Genre: Romance

April 29, 2014
Sunderland Public Library

Benchmark: Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Romance Resources:

Top Ten Historical Romance Authors
It’s Cold Outside…But It’s Heating Up in Here: New Romance Appeal Terms

Notes on Discussion

Adam Novitt, director of the Sunderland Public Library, presented a disaster response initiative he is involved with. Libraries are invited to work with FEMA and DHS to provide disaster recovery information. Contact Adam for more informantion.

Introductions

Welcome Leane Ellis from Wakefield who is involved with a Northeastern Mass Readers Advisory Group.

MLS is offering Readers Advisory webinars. Visit the MLS website for more info. The next scheduled webinar is May 14th. All will be recorded and archived.

The MLS sends links to handouts prior to the beginning of each webinar. Joyce Saricks is the presenter of many of the webinars. She is very enthusiastic about Readers Advisory and offers a different way of looking at genres – how does a genre affect you? Topics include adrenaline and landscape.

The Collections Development Librarians of ALA have regular online conversations about RA topics. Recent topics include Sure Bets and Daily reading. Jan will compile info and share with the group.

Librarians with a particular interest in readers’ advisory are cordially invited to join a group of like-minded folk at Darien Library on Friday, May 16, 2014, for the Library’s first annual RA Unconference. Or, as we’ve been calling it, RAUNCON. (Pronounced RON-CON.) Darien Library is sponsoring is sponsoring this unconference, so registration is free, as is lunch that day. There are 80 spots for interested librarians. The schedule can be found here.

An author list provided – What’s Love Got To Do With It? – lists romance authors by various categories, (time, place, paranormal, suspense). The list also includes sensuality levels 0-5 with one being mild and five being quite steamy.

A discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey suggested that the popularity of the series, with abundant explicit sex, has changed readers comfort levels with explicit sexual content.

The difference between romance and erotica is that romance novels are relationship focused with characters who end up living happily ever after. Erotica is not relationship focused and happily ever after relationships are not expected outcomes.

We all have different interpretations and comfort levels with explicit sex. We must get the reader to tell us their definition. Good words/phrases to use in RA interviews include

Racy, steamy, what are you comfortable with?

Regency romance novels have historically been very mild or chaste but contemporary authors include more explicit sex event though it might not be historically accurate.

Appeal terms for romance include fantasy, funny, relationships, character building, stron female characters, sex positive, setting.

Stronger woman in historical romance is probably historically inaccurate, older romances had a woman who needed to be saved.

Romance series are often linked stories with characters from the same family. It is not important to read the in order. For instance there are eight Bridgerton siblings and a romance for each of them with them all living happily ever after!

Lauren Willig writes The Pink Carnation series which include historical stories within a continuing contemporary story.

Thoughts about Romancing Mr. Bridgerton

Moved slowly at times

Good that story continued a little after the wedding

Everyone liked lady Wistledown

Formulaic

Romance is formulaic. The formula is the strength of a romance. If a reader wants a romance that is not formulaic they probably want women’s fiction.

