Spoiler: They Make Babies

Love is Not the Brightest Crayon in the Box

Posted in Romance Review by spoilerbaby on March 5, 2010

A short summary of Lynsay Sand’s Love Is  Blind goes a little something like this: blind girl finds scarred love, triumphs over evil and shoddy reputation.  What this leaves out, though, is that the heroine is about as smart as a bag of drunk weasels.

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Jezebel reviews Danielle Steel (so I don’t have to).

Posted in Things To Read by spoilerbaby on March 1, 2010

Over at Jezebel, Sadie reviews Danielle Steel’s Big Girl: A Novel.

I had a moment of intrigue when I first saw the cover for this novel.  The cover’s design steers away from Steel’s previous gold-plated cover style and toward a “contemporary romance” style.  (Probably aiming for the “chick lit” crowd, but I recognized it first and foremost as a romance genre.)  The title, too, gave me that familiar flare of hope I have for romance novels that feature women with some heft.

Thank goodness that I shook off that temporary mental paroxysm and reminded myself that this was Danielle Steel.

I once bought a novel by Steel at the airport, since I had read every other romance novel in the store.*  I can’t remember the title, or the characters, or what was happening; it was so boring that I immediately lost interest.  It was so boring that I didn’t read it.  I didn’t read anything at all, rather than pick it back up.  That’s right, nothing.  I read during the commercials before a movie starts at the theater, for fuck’s holy sake.  I have been known to read and enjoy things like Casca the Warrior when I have nothing better to hand.**  Steel was seriously, seriously boring.

Anyway, I’m rather pleased that Sadie agrees:

So, are all Steel’s novels written like they’re for remedial readers? I’m not being snide (I mean, I am, but I’m also serious.) Because short of YA, I can’t imagine what the market is. Clearly, she’s onto something, being the 7th-most popular author of all time, but seriously? I mean, I’ll read trash, but the whole point is, it’s usually entertaining.

Read the rest of Sadie’s brief review here. Then buy something more interesting.  Hell, I’d pick Glenn Beck over this.  At least Glenn Beck is loathsome.***

— First Mate Jess

* – I am in earnest! I had read every other romance novel in the airport bookstore.  This is the problem with being a speed reader.  Well, that, and the massive backlog of novels I have to review.

** – My fencing coach had the whole Casca series up on the balcony level of the club, and I would read them during our summer and winter training camps (rather than talk to people during lunch break, obviously).  They were about this guy Casca, who was the Roman soldier who stabbed Jesus in the side and whom Jesus DOOMED TO ETERNAL LIFE, and his travels THROUGH HISTORY, mostly violent war-related history.  There were sex scenes with FALLEN WOMEN.  The books were all gloriously ridiculous and sexist and violent and pro-Christian, and I would sit there and giggle delightedly over them.  Tiny ten year-old me, hip-deep in terrible dime novels, was a very happy creature. For example, there was one where Casca ended up in Nazi Germany, fighting for the Fuhrer! And his unit ended up rebelling, because they saw what was happening to the Jews!  They had no idea before that!  Oh man, giggling again.  I love things that are that wrong.

*** – Not that I would ever give Glenn Beck money.  I might steal his book rather than deal with Steel, though.  Or maybe I would just read the back of the free packet of peanuts, over and over and over again.  Yeah, probably that.

This grape tastes funny.

Posted in Romance Review by spoilerbaby on February 26, 2010

I purchased What I Did for Love (2009), by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, on a random bookstore trip.  After I’d finished that, I decided to reread one of my favorite of Phillips’ books, Dream a Little Dream (1998).  When I went to the library, only a few days later, I found one of Phillips’ novels that I hadn’t read yet, Breathing Room (2003).  One of the dangers of reading three novels by the same author in rapid succession, I found, is that the author’s formula becomes glaringly obvious.

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The missing link.

Posted in General Talk, Things To Read by spoilerbaby on February 19, 2010

I’ve added a blogroll to the sidebar of S:TMB.  At the moment, it’s got most of the predictable popular sites, but I figure I’ll keep researching and adding links from time to time.  If you have a suggestion, please speak up!

I went to the library the other day and took out four romance novels, which I have been steadily plowing (heh) through since.  One of them I just sort-of-reviewed; I’m going to finish Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips next, and then move on to a romance by Mary Jo Putney that I borrowed based on a reader recommendation.

Two more links:

  • Apparently recessions lead to a rise in romance sales.  It makes sense.  Graduate school is sort of like a recession — depressing, difficult to overcome, impoverishing — and I’ve been reading romances at a breakneck pace.
  • The Guardian has an article featuring two prominent Harlequin writers, describing the process and requirements of writing a successful short romance.

Now I should really get back to that whole “writing my dissertation” thing, huh?

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A very short review.

Posted in Romance Review by spoilerbaby on February 19, 2010

Robin T. Popp’s Immortals: The Haunting, in brief:

Dreamwalking, gunfights,
Genies, kidnappings, magic–
Still no chemistry.

If you like wacky supernatural hijinks and don’t really care why the hero and heroine find each other attractive — or are willing to accept “spirit mates” as an excuse — then you might enjoy this book.  I certainly finished it!

Shut up, Miranda.

Posted in Romance Review by spoilerbaby on February 11, 2010

I bought The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, by Julia Quinn, because of the back of the book:

“2 March 1810…
Today, I fell in love.”

At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her– until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her thhat one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart.  And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.

