In Search of Karen Hawkins!!!!!

December 31, 2010

Have you ever had one of those moments when you get a brilliant idea?
You know what I'm talking about - those brilliant ideas that turn into big projects that eventually make you start pulling out your hair and shouting what was I thinking? Well, I had one of those moments. I was just sitting innocently in my chair pondering what article I should write for my blog. It had to be something special - something about the Holiday season. Nah, overdone. Something about the end of the year? Nah - already did that. Wait a minute! Wait a minute! It's 2010 - what about some sort of farewell to the decade?

Then that irritating Beatles song popped into my head... "you say goodbye, and I say hello...hello, hello..." I know, I'll compile a list of romance authors who have passed away since 2000 and a list of debut authors for the same time period. I don't know what I was thinking. At the time it seemed like a good idea.

And then, while in the middle of compiling - I happened to mention I was working on a decade list and do you know what was said to me? "You know, some people think the decade ended in 2009." Well, of course my brain exploded and I immediately ran to the web. OMG! You would not believe the raging fight going on out there over what year the decade ended! I always suspected that humans are silly creatures, now I know for sure that we are. Anyway, I have sided with the 2010 people - their argument sounded more logical and Wikipedia says 2010 is the end of the decade, so it must be right!

When that earth shattering decision was resolved, I continued on with my project of compiling my authors for my decade - 2000-2010. 2000-2010...2000-2010! You know, numbers are a funny thing. In fact I try to avoid numbers whenever possible. Let's take the years 2000 and 2010 for instance. If you subtract 2000 from 2010, what do you get? 10! If you add 10 to 2000, what do you get? 2010! So, logically 2000-2010 is ten years, right? Wrong! Here's what you do, write the years down in a column starting with 2000 and ending 2010. Now, how many numbers do we have? 11. Oh those wacky ancients that invented the zero! And by the way, if you want to find out more about zero, read the non-fiction book: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife.

Anyway, I have my decade list, however because I am including the year 2000, I'm calling it my Elevencade list.

I am also sure that I have left people out; however, these are the ones that I'm familiar with and this is my list.

GoodBye List:
Joan Aiken, 2004
Barbara Cartland, 2000
Nancy Cato, 2000
Elizabeth Chater, 2010
Virginia Coffman aka Virginia DuVaul, 2005
Celeste De Blasis, 2002
Dorothy Dunnett, 2001
Julie Ellis aka Susan Marino, Susan Marvin, 2006
Virginia Ellis aka Lyn Ellis, 2006
Rita Gallagher, 2004
Elizabeth Guest aka Suzanne Simmons, Suzanne Simms, Suzanne Simmons Guntrun, 2008
Mollie Hardwick, 2003
Jane Aiken Hodge, 2009
Isabelle Holland, 2002
Flora Kidd, 2008
Edith Layton, 2009
Alice Chetwynd Ley, 2004
Marjorie Lewty, 2002
Elizabeth Mansfield aka Paula Schwartz, 2003
Patricia Matthews, 2006
Betty Neels, 2001
Patricia Oliver aka Olivia Fontayne, 2002
Elisabeth Ogilvie, 2006
Maureen Peters aka Catherine Darby, Veronica Black, Belinda Grey, Elizabeth Law, Sharon Whitby, Judith Rothman, Levannah Lloyd, 2008
Belva Plain, 2010
Jennifer Rardin, 2010
Alexandra Ripley, 2004
Marlene Suson, 2005
Dawn Thompson aka Dawn MacTavish, 2008
Ronda Thompson, 2007
Elizabeth Thornton, 2010
Meriol Trevor, 2000
Sheila Walsh, 2009
Anne Weale, 2007
Kathleen Winsor, 2003
Kathleen Woodiwiss, 2007

Hello List
Really sorry for leaving out any new stars! This was an interesting list to compile. Some of these authors are still out there, still writing... some have changed genres and some have disappeared (What Happened?). I was actually surprised that there were so many new authors and that so many of them were still writing... especially when I whine about the shortage of books to read. And these are just the ones I'm familiar with!

