ebook thursday + 300

I have a review over at It’s Not Chick Porn. Run, don’t walk, over there right now, kids, because I gave my first “A”. Make sure you congratulate Ms. Midway. She’s written an engaging story, so let’s show her the love.

So I saw 300 last night. Carrie already reviewed it, so take a look at her thoughts, if you wish.

Gerard Butler rocked the house as King Leonidas, but all the performances were richer than I anticipated. I expected a viusal spectacle, not one that would pluck at my heartstrings. The passion between Leonidas and his wife shimmered, and their love scenes were divinely erotic, rendered in staccato flashes.

I enjoyed the banter between Astinos and Stelios a great deal, and the movie offered touches of humor that I didn’t expect. I was much struck by the epic cinematography and the artistic use of filters. Here, the theatres didn’t permit under under age twenty to see this film. After watching it myself, I can understand why. The violence was intense, if elegantly choreographed.

I’m not sure how I felt about the queen submitting to Theron, there at the end. I know her gesture is meant to show that she would do anything for Sparta, anything for her husband, but I think the Bodaciea in me would have liked it better if she’d simply gutted him then and there for his oily presumption. I know, I know — it offered proof when she killed him before the council and the Persian coins spilled from his purse.

My one moment of disappointment came when Astinos died as he did. I mean, I knew everyone would die, but I felt he deserved a better death. I wanted him there at the end. Xerxes surprised me as well. He was a lot taller (and a lot gayer looking) than I would’ve pictured him. The actor who portrayed him couldn’t hold a candle to Gerard Butler. While he doesn’t do it for me on a pure man-meat basis, he sure the hell can act. Whew.

Anyway, I quite liked this film, though I wouldn’t advocate watching it if you have a weak stomach. I love Frank Miller’s work and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one. You think Sin City 2 will be any good?

noticias buenas!

Today, I have so much to report that I don’t even know where to start.

Been a really productive morning. I bought an Ibook on Mercado Libre (Mexican ebay), worked out terms for a Guide ad with one of the Smart Bitches and fixed the stupid animation speed, and put together the beginnings of an awesome Liquid Silver anthology, featuring the delicious Dionne Galace, the brilliant Bonnie Dee and me. Now we just need a title. What would you guys call a paranormal romance anthology that features a demon, a dragon and a scarecrow? Don’t let Bam title this, ya’ll. She wants to call another project we’re developing Fairy Bukkake Gangbang 2007. We’re toying with More Than You Imagine and Body Language, so far. Help us out in comments please, please.

So I put off the best news for last. I’m choking on the squee, so I have to let it out now. Had my second chat with Laura Bradford, who reps such luminaries as Anya Bast, Jodi Lynn Copeland, and Lauren Dane. She thinks my work is really fresh and that I’ll either be a pain in the ass to sell, or “the next big thing.” Let’s hope for the latter. Long story short, I accepted an offer of representation from her, so I’m agented again. Woot! I have more to say but I can’t type for running around my office and screaming, so I’ll be back later. Woohoo!

PS I have a review over on It’s Not Chick porn.

race relations

As it’s ebook Thursday, I’ll have a review over at It’s Not Chick Porn.

Warning: serious post ahead

As many of you know, I have a book coming out with Loose Id on April 17. This story happens to be interracial, and as such, I’m opening a discourse on a touchy subject. Please leave your preconceptions at the door and let’s talk honestly for a minute.

I’ve heard any number of things regarding multicultural stories. I’m told that a white woman / black man is a tough sell because white women don’t want to read that, and black women get mad because there’s another brother selling out and hooking up outside the race. Does that make him a race traitor? Why? Well, from a white woman’s perspective, I hold no rancor for a white man who falls in love with a black woman. I’m all about the love, baby, however and wherever people find it.

Let me share with you a moment here. I come from a long line of racially intolerant folks just one generation removed from the Kentucky hills. I grew up hearing my grandparents talk about colored people and yes, the N-word, and how they’re naturally shiftless. You’d think I would have internalized that attitude myself, but from the time I was a small child, their ignorance enraged me.

I remember being thirteen or fourteen years old, having an argument with my uncle, your typical flannel-wearing, deer-shooting hillbilly. I said to him, “I’m going to marry me the blackest man I can find, we’ll have beautiful brown babies, and I will never invite you to my house for dinner.” Needless to say my extended family does not speak to me anymore.

