Happy Reading

I know there have been a couple summer reads posts on the blog already this month, and this is another one, but hear me out. A Facebook friend posted a “must read” list the other day, and every one of the books was intense–about mental illness, or cancer, or the Holocaust, betrayal, murder, suicide. I asked if anyone read happy books any more, and the answer was no. Really?

I will say that I don’t always read happy books, and I definitely don’t watch happy TV–I’m binge watching Bitten and Penny Dreadful at the moment–whoa. The books I write, although they have happy endings–a requirement in romance, of course–tend to be on the dark side. But every once in awhile, I need something light-hearted–the literary equivalent of an ice cream cone. And when I want to read happy, I’ll usually pick up a romance.

But the Facebook exchange got me thinking. I can’t remember the last time I read a happy book that wasn’t a romance, although cozy mysteries come very close–my faves are the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton, and the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. Browsing through Goodreads, it’s hard to find one–every description seems to contain the words “poignant,” “deeply affecting,” “deeply moving,” “haunting,” yadda yadda, which are usually code for “will make you bawl until snot comes out of your eyes.” I’m sure they’re great books, but they’re not for me.

So my challenge for you, friends, is to help me come up with a list of feel good books for the summer. Happy, but not happy-ever-after. I found a few that look promising, and they’re on my TBR list for an upcoming road trip to Massachusetts and Maine:

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The title alone is enough. I actually read and finished this book after I drafted this post. Read it. You must, must read it.

 

 

The Whistling Season. Aptly demonstrating the power of a good blurb.

 

 

 

My Lady Jane. I’m not entirely sure how happy this will be–Lady Jane Grey didn’t exactly have a happy ending–but I am intrigued nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

What books do you recommend, or have on your TBR list?

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Romeo & Juliet

Ah yes, one of the most re-told stories in my opinion. There are many great movies out there that originate from books, but none touches my soul more than this romantic tragedy.

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You can capture this great masterpiece in book form, in movie form, play, or ballet. It is a story that can speak to generations. And while I enjoy the classic telling of the story, there is something to be said for the modernized versions of this tale. How many people found Shakespeare boring before Leonardo and Claire?

ROMEO AND JULIET, Leonardo Di Caprio, Claire Danes, 1996, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

ROMEO AND JULIET, Leonardo Di Caprio, Claire Danes, 1996, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

And I ran across this little image for yet another version that I’ve added to my to be watched pile. has anyone seen this version?

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And let us not forget a small shout out to the cartoon versions….

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I think seeing the remakes and various tellings of such a classic story really speaks volumes for the work itself. The Romeo and Juliet influence can be seen in many books out there and I for one, will forever be grateful for William Shakespeare.

What is your go to favorite book to movie?

About Kinsey Corwin

Kinsey Corwin, a contemporary romance author who really is drawn to small town stories, beaches, and cowboys (I know, that is quite a mix). She is a single mom of amazing boys, a fan of kitchen experiments, a lover of country music, and a dreamer.

Adele Downs — New Release!!

LIP SERVICE by
Best-Selling Author
ADELE DOWNS

Lip Service_tent3Some ghosts won’t take “yes” for an answer.

Jack Harris has loved Legs Anderson since they were kids. Now that he has her in his bed, he has no intention of letting her go. Aunt Ada has other ideas, even from the grave.
GETTING BETWEEN JACK…
Orphaned at a young age, Legs Anderson owes her Aunt Ada everything. The stoic old lady raised her, and Ada’s warnings about men—and the Harris boys in particular—have stuck, even after her death. Of course, that could be because Ada stuck around, too.
…AND HIS LEGS
Patience is not one of Jack Harris’s virtues, and he’s waited too long to start a life with the woman he’s loved since childhood instead of them just knocking boots. Now Ada is interfering from beyond the grave, haunting the old Victorian house she bequeathed to her niece and reinforcing Legs’s fears of commitment. But Jack won’t give up. No matter what trouble may follow, the house will be renovated, Ada will learn to let go, Legs will put her money where her mouth is…and then Jack’ll put his lips everywhere else.