Second Titles

Name: Jan Resnick

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Title: Petals on the River
  • Author: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
  • Appeal Factors: Fast paced; Characterization – Standard, good secondary characters; Language – engaging, descriptive; Story – plot-driven; Tone – steamy; Frame – 1747, Newportes Newes, Virginia
  • Summary/Thoughts: Young, red-haired, curvaceous Shemaine O’Hearn is kidnapped while her parents were away and thrown into Newgate Prison for theft.  Her only escape is to sign deportation papers to become an indentured servant.  Son of a nobleman, widower, cabinet and ship maker Gage Thornton buys her papers for an outrageous amount (derailing the ship captain’s plan to set up Shemaine as his mistress) in order to gain a cook, housekeeper and eventual tutor for his young son.  Shemaine and Gage, of course, fall in love.  The two of them have accumulated a formidable set of enemies from Shemaine’s former fiancé’s grandmother to shipboard enemies to thwarted lovers to ‘contract’ killers.  They face many dangers before the HEA.
    There is a lot of period detail and complex plotting that will appeal to traditional historical romance readers and the characters are appealing.  Petals on the River was published in 1997, so for current steamy romance readers, the steam may be a level 3 rather than a level 5.  There is plenty of sexual tension.
  • Red flag – there were many details that seemed unrealistic to me that may put off contemporary readers of historicals – in the mid 1700’s are families likely to travel en masse to find their lost daughter or son?  Would they not send someone or write for information?  The language bordered between ‘bodice ripper’ and historical, overwrought with ‘orbs’ and ‘bond slave.’  Can two people develop so many murderous enemies?
    That said, from NoveList:  “An icon of the romance genre, Kathleen Woodiwiss’s first novel, The Flame and the Flower, was hugely popular at its publication and introduced previously unknown level of sexual explicitness to historical romance. Her novels, which take place in a variety of times and places, are epic in scale, complexly plotted and full of both action and drama, with generally sensitive handling of delicate topics. Strong characterization is a hallmark of her writing, and her assertive and appealingly intelligent heroines inspired many of those created by later romance writers. Woodwiss’s prose is ripely descriptive and evocative.  Start with: Petals on the River.”
  • Similar authors:  Mary Balogh, Catherine Coulter, Julie Garwood, Lisa Kleypas, Johanna Lindsey

Name: Faith

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: The Key of Knowledge
  • Author: Nora Roberts

Name: Anna Mickelsen

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Title: A Lily Among Thorns
  • Author: Rose Lerner
  • Appeal Factors: character-driven; witty; high drama
  • Summary/Thoughts: Solomon Hathaway was supposed to lose his virginity to a courtesan, but ended up giving her all his money instead. When their paths cross again five years later, Lady Serena Ravenshaw is a successful businesswoman and Solomon makes his living matching dyes for his uncle’s shop. He’s looking for help recovering a missing family heirloom, and she has the criminal connections to help him find it–though she may also be at risk of losing everything when her erstwhile business partner returns from France.
    While I’m not sure I entirely bought the idea of a high-ranking member of the nobility being allowed by her father to work as a prostitute and inn owner, it was easy enough to ignore that when faced with the charming interactions between Solomon and Serena. Unlike many romances in which the protagonists have met before, these two recognized each other almost immediately upon their reintroduction. Lerner uses both Solomon and Serena’s gray-area social status to explore class issues, and this is one of the few traditional historicals I’ve read that also features a same-sex couple.
    This book would be a good antidote for readers who are feeling burned out by recurring historical romance tropes. Every time I expected Lerner to hew to convention, I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Similar authors: Cecilia Grant, Courtney Milan

 Name: biblib3

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: Course of Honor
  • Author: Lindsey Davis
  • Appeal Factors: Richly detailed; strong sense of place
  • Summary/Thoughts: In ancient Rome, ambitious citizens who aspired to political power, to become one of the ruling elite—a senator, had to follow what was known as “The Course of Honor.” This course had only one unbreakable rule: a senator is forbidden to marry a slave, even a freed slave. When the soldier Vespasian meets an interesting girl in the imperial palace, he doesn’t know she is a slave in the household of the imperial family. But he is inexorably drawn in by her intelligence and charisma. Yet as Vespasian slowly rises from near-obscurity and as emperor after emperor plays out their own deadly, seductive games of lust and conquest, the future is something no one could imagine. No one could believe that a country-born army man might win the throne—no one, that is, except a slave girl who, with the future Emperor, begins a daring course of honor of her own.-B&T

