Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The year is winding to a close and I want to get in the last few books of the year. Finished Lauren Willig's The Betrayal of the Blood Lily before Christmas but didn't have time to make note of it. This book moves the action to India and follows Penelope Devereaux as the protagonist. Good story, but getting pretty far afield from the orginal concept of the Pink Carnation. Like the on-going story of Ellie, though. Hoping there's going to be a few more of these so I can find out what Colin is up to! Is he a spy for the British Government? Is he a writer of spy novels as he claims to be? Only future books will tell!

Three more days to the year. How many do you think I can manage in that time?

Play safe!

Monday, December 27, 2010

So you're under a blizzard warning and need something to read? Here are two ideas for you:

Diamond in the Snow -- Paul and Caroline get stuck at his house during a blizzard. How do they spend their time? Well once Caroline finds out Paul's a closet Dom, it's all over but the screaming in ecstasy!

A Devil in Winter -- Kevin Winter spends a wonderful evening with an old flame, only to discover she's getting married to another man. Not able to leave well enough alone, his attempt to see her is thwarted by her younger sister. Kevin kidnaps Anna to keep her quiet --and finds she's far more fun than his old flame ever was!

Both these stories appeared in anthologies in the past but are now available as single, downloadable titles. This way you don't even need to go out into the snow to get something to read and be inspired!

Want them on your new Kindle? Get Diamond in the Snow here and A Devil in Winter here!

Play safe -- and don't drive on those roads!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Only three weeks left to the year! I'm adding another book to my list of Books Read This Year list and have two more "must reads" left in my pile. Will I get them both read in these hectic weeks before Christmas? Will I get my current work-in-progress finished by the first of the year, my self-imposed deadline? Will we have a white Christmas? A Happy New Year? Stay tuned for answers to these and other questions!

The book I'm adding as Another Book Finished is The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig. I know, I know. Not ANOTHER Lauren Willig Pink Carnation book!?! Yep. 'Fraid so. What can I say? When I get on a particular wave, I like to ride it all the way into shore.

This book follows Charlotte Landsdowne and I have to say I like this character very much. She remains true to her character all throughout the story (unlike some of Willig's other heroines). Of all the female progagonists in these stories, Charlotte is the one I most relate to, probably because she's very much like I was when I was in my teens. My mom used to tease me that she could set off a bomb next to me and I'd never notice because my head was so deeply involved in the book in my hands. Charlotte, too, lives in the world of fantasy and it's a lot of fun watching her fall in love with a very real world hero.

Hope those who celebrate Hanukkah have had a happy one...those who are preparing for Christmas, enjoy!

Play safe,

Friday, December 03, 2010

Read another of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series…this one is The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. I have to say I enjoyed this one just as much as the first and better than the middle two. Both the hero and heroine in this story were drawn much more vividly. The action, the characters, the plot itself all worked together to make an enjoyable read.

That said I did feel the heroine, in this case, Mary Alsworthy, did waffle some in her demeanor in the last third of the book. I know the love story had to come together, but I felt as if Mary betrayed some of her personality along the way. It’s hard to take an aloof character and have her fall in love. Ms. Willig does an okay job with it.

As far as my own writing goes, don’t forget I have two new titles out (one of them free!) and a re-release. Love in the Afternoon (also available on the Kindle) is a Quickie from EC that came out in August, Remembered Love is a free Naughty Nooner, and Diamonds in the Snow is a Christmas novella. If you haven’t done your shopping yet…what are you waiting for? Hanukkah has already begun and Christmas is a scant 21 days away!

Play safe everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

I love my husband. He buys me books!
I told him I really was enjoying the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. He told me to send him the website with her books (naturally I sent him to her homepage) and this past Saturday, three more of her novels arrived in the mail! He’s such a sweetheart!

I started The Deception of the Emerald Ring on Saturday and finished it yesterday (Sunday). While I still enjoyed the story, for the first time I found myself much more interested in the researcher’s present-day story than in the account of the protagonist and her erstwhile love interest. I’m afraid there are some writing techniques that are becoming repetitive in those plot lines.

No, what started out as a clever device to hook the reader into the main story has now become a full-fledged story in an of its own right. I’m glad I’m reading the books in order so I can see the development of the framing storyteller because I’m getting quite interested in her. I like Eloise's saucy insouciance, her self-doubt, her over-analyzing of all things Colin.

Usually the protagonist’s story and the framer’s story intertwine quite nicely. In this novel, however, there is very little to tie either the storys’ events or characters to one another. It almost seems as if Ms. Willig put the two stories on playing cards divided into two piles, and then shuffled them together. Wherever the framing story fell, is where it fit into the larger novel. Definitely disconcerting to go back and forth without any thread of similarity to lead the way.

Of course, none of this will stop me from reading the rest of the books!

Play safe :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I know, two blog posts this week? What IS the world coming to?

Well, being housebound has it's advantages and having time to read as well as write are two of them. I've written nearly 10,000 words since the first of November and read three books. The latest book read is Catherine Coulter's The Heir. This is a rewrite; according to her note to readers on the back of the book, this title first was published in 1980. This edition, published in 1996, has been extensively re-written with more character development and "greater scope and depth" to the storyline.

I have to admit, there's something very attractive about going back to an early story and being allowed a "do over." I'm a much better writer now than I was a decade ago and undoubtedly could improve upon my early works. In fact, I spoke to Raelene Gorlinsky, Ellora's Cave's publisher about it when I was looking to re-do a novella that had been a part of an anthology but was now being re-released as a stand-alone ebook. Her words changed my mind.

What she said (paraphrased) basically amounted to this: readers bought your story and loved your story the way it was. If you go changing it, they'll feel shortchanged. They'll wonder why you didn't write it that way in the first place. You do them no favors by saying, "I'm a better writer now, I want a do-over." Her words reminded me of Ray Bradbury's comments in the Afterword of Fahreheit 451 (also paraphrased; I don't have a copy of his book with me at the moment) when he was asked if he wanted to do a rewrite of that wonderful novel about censorship: Why should I second-guess my younger self? I knew things then I don't know now. Let it be.

So when I picked up this book and read the back, I felt a twinge of concern? disappointment? ticked-off-ness? I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, to be honest. It might be better than the original, in her opinion, it might not be, in mine. I wish I had the 1980 version to compare it to -- the academic in me wants to know the differences.