As it turned out, I didn’t marry a black man. I married the man I fell in love with. Of course, I was six months pregnant with his child at the time, and we eloped to Vegas, but then I’ve never been one to follow the rules. My husband happens to be Mexican. Does that make me a race traitor? I don’t see that I’ve weakened the white race by my actions. Hell, most of us are too pasty anyway and could use a little infusion of color. The one thing I liked about remake of The Time Machine was how the future race looked golden and gloriously Polynesian. I used to say all the races should just intermarry and breed out our differences because by the time we realize we all belong to the SAME race, the human race, aliens will be hovering over the earth with a giant laser, ready to blow our stupid, stubborn asses all to hell.

Anyway, I’m sympathetic to the struggle for equitable treatment. I feel the black authors protesting that they’re pigeon-holed and they aren’t getting read by a wide audience like the average white author. That said, I read black authors, not knowing they’re black. I just pick out the story I want and buy it. But after hearing the problems black authors face, I made a point to seek some out and buy their books.

Here’s the thing that struck me. I ran across this paragraph in one of the books I bought.

…wasn’t the type to tolerate being around a whole lot of white folks for long. She didn’t know many white folks who’d put up with being isolated with a whole lot of black folks for very long, but they hardly ever took into account the stresses black folk go through all the time in the same situation.

To me, the white reader, this feels like a slap. Before I moved, I lived in Indianapolis on the West Side. My neighborhood was predominantly black and Hispanic, and that was fine with me. People who know the area (south of 38th along High School Road) can confirm this. These days, I live in Mexico, so I am, in fact, surrounded by Mexicans, all the time. I’m a minority. I know all about being a minority, but I don’t for a minute feel anything like this author describes, even isolated like I am. I don’t see it like that. I’m surrounded by mostly kind, occasionally rude Spanish speaking people who are often amused by my efforts to do the same. We’re all just people, and all the rest is sort of crazy. It’s like fighting because I got vanilla frosting and you got chocolate when we’re all strawberry cake underneath.

So I would offer the following thought. If black writers want a wider audience, they should write to a wider audience. Why alienate people like that? I have black people in my books, Latinos, white folks, Asian, and mixed race people. It’s how I bring them all together that matters, and that’s sort of the point. So to black authors, I say, don’t write your stories for black people, making other readers feel like it’s a club they don’t belong to. Write your stories for people, and people will read them.

Ebook Thursday – big 100

As it’s Ebook Thursday, I have a review over on It’s Not Chick Porn.

This is a pretty exciting day, as it marks the 100th post on this little blog. To commemorate this occasion, I’m going to run a contest. I want 100 comments on this blog entry. Yep, you heard right. Tell your friends. Post more than once. Post your grocery list, post whatever, I don’t care. Let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me… sorry, I’m good now.

Whoever posts the 100th comment on this topic gets a $50 gift certificate from Amazon or a big box of Godiva chocolates, whichever makes you happiest. No, you can’t have both. You must choose. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. Want it?

Let’s get this party started.

Big news for ebook Thursday!

“We’re thrilled to announce that Loose Id has been recognized as a publisher by the Romance Writers of America. That means our authors are now eligible for RWA’s Published Author Network (PAN), whether they’re in print or e-book. PAN membership gives you access to special RWA forums for published authors, as well as a dedicated series of PAN workshops at the RWA National conference. You’ll also be eligible to enter the Ritas, RWA’s prestigious award for published books.

You’ll be seeing more ads for Loose Id books in the Romance Writers Report (RWA’s monthly magazine), and we hope you take this opportunity to promote your own books now that they’re recognized. We’ll have a press release shortly announcing this to the world, but we wanted you to be the first to hear it.”

Big props to Loose Id, authors and staff. We’re all official and shit.

PS – I have a review over on It’s Not Chick Porn, as today is E-book Thursday. Check it out. It’s a good ‘un.

Ebook Thursday

I have a review over on It’s Not Chick Porn today, so head on over for some snarky goodness.

Up to page 211 in Guide edits. I never realized you could get sick of a book you’ve written, but I am way tired of Ash and Ellie. I’m longing to get back to Corine and Chance in Good Touch. I left them hanging when I received the edits. Like a good, conscientious writer, I went straight to work.

