June 22, 2012

If you landed on this page after googling any variation of the following: erotica, Krissy Kneen or Triptych, I’ll take a wild stab and guess you saw Jennifer Byrne Presents: Erotica, aired on the ABC last Tuesday.

You’ve probably also realised that this is a blog whose main preoccupation is genre fiction. And not just any genre—one of the most maligned of them all: rrrrrromance.

But wait! Don’t leave! Romance writers and readers have been writing sexy stories for a while now. And yes, I concede that some of the prose is purple, but if a more literary style is your preference, well, we have them, too!

Shocking, I know.

Call me an opportunist, but here’s a list of romance(ish) titles and authors for readers looking for great sex, great writing or—even better—both!

Broken by Megan Hart

Broken by Megan Hart

Reasons you should read this book:

1. Megan Hart’s writing is luscious. This is as close to literary fiction as you’ll get in erotic romance.

2. The story doesn’t fall strictly in the romance genre—in fact, the romance between the two protagonists is probably the weakest part of the book. It’s everything else that will tug at your emotions.

3. The heroine is married to a quadriplegic. And yes, she loves him.

You can read my review of the book here. Here’s the blurb:

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June 18, 2012

BOOKMARKED is the name we gave to our paper.li journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes paper.li, I thought I’d run an adhoc omnibus of links on the blog to highlight links and news that might be of interest.

Author Monica Jackson has passed away

Last month, I found out via Karen Scott that Monica Jackson died from complications after surgery. This is a great loss for the romance community.

I remember Jackson from some passionate comment threads at Dear Author around race and diversity in romance, back before I started this blog. I didn’t know her  well, but I do remember reading a comment she wrote, which completely changed how I read those comment threads. I can’t remember her exact words—I think it was to do with tone and why it’s okay for commenters to be angry and passionate—but she made me think about my own behaviour, and it was a turning point for me as a blogger and as a participant in the romance community. You can read Karen’s tribute post here.

Charlaine Harris — Australian tour

Charlaine Harris, bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series will be touring Australia in July, followed by New Zealand in August. Tour details are still to be confirmed. She’s definitely scheduled to be at Tru Blood 2 (July 28 in Sydney and July 29 in Melbourne), but given the ticket prices I’ll take my chances on a local bookshop appearance. You can stalk her event calendar for details as they become available.

Guilty pleasures

SMH TV has made available for free a romance documentary called Guilty Pleasures:

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June 15, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. JamesThis book has surpassed its humble origins, and if you can overlook an under-defined heroine and clunky prose, you’ll find a lot to enjoy, especially in the bedroom.

This series has engendered some very polarised opinions. Some people refuse to read it on principle because of its origins as Twilight fanfic (posted as Master of the Universe). As dirty as I feel to think that just a pair of fangs and a sparkle may be all that separates me from the Twihards, my opinion is what it is. Fifty Shades of Grey hit the mark for me.

I originally read the e-book a few months ago, looking for BDSM smut and as long as the story (and especially the sex scenes) can convince me of the inherent conflict, connection and creativity between the hero and heroine, I might not notice or care about things that irritate other readers, such as the first person/present tense writing, hero Christian Grey naming his company Grey Enterprises Holdings when either Holdings or Enterprises would have sufficed (Holdings gets my vote), or Ana describing Christian’s ‘cool, cold lips’.

Although the quality of the writing is questionable, I sometimes wonder if that isn’t part of its appeal, lending a greater sense of intimacy because it feels less like a professionally published book than someone’s diary.

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June 9, 2012

Earlier today, one of my favourite historical romance authors, Julia Quinn, hung out with members of the Australian Romance Readers Association via Google Play. I was lucky enough to participate in the conversation, and you can watch the broadcast below.

And if for some reason you can’t watch the video, let me summarise the two most important pieces of information you need to know:

1. The Bridgerton epilogues will be rereleased later this year as a compilation, first as an ebook and then in print.

2. If you want to see Julia Quinn in Australia, you need to lobby HarperCollins: Facebook | Twitter

If you can’t view the embedded video, click here to watch the video directly on YouTube.

Thanks so much to ARRA, Julia Quinn and Louise Sherwin-Stark from Google, who hosted the hangout!

June 8, 2012

Readers subscribed to J. R. Ward’s fan page on Facebook would have heard the news by now, but the title and cover for book 11 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series has been announced.

Lover At Last by JR Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 11)

Qhuinn and Blay’s book will be called Lover At Last—a somewhat underwhelming title, but I seriously doubt that will affect the rapturous response to this tidbit. I say that as someone who is a sucker for the BDB. We all have our weaknesses.