All-in-all it ended up being a fairly good Catherine Coulter book -- I like almost everything I've read of hers, so I don't know why I was concerned going in. It's a good read, if a fast one (369 pages and I read it between the hours of noon and midnight and finished it). I wasn't enamored of the hero and heroine, but the supporting cast gave me something to keep reading for.

Sidenote: When I did a search for the book for the Amazon link, the same title came up under Johanna Lindsey, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Paul Robertson and Grace Burrowes. Looks like this is an overused title I won't be using anytime soon! Oh, and there's a re-issue of Coulter's in 2002. Wonder if it's another rewrite?

Stitches came out of my knee today...still can't drive, though.

Play safe!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've given up (temporarily) on Working by Studs Terkle. It's just too depressing. So far I've read just over a dozen profiles and only one person likes her life. The others are just going along, carried by the tide of events. Life's too short for that! You gotta get out there and LIVE it! I get so mad at the people I just had to set it aside.

Instead (since I'm still housebound), I read The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig. You may recall I also read The History of the Pink Carnation and wrote about it before. The Black Tulip continues where Pink Carnation left off. You know what's amazing? That I can write those sentences in total seriousness!

These are both part of a series that's really a knock-off of The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, although they are really well done -- as is evidenced by the fact that I paid full price for the Masque of the Black Tulip and am now shopping for the rest in the series. If you like your romance dashing, your heroes in tight breeches and well-tied cravats (and be honest, who doesn't?), if you like your heroines involved and willing to get into the thick of things (as we all really want to do), then these are good books for you!

(Speaking of the Scarlet Pimpernel...there is none better than Anthony Andrews! I am SOOO in love with that movie!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Because of my enforced bed rest yesterday (out-patient knee surgery) I read an entire book in one day. Actually, I started one and then started a second when the first required too much brain-power for my drug-induced loopy-ness. The book I started is Working by Studs Turkel and I like it, but it made me think. And thinking wasn’t my strong suit yesterday. I’ll read it more as the drugs wear off.

No, the book I read all the way through was Wild Honey by Fern Michaels. I actually liked it, but I think it only needed the one prologue about the hero. There was one concerning the heroine as well, but I got all that information, better-told, later in the story, making the prologue redundant.

Other than that, the story was well-written and my internal editor didn’t kick in at all. Usually it does. I’ll be reading along and next thing I know I’m rewriting sentences in my head to make them flow smoother. For this novel the only time my editor popped up for a brief visit was when I got the same info from the prologue about the heroine again and thought, “I like it here better than there.”

Of course, it could also be the editor inside me was fast asleep with the remnants of the knock-out drugs from my surgery!

But if you’re looking for a book to while away the time – and for one that’ll tick you off about the treatment of Native Americans early in our history. This is a good one. Recommended!

Play safe,

PS. Did you pick up your copy of Remembered Love yet? It's a freebie Naughty Nooner; EC's gift to you from me!

Monday, November 08, 2010

In my record-keeping of what books I've read this year, I realized I forgot one I read over the summer. This past Saturday my husband and I closed up our cabin for the winter (it was hard. I wanted to stay there and live like a hermit and write all winter long) and, sitting lonely and forgotton on the endtable lay a book I actually enjoyed very much.

Some of you know I'm a Tokien geek, but did you also know I'm a Myst fan? I started with Myst shortly after the game came out and eventually even was lucky enough to be chosen as a beta-tester for Uru, a game intended to be an online community as well as a world (or Ages, to be exact) of exploration. Unfortunately, Uru had too short a life, but I'm still a Myst fan and am in the process of playing End of Ages again. For the third time.

So what what the book left Myst-like on the table? Myst, the Book of Artrus, of course! A novelization of some of the backstory to that wonderful parallel universe. Written by Rand Arthur and David Wingrove, it tells the story of the D'ni through the eyes of a young boy who learns his heritage as he grows up. Torn between a grandmother who taught him patience and a father who sees the Ages they visit as his own personal ego-trips, Atrus finds a middle ground that sets him on the path of destruction we discover in the Myst video game.

I hate using those words to describe Myst. It isn't really a video game. Video games are the Mario Brothers and PacMan and even World of Warcraft. Myst is a story couched inside a set of puzzles. It's a hyperlinked novel with incredible artwork and breathtaking discoveries. It's exploration, not gaming. The Book of Atrus is just another level of the exploration.

All that said, if you're not a Myst fan? You're going to find this book tedious and filled with references you don't understand. If you are a Myst fan? You're going to find this book a little slow, but you'll enjoy discovering Atrus as a boy, then as a young man before he meets Catherine, before his sons betray him, before life goes so very wrong for him.

That's all! I'll be out for a bit starting Wednesday as I'm having a bit of knee surgery done to remove the arthritis that's built up inside over the years (too many summers of skinned knees and falling off my clamp-on roller skates).

Play safe, everyone!

PS. Be sure to click on some of the links above to see the incredible artwork that is Myst!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yesterday, October 30th, I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity. Yes, I was one of the several thousand people jam-packed onto the National Mall in Washington, DC. My husband and I stood nose-to-back-of-the-head with people we'd never met and will never see again. There was barely enough room to raise one's hands for clapping, yet we managed several versions of the wave as well as raising the peace sign in answer to Jusef's (formerly Cat Stevens') greeting.

Did I think I was making a point by attending? Or was I just going to enjoy a show? Yes to both.

The point is a simple one: the extremes of both political parties have had the spotlight way too long. Both sides, in conjunction with many media outlets are trying to foster a culture of fear in America. When a people are afraid, they turn to the person with the loudest voice to follow. We assembled in Washington to let our leaders know -- we are not afraid and we are tired of listening to the shouting and hate of politicians and journalists on the fringes of the right and left.

Was it a show? Yes. Satire has a long and glorious history (ever read A Modest Proposal by another Jonathan?). Stephen Colbert's personification of an American paralyzed by fears fostered by the media was priceless. The singers were good, the comedy funny -- and the point was made. All we want is quiet, thoughtful dialogue. No one is Hitler (I'm pretty sure he's dead) and the hyperbole is too much. As Jon Stewart said, "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing." (Here for the text of his speech; here to watch). A good point that reminds me of the boy who cried wolf (a story my mother made me listen to every time I tried to tell stories on my brother ).

