Posted by Anna Campbell Jan 10 2015, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Annie West, Bandita Booty, Christmas Revels, Kandy Shepherd, Mary Jo Putney, MC Beaton, Nora Roberts, reading, Rebel's Bargain, Romance, The Summer They Never Forgot, The Traveling Matchmaker, The Witness, This Is Your Afterlife, Vanessa Barneveld
Happy new year, Banditas and Bandita Buddies! I hope 2015 is fantastic for you.
That’s enough of the looking ahead. Let’s look back to 2014 and some great books.
I thought I’d devote my spots on the Romance Bandits for January and February to listing some of the wonderful reads I found last year. After all, we all love recommendations for our towering TBR piles, don’t we?
Today, I’m going to talk about romances. Next month, I’m going to talk about books that aren’t romances (or at least not primarily – I find my favorite books nearly always include some sort of romantic plot, even if only as a subsidiary). You’ll notice that I’ve steered clear of books by my tremendously talented Bandit sisters – if I included theirs, we’d be here all year!
I blogged a couple of months ago about how I was on a major Nora Roberts kick. That looks like it might continue this year. Of the many Noras I read in 2014, my favorite is THE WITNESS, her story of a super-intelligent, high achieving teenager who finally kicks over the traces and rebels, only to be forced into a living nightmare when she witnesses a mafia killing. The woman grows up, always on the run, always smart enough to stay alive – but what happens when she falls in love with the local police chief? Is it time to stop running and finally face her enemies?
This one has two wonderful central characters (I love Abigail’s dorky but smart take on life), a lovely romance and some seriously good suspense. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you grab it now! For a peek at some of the other Nora books I read this year, here’s my blog on the subject: http://romancebandits.com/im-in-the-mood-for-love-and-nora/
The next book, THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd, is by a friend of mine. It just happens that some of my favorite reads last year are by people I know – they’re all well worth picking up! Summer is simply gorgeous, a lovely story about two damaged people who were in love as teenagers and reconnect after life hasn’t been kind to either of them. It’s a story about bad timing turning into forever after. I laughed and cried in this one – and you’ll fall in love with the town of Dolphin Bay where the book is set. You can read an interview with Kandy here: http://romancebandits.com/kandy-shepherd/
The next sooper-dooper read for you is THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, the debut novel by Vanessa Barneveld, another friend of mine.
This YA is a beautiful story about coming to accept who you are and finding the right person and learning that life is a mixture of happy and sad. It’s also a darn good ghostly mystery story as heroine Keira struggles to answer the questions surrounding the death of high school hero Jimmy and in the process realizes that she’s always loved his older brother Dan. Even if you’re not usually a YA fan, give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed. You can see where Vanessa visited the lair and gave us the lowdown on her book here: http://romancebandits.com/vanessa-barneveld/
With my next recommendation, I’m cheating slightly as it’s a series of six, M.C. Beaton/Marion Chesney’s The Travelling Matchmaker books. These are trad Regencies full of wit and romance and classic period touches like duels and highwaymen and marriages of convenience.
When housekeeper Hannah Pym unexpectedly receives a bequest from her late employer, she determines to seek the adventure that her quiet life in domestic service has so far prevented. She sets out on various stagecoaches and meets danger and excitement and young lovers and a chance to discover talents she never knew she possessed. These books are such fun – definitely a series to put a smile on your face. Here’s a link to a more detailed review of the six books that I did on the Romance Dish: http://www.theromancedish.com/2014/06/regency-charmers.html
My next choice from 2014 is a corker of a steamy reunion story from lair favorite Annie West. For some reason, I couldn’t link this one through the cover, but here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J2ZVDSM?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00J2ZVDSM&linkCode=xm2&tag=romanbandi-20
I love all Annie’s stories but this one really hit it out of the ballpark for me. Orsino Chatsfield and his estranged wife Poppy have so much passion between them that when they come together in a glamorous French chateau, they set the Loire Valley aflame! This is part of the Harlequin Chatsfield continuity but you can read the story as a stand-alone. Give it a go – these characters are unforgettable. Here’s a link to where Annie visited the lair to talk about this book: http://romancebandits.com/annie-west-6/
My last favorite book of the year is one I read in December. Who doesn’t like a Christmas charmer? Mary Jo Putney‘s collection of four Regency novellas plus a contemporary, CHRISTMAS REVELS, is uber charming. All the stories are great, but my particular favorite is The Christmas Cuckoo where a capable young woman who believes she’s on the shelf collects the wrong man from the local inn and takes him home for a family Christmas. A lovely story about life delivering some gorgeous surprises just when you think your chances have run out. And you’ll fall in love with Jack Howard just like Meg does.