Corine, I miss you! Here’s a little something to make you miss them too.

If Wishes Were Candy

He sucked in a breath like he had a hole in his chest. “Something I haven’t known in a long time, Corine. A little peace.” Then he seemed to read my misgivings because he sighed. “Not sex. I’ll even sleep in my socks.”

An inside joke — and I heard him laughing at Coupling all over again: no self-respecting woman would ever let a naked man in socks do the squelchy with her. I ached suddenly, missing that shared context, maybe not with Chance. God, I was bad at people coming back into my life. But I wanted it again with someone. Someday.

How that was possible when I lived as I did, I had no idea. I couldn’t see myself doing PTA meetings and car pools, cheering at soccer games. What would I talk about at a book club? I imagined myself inadvertently searing my palm over tea while handling a charged object. Maybe my only chance (no pun intended) lay with him or someone like him. Someone who existed on the fringes, who defied probability and made normal folk a bit skittish. Well, I was all over that.

I remembered something he said, years ago. “Sometimes when you meet someone, there’s a click. I don’t believe in love at first sight but I believe in that click. Recognition.” He’d kissed me then and whispered: “Click.”

It was supposed to make me feel less alone, grouping us together, but I’d had my fill of the us and them mentality, even if it contained a grain of truth. Recalling that moment, though, I softened toward him. Perhaps fatally.

“Okay,” I said, dropping the sheets onto the couch. “You can sleep in my bed.”

Once the words were out, I felt like the blonde in every horror movie who hears a noise in the basement and goes to investigate alone. Sometimes you smell the stupid all around you, but you step in it anyway. This was one of those occasions.

“Thank you.” He held my look a beat too long, but that was all. No suggestion in it.

I don’t know what I’d have done if he gloated or used a pet name. I like to think something appropriately horrible, like handling his underpants and advising him he’d soon be castrated in a gardening accident. To give myself a little distance, I sent him upstairs to rinse off some of the road dirt. I joked about not wanting his grubby butt in my bed, but we both knew it was pretense.

Chance could be made of Teflon for all I know; he never looks less than perfect. While I waited for Senor Alvarez, I puttered around the apartment and tried not to imagine the man lounging in my bathtub. “What kind of place doesn’t have a shower?” he shouted.

I glared, though he couldn’t see me. “Mine.”

If nothing else, Alvarez was prompt. An hour on Mexican time could mean anywhere from sixty minutes to six days. “Buenas noches,” he murmured, accepting the key.

“I appreciate this,” I said in Spanish. More verbal stroking as I explained the basic bookkeeping system, and we did business in flattery. I came away slippery with it.

If I didn’t trust him, though, I’d have no other recourse. The life I’ve built here doesn’t offer backup plans. I have no failsafe because I didn’t expect to leave. I bought gewgaws, for God’s sake.

Before he left, I paid him a week’s wages in advance, a thousand pesos. Sounds like a lot, but in the exchange it averages to a hundred bucks, but he’d make a decent amount in commission. I hated losing even thirty percent of the big sales, but it was better than missing them entirely with a closed shop. Alvarez was a salesman, as well as my buyer, so he’d take good care of the place.

We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him to water my garden on the roof. He said he didn’t mind, didn’t ask how long I would be gone and excused himself with the queer formality I found endearing. I supposed from his perspective, it didn’t matter if I came back. If I didn’t, he inherited the shop, as possession is nine-tenths of the law, so maybe he was hoping for natural disasters as he departed; it was beyond me to interpret the thoughts swimming behind his eyes.

His face held a certain impassivity; you see it in all waiters and valets. They might want to jam a knife through your left eye socket, but you’d never know it from their expression. Working retail, I’ve acquired a similar look myself.

Then there was nothing left for me to do but climb the two flights of stairs to my aerie and face Chance again. I reflected on my idiocy while I did so, unable to believe he’d maneuvered me into letting him sleep in my bed. Part of me tingled and refused to stop; my pussy didn’t believe the business about the socks.

“Down, girl,” I muttered as I headed for the bedroom.