Now you know my political leanings: I'm a moderate. :) I believe in reasonableness, tolerance and mutual respect. I believe we really CAN work together and that while there are perhaps a few things in life to fear (like dogs -- did you know I'm deathly afraid of dogs? They bite!), the reality is we can manage.

And so, to all my readers...

Play safe!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I picked up The Secret History of the Pink Carnation last weekend at an all-too-quick Border's stop. Written by Lauren Willig, the back cover made it sound a bit like a Scarlet Pimpernel knock-off....and I'm a sucker for Scarlet Pimpernel knock-offs. Is there anything better than Anthony Andrews as the debonair Percy Blakeley? I think not, don't you know?

Anyway, I bought it and read it in two sittings over the weekend. No, "read" is too tame a word. Devoured. Gobbled. Couldn't wait to get back to. Wanted it to be longer. Yeah, all of those.

And after I read it, I discover the best part of all: it's book one of a series! That's already published so I don't have to wait forever for the author to write the next one! Yay!

I heartily recommend The Secret History of the Pink Carnation to all you Pimpernel fans -- she does a great job of bringing the Margeurite character up to modern expectations and making her a more active part of the plot. And it contains a story-within-a-story that's just plain ol' fun.

As far as my own writing...loyal readers of this blog know I've been working on a full-length novel tentatively titled "Services" for a while (over a year). The characters stopped talking and I knew why, I just didn't want it to be so. In short? I put them in bed together too early in the story and they wanted more time before they did the Big Bang. Yesterday I bowed to their demands and put a split in the manuscript about halfway through. I then gave Chapter Two a new ending...and 1000 words later I think we're back on track. At least their speaking to me again.

So I'll write what they want me to, then bridge it to what I've already gotten written (I temporarily cut 14,000 words yesterday -- that's over 40 pages!). My goal now is to have this first draft finished by the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed!

And in the meantime, of course...

Play safe!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I had the privilege to meet Terry Trueman today, author of Stuck in Neutral and Cruise Control, among others. He's a straight-talking, down-to-earth author of books that get in your brain and stick there for days. His are stories that, months later, will come back as clear as if you just read them an hour earlier. And they will haunt you.

Truly, I mean that. Haunt you. I read Stuck in Neutral several years ago and have found it pops into my head at odd times in stray thoughts that drive me to distraction. I re-read it not once, but two times in September. I didn't count it in my "books read this year" because I'd read it before. And I'd have to count it twice since I read it out loud to two separate groups of students who became as entranced as me -- and who are equally as haunted by it.

Or by the ending, rather. You see, the story's told in first person from Shawn McDaniel's point of view. He's a fourteen-year-old kid who, to the outside world, is a non-functioning, drooling, noise-making mental vegetable with cerebral palsy. Inside, however, his brain functions quite well -- to the point where the reader might consider his talents bordering on true genius. There's only one problem: Shawn thinks his dad is planning to kill him, and because of the CP, Shawn can do absolutely nothing to stop him.

If you haven't read it...do so. Stuck in Neutral is an incredible book and I guarantee, you will never look at a disabled, wheelchair-bound person the same way again. Cruise Control is the same story from his brother Paul's point of view and the two books work together beautifully as companion stories. Since I just read Cruise Control last month, I am counting that one in my tally! :)

I should tell you these books are sometimes shelved in the Young Adult sections of bookstores and libraries, but I assure you, there is nothing young adult about them. These are hard-hitting stories that pull no punches. You won't be sorry you read them.

Terry, it was great to meet you and I look forward to your next books!

Play safe,

Monday, October 18, 2010

That's right, why get one when you can get TWO Diana Hunter titles on the same day?

Title one is a re-release of Diamonds in the Snow; it was first published in the Diamond Studs anthology. Now all three novellas from that anthology are available separately for the first time. Haven't gotten yours yet? What are you waiting for?

The second one is even better because Remembered Love is free! Yep, you read that right. This little story is a Naughty Nooner to add to your Diana Hunter collection.

Blurbs? You want blurbs? AND excerpts??? Ohhh...okay. :) Read on!

Diamonds in the Snow
Diana Hunter

When a sudden snowstorm unexpectedly gives her the afternoon off from school, all Carolyn Brooks intends is a night at home grading papers. But when her car slides off the road and Paul Anderson, the disliked head of the English department takes her to his home, Carolyn finds herself drawn to the rescuing knight.

But Paul Anderson has a secret…and determines the petite elementary teacher is too delicate a flower for his dark tastes. He knows what she does not. That he is not the White Knight, but the Black.

“How did you get so wet?” The outside magic disappeared from her voice, replaced now by concern as she saw him shiver in his wet clothes.

“One of these days I’ll think ahead and put the shovel closer to the door where it might be useful. I had to wade through the snow to the shed in the back to get it out. Got pretty wet in the process, I guess.” He was soaked right through and didn’t want to tell her he’d tripped into the snowbank when wrestling with the door to the old, badly built lean-to that served as a shelter for his outside tools.

“Take them off. No, take them off right there. No sense in making a path of wet snow from here to wherever.” She deliberately turned her back on him and busied herself with the cups, spooning in several tablespoons of the cocoa mix as he undressed.

There was a note in her voice that brooked no-nonsense and Paul realized it was her school tone. Deciding to call her bluff, he stripped off his shirt and pants and then his briefs as well. But the air hitting his damp skin was cold and he shivered again.

“Throw me one of those hand towels, will you?”

Two kitchen towels hung neatly on a rack to her left. Pulling one down, she held it out behind her.

“I don’t bite, you know.”

His voice was almost in her ear. She jumped as he took the towel from her outstretched hand to dry his thighs…and his very cold cock. Grinning, he chose not to move from behind her, instead baiting her by remaining where he was.

She knew he was there…and that he must be naked. A smile playing on her face, Carolyn considered. It had been a long time since she’d seen a naked man. And the memory of him in the snow, standing like a knight in armor, stirred her deeply and in places that had not been moved in quite a long time. Her head dipped as the smile deepened into a grin and she slowly turned around.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her movement. The golden light of the candles deepened the dimples in her cheeks as her eyes sought his. Briefly tempted to cover himself with the small scrap of cloth, he decided two could bluff. Throwing the towel to the corner, he straightened, completely naked in the center of his kitchen.