So that’s my romance round-up. I’ve got a mixture of women’s fiction and mysteries and nonfiction coming next month so make sure you check in.
In the meantime, what were your favorite romances of 2014? I’m always looking for recommendations.
And because I love to share my friends’ books, I’ll give one commenter today their choice from THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd, REBEL’S BARGAIN by Annie West, or THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE by Vanessa Barneveld. The prize is available internationally. Good luck!
Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 10 2014, 12:07 am in Anna Campbell, Blue Dahlia, contemporary romance, Jewels of the Sun, Northern Lights, reading, Romance, series, Shadow Spell, The Chesapeake Quartet, The Donovan Legacy, The Witness, Trilogies, Whiskey Beach, writer's life
We’re all readers here so I’m sure I’m not going to be alone when I confess to being slightly obsessed with a particular author. It happens to all of us!
I seem to have developed an insatiable appetite for books by Nora Roberts. Rarely a week goes by when I’m not reading one and usually more books by the master (I can’t call her the mistress!).
Obviously like most of us, I’ve read Nora’s books for many years. I think my introduction to her work was the Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy. Isolde Martyn brought JEWELS OF THE SUN back from the 2000 RWA conference in Washington D.C. where she was the first Australian to win a RITA® Award for her wonderful historical THE MAIDEN AND THE UNICORN.
I think my favorite of those early reads was the Chesapeake Bay Quartet – amazing emotional punch in those stories and great romances. Stupidly I lent those to a friend and they never came back. Grrr.
I tried the J.D. Robb books – perhaps it was the mood I was in at the time, but while I enjoyed NAKED IN DEATH, I didn’t have a burning desire to read more in the series.
No, it seems I’m a classic Nora in her original incarnation girl.
Luckily she’s got a huge backlist! I’m in awe of her productivity and I have no idea how she manages to keep the quality up the way she does. Her books are never less than a good read and more often than not, they’re a fantastic read. Perhaps she has an army of little elves wearing Turn the Page Bookstore T-shirts in her basement!
I really feel that there’s nobody better for a certain style of emotional contemporary romance.The characters are real – you can imagine most of them living next door, even the witchy ones. The dilemmas they face are intriguing. The love scenes are lyrical and sexy. And she does setting brilliantly. You really feel that you’ve been to the wild Monterey Coast with the Donovans or County Mayo with the Cousins O’Dwyer or a rocky island off the Maine coast with the three wyrd sisters.
The more I read, the more I appreciate her work. In the last six months, I’ve read the Three Sisters Trilogy, the Donovan Legacy Quartet, the first two books in the Cousins O’Dwyer set, BLUE DAHLIA (and I’ve ordered the next two in that set!), WHISKEY BEACH, NORTHERN LIGHTS and THE WITNESS.
Two particular faves are NORTHERN LIGHTS and THE WITNESS. Both feature really interesting central characters, burnt-out city detective Nate Burke who takes a posting as police chief in Lunacy, Alaska (NL) and Abigail Lowery, on the run from the Russian Mafia after she witnessed a murder as a teenager (TW).
Both are stand-alones and have a strong mystery/suspense plot. Both are longer than her series books that I’ve read. But my goodness, they’re fabulous stories. I couldn’t put down either when I started them. And given they’re both over 500 pages, that was a lot of hermit time! I wrote a detailed review of NORTHERN LIGHTS for our friends at the Romance Dish back in January: http://www.theromancedish.com/2014/01/mighty-lights.html
It suddenly struck me last week why I had such a reader crush on Nora at the moment – aside from the obvious quality of the books she writes. And what a lightbulb moment that was!
One of the things I loved about JEWELS OF THE SUN is that it’s about a woman who takes a chance and reaps the benefits. Frances Jude Murray leaves her dead-end job in America to live in her grandmother’s cottage in Ireland and to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. This single act of courage leads to a fulfilling new career and a lifelong love.
This theme of the main character seeking a new life and finding love and renewed purpose in his or her altered circumstances is central to so many of Nora’s books.