Louise Allen 2000 - upcoming 2011
Zoƫ Archer 2006- 2010 latest book
Kristi Astor aka Kristina Cook 2004 - upcoming 2011
Jennifer Ashley aka Ashley Gardner, Laurien Gardner, Allyson James 2000 - upcoming 2011
Alexandra Bassett 2005 - 2006 (What Happened?)
Naomi Bellis 2006 - 2008 (What Happened?)
Renee Bernard 2006 - 2010 latest book
Jessica Bird aka J.R. Ward 2002 - upcoming 2011. Jessica seems to have vanished, but not JR Ward
Emily Bryan aka Mia Marlowe, Diana Groe 2006 - upcoming 2011 under Marlowe moniker
Anne Campbell 2077 - upcoming 2011
Fiona Carr 2003-2004 (What Happened?)
Kathryn Caskie 2004 - 2010 latest book
Kresley Cole 2003 - upcoming 2011
Evangeline Collins 2009-2010 latest book
Tiffany Clare 2008 - upcoming 2011
Victoria Dahl 2009 - upcoming 2011
Claudia Dain 2000 - 2010 latest book
Tessa Dare 2009 - 2010 latest book
Sylvia Day aka Livia Dare, S.J. Day 2005 - upcoming 2011
Robyn DeHart 2005 - upcoming 2011
Sarah Elliott 2005 - 2009 (What Happened?)
Charlotte Featherstone 2005 - upcoming 2011
Jeaniene Frost 2007 - upcoming 2011
Shana Galen 2005 - upcoming 2011
Jennifer Haymore 2009 - 2010 latest book
Karen Hawkins aka Kim Bennet 2000 - upcoming 2011. (When I saw the date on her first published, I was stunned. Karen Hawkins has been around forever or at least I thought she had. I had to do some searching and going through my books - her bio says she sold her first book in the 90's, however I could find only 2000 copyright dates. Even the Kim Bennet book has a copyright of 2000. So after a half a day of searching I have decided that for now we are stuck with the date of 2000. Of course, you know this means that Eloisa James has been published longer. Time is a funny thing.)
Susan Gee Heino 2009 - upcoming 2011
Elizabeth Hoyt 2006 - upcoming 2011
Kalen Hughes aka Isobel Carr 2007 - upcoming 2011 under Carr moniker
Madeline Hunter - 2000 - upcoming 2011...thought she'd been around longer!
Judith James 2008 - upcoming 2011
Julia James 2008 - upcoming 2011
Sophia James 2004 - upcoming 20011
Alissa Johnson 2008 - upcoming 2011
Sophie Jordan 2006 - upcoming 2011
Lydia Joyce 2005 - 2009 (What Happened?)
Shirley Karr 2005 - 2006 (What Happened?)
Jennie Klassel 2003 - 2005 (What Happened?)
Vanessa Kelly 2009 - upcoming 2011
Tamara Lejeune 2005 - 2010 latest book
Rose Lerner 2010 upcoming 2011
Caroline Linden 2006 - 2010 latest book
Sara Lindsey 2010 - 2011 upcoming
Kimberly Logan 2005-2008 (What Happened?)
Julie Anne Long 2004 - upcoming 2011
Beverley Kendall 2010 - upcoming 2011
Sally MacKenzie 2005 - upcoming 2011
Sarah MacLean 2009 - upcoming 2011
Joanna Maitland 2001 - 2010 latest book
Anne Mallory 2004 - upcoming 2011
Lisa Manuel aka Allison Chase 2004 - upcoming 2011 under Chase moniker
Michelle Marcos 2007 - upcoming 2011
Delilah Marvelle 2008 - upcoming 2011
Jolie Mathis 2006 (What Happened?)
Melissa Mayhue 2007 - upcoming 2011
Christine Merrill 2006 - upcoming 2011
Amanda McCabe 2001 - upcoming 2011
Mary Reed McCall 2001 - 2007 (What Happened?)
Monica McCarty 2007 - 2010 latest book
Margaret McPhee 2005 - upcoming 2011
Courtney Milan 2010 - upcoming 2011
Lucy Monroe 2002 - upcoming 2011
Sophia Nash 2004 - 2010 latest book
Miranda Neville 2009 - upcoming 2011
Kaitlin O'Riley 2007 - upcoming 2011
Sharon Page 2006 - upcoming 2011
Olivia Parker 2008 - upcoming 2011
Diane Perkins aka Diane Gaston 2004 - upcoming 2011
Jenna Petersen 2006 - upcoming 2011
Paula Quinn 2005 - upcoming 2011
Laura Rendon aka Melody Thomas 2001 - 2004 (What Happened?)
Pam Rosenthal 2003 - 2008 latest book - still writing
Nonnie St. George 2003 - 2004 (What Happened?)
Samantha Saxon 2005 - 2006 (What Happened?)
Melissa Schroeder 2004 - upcoming 2011
Eve Silver aka Eve Kenin 2005 - 2010 latest book
Hope Tarr 2006 - 2010 latest book
Sherry Thomas 2003 - 2010 latest book
Dawn Thompson 2006 - passed away
Lisa Valdez 2005 - 2010 latest book
Tracy Anne Warren 2006 - upcoming 2011
Minda Webber 2005 - 2008 (What Happened?)
Christine Wells 2007 - 2010 latest book
Emma Wildes 2006 - upcoming 2011
Lauren Willig 2005 - upcoming 2011
Mary Wine 2005 - upcoming 2011
Veronica Wolff 2008 - upcoming 2011