Carolyn’s breath caught as she stared at the knight without his armor, still strong and invincible before her. Strength emanated from his broad chest, the powerful muscles at rest, yet still striking in their potency. No hair marred the perfection of smooth skin that glimmered in the candlelight, the line of his chest leading her eyes down past his narrow waist to his cock that nestled in a tuft of dark hair.

Remembered Love
Diana Hunter

Val knew all her husband’s moves — and that was the problem. After five years of marriage they’d fallen into a rut. Sex with Gary had become…mundane.

…Until Gary suggested adding a little kink to their sex life and Valerie discovered a whole new side of her husband. In the middle of the ropes and playing, they both…Remembered Love.

Excerpt:“They were in love. Just like us.”

“Are we?”

He pulled back at the wistful tone in her voice. “What?”

“I know you love me but are you still in love with me?”

For a moment, he didn’t understand the difference. But then he remembered Alex that morning and the way he had nearly glowed when talking about picking out living room curtains. Alex and Amy not only loved each other, but after seven years of marriage, they were still in love. Gary grinned down at his wife.

“Yes, Valerie Marie Woodard, I am still in love with you. Will you marry me?”

She laughed and thought of the old couple in the parking lot. “Yes, Gary Michael Woodard, I will marry you. Again, and again, and again.”

“You know what our problem is?” He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes as he thought. Val knew that look, although she hadn’t seen it in a very long time. It meant mischief and she slowly smiled.

"What is our problem?”

“We’ve gotten stale. Not only in our daily routine but…” he paused and his look turned from mischievous to devious.

“But…” Thrilled as she was to realize he’d come to understand what she’d been struggling to put into words these past few months, she knew him well enough to know the thoughts going on behind that beautiful face with his wide brown eyes and boyish look meant she might have awakened a sleeping tiger.

“I think it’s high time that you, young lady, were tied up and ravished.”

She laughed aloud at the outlandishness, but when he only raised an eyebrow, she realized he meant it. Her pussy creamed at the thought and she had to swallow hard to keep her knees from buckling at the very idea.

“You’re joking.”

He shook his head. “We’re in a rut, Valerie Marie. And there’s nothing like a little kink to get us out of it.”

That's it! Go out and get your copy of Diamonds in the Snow and Remembered Love today :)!
Play safe,


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Those of you following this blog already know I've been writing up short reviews of the books I've read this year. I started this more as a way to keep track of them. As a writer, several of the questions I'm often asked are, "What books do you read?" and "How often do you read?" My answer to the first has always been some variant of "an eclectic mix" but the truth is, I have no idea what genre I read let alone how many I read in a year.

So I've been keeping a record via the blog. Counting the book I just finished (see below), I'm up to 29 full-length works this year. On top of all this reading, I've released two new short works (Love in the Afternoon, a Quick Quickie from Ellora's Cave and Remembered Love, a free Naughty Nooner available on October 18th. Hey! That's this coming Monday!). I'd say this has been a productive year for me and the written word!

It took me the better part of three weeks to read Sharon Kay Penman's Here Be Dragons because it's so rich with history and names that I'd have to put it aside every once in a while just to think about it. That's a good thing. I like books that make me consider different ideas or look at historical figures in a new light. Here Be Dragons uses Joanna as the central character to explore the reign of King John of England. (her father) and Llewellyn the Great of Wales (her husband). To help you set the historical time period, this is the King John of Robin Hood fame -- or infamy.

The editing on this book was better than the last one I read of hers (Sunne in Splendor) although parts of it still read like a textbook. The characters were so compelling in this one, however, that I barely noticed the awkwardness of some chapters. Last year I read When Christ and the Saints Slept and found the same textbook-y quality to some sections of her stories. She is dealing with true historical events, though and I can see how easily that can happen. Heck! I have a Civil War historical sitting in my computer files unsold for exactly the same reason.

I've still so much to tell you about Romanticon yet...but will save for a future post since this one's long enough already.

Play safe!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Okay...a surprise for everyone, including me! This week Ellora's Cave released Stress Relief in print -- yay!!!

This is a novel that really isn't for the faint-of-heart. I know I've said that about others, but this one deals with some of the darker issues in BDSM. It's gotten my worst reviews, mostly because there are a lot of readers who prefer romances to follow a fairly strict path, even when a little kink is thrown in. Stress Relief actually follows that path, but widens it to include several activities most wouldn't in a romantic meandering.

Plainly said? There are incidents of group sex and humiliation in Stress Relief that have offended some readers and critics.

If you haven't gotten it yet, now you have an option between ebook and print delivery systems. I wanted to give you a juice excerpt not available anywhere else, but in my computer crash, I've lost a bunch of files. To add insult to injury, I can't find the backup disk I made just a few months ago. I'm afraid you're stuck with either the excerpt at EC or the one on my website for now, but I promise an extra-special one when I get my data back (keep good thoughts flowing to my old hard drive!).

Play safe!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

During the early weeks of September, I read not one, not two, but three books. And since the 10th, I haven't read any :(. But here are my impressions of the three that started the month off right!

First up was Nora Roberts' Black Hills. This is a stand-alone, full-length work from Nora...my favorite kind of hers. In this one she combines a little of JD Robb in that it's a romance inside a mystery. Or a mystery inside a romance. The hero is alpha, the heroine is too -- and all's right with the world by the end of the book. It was a fun read and at 439 pages gave me more than just a few hours' pleasure.

The second one I read more quickly, that was Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One. He has cool characters and again, all's right with the world at the end although, true to Sparks' style, he does pull at your heartstrings and messes with your head along the way. Good suspense along with the romance!

And then of course, there's The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. I've read all the Harry Potter books, reading them with my daughter when she was in 4th grade and right on up through (she's now a junior in college and we still swap them back and forth). We've watched the movies, lamented over the parts they left out while still enjoying the imagery and characters they captured. This past summer we even made a trek to the new Harry Potter section of Universal Studios in Florida (and I have to say, butterbeer is WONDERFUL!).

I wanted to re--read Deathly Hallows before the movie came out (haven't seen the trailer? You can see it here) and it lived up to my memories of it. I read it first three years ago when it came out and hadn't revisited it since then. Good suspense, wonderful ride of emotions and a very satisfying ending to Harry's battles over the years. She done good!

