April 17, 2014

Free books at Ultimo LibraryIf you’re here courtesy of The Drum, welcome! You can find a little bit more about romance books and why we love them here:

Update:  I was in such a rush to post this, I forgot to thank fellow blogger Jodi McAlister, who helped me strengthen the essay, and author Bronwyn Parry, who tweeted the original post that inspired me to respond. They’re both romance academics as well! (I’m not, by the way.)

An open letter to the Sydney Writers’ Festival by Gabby Maait

Why the romance genre is interesting, relevant and important — even if you think it’s bad  by Jodi McAlister (Momentum blog)

‘For women, by women’: Is romance writing inherently feminist? II (Australian Women Writers Challenge blog) and my annotated notes

Sex, love and passion – the appeal of romance novels panel discussion recap

Spoiling a happy ending by Kat Mayo

If you have no idea what I’m talking about…

On Tuesday, ABC’s The Drum published an essay by author Susan Bennett on the ‘Rise of the romance feminist’ which made me very cranky. So I wrote a response, ‘Dear columnists, romance fiction is not your bitch’, which is now up on the site:

To authors, journalists and columnists, I have bad news: …You will now be required to actually research your facts before you talk about romance novels. And if you don’t, readers will put you in your place.

Enjoy, and don’t feed the trolls. :)

Posted by Kat in *Opinions (4 comments)
Keywords: feminism
April 17, 2014

Here’s what the Book Thingo bloggers got up to in March!

Book reviews

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. CareyNight Broken by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson, Book 8) - Australian editionShamed In The Sands Release date: 02/2014 Imprint: Mills & Boon Sexy by Sharon Kendrick

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs (Kat) — The big villain isn’t nearly as fascinating as Mercy’s relationships with Adam and the pack, which is perfect because those relationships are what keeps me hooked on this series.

Shamed In The Sands by Sharon Kendrick (Jodi) — I wanted something different from a desert romance. What I got was the most stereotypical virgin heroine/playboy hero romance of all time.

The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey (guest review by Nyssa) — Unexpected and deeply engaging, this book is a superbly written original masterpiece that will inspire.

Kat reviewed the following books for the Booktopia Romance Buzz:

  • Floored by Ainslie Paton (book of the month)
  • Her Kind Of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry
  • The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie
  • Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long
  • The Naughty Girls’ Book Club by Sophie Hart

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Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (Leave a comment)
April 16, 2014

BOOKMARKED is the name of our paper.li journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes paper.li, this is an adhoc round-up on the blog highlighting links and news that might be of interest.

Free copies of Lick by Kylie Scott

If you’re in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, look out for free copies of Kylie Scott’s rockstar romance Lick, which Pan Macmillan is giving out for free to lucky readers. According to Twitter, here’s where you need to be: Pitt St (Sydney); Flinders Station (Melbourne); or the corner of Edward and Queen Sts (Brisbane). Look for the shirtless men with books!

Romance feminism

On The Drum, author Susan Bennett goes on a bit of a rant on, from what I can gather, Mama Mia, pop feminism, cleo and ‘penny dreadful romance novels’ (via @BronwynParry). Someone needs to tell Bennett that there are plenty of feminists who read romance fiction. Here’s my response to the article, which I submitted as a comment:

‘the genre romance novel, in which an inevitably rich and powerful hero elevates the heroine to her rightful, special place by his side.’

I’m not sure where Susan Bennett gets the idea that all romance novels are the same, or that all romance fiction plots follow this trope. As with feminism, there is a broad range of stories told by romance fiction, some more subversive than others, some more problematic than others.

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Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (Leave a comment)
Keywords: feminism
April 15, 2014

The Bold and the Beautiful: Stormswept by Shannon CurtisFans of The Bold and the Beautiful won’t be disappointed with Momentum’s tie-in with the popular daytime soap.

This review first appeared in Books+Publishing (subscription). An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher.

Stormswept sees Hope Logan and long-time friend and former flame, Oliver, travelling to Australia for a fashion shoot. Oliver has pined for Hope ever since an unfortunate incident with her mother, Brooke, broke Hope’s heart.When they find themselves conveniently stranded somewhere in the Whitsundays—minus most of their clothing—it’s the perfect opportunity for Oliver to convince Hope that he deserves a second chance.