Name: Jan Resnick

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Title: Never Less Than a Lady
  • Author: Mary Jo Putney
  • Appeal Factors: Fast paced; Characterization – Standard, good secondary characters; Language – engaging; Story – character-driven; Tone – steamy; Frame – 1812, England
  • Summary/Thoughts: As the last heir to his despised uncle the Earl of Daventry, Major Alexander Randall cashes out of the army to come home, find a wife, and sire the next heir.  Randall was raised by his brutal uncle and bullied by the former heir and his cousin Lord Branford.  He knows he should find a biddable miss of good family, but his memory returns to serene village midwife Julia Bancroft.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Bancroft harbors secrets that could destroy them both.
    The characters are a bit unusual for the genre, but are well developed as romantic leads with good sense.  Details of daily life in the village and midwife skills will interest readers who enjoy the history.
  • Red flag – Julia’s abuse by her former spouse may upset some readers.
  • Series:  Lost Lords #2
  • Similar authors:  Mary Balogh, Lorraine Heath, Sabrina Jeffries, Lisa Kleypas, Stephanie Laurens

Name: Candace Curran

  • Genre: Romance suspense
  • Title: The Witness
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Appeal Factors: quirky unforgettable heroine…entertaining thriller
  • Summary/Thoughts: Elizabeth, 16 year old daughter controlled by unloving mother, breaks free one night – ends up drinking, going to a night club and home to a lake house where she witnesses a murder and has to run for her life. Her safe house is infiltrated and she has to run again…for 12 years until she meets a Sheriff that slowly discovers her secret and falls in love with her. She has become more than self-reliant in protecting herself and tracing the Russian mob murderers.  A “pulse-pounding plotline”.

Name: Helene OConnor

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Title: The Bride
  • Author: Julie Garwood
  • Appeal Factors: Steamy, Scottish, Medieval
  • Summary/Thoughts: from publisher: By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison…a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her…forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian.
    He was everything her heart warned against—an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And thought Kincaid’s scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him…until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses…

Name: Manuel King

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: A matter of class
  • Author: Mary Baloch
  • Appeal Factors: Has a nice (almost) unexpected twist at the end.
  • Summary/Thoughts: A Regency novel involving two families who are equal in wealth but not class. The aristocratic earl and the coal merchant fathers of these families have adjoining estates but have come to hate each other. Early on we find that the earl has invested his money unwisely and is now near bankruptcy, to top that his only daughter has publicly run off with one of her father’s footmen, but is caught before they get too far. She is disgraced in the eyes of society. The coal merchant’s son has grown into a handsome and well-educated young man, but has earned a reputation as a gambler and a fashion plate. Through the use of flashback chapters, we learn that the earl’s daughter and the coal merchant’s son have met by chance at the boundaries of their property as young children and continue to meet in secret.  Over the course of 10 years they fall in love. The two lovers, knowing that their father’s would never agree to their marrying, hatch a plot to exploit her father’s unfortunate financial ruin and his father’s hatred of the earl to bring them together. Of course it works perfectly and they live H.E.A.

Name: Zoe Keenan

  • Genre: Romance (Teen)
  • Title: The Selection
  • Author: Kiera Cass
  • Appeal Factors: Teen and YA
  •  Summary/Thoughts: This book has a dystopian setting (that isn’t convincing enough) with a Bachelor type romance style. The main character is a young woman who has been chosen as one the Prince’s potential Brides. She broke up with her first love right before the selection and he is shipped off into the army. It turns out that her first love gets stationed as a guard to the castle and she then sees him more often then she’d like. Her feelings become conflicted when she befriends the Prince (can also see him as a potential husband)  and battles with some lingering feelings  towards her first love.  This all going on with war going on outside the castle and 34 other girls to deal with battling for the Prince’s heart/crown. This book is one in a trilogy and the story successfully keeps up with the intrigue and inner conflicts of the characters. Its great for adults, teens, and young adults because it is very light on the romance (quick steamy hot kisses that the characters were able to sneak in when no one was watching) but more focus on building the relationships between characters. Don’t know yet about the HEA since book three comes out May 6th!! All in all, its a wonderful little romance that keeps me wondering who will end up with who!?!!