Right now I’m in the process of packing up the home my parents lived in for their last years. I’ve lived here for ten years since my mother passed away in 2006. It’s a lovely house but it’s never really been suitable for a groovy singleton (ahem!) and I’ve finally got up the oomph to tackle moving. So the next year or so is going to have a lot of changes for me too. Some large, some small. But all a little daunting in the still watches of the night!
Nora’s message of courage finding its own rewards and a new start offering a whole fresh look on life is just what I need at the moment. Clearly I need it, given the number of her books I’m ordering from the Book Depository!
So are you glomming any particular author at the moment? Is it an old favorite or someone who’s a fairly new discovery? Is there a reason this particular author is striking a chord for you? And what books of Nora’s do you recommend I turn to after I finish the In the Garden trilogy?
Posted by Caren Crane Mar 27 2013, 12:22 am in Caren Crane, guest blogger, military heroes, prizes, Special Forces, The Hostage, The Thief, The Witness, VR Marks
Banditas and Buddies, you may recall I had VR Marks here in the Lair as a guest in December as one of three authors of the A Season For Romance anthology. According to Alfred Hitchcock, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” V.R. Marks feels the same way about writing romantic suspense. Marks combines a passion for suspense films with a passion for writing to create adventurous romantic suspense novels. You may also recall that Marks confessed a penchant for military stories when he was here before. Today, he is here to talk to us about his romantic suspense novels and why military heroes are so appealing to him as an author. V.R., welcome back to the Lair!
I can’t say I’ve ever been greeted quite like that before. Not by anyone who didn’t want to kill me, anyway.
No, I expect not. Still, it’s a cozy sort of Lair and the boys regularly check around corners and in the broom closets for bad guys, so it should be safe enough. Even for one as naturally suspicious as yourself!
If you say so…
Please, have a seat and make yourself comfy. I would normally offer a mojito or perhaps a glass of sangria to a visiting guest, but you strike me as a beer kind of guy. Sven, a beer for the manly man, please! Now, do tell me more about your military heroes. I, for one, adore a military hero and I know many of my friends here do, as well. We adore the uniforms and muscles, mostly, but…er…what do you see in military heroes? Have you served in the military yourself?
As a romantic suspense author who enjoys writing characters from military backgrounds, it was a real compliment when one of my beta readers said my books read like I’d been in the Army. While I’ve never served myself, I have friends and family who serve and I’m grateful for everyone who does. Apparently after listening to so many tales – good and bad – a few details have stuck with me.
My books The Thief, The Witness and the latest, The Hostage, all feature lead characters who served together in a Special Forces unit for the U.S. Army. Once they left the service, Ross, Rick and Eva regrouped and combined their skills into a cutting edge investigations team for private clients as well as local law enforcement.
When I’m writing a novel, the military heroes (or heroine in The Hostage) always seem to bring a world view or experience to the situation that the rest of us who haven’t “been there” just can’t fully understand.
Whether it’s determination, creative problem solving or even the cold dread or comic relief of paranoia, the military hero offers a unique perspective.
Military heroes do seem to have a universal appeal, something for both male and female readers of all ages.
Yeah, what is the universal appeal of a military hero to readers? It has to go beyond the uniform or a fascination with Captain America or NCIS (I’m a fan of both).
Military heroes show up in all of my favorite books and movies, and what I like best is the inherent code of honor they all share: the willingness to stand tall in the face of danger, the drive to defend the innocent and the courage to do what’s right and to hell with public opinion.
That code of honor and selfless commitment to helping others are the heroic traits I admire most, and it leads characters to make the most intriguing decisions along the course of their adventures.
That makes perfect sense to me. I knew it couldn’t just be the fetching berets or bulging biceps. Honor, yes, that is obviously the thing!
I’d like to hear what your readers here think. How about we give away some prizes as an incentive to share their thoughts?
Ooh, we LOVE prizes!
All right Banditas and Buddies. Let us know what you think makes a military hero believable, relatable, or memorable to you and you’ll be entered to win one of today’s three giveaways:
- V.R. Marks t-shirt plus an ebook edition of The Thief (1 winner) OR
- Winner’s choice: An ebook edition of any one of my novels (2 winners).
And while we’re all here chatting, I’ll just let you know that I have FINALLY set up an author page on Facebook. I know, I’m the slowest writer on the planet, right? But if you get a chance, I would love for you to check it out and Like it! http://www.facebook.com/CarenCraneAuthor