That's all for now. I'm currently reading another non-fiction (Coming of Age in Second Life) that's really a textbookish ethnographic study of the virtual world called Second Life (disclaimer: I'm active in SL and so have a vested interest in how he portrays the culture). I'll post more about it later when I've finished it.

Till then, Play Safe!

PS. I always provide links not only to the books but also to the authors in case my readers (all five of you) want to go to the author's official sites. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some of you have written to ask why I haven't released a full-length novel in a while and I figured if a few have written, more are thinking the question. The quick answer is, I have - or at least, have started to.
Diamond Studs and Winter Studs are two anthologies that contain stories from Ruby Storm, Ruth Kerce and me. We've had great fun working on them together and I have the emails to prove it. :) We toyed around with writing an anthology called Service Studs -- but we just couldn't quite get our timing right. Ruth published (with our blessing) her contribution as an independent, stand-alone book. If you haven't read Hot on her Tail yet...you should!

Ruby and I have yet to finish our stories. My work-in-progress, tentatively entitled Services, has been giving me grief for the past year. The characters talk - and then they don't talk. I figure out a section of the plot and then they don't like it. I'm a pantser (meaning I don't work from an outline) but this one has even driven me to try writing the synopsis first and STILL the characters won't cooperate. I managed to get nearly fifty pages of the story written in the early part of this summer but then they stopped talking once again and I'm ready to abandon them.

In fact, I got so ticked off at the silence of these characters I DID abandon them for a while and wrote Love in the Afternoon (my newest release - do you have it yet? Why not??? It's a Quick Quickie and the price is certainly right!). Normally I come up with the title after the story's written, but for this one I started with a title in my head: Naked in the Afternoon. By the time the story was on paper, however, I realized it needed a one-word change and Ellora's Cave is publishing it as Love in the Afternoon. Sweet!

Anyway, Services is still sitting here, nearly half done, giving me fits and not cooperating. I started a brand-new story day before yesterday and it's very possible I will chase that one down for a while. I'd like to give my readers another full-length (although watch for Remembered Love, a Naughty Nooner free read coming from me shortly), but it looks like I'm back to the drawing board!

In the meantime, play safe!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Need a short little pick-me-up...or perhaps a little love story to set the mood? Love in the Afternoon, my newest Quick Quickie from Ellora's Cave releases today and is perfect for those of you who are looking for a hot, sexy, inexpensive read.

She meditates, finding the quiet within. Quiet she knows he will disturb in his own seductive manner. When he calls her into the bedroom, she follows, trusting him to lead her to a place where all things are possible.

Read the blurb here and an excerpt here -- and then purchase this short piece, sit back, and enjoy Love in the Afternoon.

Play safe!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Since I last posted I've driven to Florida and stayed for a week's vacation with my family, taken my 18-year-old son off to college (he's the youngest -- sniff!) and watched my nearly 20-year-old daughter drive her own car off for her junior year in college. It's been an emotional rollercoaster since August 1st! Walt Disney World for the final family vacation, watching the younglings fly the nest -- and then staring at their rooms half sad that they're gone, half planning what can be done with them now.

In reality, I won't change their rooms up -- yet. They still come home for vacations and summers. Even though they're spending the majority of the year away, they each still need to feel that this is home. And it will be for a little while yet. With any luck, my daughter will get an internship this coming summer as a stage manager (anyone have connections with a theatre? Calling all internships!). When she does, she'll live away more than here for the first time. It's an adjustment, that's for sure!

While doing all of the above I managed to read only one book, The Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman. Someone really needs to edit her books for style. This is the second one I've read and she has a fondness for passive voice that drives me nuts. But she writes historical novels and I find myself getting immersed in the history. Since I know little about 12th and 13th century England, reading her books has certainly helped me out.

The Sunne in Splendor ostensibly is about Richard III, who, according to her research (and mine when I looked to verify her overall take on him), isn't such a bad guy after all. Shakespeare wrote from the winner's perspective and since the Tudors overthrew the Plantagenets and Elizabeth I was a Tudor, I can understand him wanting to make Richard III a terrible, evil man.

But like all history, there are two sides. This book tells the story of Edward (Richard's brother and king before him) and Richard. A family tree at the start of the book would be helpful (note to publisher to add that in future editions) because there are so many of them named the same names. Originality wasn't a strong suit; family ties were prominent.

Overall, I recommend it as an easy way to learn about the people and the time period. She intersperses customs (those newfangled forks make an appearance) with historical events, family squabbles and everyday happenings. Along the way you come to care about Richard and want to know what happened to him. I had to slap my hand more than once when I got impatient and wanted to skip to Wikipedia and get the bare facts. It was worth the wait, although I would've liked a first-person account of Richard's ending rather than the second-hand information she presented after the fact.

The book takes some time to get through. It's 931 pages in paperback. If you like historical fiction, it's a good one.

Okay, off to figure out what to do with my days now that I only have two social calendars to keep track of (my husband's and mine)...

Play safe!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just finished reading The Shakespeare Riots; Revenge, Drama and Death in Nineteeth-Century America by Nigel Cliff. May I say...WONDERFUL!!!?!!

In brief, the book explores the Astor Place Riot of 1849. The riot took place in New York City ostensibly over two different approaches to Shakespeare's plays. On one side, American Tragedian Edwin Forrest; on the other the English Tragedian William Charles Macready. Note the nationalities -- one of the real reasons the riots took place.

I know several of you are rolling your eyes at what you percieve to be a non-fiction history book. Yes, it is that...and so much more. Nigel Cliff has crafted a story out of all the diverse motivations that went into that culminating event. His knowledge of not only nineteenth-century theater but of the everyday lives of all the participants makes you forget you're not reading a novel. By the end of the book, you care about the two great actors and get genuinely angry at the mob and the nobility-wannabees that push events to the brink of disaster and then over it.

The only negative comment I have has to do with the actual riots themselves. After so many chapters, so many pages dedicated to the rising action and the events that lead to that fateful night, I wanted more description, more time dwelling on the riot itself. While Cliff does a good job, the rest of the book made me want a great job. As a result, the climax was...well...anticlimactic in my eyes.

Love, revenge, national pride, friendship and politics all get their due in this book. I heartily recommend
The Shakespeare Riots!
Hey...you can't say my tastes in reading aren't eclectic!