On My Radar - January/February 2011

December 28, 2010

The Perfect Mistress by Victoria Alexander
Release date: January 25, 2011
9781420117059, also ebook

Abandoned at the Altar
by Laura Lee Guhrke
Scandal of the Year series, 2
Release date: January 25, 2011

Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
Maiden Lane series, 2
Release date: January 25, 2011

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Fractured Fairy Tale series, 2
Release date: January 25, 2011

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries
Hellions of Halstead Hall series, 3
Release date: January 18, 2011

Society's Most Disreputable Gentleman by Julia Justiss
Release date: January 18, 2011

Unveiled by Courtney Milan
Release date: January 25, 2011

The Countess by Lynsay Sands
Madison Sisters series, 1
Release date: January 25, 2011

For the complete list see Upcoming List!!!Hey Delia!!!

Memories Schmemories, Continuing Saga Update!! Silken Threads by Patricia Ryan

There is a reason why Silken Threads (published in 1999) by Patricia Ryan won the 2000 RITA award for best historical novel. It's good! Oh sure, when I reread the book I did notice some anachronistic terms; however the book is so steeped in medieval atmosphere that I chose to ignore them.

This story takes place in 1165, a time period woefully neglected. We have Graeham Fox, a bastard soldier of fortune, and Joanna Chapman, a widow and a down-on-her-luck silk merchant. Here's the quick plot: Graeham is sent to London on a mission to rescue a woman from her husband. Along the way he is set upon by a bunch of brigands and has the crap beat out of him. He is rescued by Joanna's brother Hugh and taken to her house to recover. Well, as luck would have it for Romanceland, he suffers some broken ribs and a broken leg which requires him to stay at Joanna's house for two months. It is at this point, and this is a really early point, that the story becomes really good. You see, Joanna's house is located behind the house of the woman he is to rescue and from a window, Graeham can keep an eye on the coming and goings of that house. Anything ringing a bell yet? For all of you who have watched Hitchcock's Rear Window, you should be hearing a giant clanging in your brain... because this story is a take-off of that wonderful movie.

Neither one of the main characters are aristocratic, and Graeham has ambitions that make a HEA very hard to come by. The romance is based on lies and distrust but the characters that travel by Graeham's window are what makes this tale a better than normal romance. What makes this book really great are the characters that share the pages with Graeham and Joanna. There's the quite sympathetic leper, Thomas; the whore; the shopkeepers; and London. Yes, London... in this book, all of the rich textures of London are there, including the smells.

