don’t get a dressing down too) ;)

And to help redeem myself I did Google her and read an excerpt from “The Pride of Lions” and I have to say it sounds pretty good. It’s taking all of my will power not to buy the series now instead of adding it to my list of book to buy after I read the ones I have now. Oh this is so hard! There are so many books that I want!!!

Playground Monitor said...

The waiter is named Raoul...not his tray.

I was gonna call ya on that one, MK, but you called it yourself. Dangling modifiers can be a great source of humor.

Getting serious here, research is important but a book full of facts is nothing more than a textbook and I gave those up when I graduated from college. However, nothing will yank me out of a story faster than some huge, raging error that could have been avoided with a little internet research.

For example, I read a novel where the hero was injured in a fight aboard an overnight flight from Miami to Havana. Uh... 'scuse me? You almost overshoot Havana on the take-off from Miami. Then there were the tall, rocky cliffs and crashing waves along the coast of Georgia. Helloooooooooo? There might be a crashing wave if a Cat 4 hurricane comes in at high tide.

I also just read a novel with a heroine who was an architect. At age 30 she already owned her own firm and was doing all this great work and had established herself in the field of old home restoration. Another DUH. At age 30, most architects are really just getting started. You have 5 years of college if you can manage to get it all in during 5 years (my son took 7, but he was in the co-op program), then you have a 3-year internship, then at least another year where you're taking (and hopefully passing) your licensing exams. That puts you at about age 27 under ideal circumstances. Architecture, according to my son, is an old man's profession and you never see young architects designing big city skyscrapers or memorial projects or even owning their own firms and having nationwide reputations.

Sorry -- I get a little passionate about architects since my #1 son is one. But my point is that not doing your homework is unacceptable. Look at Brockmann and how much she's studied the SEAL program. Her books show it too.

I'll shut up now.

Marilyn - who is going on a 4-day cruise in November and will miss you all ;-)

Kristi Cook said...

Oh, gosh, don't even get me started talking about Ayla and Jondalar...I think Valley the the Horses is one of my favorite books EVER--and much like the Outlander series, I waded through many a subsequent book that just meandered and went nowhere before they started getting good again. I thought the last one--The Shelters of Stone--was great! But it was the first one I'd truly enjoyed in a while.

But give me yummy Jondalar anyday!

Jessica Barksdale Inclan said...

Hi, All.

I liked the first two and couldn't do much more than get through the next two--I think. But I do believe that Jamie was just about the most vulnerable manly wounded strong hero of all time. His pain was real and palpable but he was never a victim.

I hadn't been much of a student or reader of the Scottish deal (though my second romance is set in contemporary Scotland partially) so that was fun, too.

There was her upset at being placed in the romance aisles and I can see her point about being historical fiction. But the romance between the two is front and center and the sex was pretty much a focus, so both aisle setting seem true to me.

I don't think I'll read more, but good for her for doing so well!


KiKi said...

I love her Outlander series. I tried to read the first Lord John book, and well, I can't even tell you where that book is right now. I just couldn't get into it. Although he is a character from the Outlander series, I just wasn't interested in him.

Anonymous said...

Yes Michelle, I remember Clan of the Cave Bear...and the sequels...most of which I read. Some of the descriptions were interesting, others...not so much :) She did invent quite a few things, didn't she?

Actually, I read a book earlier this year that was descriptive but I did like it. The Husband Test by...the author's name eludes me. I think she balanced the description and plot well, but I love books in which the characters have to rebuild something and this was all that (and a medieval :) What more could I ask for :)


Stacy~ said...

Jumping in late here but I gotta say, no foolin', I am as superficial as they come, but Gabaldon had me at Jamie Fraser, but lost me at "The Fiery Cross" (book 4...or 5?) Maybe it was the time travel thing, maybe it was just Jamie boy himself, but I was completely absorbed in these books. Wanted more Scotland, Jamie and endless nights under the moonlight, seein' stars (and not cuz there was clear visibility either). Plus, how can you not adore a man who falls for an older, brilliant woman?

What went wrong? I couldn't tell ya, but I've never been able to go back and finish that book.

Well, while we're sharing secrets, I'm rather on the fence about la Nora, but I love the In Death series too much to just say no completely.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Orianna, I think that's Betina Krahn. She's got a "test" series of medievals. I think I read "The Wife Test." She writes in a different style now, and won a RITA I think for , oh shoot, what was it again? Help me Bellas. I can see the cover, handsome darkhaired guy in front of Mayan pyramid...

Hey, Stace, you're so in good company here on the Robbs.

Thanks for the info, romantic fool (great name, btw!). And welcome! Loves me some Eyore.

Pam P said...

"Sometimes I don't care if the only thing historical is the big ol broadsword tucked in the cover model guy's kilt! As long as the story's hot and the love story rocks."