Play safe,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I spent yesterday at the cabin, normally a great place for peace and quiet. Over the past two years I've gotten a lot of writing done there. Not so yesterday. My husband and a friend of the family spent the day finishing the last of the bedrooms. Remember, when we bought this place not a single room was finished. Now three of the four bedrooms upstairs are completed and the fourth nearly so. The kitchen and the dining rooms were first done, but the plank floor went in this past spring, so those rooms are complete as well. The downstairs bedroom needed the least fixing, so that one was done first, followed by the bathroom. I think this bedroom is the first room he's done that he didn't need to buy a new tool for! :)

Anyway, they made it far too noisy to write -- so I read instead! Started and finished Judith McNaught's Remember When in one day, which should tell you something about the depth of thought needed to read it. Have to admit, I'm a sucker for books I can read all in one sitting. Not only are they entertaining, but I feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day!

Remember When is set in the contemporary world of corporate America, specifically, corporate Houston, Texas. She drew her characters well and even though I figured out some of the motivations before the hero and heroine did, the reveals were all well-done. I never felt cheated; the characters were true to themselves all throughout the book.

Play safe!
Diana (who needs to stop and do a count-up of the number of books she's read this year!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Was my turn this week and I wrote about RENT, inspiration and other philosophical ideologies! :)

Play safe,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I couldn't resist playing with this. I typed in a selection from Submission Revealed and, voila! One of my favorite authors popped up. Don't see it myself, but can't say I'm displeased! :) 

I write like
Jane Austen
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Although the prologue to Stress Relief gets me this:

I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And a page from Cabin Fever compares me to:

I write like
Ray Bradbury
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

All authors I love. Can you see the influences?

Monday, July 12, 2010

I've been asked to give a series of writing workshops at Book Island in Second Life. These are really just a chance for writers to set aside an hour of time to devote to working on a particular skill. I give a few tips, turn them loose to write for a while, then we share what we've written and the hour is up too fast! But it's fun and a great way to meet others.

Below is the blurb and the schedule (I know, I should've posted it last week. Sorry. I keep saying I need a secretary/publicist/peon/gopher. Know anyone who would work for free books?) I sent out to my group in SL:

Sun block is expected in the summertime, writer’s block isn’t so welcome. Join author Diana Allendale (Diana Hunter in RL) for a series of writing workshops throughout the month of July designed to get your Muse out of the sun and back to work.

NOTE: All workshops are held at the Beach Area of Book Island (why should our Muses be the only ones getting a tan?) at 2:30 pm SLT.

You'll be writing and sharing at each workshop, although no formal critique will be given. This is really an opportunity to get some new ideas, play with some ideas and just have fun writing!

July 6th -- Developing strong characters

July 13th -- Doing more than just seeing the scene

July 20th -- Writing like we speak -- or -- Authenticity in dialogue -- or -- Say what?

July 27th -- Playing with characters

The above dates are scheduled but if something unforeseen should arise, a note will go out to both Diana’s Passionate Books group and to the Book Island events and discussion group, so be sure you're a member of one or both of those!

Hope to see you there! And if you're not in Second Life...why not? You know I do readings from my books there, don't you?

Play safe,
I've been trying to write this post for a week and for some reason Blogger and my computer don't like each other. Today I managed to get the darn window to accept a cursor by saving the blank document, then going back and editing it. I love technology -- except when I don't!

I've read four books in the past week. Being at the cabin with no Internet or TV helps. All of them romances, none of them really noteworthy. Fair warning: these are easy reads. I read one a day for four days straight!

Kat Martin's The Handmaiden's Necklace is really misnamed. All throughout the book the jewelry in question is referred to as "The Bride's Necklace" -- and it isn't even the handmaiden that wears it! In fact, the necklace doesn't come to play an important role till the very end, and then it's pretty predictable. An okay story, but the plot wasn't particularly gripping, nor were the characters really memorable.

Shannon Drake's Reckless was next. Book made me want to throw it across the room more than once. Typos, plot jumps...and I swear there were missing sentences throughout the entire thing. Don't know if it was bad editing or bad writing -- or both. I'd re-read whole pages trying to figure out where a response came from. Person A would make a comment; Person B would make a response that had nothing to do with what Person A said. Drove me nuts. And it's too bad, because the storyline was actually pretty good. I had no idea, btw, that Shannon Drake is Heather Graham's pen name. I've never read Ms. Graham, but based on Reckless, I'm not inclined to now.

Next up came Donna Fletcher's The Irish Devil. I liked the storyline with this one, but found her repetitive use of several descriptive phrases to be tiresome. The hero "growled" a lot (what is he, a dog?) and was referred to far too often as "the Irish devil". Okay, I got the point. He's rough, tough, and not always a nice guy. Please stop beating me over the head with this phrase!

And finally, just finished yesterday, Josie Litton's Dream Island. This was the best of the bunch, even though it threw me for a loop when it started as a Regency and introduced a fantastical island that "everybody" knew about -- except this reader who spent the first third of the book trying to figure out what kind of book I was reading. Once I accepted it as fantasy, it moved right along. Good characters, steady plot...a day well spent!

Now it's back to the real world...and my own writing! I'll post about that tomorrow...because, yes, I do have some new stories for you!

Play safe,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Did you all know my books are all available on the Kindle now? While EC offers ebooks in several formats, the Kindle is gaining in popularity. Check out the list of my titles to see what you don't have yet and add to your collection today!

Quick poll...what format do you like best for your ebook reading? Those of you reading this via a reader will need to click through to vote.

What format do you prefer for your ebook reading?
Microsoft Reader

pollcode.com free polls

As always, play safe!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Two weeks, two more books. Seems that's all I do lately, but really, I do a LOT of other stuff besides read. Honest! I have a new Quick Quickie coming out at EC probably at the end of summer or early fall, I've not one, but TWO other novels started (writing them, not reading this time!). Plus my son just graduated from high school, my daughter's home for the summer and I hear a cabin in the woods just a' callin' my name...

So really it's amazing that I get ANY reading done. Of course, these two books were both easy reads (at least for me). Both are in the Young Adult category and both are older books. In fact, the first one seems to be currently out of print, although I did manage to find some used copies available online.

Crossroads for Chela by Dorothy Witton is the first of the two. It tells the story of Chela, a Terascan Indian living in the high Sierras of South America. Chela chafes at the life her family and traditions have laid out for her and when "outsiders" come to her village, the new ideas they bring threaten her way of life.