This is one of my favorite books, and if I have any complaints, it would be the quick wrapping up of all the stumbling blocks that Ms. Ryan set up along the way. And, I wish that she still wrote historicals. I followed her Nell Sweeney books and read her Louisa Burton's, but I loved her historical writing the best. If you have never read a book by Ms. Ryan, I'd recommend going to the library and checking this one out.

Time/Place: Medieval England
Sensuality Rating: Warm, with a hot bath scene.


Hungry for You by Lynsay Sands

December 17, 2010

Oh those wacky Argeneaus!

Hungry For You by Lynsay Sands is the 15th zillion book in the Argeneau series. Actually it's the 15th, but who's counting? I've found that the books in this series are either good or ho-hum, and this one is a good one, although not the best.

Hopefully, if you're reading this book you are already familiar with how the vampires/immortals in this particular series operate, because there is only a minor explanation toward the end. The hero for this one is Cale and his life-mate is Alex. Alex is the third Willin sister to get her story and find the love of an immortal. Because Ms. Sands has introduced the "life-mate" plot, there isn't too much of a question of whether these two are going to end up together, although there was an introduction of the word "love" and whether Cale also loved Alex, his life-mate. So, I found that to be rather interesting.

This book is different from the others in the fact that the bad guy isn't a vampire, there's no murder, and mostly no blood or gore. Notice I said mostly. And no mad rush to save anybody. There is a lot of humor though. And if the humor of the secondary characters Bricker starts to get on your nerves, there is also the humor created when Cale tries to maneuver through cooking and managing a microwave. These moments reminded me a little of Knight in Shining Armor, except there's no time travel, just an immortal who's been around for 1000's of years and has long since given up food and forgotten how to cook (although after a couple of microwave accidents, I started to wonder why he wasn't reading the instructions that come with frozen food). I did have a chuckle out loud moment when Alex tries to sneak up on a room full of vampire/immortals.

Even though there was no chasing evil villains in this book, I found it to be a fast-paced read. And if you are following the Argeneau series, this one is a good one and I think you'll enjoy it.

Time/Place: Now Canada
Sensuality Rating: Hot


His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell

December 15, 2010

We have a winner!!!

What can I say? I loved this book! I loved both the heroine, Abigail, and the hero, Andres. His Christmas Pleasure is filled with just the right amount of humor and enough pathos to ring a tear from one's eye or eyes, whichever the case may be.

I don't know where to begin, except to say that Abigail, a really delightful heroine, doesn't always make the right choices in men. And her heart is broken by one of those smarmy guys that just oozes charm. Andres, a hero with a lot of baggage, comes to the rescue. This couple steel away into Scotland and are married at Gretna Green. And it is a bumpy, enjoyable ride to the HEA.

What I loved about this book most of all was the humor. There were at least two scenes that were laugh out loud moments, so, that's always a plus for me. Then there are the two main characters. They are both searching for something; they're lonely people, they are honest with each other and they discuss what they are going to do about problems that might arise. By the way, one of those discussions about marital relations was a hoot. Now, when I say they are honest with each other, I mean they are mostly honest with each other. Andres has some major lies/secrets that he doesn't tell Abigail about, but this is not a major misunderstanding blowup. This is a couple that have individual yearnings and desires, a need to prove themselves. One of the almost tear-jerking moments occurs when Andres tells Abigail about his home in the country. A home, by the way, that he's never seen. He has created this wonderful fantasy in his head about his beautiful country house. And he precedes to create this story for Abigail and eventually has her believing it. When I read this part, I thought OMG, he's going to crash big time! And he does. The reality and the dreams just don't match. Let me tell you, when he sees his reality, a crumbling estate and no money, it has to be one of the most painful moments I've read in a novel in a long time... But don't despair! This is one romance couple that work through most of the hardships that get in their way. And I found myself rooting for them every bumpy step of the way to that HEA.