Excerpt:
The roar of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Rachel’s block and the rev of a throttle in her driveway announced Jack’s arrival. Legs tried to appear nonchalant when he walked through the poolside gate, but the sight of his sun-streaked hair and tanned, muscular good looks nearly knocked her out her seat. She eased her sunglasses down the bridge of her nose to get a better look.
When he stepped into the pool area dressed in black jeans, black biker boots, and a white muscle shirt that framed his pumped-up shoulders and biceps, she caught her breath. Everyone in the group said “hey” and Rachel offered him a cold drink, but his focus had remained on her. He slid his sunglasses on top of his head and nodded in her direction.
Legs remembered his gaze meeting hers before his attention strayed to her gold and black bikini then savored every inch of her skin. An appreciative smirk curled his lips and desire flashed in his beautiful blue eyes. He took a long pull of the soft drink someone handed him and then set the can down on the patio table. He looked her way and said, “Want to go for a ride?”
The invitation came out like a dare. All eyes shifted to her, watching to see what she’d do. They all knew she wasn’t allowed to date Jack Harris. Taking a ride on his motorcycle might not have been the same thing, but there would be hell to pay if her aunt found out.
She stretched her arms over her head and offered a lazy smile. “I guess so.” Though she’d been as nervous and excited as a rabbit, she never let on. She stood and pulled on her shorts and shirt, slid her sandals over her feet, and made her way across the patio to him.
Her aunt’s spies might see her on the road, but she pushed that worry aside. Mere weeks remained before she’d move away to college and the subject would be moot. She’d be gone most of the next four years, and by the time she got back, Jack would probably be married with a couple of kids. Half the women in town had their eyes on him and his brothers.
The idea of Jack marrying someone else made her furious, and more determined than ever to enjoy this rare day alone with him.
His gaze tracked every step of her approach, as if memorizing the lines and planes of her face, learning the shape of her breasts, and tattooing the curves of her waist into his brain. When she reached his side, he smiled at her so intently she almost faltered. Her heartbeat raced when he took her hand. She barely heard her friends say good-bye as they exited the patio door.
His Harley was built in classic style—all black steel and leather with silver chrome, glinting majestically in the sunlight like a god. She ran her fingers over the warm plush seats.
“Ever been on a bike before?” he asked, watching her with eyes so blue she almost missed his question while she stared back.
She pulled an elastic band from her shorts pocket and tied her hair into a ponytail. “Uh. No.” Her hair swung with the shake of her head. He probably knew the answer, but she appreciated the benefit of his question. He hadn’t made her feel like a total geek.
He gave her a tutorial with simple instructions, including the demand that she hold on to him tight and not let go. No problem there. She resisted a fit of giggles, determined to act her age and accept responsibility for her own safety, as tenuous as that might be on the rear end of a motorcycle wearing shorts and sandals.
Yikes. Hormones really did rule the heart.
He slid his sunglasses into place and got on the bike, steadying it with his feet while she scooted in behind him. After shifting her weight to find her center of balance, she wrapped her arms tight around his chest. The solid feel of his body thrilled her beyond anything she’d imagined. He smelled fantastic too, like musk cologne, leather, and sweat tossed with August air and sunshine.
“Ready?” he asked.
Leaning closer for support, she pressed her torso against his back and stifled a gasp at the sensations the friction created. If he never started the engine, and they simply sat together like this, it would have been enough.