Name: Mary Bell

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: Born of Night
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Appeal Factors: Fast-paced; Characterization – good, especially of the main two characters and their back stories; Language – serviceable; Story – plot-driven; Tone – steamy; Frame – futuristic, multiple planets, with interesting worldbuilding and politics
  • Summary/Thoughts: Nykyrian has quit the League, a sort of justice-serving group that is above the law, and is on the run. He was the best of the best, however, and knows that he can keep his enemies at bay. His team of outlaw assassins travels the universe delivering their own sort of justice, mercenary but with their own codes of honor. When Kiara, the daughter of a political leader, has contracts taken out on her life, Nykyrian agrees to protect her. But what started out as a job soon becomes personal.
    Both Nykyrian and Kiara have past issues, and seeing these slowly revealed as well as the development of their relationship as they learn to trust each other worked best for me. The writing was extremely conversational (to the point of making me wince about some grammar), but mainly served to move the plot forward and was not overly descriptive. The sex is steamy (and steamier than I personally tend to read), but definitely made sense within the story and the way the characters’ relationship developed. A good crossover book for readers of fantasy/sf – the setting really interested me, including some of the politics between different planets and people groups as well as a group that used to employ Nykyrian known as The League.
    This is the first in a series that has been reissued/rewritten from books that originally came out in the 1990s. In her forward to this one, Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote that the original titles were published by different publishers, so I got the idea that character names and the continuity in the series has changed since the original titles.

Name: ellislm

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: Any Duchess Will Do
  • Author: Tessa Dare
  • Appeal Factors: Hunorous, engaging and sensual
  • Summary/Thoughts: Tessa Dare’s “Any Duchess Will Do” is a sensual, witty, romp with engaging writing and compelling characters.  This is the 4th in the Spindle Cove series about a town where all the Ton’s young ladies go to seek refuge from society when they have failed at receiving  an offer of marriage.  In this story, Barmaid Pauline Simms finds herself training to be the next Duchess of Halford when  Griffin York’s (the duke) mother, the dowager Duchess Judith, tires of his rakishness and demands he marries.  Claiming that she can train any woman, no matter her station in life  to be a duchess, Judith allows him to choose Pauline who Griffin promptly bribes to fail at her quest in order to earn a large sum of money to start her own bookstore.  There is an abusive father, a mentally disabled younger sister, an ineffectual mother, as well as delightful and hateful characters from high society to people the various venues of the story in Spindle Cove and London.  This was fast paced, clever, sexy and contains a great match between Griff and Pauline.  The “My Fair Lady” and “Cinderella” plot and the other well executed elements will appeal to anyone who likes Lauren’s Cynster series, Balogh’s Survivor’s Club, and Quinn’s Bridgerton series.

Name: Jodi Levine

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: Jemima J
  • Author: Jane Green
  • Appeal Factors: Modern, Humerous
  • Summary/Thoughts: Frumpy, overweight Jemima works as a reporter at a small town newspaper in England.  She is consistently passed over for promotion in favor of thinner, more conventionally pretty coworkers.  She has a crush on a sexy coworker, but doesn’t think she stands a chance, and anyway what she really wants is a diet that works.  She begins an on-line romance with a man in LA, reinventing herself as JJ, the thin, fitness obsessed perfect woman.  When he wants her to visit she joins a gym, finds a personal trainer, and very quickly loses all that stubborn weight.  She flies to LA where she starts a steamy affair with him.  The sex is “hot” but all out of view, barely described.  He falls for her, but she feels something is missing.  When the office crush turns up in LA she realizes that it’s he that she really wants.  After some twists and turns the inevitable happy ending occurs.
    It’s not well written and definitely requires a suspension of disbelief about the diet and other matters (think fantasy/fairy tale).  The plot points about thin privilege will definitely resonate with some readers.  It’s a quick read, took me a night, because it doesn’t require more than skimming.  It’s about a 2 or 3 for sexual content, though it’s not exactly chaste either.

Name: Linda Wentworth

  • Genre: Romance
  • Title: The Duke Is Mine
  • Author: Eloisa James
  • Appeal Factors: Fast-paced, funny, witty
  • Summary/Thoughts: Can a man (a duke no less) fall in love with an outspoken, unladylike, slightly chubby woman and can she learn to accept herself as she is? Sounds like a contemporary concern to me… Olivia is clever and very likeable, a fun character to root for!

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