The story was first published in the 1950's, but the events of the story are timely even today. I truly enjoyed this book and would love it if some publisher picked it up again to make available. In fact, I might even teach this book with a class of 9th or 10th graders!

The second book, Jackaroo by Cynthia Voight, is the first in her Kingdom series of books. While the plot was interesting and the characters intriguing, I have to say I didn't much care for this book. I love the fantasy genre and this would fall into that category. But when writing fantasy, the author has to spend time building up the world so it's understandable to the reader. Too often I found myself going, "What? Where did that come from? Did I miss something?" because either the action skipped ahead or the characters referenced something that hadn't yet come into play...and not in a good way that would pique one's interest, but rather in a way that had this reader, anyway, shaking her head and feeling lost.

So, two young adult novels, one no longer available and I wish it were; one still around and I'm not planning to read any more of the series.

Hmmm...I really should be putting all these books in at Library Thing...

Play safe!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Okay, trying out some code I just installed on the blog. But nothing can be easy, so I'm not sure it works. If it did, when you hover over the title for Secret Submission, an Amazon link should pop up. Did it?

edited: Whee! It did! I am such an HTML illiterate, I'm always surprised when it works like it's supposed to.

Now, next question. Do you find the pop-up helpful or annoying?

Friday, June 11, 2010

BecauseI haven't posted any reviews of the books I've been reading, you might be tempted to think I haven't been reading. Sorry, but nothing keeps me from reading! The book that took me all of May to read was Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and the first half of June was dedicated to The Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris.

I picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at Borders in early May. Let me warn you now, the print in the paperback is exceedingly small and even with my glasses on I had trouble at times. The book is 1006 pages long and there are a lot of words the publisher has tried to cram onto the pages to keep it to that length. If you can find it in hardcover, it might be an easier read on the eyes. In fact, the small print size is one of the reasons it took so long to finish. I kept putting it down because my eyes hurt after an hour or so.

The book reads like a non-fiction, telling the story of these two men from viewpoint of a never-named narrator. This device is furthered by the use of footnotes that, ostensibly, explain the references to other (fictional) works. While I found some of the footnotes entertaining in their own right (many read like little short stories), after a while, they became tiresome. Especially when they ran for several pages and I lost track of the story proper. Still, an interesting way to tell the little side-stories that often crop up when one is writing a novel of this length.

Overall I found the story mildly entertaining -- I did, after all, keep coming back after resting my eyes. But the non-fiction approach to the storytelling made it quite dry reading at times. For instance, it seemed that the beginning stretched forever before the story got out of the exposition and the main conflict was introduced. And if you're looking for a lot of action, this book is not it. If you like scholarly discussions of magic and power struggles between two opposing magicians, then this is definitely up your alley.

The second book, The Yellow Raft in Blue Water, has been taught in high schools for years so I figured it was high time I actually read it as well. I had no introduction to it, I just picked it up off the shelf and started. I didn't mind it too much, although, again, I found the storytelling a little to dry for my tastes. Raymona's story moved along and I found myself just sort of skimming along the story much as she skimmed through telling it.

But then the book shift's point of view and I found that unsettling, if not surprising. I figured it had to as Ray's story didn't have too many more places to go and there was a whole lot of book left. I found Christine's story even less compelling that Ray's and it sat on my desk gathering dust for several days before I was bored enough to pick it up again.

One of the English teachers told me she loved the book because it was like peeling an onion. That each person's story peeled away another layer until you got to the last point of view (I won't reveal the spoiler, although you'll probably figure it out halfway through the book). Only when you reached the core story did you find the truth. Of course, that assumes I'm still interested in finding out the truth when I finally get there. Overall, I'd give this one a bye unless you're a fan of the Contemporary American Novel. Which, apparently, I ain't.

So two more books to add to my list for this year's tally! Till later, Play safe,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This week was my turn on the Scribblin' Scribes blog. Come on over and take a gander!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

With this story I'm officially out of stories for a while. Tales from the Ramayana: Homecoming follows Ram and Laksman back home to Ayodhya with their brides-to-be, only for them to find their father is none too pleased at their extended absence!

Okay, readers...what's next? Should I get back to work on a full-length novel for you? Write a few more adventures of Ram, Sita and Laksman? Stop writing altogether? I will tell you EC just accepting a Quick Quickie I wrote called "Love in the Afternoon." It's currently in edits, but you know I'll post here as soon as I have a release date.

In the meantime, enjoy Homecoming!

(removed. Now in Tales from the Ramayana, a collection of four short stories from The Ramayana as told by Diana Hunter)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Free story finally posted. This one is not part of the Tales from the Ramayana (although a new episode is coming soon). Gorilla Love was written as a part of the Love's Stories collection. Since it's very short (less than 600 words) it really should be classified as flash fiction. But it's a cute piece I had fun with. And because its so short, I'm offering this one for free.

(removed. Now a part of TIMELESS LOVE, a collection of short, romantic stories by Diana Hunter)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Didn't post new story yesterday because of neice's wedding rehearsal. Today is the wedding. New story coming soon...I promise!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Just bringing my log of books read so far this year up to date.

To April's list I need to add Last Words by George Carlin and 700 Sundays by Billy Crystal. Two bios by two very different comedians. Carlin's book is more a retrospective of his life and the things he's learned along the way. Sprinkled in among the memories are some great stories of the people he met and worked with as well as excerpts from some of his more famous routines (remember the Hippy Dippy Weatherman? With your hippy dippy weather, man!). Crystal's book is more a tribute to his dad and to other family members. He tells tales about his aunts and uncles and, of course, his love of baseball comes through as well (I'd include a link to his website, but it appears he doesn't have one).

Of the two, Carlin's was a much better read. Although Crystal's book is shorter (by nearly a hundred pages), Carlin's is more insightful about the human condition. As always, he has wonderful plays on words and a cutting cynicism of pomposity. Crystal's is a book of stories. Period. If you're looking to read one or the other, I'd definitely recommend George Carlin's last book. In pace requiscat.

I also read a biography of William Shakespeare (okay, so I'm a closet bio fan. Sue me!). Written by Bill Bryson and entitled Shakespeare; The World as Stage, this is as unpretentious and delightful biographer of the English language's best writer (yes, I said best and I'm sticking with it!). Bryson's incredible research exposes many of the wilder theories regarding our old friend Will while giving fun explanations of the big holes we have in the playwright's life. It's a short read (less than 200 pages) filled with humor and an obvious love and respect for the man who gave so much to English literature.