Shannon Curtis’s second tie-in novella for the series embraces the clichés of both TV soap and romance genres; it reads like Mills and Boon-esque fan fiction. What surprises are the gentle humour aimed at the convoluted love story and the genuinely sweet romance between Hope and Oliver. Romance tropes are in full force, but even these are laced with fun.

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April 11, 2014

A round-up of 2014 Sydney Writers’ Festival panels that could have featured romance authors…only they don’t.

2014 Sydney Writers Festival

I’m thinking your romance programming (or lack thereof) sucks.

If you’ve been following our Twitter feed over the last few days, you’ll know that romance readers have been let down—yet again—by the Sydney Writers’ Festival, which features a program that completely ignores romance authors. If you haven’t read Gabby’s open letter to the SWF, it’s a great place to start. The amount of support we have received on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog tells me that the support for romance is strong.

We’ve been brainstorming ways to increase the level of awareness for romance at SWF. There would be no compelling reason for SWF to incorporate romance panels if the organisers feel that the audience would not support them. So I think one of the easiest and most effective things we can do as romance readers is to attend the festival and be visible. And the easiest way I can think of to be visible at the festival is to attend panels and ask questions that speak to the romance genre. We don’t have to be obnoxious about it—we just have to demonstrate that we’re there, we’re listening, and that romance fiction is relevant.

I’ve put together a selection of festival events that I think would intersect very easily with romance. If you’re a romance reader thinking of attending the SWF, these panels and workshops might be of interest. Some years, we take what we can get, and 2014 seems to be one of those years.

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April 10, 2014

The King by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 12) - Australian editionA character-driven story is being forced into a plot-driven approach at the expense of elements that made the earlier books such great reads. But I’m keeping the faith.

An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by Hachette Australia. If you need to catch up on the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, click here to for Decadence’s cheat sheets.

On the surface, a return to Wrath and Beth makes The King sound like an extended epilogue to Dark Lover, especially since she wants to have his baby, but it’s so much more than that. By the end of Dark Lover, Wrath got the girl and that was it in the HEA (happily ever after) department for him because he had to take up the burden of ruling a people trapped by tradition and facing extinction. Everyone else in the series got their HEA as well as being able to make peace with their demons or had the strain either lifted from them or modified to something they were better equipped to handle. Only Wrath was forced to give up his identity as a fighter and, over the course of the series, we’ve seen him chafing under worship from his subjects, the boring and monotonous desk job, and attempted coups from the glymera.

The King is a very necessary part of the series. It’s also a jam-packed installment of an addictive series, with background on the previous king, resolution of the glymera’s coup and Beth’s desire for a young, as well as the continuation of another three romantic plots.

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April 9, 2014

BOOKMARKED is the name of our paper.li journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes paper.li, this is a round-up of links and news that might be of interest.

Bookworld prize pack winner

Congratulations to Dale, who has won the Bookworld prize pack featuring books by some of our favourite Australian romance authors! This is how Dale plans to get through the prizes:

Close front door. Open book. Walk. Read. Sit on bus. Read. Exit bus. Walk. Read. Don’t walk. Read. Walk again. Read. Enter building. Read. Smile at security. Read. Catch lift. Read. Arrive at office. Close book. Work. Leave. Open book. Read. Repeat.

I believe this is a method of reading that all the Book Thingo bloggers are very familiar with. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway—we had a lot of fun reading your comments.

Heart to Heart with Anne Gracie

The second episode of Destiny’s Heart to Heart podcast is out, and our guest is Australian author Anne Gracie. We chat about the the romance genre, and Australian romances. I also review Kathryn Ledson’s Erica Jewell series. If you’re not an iTunes user, Destiny now has an embedded player on the blog—click on the link above.

Book shopping

The first book (actually, it’s a novelette) in Mia West’s Tell Me When series, Initiation, is free on Amazon (and other ebook retailers). The heroine is a time-travelling art thief, and the hero has to give her an orgasm to launch her into the past. I haven’t read this, but I’m going by Cecilia Grant’s recommendation, whose books I love.

