Reading: Cry Wolf

Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Supernatural (Science Fiction Romance)
Length: 294 pages

Summary: Anna didn’t believe werewolves existed until she was bitten and became one. For reasons unknown to her until Charles came into her life, she was sexually abused by those in her pack. Charles, son of the leader of the North American werewolves, appears in Anna’s life to reveal she is the Omega, a rare wolf that is meant to be protected and treasured, not abused. Together, they work through the residuals of Anna’s abuse while hunting a rogue werewolf bound by black magic which threatens all of  North America.

Excerpt:

pg 56 -And that’s when Anna realized that what the wolf had been asking Bran for was death.

Impulsively, Anna stepped away from Charles. She put a knee on the bench she’d been sitting on and reached over the back to close her hand on Asil’s wrist, which was lying across the back of the pew.

He hissed in shock but didn’t pull away. As she held him, the scent of wildness, of sickness, faded. He stared at her, the whites of his eyes showing brightly while his irises narrowed to small bands around his black pupil.

“Omega,” he whispered, his breath coming harshly.

pg 114 – For her he shook like an alcoholic in need of his gin, because he felt she needed to know her options, no matter how his wolf felt about losing his mate. Her knight, indeed.

Why should you read this book?

If you’re leery of supernatural books, the kinds that have werewolves and witches practicing black magic, etc, don’t let this book fool you. This book is so much more than magical creatures. Why is it that supernatural books are the ones that handle the topic of sexual abuse better than any other genre I’ve read? Anna is a fragile character, but she survived three years of sexual abuse. Survived, and wants to learn how she can heal some of those wounds in order to try a relationship with Charles, who is head-over-heels in love with her.

I loved the metaphor of Brother Wolf as the survival instinct we all have. When Anna feels threatened, such as the first time she tries to be intimate with Charles, her wolf comes “into ascendance,” essentially, she pulls on a deeper strength in order to swallow the timidity, fear, nausea that comes from anyone touching her. All because she wants it to work with Charles. I also loved that as the Omega wolf, her strength was in bringing out the best in others.

Read this book for an entertaining, gripping story that starts off running and continues at a loping pace. Read it for a tactful treatment of the aftermath of sexual abuse and the wish for a healthy, equal relationship. Another book to check out, if interested in another fascinating treatment of the same topic, is Robin McKinley’s Deerskin.

Fun Times at the Ohioana Book Festival

Dear Reader,

This past Saturday was all kinds of awesome. Not only was it Free Comic Day, but it was the Ohioana Book Festival here in Columbus. If there is one thing you get out of this post, it is this: Belinda got to spend an entire day being a nerd about local books and book shops.

I won’t go into much detail about Free Comic Day because I can’t tie it to historical fiction or romance very well. Suffice it to say I got six free comic books from The Laughing Ogre in the Clintonville area of Columbus, and bought a compilation Sinfest book because, damn, I got six free comic books.

Anyone who tells you free doesn’t work is a liar. Get enough free things quickly enough, and you might feel guilty enough to spring for something more expensive than you would have otherwise bought.

It was my first time at the Ohioana Book Festival, and I was appalled until I realized that the festival was only in its third year. I was in grad school in another state the last two years, so no wonder I hadn’t heard of the festival. It was located on the lovely campus of Fort Hayes, and the history of that campus would be worth a blog post by itself.

In brief, Fort Hayes was the first federal arsenal in Columbus, commissioned during the first year of the Civil War in order to provide arms for the men called to duty. The first building was completed in 1864 and was called the “shot” building because that’s where they made shot for the guns. This is totally fitting, right, because I’m working on a Civil War book, and it’s the 150th anniversary of the war. Believe me, I was geeking out.

Today, the buildings that are not boarded up or falling apart on the campus are used for an alternative high school which emphasizes the arts and preparing for professional life. And events like the Ohioana Book Festival (OBF).

The OBF caters to Ohio authors and authors who write about Ohio. An author is considered an Ohioan if they have lived in the state for five years at some point in their life, which I find a little sketchy. One author hadn’t lived in Ohio for thirty-seven years! But who am I to judge. The festival didn’t accept self-published authors, so even if I had known about the festival in time, they wouldn’t have accepted me. Oh well. One can hope. I own my publishing company, have an editor, etc. One of these days, I will be at that festival. So say I.

Anyway, I got to meet Sean McCartney in person, who you might remember I spotlighted this past winter. He was doing a great job! There were ninety-nine other authors he competed against, and he had sold eleven books by the time I got there in the early afternoon. He writes adventure fiction along the lines of Indiana Jones, so if you have a kid in your life who thinks they don’t like to read, try giving them one of his books.