About the Author:
Her Immortal Viking - Author PhotoAdele Downs writes best-selling contemporary romance inside the office of her rural Pennsylvania home. She is a former journalist, published in newspapers and magazines inside the USA, UK, and Caribbean.
Adele is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter where she serves as a past-president. When Adele isn’t working on her current project, she can be found riding in her convertible or reading a book on the nearest beach.
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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

A Loveable Heroine–Guest Post

Creating a Lovable Heroine

by Emily Mims

I’m going to make a confession right now.  Writing a lovable heroine didn’t always come easy for me.  I have been taken to task time and time again by my editors and occasionally by my readers because my heroines have not been the nicest people in the world.  Oh, they weren’t cruel or vicious or evil.  They didn’t deliberately set out to steal or cause trouble or hurt others in the story.  But somehow they weren’t all that likeable either, at least not in the first draft.  Unlike my heroes, who the readers and I fall in love with right along with the heroine, my heroines could sometimes seem cold and aloof and uncaring.  And I had to change that, because along with falling in love with the hero, my readers also have to care about the heroine.  They have to like her and root for her and really, really want her to have her happily ever after.  Otherwise, why read her story?

So I had to sit down and think.  Why were my heroines coming off less than wonderful?  Why was I writing them so cold?  A part of it was because I wanted my heroines to be very, very strong women.  I grew up reading a generation of romance novels in which the women were seldom portrayed as strong.  They were young, pretty, and just marking time until a rich, handsome older man came along (or rode up on his steed) and swept her off her feet.  Or they let themselves be a doormat, both for the hero and for just about anyone else who cared to use them in that manner.  I had a lot of fun reading those books but I would also get aggravated.  No way, I would think.  Where is her spine?  Where is her gumption?  Where is her career?  Where is the strong woman I want to read about?  Where is the strong woman I want to be?  My heroines would be different!

And so at first I over-compensated.  My heroines were strong and independent all right, but at the same time cold and brilliant and emotionless–or they were until my editor at Candlelight Ecstasy sat down with me and together we looked at my ladies.  She took me page by page through the first few novels I wrote for her, patiently pointing out the places where my heroines were cold and needed to be ‘warmed up’.  “Don’t make her so perfect,” she said to me.  “Put her in a ratty robe and let her have laundry on the sofa.  Make her human.”  And that went for my heroine’s relationship with the hero.  She could be strong, but she has to be loving as well.  She has to care about him and it has to show.

I like to think I paid close attention and learned.  But I struggle still.  In the first read-through of ‘Solomon’s Choice’, my first book in the Texas Hill Country series, Caroline Stern was very cold, frozen in grief over her dead husband, bitter about the time lost with her child and totally uncompromising in her attitude toward Jack Briscoe, under the circumstances perfectly natural reactions–but not very attractive ones.  So, taking the advice of a trusted reader I warmed her up and gave her compassion for Jack, a fellow victim of a cruel plot and the father of her child.  I was more careful with my next heroine.  Captain Holly Riley, the heroine of ‘Daughter of Valor’, is a wounded warrior who is understandably unhappy with the turn her life has taken, but she has channeled her frustration into helping her wounded warrior friends who are worse off than she, and in spite of her amusing tendency to pop out orders her soldiers and the four year old daughter of the hero adore her.  Christi of ‘Welcome Home’ helps paraplegic Tommy Joe adjust to his new life in a wheelchair and Emily Riley of the upcoming novella ‘Unexpected Assets’ is able to look past her hero’s horrible scarring to see the wonderful man within. And what can I say about Angie Baxter, my heroine of the next full-length book in the Texas Hill Country series ‘Never and Always’?  This woman stayed with an abusive husband because of her love for her beloved stepson.  I made sure that her love for the boy shone from every page of the book.

So what qualities did I finally learn to create in my heroines?  These days, they are strong, yes, but I’m also careful to make them caring of the hero and others around them.  Caroline shells the pecans in her yard to make Jack pecan pies.  Holly buys special pots and pans for one of her warriors so he can get a job as a chef.  Angie bakes special cakes for her son.  They are less than perfect–I let them get tired and frazzled and frightened and down–but they never let life defeat them.  They accept or learn to accept the heroes for who they are, or better yet, help the heroes become better men than they were. And they too grow in the story.  They are better women on the last page of the book than they were on the first.  And we love them for it.

