Posts tagged with: Jill Shalvis

The 2014 Summer Reading List

Did you participate in a summer reading program as a kid?  I did.  Our local library passed out green, lined cards.  We wrote down the books we read and turned full cards in for new ones.  Whoever read the most books got a certificate.  I never did, believe it or not.  There were people who read even more, and faster, than I did.

PecanTreeAs summer approaches, I always remember those reading cards and think of what I’ll read in my spare time when the hot weather forces me in doors.  I can tell that time is coming.  This Memorial Day has been hot and muggy.  The only thing missing from the trifecta of outdoor summer annoyances is the mosquitoes.  They haven’t arrived yet.  When they do, sitting outside to read will become a mere memory until the fall.

Some people prefer lighter books, ones that require less focus, during the summer, especially if they’re going to the beach.  That doesn’t make a lot of difference to me, as I have trouble reading in the glare on the beach and would be appalled if I got sand in a book (Yeah, I know that’s weird.).  

Summer’s arrival doesn’t change my preference for books in that have happy endings, stories where good triumphs over not-good.  It can be HEA romance or bad guys getting their just desserts in other genres.  The muggy, hot, mosquito-y weather does encourage me to stay inside, where it’s air conditioned, which leads me to make an exception to the TE (triumphant ending) rule by  reading history or other nonfiction.

Like most of you, I have a towering TBR mountain.  I’m always on the lookout for new titles, though.  So let’s talk summer books.  These are the ones on my list.  I hope you’ll look at them and then share some of your prospects.

Clean-Sweep-Cover-Small-e1397775212366I’m having a new reading experience because of fantasy author Ilona Andrews, whose Kate Daniels books I love.  This husband-and-wife author team is writing a serialized novel on their website.  I bought the first book in this series about an innkeeper with magical powers because it as complete by the time I discovered it.  I love it so much that I’m reading the sequel online, something I haven’t done before.

In this universe, inns are neutral ground for all the non-human races, and innkeepers occupy as special position of respect.  Andrews puts a unique, science fiction-based spin on vampires and other shifters that quickly captured my imagination.  The books also feature strong, sometimes steamy, romantic elements.  

Y’all may remember that I don’t read a lot of vamp or shifter books because they don’t generally call to me.  These–and the Kate Daniels books–are different enough that they do.  For info or to check out the sequel, to http://demo.ilona-andrews.com.  Or click the cover at right and read the blurb on Amazon. 

kate1lgIf you like shifters, vamps and magic and enjoy continuing characters, you really should check out the Kate Daniels books.  I totally love them and was ready to cheer over certain romantic details I won’t reveal lest I spoil things for you.  It’s best to read them in order.  The first book, Magic Bites, is pictured at left.

The next Kate Daniels adventure (with Curran, the were-lion playing, a biiig supporting role, I hope), Magic Breaks, will be out July 29.  You can find info at the Ilona Andrews website.

Pure-Heat-300Already out and available is M. L. Buchman’s Pure Heat.  I loved Buchman’s military RS series about the Nightstalkers helicopter crews.  

This is the first in a new series based around wildland firefighters.  I didn’t think it was coming out until next month and was delighted to see a May release date on his website.  I’ll be reading this one soon, and there’s a sequel coming in a few weeks.

For more on Buchman and his books, check out his website.

 9780425270172_CL-250x403Jill Shalvis’s next Animal Magnetism release, Then Came You, is coming July 1.  As with the other books in the series, this forthcoming one involves the vet clinic in Sunshine, Idaho.  It involves a vet who comes to the clinic to fulfill a scholarship obligation, only to find that her new boss is the same sexy guy she had a one-night stand with at a conference.  Oops. *g*  

I’m so looking forward to it.  

Shalvis has a busy rest of the year ahead, with several scheduled releases, including three in the Lucky Harbor series, featured on her homepage.

Since today is Memorial Day, it’s a fitting time to talk about my new reading project.  This year marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War.  The Great War, as it was known until a conflagration even broader ripped across the world a couple of decades later.  The men who returned from this conflict helped usher in America’s Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, a favorite era of mine.

So I’ll be shuffling novels and nonfiction about the Great War into my reading list. 

This hasn’t been a popular period for romance writers.  It’s too far in the past to be relatable, some people say, yet too modern to be historical.  Mystery readers and writers have been much more welcoming.

nogravesyet_usAnne Perry deserted Victorian England to write a five-book series on the Great War. The first, No Graves as Yet, will be start my fiction reading.  Opening before the start of the war, it features two brothers, a college professor and a British intelligence officer, who become involved in espionage and a blackmail case while investigating their parents’ deaths in a car crash.

I enjoyed Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries and read the first couple of William Monk ones before I drifted away from reading mysteries so much.  Both of these series are installed on my keeper shelf, though.