I got to meet three historical fiction authors, two of which were on a guest panel about writing the genre. I was happy to meet Carrie Bebris, who writes the Mr and Mrs Darcy mysteries. Yes, you are guessing correctly: she writes Regency mysteries using the hero and heroine from Pride and Prejudice as her protagonists. Sounds like an absolute blast, right?? The author herself was soft-spoken and had a kind face, and was appreciative when I said I’d like to highlight her in my blog. You should check her out.

Lisa Klein and Karen Harper were the guests on the historical fiction panel, and it was fascinating to watch them interact with each other.

Klein writes young adult historical fiction, something along the lines of Ann Rinaldi, I imagine. Which means I will most likely be picking up one of her books to review because I devoured every Rinaldi book I could when I was younger. In fact, Rinaldi’s method of providing author notes and bibliographies at the back of her books is what inspired me to believe I could write historical fiction in the first place. Klein just released a Civil War book about two young women living in the Gettysburg area during the Civil War.

Harper writes historical fiction for adults; she likened it to women’s fiction but set in the past. Unlike Klein, who stays true to the historical record but whose protagonists are creations of her imagination, Harper only writes about people who actually existed. Think Susan Holloway Scott.

Both authors seem fascinated by the Tudor era, but also branch into other eras. Harper is currently writing an Amish series and released a book last year called Mistress Shakespeare, a tale about the woman Shakespeare was engaged to before he was forced to wed pregnant Anne Hathaway.

The really interesting thing about these authors is that they are both teachers. Harper taught Elizabethan history and Klein was a literature professor. In fact, Klein said she didn’t like history in school! It wasn’t until a history teacher in college had the class read a novel that represented each era they studied that she saw how fascinating the past is. Harper mentioned that because she writes about real people, she often gets letters from readers who point out her mistakes… something Klein hadn’t experienced. I suspect this might be because Klein writes for young adults, and they probably just don’t know enough to question her.

This post is getting super long, so I’ll stop here, but I urge you to check out the authors and books I highlighted from the festival. It was a great event that left me supercharged to write a thousand words that night. Definitely see if you have a local or state book festival. You’ll get to meet authors, check out their latest books, and basically nerd out for free.

And if you’re lucky, you might get to meet Amelia Bedelia, like me. Cross your fingers.

Best,

Belinda

 

 

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This is part of the ROW80 bloghop. I’m keeping up with my goals. Are you?

Book Review Extravaganza

Dear Reader,

I read five books last week. Rather than splitting up my reviews so each book gets a dedicated post, I instead posted my reviews on Goodreads and am linking to them from here. They’re all some form of historical romance; three are Regencies and two are Victorian. I’m always surprised there aren’t more Victorian romances… it makes sense, I suppose, because society totally freaked at how loosey-goosey the regency was in terms of morals… but the fun thing about the Victorians is that they actually continued those loose morals… they just stopped talking about it as frequently.

As a quick ROW80 update… I wrote another chapter to The Rebel’s Hero, but I don’t like how it ended. So that needs a rewrite. I’m also keeping to my goal of writing 750 words a week… pretty much blasting that out of the water. So that’s cheering.

Enough of that. Onto the reviews!

His Sinful Secret (Notorious Bachelors, #3)His Sinful Secret by Emma Wildes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Julianne and Michael are brought together by an arranged marriage, and they start their familial duty of producing an heir for the duchy as soon as possible. Through their entanglements in bed and the pillow talk after, they realize that it just might be possible to have that long-sought-but-rarely-found sort of marriage within the aristocracy: a happy one.

ImpulseImpulse by Candace Camp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As always, I love Candace Camp’s stories because she allows the hero/heroine to get to know one another, to feel confident that they have found a healthy match/complement in each other, before hopping into bed.

It’s just refreshing.

The BargainThe Bargain by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it’s Putney’s heroes that make me love her writing. Here we have David, who is very good at what he does, killing people efficiently to save his own skin. But the hardships of war didn’t dull his sensitivities toward a Jocelyn, beautiful woman who shies away from marriage the way a horse shies from a snake. He might have been a major, but David is a wonderful beta hero who kept me smiling and wishing he were real so I could take him home to meet my mother.

The Education of Mrs. BrimleyThe Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think what I loved most about this book was that even though Nicholas could have completely taken advantage of Emma, he always gave her a choice. Now, he could have been a true gentleman and not required Emma to pose for him, but then the story wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting. Talk about foreplay… the slow undressing of the heroine for months built up the tension between them like crazy.

The Fire Rose (Elemental Masters, #1)The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The story began slowly, and the description sometimes got in the way of the plot, I felt. At its heart, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. We have the beast, Jason Cameron, a elemental wizard who got too big for his britches and tried a spell he didn’t know how to uncast. We have the beauty, an heiress who was working on her PhD when her father died and left her penniless.