***

Together Cathy and Beto have faced horror and heartbreak. Will they together find their way back to happiness?

What was to be the first night of the rest of their lives together instead became an evening of heartbreak and horror. Now dealing with the aftermath, Cathy Armbruster and Beto Flores struggle to put their lives and their relationship back together. Was their future destroyed on that fateful night, or will Cathy and Beto find a way to get past the heartbreak and claim the happily ever after with one another that they both want so desperately?

Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/After-Heartbreak-Emily-Mims-ebook/dp/B00NP7N4SK/
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/477608
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-aftertheheartbreak-1630094-149.html

When wounded war hero Holly Riley comes home to the Texas Hill Country to build a new life for herself, she has no idea that life will include sexy Congressional candidate Jimmy Adamcik!

Wounded war hero Holly Riley has come to the lakeshore community of Heaven’s Point to recover from her injuries and build a new life for herself with her band of fellow wounded warriors. Temporarily employed as a nanny be charismatic Congressional candidate and neighbor Jimmy Adamcik, Holly and Jimmy quickly began to care for one another in spite of Holly’s distrust of politics. But Jimmy finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the seamy side of the political process, and an old enemy from Jimmy’s past targets Holly’s soldiers one by one. Will Jimmy and Holly’s love survive the double onslaught-or will they be the final target of their unknown enemy’s rage?

Buy Links
http://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Valor-Emily-Mims-ebooks/dp/B00S0H8LBA
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/508976
http://allromanceebooks.com/product-daughterofvalor-1720943-149.html

Welcome Home
Tommy Joe is home from war, but he’s now in a wheelchair-and always will be. Can he still be the man a woman like Christi deserves?

Crippled by a sniper’s bullet, paraplegic Tommy Joe Reece doesn’t see how he can run a ranch from a wheelchair-or be a husband to Christi, the girl he’s always loved. Will Tommy and Christi let their doubts and fears about the future destroy their love, or will they have the courage to reach out to one another and find a way to make it all work?

Buy Links:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Home-emily-mims-ebook/dp/B00S1AWDPQ

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/509051

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-welcomehome-1720959-149.html

***

Emily_W_Mims_2012Writing was not San Antonio teacher Emily Mims’ first love-in fact, she wrote her firstnovel on a dare.  “I had just finished a romance novel and it was so awful I pitched it across the floor and said I could do better.  My husband Charles promptly dared me to do so.”  She did and although that book didn’t sell, she sold her second book and seventeen more to Candlelight Ecstasy Romances under the name ‘Emily Elliott’.  These books were translated into six languages and sold millions of copies all over the world, and Emily discovered to her delight that she had many stories to tell and that she loved telling them.  But Emily never left the classroom, and when the Candlelight Ecstasy line closed in 1986 she continued with her demanding teaching career and raising two young sons and her storytelling fell by the wayside.  “But the desire to write never really left,” she admits.  “I would be driving down the street making up stories in my head.  Now that I’m no longer in the classroom, I am ready to tell my stories again.”

Again inspired by the thought that she could do better, Emily pitched another novel across the floor and under her own name wrote Solomon’s Choice, set in the Texas Hill Country where Emily and Charles have a second home.  “I love the Hill Country and hope to set several more books there,” she says.  “I also enjoyed incorporating suspense into the story.”  She draws inspiration from the people and places in her life and from the things she loves to do.  “Sometimes my characters are loosely based on someone I know, although by the end of the first chapter they have taken on a life of their own,” she laughs.  “Places aren’t that contrary.”  She also loves to combine her love of writing with some of the other things she loves to do.  “I play dulcimer and ukulele in a folk music group and hope to use this as a background in future work.”