Booktopia’s moving sale is still on. Click on the banner for titles. I had a quick look at the romance bargains (these are all print editions), and these are a steal: 

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Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (1 comment)
April 8, 2014

Safe Harbour by Helene YoungAn intricate suspense plot with an ambivalent romance makes for a tense emotional build-up that might not be every romance reader’s cup of tea.

An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by Penguin Australia via NetGalley. Disclosure: Kat hosts the Heart to Heart podcast for Destiny Romance, an imprint of Penguin Australia.

I killed a fairy reading this book. If you’re a romance reader, you might be tempted to do the same. Among romance readers, Helene Young is usually considered a romantic suspense author, but this might be the book that moves her away from the subgenre.

Darcy Fletcher is rebuilding her life after ending an emotionally toxic relationship in Sydney. Banksia Cove is her childhood home, and she’s determined to make a success of her new venture, a local restaurant called Whale Song. She’s also part of the local volunteer marine rescue team, and when she’s called on to help rescue a stranger from drowning in a storm, it triggers a chain of events that puts everyone she loves in danger.

Tyrone, the man Darcy rescues, can’t remember who he is or what he was doing in a yacht in the middle of a ferocious storm. But Darcy’s best friend, local police sergeant Noah Moreton, has his suspicions, especially when a simple investigation to determine Tyrone’s real identity begins to uncover unexpected connections, including the one defining incident in Darcy and Noah’s past that has haunted their friendship.

Young’s ability to pull together elements of crime and rural fiction has grown more sophisticated with each book, and in Safe Harbour the setting is seamlessly woven into the external plot. The crime plot provides some interesting twists, and the suspense is sustained right through to the end.

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April 7, 2014

The Black Dagger Brotherhood - An Insider's GuideThe official notes from J. R. Ward’s Cincinnati Q & A have been posted on J. R. Ward’s Facebook page but beware because there is a crapload of spoilers from The King (my review will be up on Thursday). If you don’t have a FB account, here are the highlights.

Need to brush up on your BDB knowledge? Click here for the BDB cheat sheets.

The next book, called The Shadows, will be about Trez and iAm, who both get some action in this book, and finally (FINALLY!) Murhder returns. Ward knows who the next three books in the series will be about.

Selena’s joint problems are caused by a genetic disease of the Chosen, but Ward won’t tell us more because then no one would read the book.

s’Ex fathered the Shadow Queen’s child.

It would destabilise the world if JM ever found out he was Darius, so Ward doesn’t think he’ll ever find out (but based on the phrasing of the notes, it’s not completely definite either way).

When asked when JM becomes a Brother, Ward explained that the timeline is a weird, variable thing, where one book might span ten days and another takes place over a year, which makes it hard to show other things happening at the same time.

Boo has bonded with iAm, but it’s not sexual. We may get to find out what Boo is, and I personally suspect he has a lot in common with Dog from the Fallen Angels.

The next book in the Fallen Angels series, Immortal, will also be its last, but we may see after that how the two worlds intersect.

Lassiter is firmly in the BDB world and him falling in love and discovering his purpose will be the final scene in Immortal.

Xcor and Tohrment are brothers.

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April 4, 2014

Dear Sydney Writers’ Festival,

For a few years now, I’ve been eagerly scouring your program, looking for the right panel to suit my romantic heart. I’ve attended quite a few events and I’ve got to be honest — they were underwhelming. But don’t worry, my reasons aren’t without cause.

Last year, I experienced a frustrated rage like no other when a few friends and I braved the rain and storm to bundle into a gigantic warehouse where we sat at what was meant to be a romance panel on popular romance fiction.

What we got was a group of very talented authors who didn’t write romance. And didn’t really have any interest in talking about it.

What they had to say was interesting in its own right, but come on, I was there to talk about the romance. I wanted to listen to authors who were passionate about the genre, champions for this much maligned cluster of books that in no way deserves the constant derision and scorn it receives. These authors were so reluctant to even be labelled as romance authors that each of them insisted that they only wrote books with romantic elements — their books were much more than mere romance.

Caja Romance

Photo: Mara de las Mercedes via Flickr

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