I think that catches me up! Look for another short story this Thursday. Till then,

Play safe!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

It's Thursday, so it must mean a new story from Diana! This one is available for a small fee ($1.25). I'm still looking for input regarding the price.

Today's short story is called "One Last Dance". It's one of my favorite short pieces and tells the story of an elderly couple's last dance together. Get your hankies ready!

(removed. Story now available in TIMELESS LOVE, an anthology of four short, romantic stories from Diana)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

As you may have guessed, I've started publishing some short stories to Scribd. The Tales from the Ramayana are free stories, the others cost a nominal fee (I had to charge $1.25 in order to cover the cost that goes to Scribd for each purchase. Do you think that's too much? Not enough? Leave me some feedback so I can adjust as needed!). I have enough of these written to publish a new work each Thursday for the next four weeks. And since today is Thursday...

Below you'll find "Laksman Falls in Love" and it's free. Since this is going to be part of a series of stories, I actually gave it a cover. I hope you enjoy it!

(Removed. This story is now a part of the Tales from the Ramayana, a series of short stories from the ancient epic as retold by Diana)

Play safe,

Monday, April 26, 2010

You can vote now for the Bondage Awards. Please cast your vote for me for Best Writer!

You can vote once a day till the voting ends...so you know I'll be pestering! The person with the most votes wins. :)

Play safe,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Diana Hunter Scribd store is now open with the launch of Love at Third Sight -- a personal tale of love and romance. I will be publishing several of these short stories over the next few months and am charging a nominal fee ($1.25) for them. Rest assured, the episodes of Tales from the Ramayana will remain free, however.

(removed. This story is now part of TIMELESS LOVE, a collection of short, romantic stories from Diana)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I've been laid up the past few days, recovering from arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday. While I'm getting around much better than I thought I would, I still spend HUGE amounts of time sitting still. And what better activity to do when sitting still but reading and writing books?

To that end, I've begun writing a Quick Quickie. I'm stuck with this enforced non-activity for a week and I'm thinking I can write one hot, short, sexy story in that time. Aiming for 8-10K in length...and 2K are already done.

I also read an entire book yesterday. Well, that's not fair. I started it the day before but only ready about 40 pages before the drugs knocked me out and I slept through the night. So yesterday I finished Laurie R. King's book, Locked Rooms. Mary Russell is the protagonist of the book, helped along by her husband, Sherlock Holmes. Yes, that Sherlock Holmes.

This book is obviously part of a series of Mary Russell novels and refers back to those other adventures several times, much the same way A.C. Doyle did with the Holmes mysteries. In fact, she employs several of Doyle's techniques in telling the story, sometimes to great effect. Although I found the start of the story somewhat long to get through, once the hunt was on the story sped right along.

That said, I doubt I'll read any of the others in her series. I really like Sherlock Holmes and all his oddities. Messing around with a beloved character just isn't my cup of tea. He's a perennial bachelor in my head and will remain that way. Ms. King's stories would work just as well without the Holmes connection.

Oh! I forgot to mention I read Dangerously Funny 'way back in January. Written by David Biancully of NPR fame, it's a great look at how the Smothers Brothers changed, and were changed by, television. WONDERFUL book! A must-read if you care about censorship...and if you think it's not still going on today, you definitely need to read this book!

That's all...be sure to check here for a free read from me in the post below. Just something fun :)

Play safe,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

To all you travelers who are stuck in places you don't want to be, I offer a free story to take you away from your troubles for a while. Feel free to download and read at your leisure!

The Ramayana is an ancient tale from India and one I've enjoyed expounding on for many years. I never tire of telling the story to a group of students and watching their faces as they become enthralled with the adventure, the feats of derring-do and the romance of the hero and heroine. Two years ago I was asked to write a series of short stories for a Valentine's presentation in Second Life and naturally I turned to this beautiful epic for inspiration. The story attached tells my version of the very first meeting between Ram and Sita as told through Sita's eyes.

Tales From the Ramayana; Ram and Sita Meet by Diana Hunter

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My mom is a long-time romance reader. She loves Debbie McComber and Nora Roberts, Sarah Brown and Jude Devereux among others and she’s always passing books onto me that I then pass to my mother-in-law who is also an avid romance reader. My mom reads about 15 books a month; my m-i-l reads an average of 25. They expect me to keep up.

I don’t, obviously. And while I enjoy the occasional romance novel, I like to vary the genre I read. I tend to be a news junkie, so I read a lot of non-fiction. I also enjoy fantasy (have I mentioned lately I’ve been a Tolkien geek long before it was fashionable?), science fiction, and historical novels that may or may not be romantic in nature (love Michael Sharra’s books!).

All that said, this year I’m keeping track of the books I read. The most recent additions to the list are two books by Judith Devereux: The Summerhouse and The Duchess.

I enjoyed The Summerhouse very much. The plot had a cool hook that fed into the fantasy lover I am and, of course, her characters are wonderfully drawn as always. The story follows a group of women who are given a chance at a “do over” in life. Watching them analyze their respective pasts and make decisions about their futures made for a good two-day’s reading. And it’s thought-provoking, too. Makes you think what parts of your own life you might like to have an opportunity to do over.

So The Summerhouse had qualities I look for in good books: characters I can believe, a good plot hook, and it stuck with me after I read it. I didn’t want to jump right into another book, I wanted to carry this one around in my head for a few days after I was done reading.

I can’t say the same about The Duchess. Oh, it was a good story, if a bit traditional in the historical nature genre. I found only one anachronism when the female protagonist walks into a room and “flips on a light.” In 1883. Both the action and the phrasing were too modern for the story and I had to flip back to the start of the book to make sure I had the right period.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the story…right up to the ending. Won’t give spoilers, but I felt cheated. It was almost as if she’d gotten tired of writing the book, so she wrapped up all the loose ends in an epilogue and closed the file. But some of those “loose ends” were actually subplots that deserved their own climaxes. Such a let down at the end of the book. I wanted to throw the darn thing across the room and yell at her for being a lazy writer.

So, two Jude Devereux stories, two Diana Gabaldon, one Debbie McComber and a Neil Gaiman. Three and half months into the year and I’ve read six books. Not a bad start to the year!