The blurb on Perry’s website indicates that No Graves as Yet is about the runup to the war and then about its early days.  The final book in the series is about the last days of the war.  I suspect this series is another that should be read in order.

A friend introduced me to a mystery series set in London in the years immediately after the War.  Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, a former housemaid, was a nurse on the western front.  Now the war is over, but the man she loved is a tragic casualty.  Maisie must build a life for herself and so starts her own investigations agency.

maisie-dobbs-2014I’ve read two of the ten books in this series and will be reading more this summer.  One of the other bandits likes this series–I think it may be Anna Campbell–and I understand Maisie finds a new love as the series progresses.

Winspear weaves her stories around the war’s aftermath for the people in London, using the losses and resulting social changes to enrich the mysteries Maisie solves.  Her website has a moving essay about her visit to the battlefields at The Somme and Ypres.

Those are a few highlights from my summer reading plan.  What categories of books do you enjoy in the summer, and which particular books do you plan to read this year?

Donna and I will be at the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together in West Chester, Ohio, June 5-8.  If you’re there, stop by to say hello.

 

 

Red Carpet Roundup!

stylinHello from HOTLANTA!!!

This is your roving Romance Bandits Reporter, coming to you (somewhat) live from the awesome, major, fabulous Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony!!  WOOHOOOO!!!!

There are Bandits in full force here, from the awesome Nancy Northcott to Donna MacMeans, Suz Ferrell and Susan Sey to…well a LOT of Banditas!  Many of our favorite guests are here too, and all are decked out in their finery for one of Romance Writing’s finest hours.  (This is, from L to R, Gerri Russell, a frequent Guest; board member and outstanding writer Dee Davis; “Mr. Marriott” – the hotel’s Atlanta Ambassador!; Bandita Nancy, and frequent Guest, TICD, AKA Claudia Dain!)

Nominees are nervous, former winners are more relaxed, even though they’re giving awards out, and more and more people fill the ballroom.  As with any Red Carpet Event, it’s about the Metal wedgegorgeous dresses and the fabulous shoes.  So here’s an amazing selection…I didn’t get all my subject’s names, but I asked them to come on the blog and identify themselves, or their purses and shoes!!

Much as I wanted to, I didn’t list Golden Heart finalists and winners because their books are not yet available.  :>  But some of these shoes and dresses belong to finalists!!

 RITA Finalists include: (Winner marked with asterisks!)

Contemporary Single Title:

tie dye awesomeAbout Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Barefoot in the Sand by Roxie St. Claire – one of our guests! – (pictured to the left in coral with her editor, Micki Nuding!

(1) Forever and a Day; (2) Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis

Melt into You by Roni Loren

Sugar Springs by Kim Law

**The Way Back home by Barbara Freethy

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay

Historical:Pride & P

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin

Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie – another of our frequent guests!!

Defiant by Pamela Clare

A Lady Never Surrenders by frequent guest Sabrina Jeffries

The Recruit by Monica McCarty

**A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

(Just so you know, Pride and Prejudice over there on the right, is a PURSE!!)

Jeanne SharonToo Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott

Wedded in Sin by Jade Lee

(To the left is me with the elegant Sharon Wray whom I know from Washington Romance Writers!)

Inspirational:

**Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher

An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere

A House Full of Hope by Missy Tippens  (Missy finaled in the Golden Heart with us in 2006!)The golden lady

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Naomi’s Christmas by Marta Perry

The Soldier’s Wife by Cheryl Reavis

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (Gorgeous cover on this one!!)

(To the right is Laura Griffin who won the Romantic Suspense category, holding her lovely, lovely RITA!)

Long Contemporary:

Jeanne and DiannaA Cold Creek Noel by RaeAnne Thayne

From Father to Son; and Making Her Way Home by Janice Kay Johnson

**A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton (now a member of the prestigious Honor Roll!)

A Life Rebuilt; and A Texas Chance by Jean Brashear

No Ordinary Joe by Michelle Celmer

Out of the Depths by Pamela Hearon

(The ever-popular-on-the-Bandit-Blog-Guest, Dianna Love, who was a presenter, looking FABULOUS, dahling!)

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:

The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Le Huber  (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)most awesome hat ever

Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci

**The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James (Also Won BEST FIRST BOOK)

Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne

The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek by Jane Myers Perrine

(Check out that AB-FAB fascinator!!  Hope this lovely lady will come on the blog and give a shout out!)

Paranormal:

I totally want this purseAngel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

Edge of Oblivion by J.T. Geissinger

Immortally Yours by Angie Fox

(1) Lothaire; and (2) ** Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole

(With this win, Kresley is ALSO now a member of the prestigious RWA Honor Roll after tonight!!)