It wasn’t late, but if I knew him, we’d make a start at first light. So I scrubbed my face, moisturized with oil of Olay (yes, I’m that old), and then brushed my teeth. Hesitating for just a moment, I changed into a seldom worn nightgown. The nights are warm here, and I generally sleep alone. You do the math.

Maybe it was cruel, but as my final act in preparing for bed, I touched up the frangipani on my throat.

I found him sitting on the edge of my bed, wearing striped boxers, a white t-shirt, and yes, his socks. The sight made me smile, though not as much as seeing him in my boudoir. What a wonderful word. My room definitely rose to the challenge, done in rose, lavender, and handmade lace. It bordered on brothel burlesque, especially with the balcony overlooking the street where I might show my bosoms to prospective clients.

“All set?”

Nodding, I threw some clothes in a bag while fighting off the memory of other occasions where I’d done exactly that. Chance told me we were leaving and I began to pack, no questions asked. Right up until the last, I would have followed him through fire. In the end, I did that too — and that was why I had to leave him.

Is that love? It seems like a pale word, too easily tossed about by people who don’t know the meaning of it, who twist it for their own ends. I’m afraid of it now, right up there with clowns, close spaces and open flames. On our second date, I had a panic attack when Chance ordered Cherries Jubilee. After that, I felt sure I’d never see him again.

Shows what I know.

As I came around the bed, he shivered visibly. Oh, I knew he was scent-sensitive. More than most people, an aroma carries him back in time, makes him relive the associated memories, feel the emotion of that moment. The way it affects him, I’d call it a weakness, but how could I pass up the opportunity to torment him a little? How heady that I still have the power; I wouldn’t have guessed that he was the steadfast sort.

I mean, just look at him. I noticed the glances we attracted when we were together. Someone generous would call me an endomorph, but I’m well-aware I’m round and squat, not sleek and long-limbed like Chance. If I try to wear crop pants, I grow cankles, and there’s always a bit of kitsch about me, no matter how hard I try.

In the last year and a half, I gave up on elegance and worked on developing my own style. It generally involves flowered hats, gypsy skirts that show off my rather cute feet and peasant blouses. Luckily these things are readily available here.

He inhaled deeply as I got in bed, his eyes fixed on the decolletage of my undeniably demure gown. Swear I felt the heat of his look tracing the satin trim along my breasts. “You grew a mean streak, Corine.”

I recognized his tone. The perfume had been a bad idea, because we were both remembering the last time we’d been together. Christ, the sex was good that night. Looking at his mouth, I began to forget all the reasons why I shouldn’t get naked and roll around with him. Determined not to give in, I lay down and pulled the sheet up to my chin.

As if he knew, Chance touched my hair where it spread on the pillow beside him. “Red looks good on you.”

“Thanks.”

I’d never been a redhead while we were together, and for him, my changing hair acted as a quiet kink. He said it was like making love to a different woman every time. And why was I thinking about that now? Rolling onto my side, I killed the lamp and the room gained the soft luminance of distant streetlights. City noises came to us, cars and conversation.

“Giving me your back?”

“I’m not giving you anything,” I said, glancing over my shoulder. Mistake. In the half light, he looked as sad as I’ve ever seen him.

“Not anymore,” he agreed softly.

“Christ. What do you want from me?”

Propped up against the headboard, he smiled then and I saw the silver glimmer of his coin, rolling along his knuckles. “Only what I always wanted. Everything.”

leonard cohen is a pimp (and other ruminations)

I was listening to Leonard Cohen last night. If you don’t know who he is, listen to The Future. He’s a spoken word poet turned musician who has this amazing, gravelly voice that makes my toes curl even though I know he’s like 75. That does not, however, stop him from being a total pimp. Somewhere back in the 90s, when he was in his 60’s he went on some talk show, maybe Letterman, and arrived with Rebecca DeMornay on his arm. They were engaged, no joke. I don’t think they actually got married, she woke up one morning and said, “Dude. He’s 65, even if he has the voice. Maybe I better not go there.”

Imagine if some old lady was sporting a boytoy on her arm, some 35 years younger. Would we think she was a pimpette or a dirty old lady? I totally want to be as cool as Leonard Cohen, even when I’m old. You ever notice that some people age and others just get old? I really don’t want to turn into some old bat that talks about (a) people’s gall bladders and (b) my own gall bladder and (c) how many people I know that have died. And then old people wonder why relatives never come see them. I hope somebody has the heart to shoot me if I ever get like that.

