Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TBR Challenge 2011: Exposed: Misbehaving with the Magnate

I am participating in the 2011 TBR Challenge being hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian
Each month participants read one novel from their TBR list and post a review. I’m hoping this will help with the large number of books I have that I haven’t read yet, but can’t seem to part with. I mean to read them, but I find something else to distract me and somehow never get back to it.

There are a series of suggestions for each month’s post. There’s no obligation to stick to the suggested categories, or even to post every single month.

I have a few rules for myself. I’m only going to post about books I liked. If I didn’t like a title, I will pick another book or just skip that month. If there are bits that didn’t work for me or flaws, I’ll point them out. But if my overall feeling is that the book just was off, I don’t wish to post paragraphs on why it’s not for me. It’s not that I feel that the authors aren’t adult enough to take the criticism. It’s not that I don’t support the rights of bloggers to be honest in their reviews. I just don’t want to waste my blogging time writing something so negative. 

The first suggested read is a category romance. I actually read a fair amount of category so I didn’t have any unread laying around the house.  I did have a bunch of free ebooks from Mills and Boon that I’d never even opened over the holidays and when I looked through these, I did find a reissue of an 2009 Kelly Hunter book I had never read. I had read the sequel to this 'Hot Bed of Scandal' duo. It was actually my first ever Hunter book and I adored it so much that I hunted down all of her Bennet family stories as well.

Exposed: Misbehaving with the Magnate is a reunion story. This is a trope that I love, but that can have so much go wrong. The book opens with Gabrielle's return to her childhood home and her first love Luc. The opening does a great job of setting both the plot of the book and the feeling of the story. Hunter's books for me all have a huge emotional punch without feeling too dark and heavy. And that's really saying something considering some of the issues in this book.

Here's the blurb from Hunter's website.
Forbidden desire... unleashed passion!

Seven years ago Gabrielle was the housekeeper's daughter, and Luc Duvalier, as the heir to a vast fortune, was forbidden! One hot kiss got Gaby banished, but she's returned home determined to face Luc as an equal - in every way!

Both know it's only a matter of time before they give in to their passion - despite the scandal this will cause.

 I loved that she didn't go away and pine for Luc. She lived her life. Gabrielle had a full personal and professional life. She didn't come home a 25 year old virgin. Having had that kind of full life, it's all the more poignant when she realizes what is missing. Gabrielle is a real and flawed heroine. She had plenty of problems in her past (I won't divulge to much here), but she didn't always react well to them. The fact that she recognises and accepts that fact made me love her even more.

The relationship between Gabreille and her mother is complicated and painful. The end of that plot line did feel a little rushed, not surprising given the constraints of a category word count. It was a believable and satisfying ending, where again the heroine refrains from self-pity.

Luc's sister Simone plays a fairly large part in the story, enough of a part that she's more than just sequel bait. And I loved her just as much here as I did in her book Revealed: A Prince and a Pregnancy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Doubts are in the air. There have been many people talking about the ways that writers can combat them. Maisey Yates compares them to crows, big ones that are just waiting to peck at you. There are certainly more than enough reasons to doubt. When I'm all alone in front of the screen, the crows seem menacing. Writing is lonely indeed. Some days the crows seem more like vultures.

They circle around overhead as I wander the wilderness of my manuscript. Their very presence seems confirmation of some weakness that I hadn't noticed before. They drift ever closer as the day goes by. Even if the word count is getting larger, they taunt me. They aren't the right words. The words aren't good enough. The dialogue is stilted. The pacing is off. The characters are boring me, who will ever want to read this?

Thoses big black birds peck away at our confidence. It's so hard as writer to keep going with so little feedback. When you do get feedback, it isn't always what you'd hoped for. There are harsh critiques, revisions, maybe even a rejection from a publisher. Writing is pouring your mind, heart and soul into a story knowing there will be rejection. Not everyone will like the story. Perioid. For sure. For every wildly popular author, there are groups that hate that author's work. Someone is going to hate that thing in my novel everyone else loves.  That will hurt.

And then the scavengers come back, drawn by the smell of blood. Like wild animals, they can sense my weakness and there they'll be ready to pounce on me. In the past, I didn't have the courage to face them down. Rather than accept that I might not be good enough, I just stopped trying. I was busy doing other things and just didn't get back to the story that was attracting those scary birds. I came out of it whole, but what I gave up was the thing I most wanted: to write.

So, as they circle over head I'll keep an eye on them, but this time I won't turn and run.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

My birthday was Sunday. Monday morning a woke up to the best present. I won a spot in Lani Diane Rich's Revision class over on StoryWonk. I am so excited!! I've been listening to her weekday podcasts and aside from being super fun, she manages to get the big concepts about what works in a story into brief, laugh-filled 10 minutes bites. Seriously. At the very least, you should listen to her talk on owning your greatness. Go on. I'll wait.

It is such a struggle to believe in yourself as a writer. No matter how great your manuscript, there always seems to be room for improvement. To the unpublished author, getting an agent or a contract seems a well-nigh unattainable goal. Even published authors face lousy reviews and rough revisions. Everyone seems willing to line up to tell you no. It is hard to pick yourself up when you're feeling battered and bruised. It's hard to try again with no promise of success. The only thing I no for certain is that if I don't try, it's a regret I can't live with.

That's true of all of the things that really matter to me in life. When I had my children, there was no promise that they'd be okay. Or even that I'd be a good mother. There have skinned knees and tears. There have been awkward questions. There have been heartrending things I've had to tell my children. Maybe I haven't always been a good mother, but I've been a good enough mother. They are both in high school now and they are young women of whom I'm as often proud as I am provoked. I think those are pretty decent results.

When I got married, there was no promise, beyond our vows, that our marriage would last, that we would be one of the lucky couples. But I believe in my husband and I believe in love. We've been married nearly twenty years now. I just can't even imagine my world without him.

It's obvious that I believe in love: I write romance. It's easy to believe that loving someone can change your life for the better. It's so much more frightening to have that faith in myself.