But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day– while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier– and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers…

It has several of my favorite romance tropes: the smart girl who isn’t traditionally pretty, lengthy amounts of pining, and a hero in appropriate amounts (vast!) of manpain.  Many of the reviews at Amazon say the same thing — the tropes drew them in — and many of them agree with me that the book was a real letdown.

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Spoiler: They Make Cubs!

Posted in Romance Review by spoilerbaby on February 6, 2010

Sometimes I go to the bookstore and buy a romance novel, not because I really want to own a particular romance novel, but because I really need to buy a romance novel.  I imagine this is fairly common, at least in a capitalist society; the act of buying a romance novel is kind of like telling myself, “you deserve a break! your mental well-being is totally worth $7.99 plus tax!”

When I went to the bookstore about a week ago, I browsed through my usual raft of authors, and read the backs of a bunch of regencies.  I couldn’t find anything that really grabbed me, though.  After about a half-hour of searching, I finally decided to check out the supernatural romances.  It would be broadening my horizons!  I quickly ruled out any and all vampire novels — I’m easily annoyed by vampires in literature — and mostly focused on shapeshifters and other spookery.*

The book I picked up was Pride Mates, the first in the “Shifters Unbound” series by Jennifer Ashley.  What followed was a confusing reading experience; it was simultaneously a compelling book and COMPLETELY wackadoodles.

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A short note!

Posted in Things To Read by spoilerbaby on February 4, 2010

I have it on good authority that my fellow Jess (who I will call Captain until she gets off her butt and pseudonymizes herself*) is going to write a review of the new Kristan Higgins.  I have it on good authority that I am going to respond to that review with several scintillating remarks (probably along the lines of “LOL SO TRUE! MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!”).  I have a backlog of romance novels to tell you about, too, including the rereleased Cinderella Deal, by Jennifer Crusie, and a couple of frankly hilarious novels that I will reenact for you in capslock (I’m sure you’re on tenterhooks) and then deconstruct from a race theory perspective (I wish I were kidding– no, wait, you wish I were kidding).

Parentheticals aside (never!), I’m writing this post because I am one of those weirdos who subscribes to the email lists of her favorite authors.  A few days ago, I got an email from the Elizabeth Hoyt listserv that said she’ll be coming out with a new book in August 2010.  It is entitled Wicked Intentions, and you can read a synopsis and an excerpt here.  Here is the stepback, which is usually my favorite part of any romance novel, because they are inevitably both amazing (I want to meet these artists) and hilarious (OH MY GOD IS THAT HIS SCHLONG, IT IS, IT IS HIS SCHLONG):

Clearly a strumpet: note her lack of petticoats.

This one does not involve schlongitude, but it does involve a serious lack of petticoats on the part of the lady.  What a sawce-box!  Check out the detail on the rug beneath them: who are these artists, seriously? Where can I meet and potentially seduce them?

I hope this finds you well.  Another post in the near future!

— First Mate Jess

* – No pressure, Captain! Also, “pseudonymizes herself” sounds kind of dirty, and I still totally meant it!  Whoa!

One day…

Posted in General Talk by spoilerbaby on January 13, 2010

Sometime in the future, I will write a romance novel where the hero attempts to convince the heroine to revel in her size (by dressing differently, etc.), and the heroine responds by pointing out the ways that it might affect her negatively at her workplace.  Sure, she may still undergo the makeover and learn to love herself as she is, but I will at least acknowledge that there are other pressures in her life besides True Love.

I will write a romance novel where the heroine considers herself fat, but her size is never mentioned, because I will remember that naming numbers is just distracting.  (No, Meg Cabot,* a size 12 is not fat! Thank you for writing a book about the completely obvious.)

I will write a romance novel where the heroine actually loved her Dead Husband, where she’s grieved him for a long time, and is ready to move on.  I will characterize her as kind of bummed that she’s got a new hot boytoy with a power schlong!  And I’ll make sure that she realizes that it’s not that new man is better than dead man, but that they’re profoundly different.  Also that she doesn’t want to have sex with a dead guy.

I will write a historical romance novel where the gypsy dude is NOT brooding — where he’s the equivalent of an actuary — and there is a black dude somewhere in the narrative.  Maybe the black dude will just be chilling in the background!  But somewhere!  Maybe he’ll even have a personality!  (WHOA.)  And there’ll be a gay dude who isn’t the dead gay husband.

Obviously I have a lot of writing to do.

What about you?  Are there any romance novels you find yourself needing to write?

* – Whose works, for the record, I normally like quite a bit.

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A Visit From Sir Nicholas, by Victoria Alexander.

Posted in Romance Review by spoilerbaby on January 9, 2010

I bought this book for extremely excellent reasons.  First, it was the only romance novel on sale at the drugstore that I had not yet read.  Second, the book came with a cardboard Christmas ornament.  The cardboard Santa has gone the way of the dodo (shot by imperialist hunters, if by “shot” you mean “chewed” and by “imperialist hunters” you mean “my cat”).  The book, however, has stuck around, waiting for me to get this blog up and running. With no further ado, then, I present to you the tale of Sir Nicholas, the financially-privileged asshole, and Lady Elizabeth, the headstrong lady who is unfortunate enough to find his attitude charming.

The book opens with an execrable flyleaf illustration, in which a couple — clad only in bedclothes, SCANDALOUS — is accompanied by the text, “Not every Christmas gift comes down the chimney…”    Reader, this is true.  After all, some gifts come on your face.

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