Yep, Michelle, it the story and characters rock, that's what works for me. Sure it's nice to do the research and get your historical facts right, but if you aren't that much into history, many of us probably woudn't notice as much as those that are up on their history, lol. Even if I spot a minor or thing or too, if I'm loving those characters and story anyway, who cares really.

I do love time travels and did find several of the Gabaldons, but they are still in the TBR, lol - saving for a long laze-around beach vacation to start in on them. I'm hearing hear though what others have said, after the first 3 or 4, they weren't as into them. One day, I shall see if Iagree or not, lol.

Kristi Cook said...

Betina Krahn: Book of True Desires. Won the RITA! That book was the follow-up to Book of the Seven Delights (which I read and loved! Very different).

Portia Da Costa said...

It's funny this research business, isn't it? :)

As I said, I like it all to be in the background, enriching the story and the romance... but I totally agree with Marilyn... If I find some great huge glaring thing that I know to be wrong, it yanks me right out of the story and I don't feel I can trust the author any more. A minor slip up or two usually won't bother me if the writing is great, but if it's something major... I get cranky!

Portia Da Costa said...

But you totally get what I mean about the wanting the publisher to make clear what it is we're buying.

Amen to that, Bella Michelle! :)

Publishers are very naughty! Anything to sell a book... and then it's the author who gets it in the neck because readers feel justifiably cheated when the book doesn't fulfil expectations based on the its labelling and where it's shelved in the bookstore.

Portia Da Costa said...

'the its labelling'????

Am losing it today! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love (absolutely adore) Diana Gabaldon books, all of the series so far, I love the full on research, history, medical stuff. The Lord John books are an historical/detective branch.
I personally would put the Outlander series in the same category as early Michener or Uris with a bit of fantasy...I would advise reading the whole lot in a row so you don't get mixed up with all the Characters (there are heaps) Dear Diana. Long may she write!

Anonymous said...

ok. so. i'm 19, soon to be 20. i first read Outlander when i was 11--my mom had bought them for me for when i was older, but i saw it and was bored and said, lets go! i loved it. lovelovelovelovelove. and unlike most people above me in this thread, that love has endured through ALL the books, not just the first few. i love bree and roger as much as i do jamie and clare, and IAN omg i want him so much. and then add in teh gay sex with lord john? so much love. i havent had time to get to the new one, but it's sitting right beside my bed at home, waiting for the next time i come home and have time for it.
maybe it's like, imprinting. outlander was one of the first big adult books i ever read, therefore i am loyal to it. i generally reread the entire series, or at least outlander, every year. it never gets old, i never get tired of it. same with Sara Donati's Wilderness series.
'kay. just my $.02.

Anonymous said...

Gabaldon's books are not romance novels, at least not since about 2/3 of the way through the first book (and she's on book 7 of the main series now). The plots are not primarily about the formation of a relationship, though relationships do occur in them, as they do in many novels of many different genres.

Whereas the original Outlander book bore some resemblance to the romance genre (while also subverting it and obviously leaving the genre as the series continued), the Lord John series bears little to no resemblance to the romance genre. They are not intended to be; they are historical thrillers, as the plot is based around some kind of mystery or adventure rather than the formation of a romantic relationship. It's not that this novel subverts the genre (as the first Outlander book did), it has no intention of being in the romance genre. It's like comparing a sonnet to a haiku.

That said, both series are quite enjoyable. The Outlander series is best described as adventure/family saga/with a bit of fantasy and contemplation of the nature of history and fate. The Lord John series consists of standalone historical thrillers.

It would be nice if Lord John were the hero of a romance novel, and met the man of his dreams who was a) not straight and b) not married and c) doesn't die, and they lived happily ever after and had many adopted children together. But that's unlikely to happen (as he returns later to the other series sans devoted partner). Any lasting happiness for Lord John would be in the future of the main series.

As for historical inaccuracies - Gabaldon is much better than most. I object to her description of the flag of Great Britain (as it was known between 1707 and 1801) as the flag of England, and her description of British soldiers (who were from all over Great Britain) as "English" soldiers. Jacobites may have indeed seen the British forces as foreign and oppressive, but the blue bits in the flag are Scottish; the English flag is red and white. But at least she doesn't have every other person being an Earl at a time when there were only about 200 peers in the country, and she doesn't use post-1974 county names when describing 18th century places, or describe thick paper as "vellum" (vellum is parchment, made from animal skins, or now sometimes plasticized cotton). I work with 18th century paper - it was just nice thick well-made paper. There are such big or little inaccuracies all over, but Gabaldon really puts an effort in to learn about the time she writes about, rather than relying on other historical fiction.

flip said...

I have never read this author. I have friends that love, love, love her. So it is just a matter of time.