June 6, 2012

Jilted by Rachael JohnsA rare species—an outback romance that fits squarely into the romance genre without losing its character. The setting is familiar but not intrusive, and the story navigates some very emotional territory.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

It’s no secret that I love the idea of outback romance, but I’ve not had much luck finding authors who hit the right balance of romance, setting and character for me. With her new release, Jilted, published under Harlequin’s Mira imprint, Rachael Johns has become one of those rare authors.

Aussie soap star Ellie Hughes is persona non grata in her home town of Hope Junction. Ten years ago, she stood up her childhood sweetheart, Flynn, before going on to become a media sensation and household name.

Now she’s back, determined to care for her injured godmother even though she knows she’ll be walking into hostile territory. Flynn has never forgotten his childhood sweetheart—nor the kind of man he became when she left him standing at the altar. Neither has Hope Junction, and they’re going to make sure Ellie knows it.

Jilted is an outback romance with broad appeal. The setting never overshadows the characters, and the romance follows a familiar path without being too predictable. It feels like an extended Australian Superromance. The plot navigates some very emotional territory and, yes, it made me cry.

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May 25, 2012

Destiny of the Light by Louise Cusack (Shadow Through Time Trilogy, Book 1)This book is heavy on the intrigue and light on the introspection, but there’s plenty of room for strong, independent female characters.

This review is part of the AWW2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.

Catherine lost her mother to cancer and her twin brother in an apparent suicide. When she visits the cliff where she last saw her twin, she’s compelled by a voice in her mind to jump.

So she does.

Catherine wakes up in a strange land in which she is apparently the long-lost Princess Khatrene and her brother, now called Mihale, is the ruling king of Ennae. Though she dies after her jump, Talis, her Guardian, saves her using his special brand of magic.

What follows is a kind of epic road trip interspersed with battles, pursuits, magical machinations and political intrigue. It’s not always easy to follow the plot. There are so many characters and strands that you need to be fully invested in the story to keep track of it all, and I admit that the story couldn’t always sustain my attention.

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May 23, 2012
The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (Highland Pleasures, Book 4)

The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (Highland Pleasures, Book 4)

A moving second-chance romance with well-developed characters. I can’t say enough about this series.

Hart Mackenzie, head of the notorious Mackenzie family, plans to run for prime minister. He took over as head of the family at a young age, protecting his younger siblings from his psychotic father. He was once engaged to Eleanor Ramsay, the love of his life, daughter of an eccentric but impoverished earl. Unfortunate circumstances led to the breaking of their engagement and it’s quite obvious from the start that they never really got over each other.

Now, Eleanor is back in his life, having received a nude photograph of Hart taken a long time ago. Who sent the photos? And can he really handle having Eleanor back in his life?

This story reads like it could have come out of a modern tabloid. Aspiring political candidate let his ex-mistress take photos of him naked when he was young, she died under scandalous circumstances (see book 1) and suddenly his ex-fiancee is receiving the photos in the mail, one by one. If this gets out in the press, Hart’s political career and his party are ruined and with it his dream of an independent Ireland (then Scotland!) someday. So in comes Eleanor, the ex-fiancee, to find the origin of said photos, under the pretense of being his secretary.

I love well-written second chance romances and author Jennifer Ashley does them very well. To me this is what the story is about, and the photos come second. Ashley does a good job of fleshing out Hart and Elizabeth’s relationship and slowly showing us what led to the last big break up before bringing them back together.

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May 18, 2012

I couldn’t attend the SWF 2012 chick-lit panel today, featuring authors Kathy Lette and Toni Jordan as well as moderator Gretel Killeen, but thanks to Twitter, here are some tidbits from the panel.

If you listened to the panel, I’d love to know what you thought!

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May 11, 2012

At lunchtime today, the lovely ladies from Mills & Boon were giving out free books to passers-by at Martin Place, Pitt Street Mall and the QVB. They were aided by so-called ‘buff butlers’ (though I’d say there was more buff than buttering). The initiative seemed well received, although for more impact they really needed more butlers. I say that in a completely objective (not objectifying way).

Check out the pics below or on our Flickr page (I particularly love the butler who pimped out the books to a group of schoolgirls—there’s no more exciting time for Mills & Boon than when you’re in high school!). Also, Decadence had the guys on their knees!

Did you spot the buff butlers and grab a book? Let us know!

Mills & Boon @ Pitt St MallBooks are for sharing, obviously...Mills & Boon @ Pitt St Mall

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