A decent retelling of a familiar and well-loved fairy tale, I wish there had been a little less world-building and a little more relationship-building.

View all my reviews

I LOVE Historical Romance Web Comics

Dear Reader,

If you haven’t realized that I am a huge geek, I am outing myself right now. I have been a fan of web comics for the last… oh… seven years or so. Three of my favorites happen to be historical romances. Be prepared, as this post is a huge love rant for all of them.

The Phoenix Requiem

Sarah Ellerton is a genius. Hands down. Ellerton is the writer and artist behind The Phoenix Requiem, a “Victorian-inspired supernatural fantasy story about faith, love, death, and the things we believe in.” Heavy, right? Not really, it’s a joy to read.  The reason why I love The Phoenix Requiem is because of Ellerton’s detail to clothing and culture; her hero is charming and adorable, her heroine is serious and lovely. From the website…

On a cold December night, a gentleman stumbles into the town of Esk, gunshot wounds leaving a trail of blood in the snow behind him. Despite making a full recovery at the hands of an inexperienced nurse – and deciding to make a new life for himself in the town – he is unable to escape the supernatural beings, both good and bad, that seem to follow him like shadows.

As they try to discover why, the nurse must question her beliefs and risk her own life in order to protect her family, her friends, and those that she loves.

The comic is now complete, and you can read the whole thing from the start. I plan on buying all the volumes once Ellerton puts them in print. That is three (or longer) years of work that she released for free, and as a fellow independent author, I want to support her fantastic work.

Dreamless

Dreamless is another of Sarah Ellerton’s comics, this one written by Bobby Crosby. Set during World War II, this is a tale of star-crossed lovers who share their dreams. Literally. Eleanor and Takashi don’t sleep the way the rest of us do.

When Eleanor sleeps, she is in Japan, seeing what Takashi sees. When Takashi sleeps, he is in the United States, seeing what Eleanor sees. They can’t speak to one another, exactly, but they can hear what the other, and the people around them, are saying. Read the complete web comic to find out what happens to this young couple in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor.

And finally, we have…

The Dreamer

The Dreamer is a web comic by Lora Innes, an artist who lives in the same city as me and seems to know some of the same people I do, going off her blog. I have never met her but it would be pretty sweet if I could! One of these days I will make it to the Columbus Comicon. One of these days. From the website…

Beatrice “Bea” Whaley seems to have it all; the seventeen year old high school senior is beautiful, wealthy and the star performer of the drama club. She begins having vivid dreams about a brave and handsome soldier named Alan Warren–a member of an elite group known as Knowlton’s Rangers that served during the Revolutionary War.

Bea begins to research Colonial America only to discover that her dreams recount actual historical events that she knew nothing about! She grows increasingly detached from her friends and family as she tries desperately to figure out what is happening to her…

This comic is in the middle of its story, so unlike Dreamless and The Phoenix Requiem, you can’t pick this one up like a book and blast through all the pages until reaching the satisfying conclusion. The interesting thing about reading web comics is that it’s a lot like reading a series while the author is still writing them. Remember how antsy you felt when waiting for the next Harry Potter? Same thing. Except it’s on a weekly basis.

So there you have it! Those are the historical romance stories I keep up with weekly in my RSS reader. Are you reading these comics or others that I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

All the best,

Belinda

Touring the Historical Fiction World

Dear Reader,

I hope your holiday season is going well! Those of you who entered the giveaway from last week, you should have received an email with the discount codes. Have you had a chance to listen to my half hour interview on Page Readers? It was a blast, and I’m so glad Nanci had me on the show.

This week, I want to talk about Charlie Courtland’s great idea to take a tour of the subgenres that are popping into historical fiction. The goal of the “tour” is to read six subgenres of historical fiction. Charlie has suggested…

  • Historical Mystery
  • Historical Horror
  • Historical Romance
  • Historical Young Adult
  • Historical Plantation
  • Historical Thriller
  • Historical GLBT
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Historical Western
  • Historical Paranormal
  • Historical True Crime

Given that I am part of the group of authors who are playing with the historical fiction norms, I love this idea. I’ve written in the historical romance and historical gothic-thriller genres. I have no idea what my next genre is going to be, except that it will be historical. This will be a lot of fun!

So with the above genres in mind, what books do you think I should read? I think I’m going to start with Maids of Misfortune. I want to read books by authors I’ve never read before and in genres I’m not familiar with, which means I can’t read Lauren Willig (romance), Philippa Gregory (romance), Amanda Quick (paranormal), Deanna Raybourn (mystery/plantation), Mary Jo Putney (fantasy).

What’s Next?

I’m not happy with the sales for Catching the Rose, so I’m having an editor look at it to see where I can improve the story. I wrote it over seven years ago, meaning I don’t know what to do with it without outside help. I’m looking forward to the results from the editor, especially because the editor, Wulfshado, needs help with finances. This is a good way for both of us to get what we need.