Mark of the Witch by Maggie Shayne

Moonglow by Kristen Callihan

Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione

(The totally cool purse on the left is currently Bandita Nancy’s but Cassondra and I both covet it….beware, Nancy, hatsbeware!)

Romance Novella:

Breathless by Sophie Jordan

The Duchess of Love by Sally MacKenzie

Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox

**Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James

(Check out these AMAZING dresses and fascinators to the right!!  LOVE it!  Ladies, I hope you’ll come on the blog and say hellow and identify yourselves!!)

Sleeping with a Beauty by my good friend Leslie Kelly

The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas

handsome

Romantic Suspense:

Celebrity in Death by JD Robb (Remember, Nora Roberts Writing Institute in two weeks….Grins)

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Don’t Cry for Me by the fabulous Sharon Sala

Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

(1) **Scorched; and (2) Twisted by Laura Griffin (See the picture above of Laura with her lovely RITA!)

Vortex by Cherry Adairhot shoe

(To the left here, check out the lovely Rita Nominee Leslie Kelly and her handsome hubby!!)

Short Contemporary Romance Series:

Becoming Dante by Day Leclaire

Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini

The Last Single Maverick by Christine Rimmer

(Those totally hot shoes are red suede at the back and a black harlequin pattern across the front strap! GORGEOUS!!)

Awesome beltA Marriage Worth Fighting For by Lillian Darcy

**A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan

Surgeon Sheik’s Rescue by my dear friend, Loreth Anne White

The Tycoon’s Secret Daughter by Susan Meier

We’ll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart

(The ever-popular Guest, Addison Fox to the left there, was gorgeous in an off the shoulder number.  Go, Addison!!)

And last but never least, Young Adult Romance!

Bound by Erica O’Rourkenot hats

**The Farm by Emily McKay

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)

(To the left, check out the wonderfully funny ladies, Jill Shalvis (front) and photobomber Kristin Higgins!!)

Several up for BEST FIRST BOOK which did not final in a category:

Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan

All black or don't botherFirelight by Kristen Callihan

Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

That’s a great list of books!  (Winners are marked with a double asterisk!)

(Just so you know, The Haunting of Maddy Clare won BEST FIRST BOOK!)

So, Banditas and Buddies….Omgosh that's a purse

What’s your favorite of these Red Carpet looks this evening? 

And for you, do you go for Basic Black? 

Or are you a color-all-the-way gal?

Have you read any of the finalists’ books? 

Any great recommendations from either the finalist list or winners?

(All of the photos are mine, and taken with everyone’s permission.  This totally cool purse on the right is a champagne bottle in a champagne bucket, but it’s a PURSE!  Totally COOL!!  I wish I could have used ALL the pictures I took!!)

 

Friends Make The Story Go ‘Round

I’ve rShalvis-Simply Irresistibleecently been devouring a lot of contemporary romance series, both paranormal and…well..not…and I was thinking yesterday about why I’m so taken with those books.  

I’ve read a bunch of different series books by different authors, but in particular, I’ve just about foundered myself on the Lucky Harbor, Animal Magnetism and Sky High Air series by Jill Shalvis.

These are not what I write.  They’re actually the opposite of what I’m working on now. They’re not particularly big plots.  There is no big world threat.  With a few notable exceptions, they’re not dark or overbearingly angsty, even when there is a suspense threat or the characters have something bad–like abuse– in their pasts. 

Yet despite all the things that are “not typically me” about Jill Shalvis books, I slurp up her series like an Shalvis--Animal Magnetism 1alcoholic guzzles smooth, top-shelf Bourbon.  

Way more than I oughta drink.

I have threatened to take the books to a testing lab, to find out if maybe she’s impregnated the pages with crack cocaine, because I finish one, then immediately go looking for the next.

So after considering this for a while, I think I’ve figured it out.

It’s the relationships. 

No, not the romance.  Of course, I want to see that romance be born and develop and mature and I want to see the couple get their HEA.  But even if her characters have a certain zing  that is her distinctive way of writing, the truth is, I can get the romance from a bazillion books on the market.  That’s not the reason I constantly reach for her books over so many others. 

Shalvis--The Sweetest ThingI choose those books because of the friends of the heroes and heroines.  The relationships that exist between the  characters.   The communities of people in which Shalvis sets her characters.  She’s brilliant at making those communities come to life, but particularly, she hits her stride with trilogies of friends, and in particular, male friends.

In the first three Lucky Harbor books it was Jax, Ford and Sawyer, who (if I remember right) are not actually related but best friends from the same small town. 

 In Animal Magnetism it was Brady, Dell and Adam.  Dell and Adam are actual brothers, and were together with Brady in a foster home. 