This is pertinent because of the cranky old guy who lives next door to me. We live next door to the Consulate of Nepal. Yes, he’s actually a government official and he handles the complaints of Nepalese citizens living in Mexico. He’s like the embassy, only smaller. There has to be a certain population to support an embassy. Otherwise you get a cranky old dude as your “Consulate.”

So I’m totally in an old school vendetta against this guy, even though I didn’t actually start it. Apparently the cranky old dude who lived in my house (before I moved in two years ago) put the trash basket too close to his front gate as a mortal insult. (We have high-off-the-ground wrought iron baskets, very decorative, hung on posts, where you put the trash because there are a lot of wild dog packs in the city that roam the street and will get into the bags if you let them.) Since the pole the basket hangs on is rooted in the ground on a cement block, old Mr. Nepal had best get over it because we’re not moving it. Our failure to move said basket (even though its lodged in the ground on a cement block!) seems to have sparked Vendetta No 2. Now he bitches at me anytime he catches me outside, sometimes in his drawers, usually regarding what’s IN my trash basket. Honestly, I’m not in charge of the trash in my household. My maid takes it out and the garbage guys collect it on a daily basis.

But old Mr. Nepal will come out of his house to bitch because it’s not tidy enough. I’m like, “What the hell, it’s TRASH. You want a ribbon on it?” Then he will further cheese me off by saying, “Have your girl take care of it.” That makes me want to sock him in the jaw because my “girl” is probably fifty and she’s a very nice lady who works twice as hard as anyone else I know because her husband is disabled. The lack of respect in his tone makes me want to kick him. So I put out a bunch of really stinky meat the next day since I’m not allowed to go around starting international incidents with the Nepalese Consulate.

This glimpse into my life serves as a segue, believe it or not. See, I put this Google code on my site, and now I know where my readers are. And to my amazement, I have a BUNCH of them. They must lurk because they don’t comment, but wow, was I excited. I am international, baby! The keyword is “international.” Say it with me, boys and girls.

So here’s a shout to my readers, worldwide. Yo, I got people in Tokyo, Seoul, Kampong Bujit Hijau, Aalsmeer, Galway, York, and of course all over the US, Canada and Mexico. What, no love from Australia? Damn. I gotta work harder. So here’s the thing, my sweet lurking friends. I want you to say hi, even anonymously cos I’m happy as hell you’re here.

PS – If you came here looking for Ebook Thursday, check on Bam’s site. I’ve got a review over there.

Ebook Thursday and human sexuality 101

There’s been an exciting development for Ebook Thursday. I’m working with Bam and will be reviewing an ebook on her site now and then. I read the first book last night and wrote up my review, but I’m not sure when it’s going up so keep an eye on her site (like you didn’t do that already).

Interesting sidenote. The book I reviewed had m/m sex in addition to straight sex, which I’ve never really read before. It wasn’t something I’d have picked up on my own but I ended up liking it. Not the m/m sex, per se, but the book. And that speaks to something I said on Kate Rothwell’s blog last night. (I know, I’m a jackass for quoting myself, but I have a point, I promise!)

I guess I don’t understand the mentality of saying you can’t “handle” something without ever trying it. If you hate it after you start reading, never buy that author again. But if you never try, you’re limiting yourself incredibly and restricting your own experiences in a way I find incomprehensible. Then again, I’m the person who will take the bite somebody offers me, even if it looks gross and I don’t know what it is. I fell in love with a sludgy looking Indian dish that way. It’s spinach and mushrooms, looks utterly disgusting, like a dark green slime, but it’s way tasty.

So that said, I’m going to widen the net regarding the whole “how do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it” thing. I think, at base, human beings are inherently bisexual. (At this point, people are going to come out of the woodwork to tell me that they’ve never tried jumping off a building but are sure they wouldn’t like THAT so the same thing must apply to sexual exploration). Nonetheless, I think before society influences people with preconceived gender roles, human beings instinctively possess the potential to be attracted to either sex.