If I had any quibble with this book, it was with Andres' willingness to give up too easily and that the ending was wrapped up too neatly... but don't let that stop you from reading this.

Overall, this was a delight to read and I've found another book that I didn't want to end. This is a funny, heartwarming story with a truly adorable couple. It is filled with everything a romance should be filled with, and I'm adding it to my favorites list.

Time/Place: Regency England/Scotland
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Lords of Passion by Virginia Henley, Maggie Robinson, Kate Pearce
OK, I once made the statement that I was never going to read another anthology again, but oh well I lied. Lords of Passion has three authors involved, Virginia Henley, Kate Pearce and Maggie Robinson

Let's start at the beginning with Virginia Henley's Beauty and the Brute or as it's called in my house A Plethora of Aristocrats. Of all of the authors out there in Romanceland, Virginia Henley is never a surprise and this short story is no surprise. This short story almost made me take my - no more anthology vow again.

I had a number of personal problems with this story, first of all it's based on a true story and it's filled with real people...lot's and lot's of real people. There's the Duchess of Shrewsbury, Lady Anne Lennox, Princess Caroline, Prince Frederick, Earl of Albemarle, Marquis of Blandford, Duke of Marlborough, Dowager Duchess of Marlborough (Sarah Churchill), Lady Diane Spencer, to say nothing of the main characters, Sarah Cadogan and Charles Lennox - later the Duke and Duchess of Richmond. And for all you history buffs, the parents of the Lennox sisters (a story in itself.) Every time one of these people showed up in the story, I had to run to my non-fiction books and check them out. And let me tell you these people showed up a lot. I have come to believe that Virginia Henley is a name dropper. So, I found all of these whacky nobles to be a bit of a distraction.

And then my ick factor really kicked in big time! Now, since this was based on a true story we have a heroine and hero who were married at 13 and 18, then according to Ms. Henley consummated their marriage at the grand old age of 16 and 21. Now, I can read this in a non-fiction book and not be upset, but when I'm presented with the bedroom antics of these two, along with Ms. Henley's usage of time-period appropriate sex slang...all I could say was eewwww! I strongly dislike the slang "m...s" (on page 53, 63, 74), almost as much as I dislike the term "p" and they are both in this book over and over again. Plus, Sarah doesn't have normal "m...s", it's "high m...s". What is she, deformed? Why do we always have to go just that one step more? Give me a break! And then there is the 21st century choppy language...that also got on my nerves. As you can tell, we have a groan story here.

Time/Place: 1719 England
Sensuality Rating: Ick

Then I wiped the sweat from my brows and gave a sigh of relief. How to Seduce a Wife by Kate Pearce was second and it saved me from swearing off anthologies again.

This story had me smiling, especially in the beginning when Louisa is more interested in the pirate book she's reading then in having sex with her husband Nicholas. I thought this part of the book was a hoot. Of course, Nicholas sets out to seduce his wife and of course he succeeds by making her fantasies come true. This was a fast read, filled with some really hot sex.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Really Hot!

Then we come to Maggie Robinson's Not Quite a Courtesan. This was the winner of the group. I loved this story, which by the way didn't have the feel of a short story. I also think it was a first for me, I didn't want this short story to end or maybe I wanted it to be a long story. We have Darius, whose family business is dealing in pornographic antiques and Prudence, an uptight widow whose silly cousin is married to Darius' equally silly brother.

This story is filled with some really funny stuff, from the dialog to the inner thoughts of Prudence, all great fun!

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Hot!

Warning: This is a trade sized paperback, so, it's one of those that don't fit on the books selves and cost a little more.


Chosen for the Marriage Bed by Anne O'Brien

Button button, who's got the button!