In Sky High Air, Noah, Shayne and Brody met when they were all in trouble at school, and bonded over a love of planes and the allure of flying.July 2013 blog file00038305751

The men in each of these trilogies know one another in that way that says, “I’ll call you an asshole to your face, but nobody else better mess with you or I’ll pound them into the dirt.”  

It is a bond that goes deep, and lasts a lifetime.

I live with a man who was once a Special Forces soldier, and almost all of his buddies are either still in the military, are military contractors, or work for the security of our country in other ways.   

But even before I met him, I’d spent most of my life working in male-dominated fields, with mostly men, sometimes to the pJuly Blog file7491282261727oint that I was almost…almost…one of them.  They never completely forgot I was female, or that there was a female among them, and they  would never get as raunchy with me there as they would when it was all males, but they trusted me to not go all girly or get them in trouble, and they didn’t hold back much.

I know how men behave toward one another when (almost) no women are around.  Shalvis’s friendships in these books read as real to me.  And it is those relationships that suck me into her story worlds and won’t let me go.

Lexi George, who’ll be my guest next month, also builds a camaraderie between her heroes, but she does an especially brilliant job with the women in her books-the heroines who break the stoic, emotionless facadeGeorge-Demon Huntint In Dixies of the hunky Dalvahni Demon Hunters. In the first book we meet Addie Corwin and Evie Douglas, best friends forever, and it’s often “them against the world.”  

 The first book is Addie’s but the way Lexi builds the friendship and the caring for Addie’s friend, Evie, is masterful.  I couldn’t wait for Evie’s book, and because I already loved her, it was even more satisfying.

The friendships—and sometimes the angst–between these women make the stories rich and full.

As I do my final rewrite on my own first release, I’m striving to create the kind of real-feeling friendships and relationships that make me fall so in love with series like the ones I’ve mentioned—the ones I love to read.  Many authors do it well, but some are just masters of this craft.

Brockmann Prince JoeSuzanne Brockmann first won me to her SEALs—this was years ago– back when she was writing for Harlequin/Silhouette–by so clearly showing the brotherhood that exists between these elite warriors.  Okay, yes, I’ll be honest…she got the weapons right,  which is a big deal for me, and that was the first time I gave a fist pump of any kind to a romance novel, but that’s a whole nuther story. 

Anyway, that’s the original cover on the left, of the first Brockmann book I ever read. Prince Joe.  It’s still on my keeper shelf as one of the best books ever.

Most recently my amazing friend, Dianna Love, has sealed my devotion to the Slye Temp Black Ops teams by the way she develops the friendships between the operatives.  They don’t always like each other, but even when they don’t want to, they care about the other members of the team.  It’s never more evident than in her latest release, Book 3 of the Slye Temp series, Honeymoon to Die For.

And that right there—illustrated so powerfully in her latest book–is the crux of it for me.  That book is Ryder and Bianca’s story.  But the role of the other operatives—the role of the team—in this novel, is a major part of why I love it so much.

There is something powerful about bruised, battered hearts finding love that brings them closer to whole. 

When they also find a group of people who support them—a community—it wraps the story in a way that binds me to the characters.  Makes me want to live in that world.Love-Honeymoontodiefor

Makes me go to the Kindle store and immediately hit “Buy” for the next book in the series. 

Makes me yell “NOOOOOOOOO” when I reach THE END and the next one isn’t released yet.

I fall so in love with the other team members that when Dianna says, “I may make XXX’s book a novella,”  I go “NOOOOOOOO!  I love him! He has to have a full book!!!!”

She just laughs at me.

But my heart is invested.  And with each book where the familiar friends play a role, I become more and more invested in each character’s happy ending.

I want that for my own books. 

Yes, of course, I want to hook you, the reader, and yes, I want you to wait eagerly for the next book in the series.  But the real dream, for me, is that I will be able to write the story world so that you’ll want to return over and over again. So that it’s so real to you that you begin to believe it is a real place.  That those characters walk and breathe the same as you do, and that they are having their happy endings-and that their friends are going to get happy endings too.

So help me, Bandits and Buddies.

Most readers I know love series.  Do you?

I want to know who does wonderful “friends” in books. What author does amazing groups of friends, or teams of people with relationships so real that you believe those characters actually walk on the earth in flesh and blood?

Which authors build the best story world—communities of people like Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor, where we, as readers, worry—even between books–about the nosey little old ladies who post inappropriate and should-be-private things on the Lucky Harbor facebook page?

Which story worlds do you live in when you lie down to sleep at night, and wake up thinking about them in the morning?

  Who are your favorite series writers, and what are your favorite series built around groups of friends or a team of people?

And what is it, exactly, that makes them seem so real to you?