Why? Well, in prepubescence, it’s common for both boys and girls to experience “crushes” on the same sex. Experimentation is common too. Sure, it’s hormones to some degree, and they grow out of it, but how much of that stems from truly not wanting to repeat the experience and how much from assimilating that it runs counter to the societal norm? On another site, some smarter poster said she thought human sexuality runs a spectrum, like bi with tendencies toward the male. I think that’s probably true and more reasonable than black and white classifications. I also tend to think people who are so frightened and revolted by different possibilities may have some shadowy places in their psyches that they’re afraid to delve.

Feel free to disagree with me.

Also, I’m dying for some Indian food. Can anyone remember the name of the sludgy mushroom / spinach dish? I want some and I wouldn’t know the name right now to order it, even when I find a restaurant that offers the cuisine. Maybe some of you mad Googlers out there could help me out?

Ebook Thursday

The Zodiac Series Virgo
Fateful Fieldtrip
by Emma Bruce

First, let me say, Fatefield Fieldtrip received a DNF from me (did not finish). It begins with a schoolteacher about to puke from walking through the Birth tunnel at a museum. That was pulled right out of a Monk episode! Now, okay, I admire the decision to keep the hero so down to earth; I love that he’s not a jet pilot or a movie star or a billionaire tycoon. But I really don’t want to read a story that starts with someone getting sick. I valiantly soldiered on, but on page eight, when the heroine breathes, “It was meant to be”, regarding their meeting (when mighty Tim was about to hurl), I almost gave up. I just can’t get into a pre-destined vomitacious love stories.

Valiantly, for your sake, dear readers, I kept at it, in case this mangy dog turned into a winning pony. Well, on page nine, the heroine unsnaps her bra, watches her breastises pop out, wondering: “Why does she want him to see these? Why does she want the rough-and-tumble coach with the sexest smile she’d ever seen to bend down, kiss, lick and then, God forbid, chew?” Okay, honey, let me help you. It’s called your SEX DRIVE. That’s why you want him to play with your goodies. Although why she’d be overwhelmed with lust for a guy about to puke, I have no freaking idea.

Oh wait, yes I do! BECAUSE IT WAS MEANT TO BE. I bet my fated perfect lover is picking up trash on a highway somewhere in an orange jumpsuit. Oh fie, wicked, wretched fate that has kept us apart for so long because, y’know, I’m not in JAIL.

I soldiered on until he found her washboard like G-spot and fingered her until she was pliant and cooing. That was where I gave up. It’s a dog. If you buy this book, let it be for the Keira Ramsay story (and don’t blame Ms. Ramsay for this thing).

Moving on…

Blink of an Eye
by Keira Ramsay

Cassidy is a war widow before she ever became a wife, but she’s thrown herself into running the diner and tries not to think about her loss. When a young airman comes into her restaurant, battle-scarred but irresistible nonetheless, she thinks maybe she’ll give him a tumble. After all, women do have itches that need scratching. I appreciated that down-to-earth quality about her. So many heroines whinge and moan about fucking somebody. It was refreshing to have a woman take one look at a guy and decide to act on it.

With his injury and his little boy charm, Scott certainly made it easy to understand why Cassidy would be drawn to him. His torment regarding what he’s seen and done renders him deliciously vulnerable and in need of a woman’s touch. He’s also a bit lost regarding his place in the world. The Air Force was everything he knew, everything he ever wanted, and now he’s been stuck on a desk job because he’s no longer physically able to do anything else.

Ms. Ramsay writes about military personnel with authority (that’s uh-thor-uh-TIE to all you Cartman fans). There’s an unmistakable sense of verity in her words, and the reader is left with no doubt that she knows her way around the armed forces.

The chemistry between them was explosive and the sex was smoking hot — she writes the down and dirty exactly the way I like it. One line was just rawr. Cassidy has demanded he do something and we’re in Scott’s POV. His mental response is, “So, like the good soldier he was, he followed orders.” Now ordinarily men in uniform don’t do it for me, but something about that phrase…daaaaaaamn. Tell me that doesn’t kick your imagination into high gear, the idea of a hardened veteran standing ready (yeah, I punned repeatedly, sue me) to receive your commands. Mmmm.

(“Take out the garbage!” “Ma’am, yes, ma’am!” Ha! Caught you being dirty, didn’t I?)