Yes, there is a rant coming on. I innocently sat down, looking forward to reading a book set in a different time period. Chosen for the Marriage Bed by Anne O'Brien at first glance has a very lovely cover. Nice illustration, lush coloring, nice. But wait! What's that I see? Buttons! Quick! Pull out my history of clothing books... ok, ok, the button has been around for a while, so I can relax. But we all know that once one gets started finding flaws, one continues to look for more. Bingo! What's that I see on the other side of the hero's doublet? Right across from the buttons. Buttonholes? No, no my children. What you see is what appears to be rivets/snaps... something metal. You know what a rivet is, it keeps our clothes together and in case you don't know it was patented in 1884. Yes, fellow romanceland readers 1884 not 1460. I don't know why I'm surprised - after all, we live in a world that passes off Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a thin, black-haired ruler, who was in fact a corpulent red-haired despot. So, why should I expect anything different? I'll tell you why: because Harlequin is making a pretty good living off of me and mostly women like me, and I would think that they would want to be more responsive to their public.

I know, I know, this isn't the first time that a cover on a historical novel has been wrong. And, sorry to say it won't be the last. I also am aware that probably in some photography studio there is a hanger full of theatrical costumes with snaps on them. I just wish that the artist who is responsible for the rendering would take the time to paint/photoshop out those modern conveniences. Obviously no one else at the publishing house is going to do anything about it. Illustrators, raise up! Cast off those shackles! You have a brain! You studied art history! You saw those portraits hanging in museums! NO SNAPS! Click your heels three times and repeat - no snaps, no snaps, no snaps. And while I'm on a roll, what's with the JoAnn fabric braiding on the collar? Plus, the heroine has a shaved head in the book... but, you guessed it... not on the cover. Somehow, I feel insulted by Harlequin, a publishing company who's motto must be: "Oh, just slap any old costume on the cover, they'll never know." Wrong!

Now, to the inside of Chosen for the Marriage Bed. We are going to divide this book into halves. The first half I liked; the second half, not so much. When I started to read this book, I was drawn to the heroine. I really liked her. She was smart, honest, not afraid. Oh sure, she and her maid dabbled in the black arts and she seemed to be just a tiny bit superstitious. We know that because she wears a number of plants and weeds on her person, and we get a detailed description of what these plants and weeds are used for. And, I am willing to accept that people in the 1460's were a tad bit superstitious. However, these superstitions were written in such a way that I thought for a while the book might take a paranormal turn. That wasn't the case. They were written as everyday beliefs, with hardly a raised eyebrow, and I'm not really sure that was the case. So, that part of the book was a little discordant for my brain to handle.

In the first half of the book, our couple meet and marry and get to know each other. I liked the first half couple as they adjusted to each other, talked to each other and were honest with each other. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing where the author would go with the story at this point, because there wasn't any tension being created. Well, the answer wasn't too long in coming. Elizabeth's brother is murdered while the wedding celebration is going on. And Elizabeth's e-v-i-l uncle blames the hero, Richard, for the death. Now, it is at this point that the heroine, whom I liked before, turns into a TSTL heroine. She wants revenge! Revenge! Revenge! And, she doesn't really care who she has to step over to get her revenge. She shoots an arrow at her uncle and gets him in the arm, at a crowded market... with tons of people around. Now, according to the author, this incident is based on a true story. Well, I'm sorry. While this may be based on a true story, that doesn't mean it's not silly. She also at this point becomes a doubter, then she's trusting, then she doubts, then she trusts. I developed whiplash from the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality of the heroine. And then the hero is called away by the king to fight in some big battle, but before he goes his castle is surrounded by men with no banners. He sneaks the women out to a convent, goes to his other estate, gets troops, goes back to the castle, the bad guys are gone, the bad guys are at the convent, the hero goes back to the convent, saves his wife, lets the bad guy go. And, never goes to join the king in battle - that part was sort of forgotten. In fact, there is a new king in the epilogue and the bad guy is still there, alive, having an audience with the king, and then the story ends.

As I said, liked the first half... second half, not so much.

Time: 1460 England
Sensuality Rating: warm