I’m hoping to get the new content out for Catching the Rose in the next couple of months. I’m also working on the short story anthology Love or Lack Thereof; my awesome editor Cindy Sherwood has agreed to help me with that so I can get it out in time for Valentine’s Day.

I’m looking forward to hearing reviews from the giveaway. They are two very different writing styles, but I hope people enjoy them.

Best,

Belinda

Book: The Perfect Poison

Announcement! Roz Morris of Nail Your Novel is collecting images of readers reading our books. If you have a copy of Catching the Rose or Haunting Miss Trentwood and you are game to snap an action shot of you reading, great!

Send a copy to me at worderella AT gmail DOT com. Looking forward to your submissions!

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Title: The Perfect Poison
Author: Amanda Quick
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Length: 437 pgs.

Summary: Lucinda has the ability to detect any sort of botanically-based poison. This becomes something of a problem when Lucinda realizes the latest death in London was the result of someone using a poison from a plant stolen from her conservatory. Desperate to find the true killer and keep the wagging tongues at bay, Lucinda hires the eccentric Caleb Jones, founder of the local psychical investigation agency.

Excerpt:

pg 145 – “Nonsense, Miss Bromley.” Victoria put her reading glasses back on and reached for a pen. “I can assure you that when it comes to dealing with the social world, timidity never pays. The weak get trampled. Only the  strong, the bold, the clever survive.”

pg 168 – “Well I suppose a little breaking and entering is nothing compared to the risk of being arrested  for poisoning Lord Fairburn,” Lucinda said. Her voice was a trifle thin and a bit higher than usual but otherwise gratifyingly cool.

“That’s the spirit, Miss Bromley,” Caleb said. “Look for the silver lining, I always say.”

“Something tells me you’ve never said that before in your entire life, Mr. Jones.”

“Those of us blessed with a cheerful and positive temperament always say that sort of nonsense.”

Why should you read this book?

Ever wonder what would have happened if Sherlock Holmes, the master of dispassionate problem-solving, found his equal? Yeah, me too! Especially since the BBC’s most recent incarnation of Sherlock came out and boy do I have a mind crush on him.

Back to the point, Belinda. Why should you read this book? Because it’s about a woman who knows she has a talent and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s about a man who recognizes that talent and respects her for it, even if he doesn’t understand it. It’s about two highly intelligent people who are working together to solve a mystery, and in the process happen to ignite a passion between them that is intellectually, emotionally, and physically satisfying. You just don’t get that every day.

Quick has once again written a story that had me laughing out loud, eager to turn the page, and happy as both a fantasy/paranormal and historical fiction fan.

Book: An Independent Woman

Title: An Independent Woman
Author: Candace Camp
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 397 pgs.

Summary: Nick was the orphaned, unwanted heir to the estate. Juliana was the charity case. Nick was the only one who protected Juliana from the cruelty of his family until he left to make a better life for himself. Years later, Nick reappears in Juliana’s life looking every bit the hero she remembered from her childhood. Misunderstandings cause her to lose her job as a lady’s companion, and Nick proposes a marriage of convenience. All seems well until murder happens on their wedding day…

Excerpt:

pg 71 – [Juliana] was the beloved companion of his childhood, the girl who had provided the only warmth he had known after his parents’ deaths. He had been eager to find her when he returned to England, but it had been the eagerness of an old, close friend… of a brother, say. He loved her, he thought, as much as he found himself able to love anyone, but it was a small, pure, uncomplicated love, a deep fondness for a childhood memory.

Yet here Juliana was, not at all a memory, looking very much like a desirable woman, and the feeling that had just speared through him was not years-old devotion but the swift lust of a man for a woman. The feeling shook him.

pg 139 – Juliana spent the next week in a veritable orgy of shopping.

Why should you read this book?

This is my first Candace Camp and I picked it up because I have been on the hunt for A Hidden Heart for my mother. The other Candace Camp books didn’t interest me, but the title intrigued me. This book was a fun, quick read, that had little history and the right amount of romance.

The selling point of this book is the description of Juliana and Nick. Admittedly, at the beginning I tired of Juliana’s constant wondering “Will he remember me? Won’t he remember me? What if I don’t meet his expectations?” Given that she is an independent woman, having made her way for years as a lady’s companion to nice (and not-so-nice) employers, that grated on my nerves a bit.

I adored the fact that Camp didn’t have them jump into bed right away. This book is a great example of a romance which allows the characters to get to know one another as people, to discover their personalities, their complements and clashes, before any hanky-panky begins. Their grudging respect for one another even while pissed off is what kept me smiling and reading; it’s what made them real for me.