Because it was a novella, things moved a little bit fast for me. I’d call the pace breakneck in fact, and I wished more than once that the author had expanded the story, given it the slow, delicious build they deserved. There’s a lot happening in relatively few pages and I wanted to read more. I was aggravated when I got to the “Four years later” part at the end. I felt cheated; I wanted to read about how they got there. So honestly, that’s my main complaint. Too damn short.

I love this author’s writing. In fact, her style reminded me quite a lot of my own. There was one line we had in common, almost verbatim, though I know for a fact she’s never read Guide. I could bemoan my own lack of orginality, but instead I’m going to say, Great minds think alike and feel all squishy about it. Great novella, but I prefer something I can really sink my teeth into. You hear me, Ms. Ramsay? Write longer books!

Feeling brave? Your review could be here next week, so hit me up. And that’s all for today. See you next time!

Ebook Thursday


The Black Dragon
by December Quinn

First of all, let me say that the cover doesn’t come close to matching the mental image that formed of Gruffydd as I was reading The Black Dragon. Second, I have to confess, that while I try to bring an open mind to all books I review, I was fully prepared not to like this book. Medievals are not really my thing; I glutted myself with them several years ago, reading such titles as The Taming, Honour’s Splendour and The Prize. So it takes a good deal to interest or engage me in this subgenre of historicals. However, DQ is a friend, so my desire not to tear her a new asshole balanced out my dislike of the subgenre enough to provide a pretty level playing field.

At the start of the book, our intrepid heroine, Isabelle, begins by making a TSTL decision (by modern standards). However, in proper historical context, I could buy her ignorance and lack of self-preservation. She’s not terribly appealing as a heroine, however, because she’s self-involved, naive and very short-sighted. I hung in there, though, because I was hoping Ms. Quinn was setting me up for some Character Development. It also set up a meeting between the hero, Gruffyd and Isabelle, whom he saved from her own folly.

Flash forward six years, and there’s been some trouble going on in the borderlands between the English Marcher lords and the Welsh. As a peace offering, the King decides to send Isabelle as a bride to one of the Welsh Lords — Gruffydd naturally. Like any princess-bred lady, she can only think about leaving behind her home and family and the sweet, darling minstrel she’s been flirting with. She doesn’t want to go to Wales and Gruffydd doesn’t want her there either because, you see, he has a big honking secret. I don’t want to give up too much plot detail because of spoilers, but you get the idea, I think. Minor historical nitpick- it niggled me a little that Ms. Quinn chose to make Isabelle 21 for her wedding. If she was worried about offending modern sensibilities, then I think 18 would’ve been more true to the times, as historically speaking, a woman might well be married off by 13.

Otherwise, this book possessed a very true to the times feeling, meticulously researched. She didn’t go out of her way to offer glimpses of the yucky parts of keep life (ooh, she’s peeing in a bowl! or whatever) but there was a definite verisimilitude not present in many costume dramas. It’s also definitely an old-school historical romance; as I read on, it actually made me nostalgic for old Jude Devereaux and Katherine Woodiwiss titles. There are burning loins, weeping feminine parts, and breasts crushed to manly chests galore. In places, Gruffydd actually reminded me a little of Rogan, from The Taming, though he never reached such assholeish levels.

Despite my misgivings, I was thoroughly charmed by around page 70 or so. I won’t give away anything, but there were several laugh out loud sections, where Isabelle became delightful instead of irritating. She continued to grow on me as the book proceeded, and I forgave her earlier self-absorption because she realized she’d been that way. Good character growth!

The one passage that grated was where Gruffydd has an emotional moment with Isabelle and he confesses his secret pain, his secret shame. (Again, no spoilers). But it was, I felt, spoken in a manner entirely more overwrought and florid than I could conceive him using. While I could see him sharing it with her, I think it would be in a very bleak and controlled manner, as if expecting her to condemn him. It didn’t seem consistent with his deft development that he would suddenly develop this hysterical mode of speech, even under duress.

In summary, I liked this book more than I expected. It made me nostalgic for romance’s days of yore, and it delivered a few cozy hours of reading, easy to get lost in Ms. Quinn’s fictitional world. This wasn’t something I’d ordinarily read on my own; I’m drawn to darker, edgier stuff as a rule, but I did enjoy it and I do recommend it, particularly if you’re looking for something that reminds you of Woodiwiss and old school Devereaux.

See you next week!