Emily lives in San Antonio with her husband Charles and their five dogs but spends time both in the Hill Country and in Eastern Tennessee.  She would love to hear from each and every one of her readers!

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Romance on the Big Screen

‘Tis the season of pink hearts, heart-shaped candy boxes, red roses, and romance. I have never been a huge fan  of Valentine’s Day–way too many Valentine’s Days spent in disappointment in my younger days–and my husband and I made a pact when we married that we would never celebrate it. (Just as well, as we were apart for this one.)

But I am, of course, a fan of romance, and I have enjoyed my fair share of romantic movies. With the release of “Fifty Shades” on the big screen–which I haven’t seen yet–romantic movies are on every one’s mind. No, this will not devolve into a discussion of where Fifty Shades falls on the romance scale. But I did think it was a good opportunity to spend a little time talking about my favorite romantic movies.

1. The Princess Bride (1987)

Those sultry eyes of Cary Elwes, the innocence of Robin Wright, the allure of True Love–how can you not put this near the top of the best romantic movies of all time?

2. Pretty Woman (1990)

Okay, so it’s one big cliche, but I can’t help it, I love this movie.  Julia Roberts is endearing as the hooker with a heart of gold, and Richard Gere is romance personified.

3. The Sure Thing (1985)

I was still in college when this came out, so it must have resonated with me. John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga are marvelous in this classic opposites attract flick.

4.  Notting Hill (1999)

Another Julia Roberts, I know, but she is just as endearing in this one as the lonely, misunderstood movie star. And Hugh Grant is adorably swoon worthy.

The Philadelphia Story. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Screenshot from The Philadelphia Story. [Public domain], viaWikimedia Commons.

 

6. The Philadelphia Story (1940)

A classic love triangle (quadrilateral?) with two of my favorite leading men–Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. It was the movie that taught me how fabulous Katherine Hepburn was.

 

Bringing Up Baby publicity photo.  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

7. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Cary Grant as the absent-minded paleontologist, pursued by the flighty heiress, played by Katherine Hepburn, and her pet leopard, Baby.

 

 

 

8. Before Sunrise (1995)

Two attractive twenty-somethings spend one perfect night together, then go their separate ways. I really wish they hadn’t made a sequel to this, because it didn’t live up to the first one.

Still from Sabrina (1954). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

9. Sabrina (1954, 1995)

I have seen both of these–the original with Humphrey Bogart and the remake with Harrison Ford. I don’t think I could choose which one I like best.

 

 

 

10. Lone Star (1996)

Okay, so technically this isn’t a romance, but there is a passionate, rather scandalous love story woven into the mystery, and it is amazing.

I could have chosen about 20 more, but I thought restraint was in order. Now it’s your turn–what are your favorite romances?

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Highly Unlikely

February is the Red Hearts Blank Smallmonth for romance. At least from the view of retailers, and all those guys who are not so with it the rest of the year. Whether you’ve found the man of your dreams in real life or not, for us romance fans, there’s a hero just waiting for us in the next story we choose to read. Although he may be digital or between the pages of an actual book, one thing is fairly certain. To the heroine, he’ll be irresistible. And sometimes her polar opposite.

Opposites attract is one of my favorite tropes. For me when the sparks fly and the personal growth happens to a couple who are so different, and yet they manage to find a way to reach a middle ground really works for me. There are so many that have become my favorites over the years. Too many to list here. But my favorite of all time, and one I never get tired of reading is Nora’s Eve Dallas and Roarke.

The straight-laced, uptight cop, who mistrusts people so much she’s almost backward with it, and the charming devil-may-care, Irish con-man, who made the bulk of his fortune illegally. A perfect match!

Ms. Roberts has done a masterful job of weaving personal and relationship growth into every book, keeping their love fresh and entertaining to the reader. Although some of the story lines are serious, there’s plenty of humor to go around. As a reader, it’s pure entertainment.

Do you have a favorite unlikely couple that you enjoy reading about?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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