Tag Archives: romance

‘Tis the season to be reading!

Thanks to Mother Nature, it’s finally feeling pretty Christmassy outside. Inside the library, we’ve got you covered for seasonal romance and mystery. I’ve spent the past few months ordering all sorts of Christmas goodies for our readers, including stories with ho-ho-hot rogues, magical mistletoe, paranormal presents, and cozy Christmas sleuths. The current offerings provide something for every taste, so get comfy under a blanket (or mistletoe!), pour yourself a cup of something hot (alcoholic or not!), and check out the books below.

Making Spirits Bright by Fern Michaelsmaking-spirits-bright

This swoon-worthy collection of novellas hits the holiday sweet spot. In the title story, singleton Melanie McLaughlin dreams of adopting far more than she frets about her empty love life, but everything comes together when she’s offered two children orphaned by a terrible car crash and twinkle-eyed Bryce Landry steals her heart along with his offer to give the kids “the best Christmas ever.” Elizabeth Bass cooks up a tear-jerker in “Runaway Christmas” as spunky Texas teen Erica, trying to get back on track after her mother’s death, decides to spend Christmas with a family friend in Brooklyn. Rosalind Noonan’s “Home for Christmas,” a tale of a single mother falling for a wounded soldier returning from Afghanistan, is sure to tug the heartstrings. Nan Rossiter’s “Christmas on Cape Cod” delivers a dog-lover’s dream.

Fields Where They Lay by Timonthy Hallinan fields-where-they-lay
It’s three days until Christmas and Junior Bender, Hollywood’s fast-talking fixer for the felonious, is up to his ears in shopping mall Santas, Russian mobsters, desperate holiday shoppers, and (’tis the season) murder, in this sixth entry in the Junior Bender Holiday Mystery series (after King Maybe). The halls are decked, the deck is stacked, and here comes that jolly old elf. Junior Bender, divorced father of one and burglar extraordinaire, finds himself stuck inside the Edgerton Mall, and not just as a last-minute shopper (though he is that too). Edgerton isn’t exactly the epicenter of holiday cheer, despite its two Santas, canned Christmas music, chintzy bows, and festive lights. The mall is a fossil of an industry in decline; many of its stores are closed, and to make matters worse, there is a rampant shoplifting problem. The murderous Russian mobster who owns the place has decided it takes a thief to catch a thief and hires Junior–under threat–to solve the shoplifting problem for him. But Junior’s surveillance operation doesn’t go well: as Christmas Eve approaches, two people are dead and it’s obvious that shoplifting is the least of the mall’s problems. To prevent further deaths, possibly including his own, Junior must confront his dread of Christmas–both present and past.

 

christmas-brideA Christmas Bride by Hope Ramsay

‘Tis the season in Shenandoah Falls and the first time Willow Peterson has been home in years. But she’s determined to fulfill the wishes of her recently deceased best friend and restore Eagle Hill Manor to its former glory–all in time to host the perfect holiday wedding. She just has to get the owner of the historic inn to hire her. Unfortunately, that means dealing with Scrooge himself.
After the death of his wife, David Lyndon has a bah-humbug approach to Christmas. But as December counts down and the wedding planning is in full swing, it’s harder and harder to stay immune to the charms of Willow, especially when he sees how much joy she brings his eight-year-old daughter. After a simple kiss under the mistletoe turns into something more, David is hoping he can turn the magic of the holiday season into the love of a lifetime.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelttwelve-dogs-of-christmas

Martha “Pups” Boyer, who’s at the center of Edgar-finalist Rosenfelt’s entertaining 15th legal thriller featuring Patterson, N.J., attorney Andy Carpenter (after Outfoxed), earned her nickname for her efforts to take in stray puppies that the local animal shelter can’t handle and find them permanent homes. Near the holidays, Pups’s new neighbor, Randy Hennessey, reports her for keeping more than the legal limit of animals. Andy, a long-time friend of Pups, figures that puppies and Christmas are key words that will ensure that the case is dismissed. He’s right. But when Randy turns up dead, Pups is arrested for his murder. The evidence is stacked against her, but Andy refuses to believe Pups guilty. On the other hand, Andy and his team discover some alarming discrepancies when they dig through the assets of the wealthy Pups and her late husband.

 

holiday-temptationHoliday Temptation by Donna Hill, Farrah Rochon, and K.M. Jackson

Three unlikely couples heat up the pages in this sensual trio of holiday. An aspiring playwright and a barista who is more than he seems learn to trust their hearts in Hill’s passionate “A Gift of Love”; a chance meeting in Istanbul’s spice market turns into something more for a Christmas-phobic photographer and techie craft brewer when the fates and the weather get into the act in Farrah Rochon’s affecting “Holiday Spice”; and a hard-driving real estate mogul hires a health-conscious chef to improve his diet and lifestyle during a business trip aboard his yacht and gets more than he bargained for in K.M. Jackson’s pert “From Here to Serenity.”

 

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delanywe-wish-you-a-murderous-christmas

In Delany’s second book in the Year-Round Christmas Mystery series (after Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen), Merry Wilkinson is content with life in Rudolph, NY, where she runs a Christmas shop. The town has reinvented itself as a holiday-themed tourist destination full of indie businesses. So when the owner of the Yuletide Inn lands in the hospital following a heart attack, and his son, Gord, swoops in to convert the inn into a franchise of a budget hotel chain and sell land to a big-box store, the community is in an uproar. They’re almost relieved when Gord is murdered, until their resident Santa, Merry’s father, is questioned. Now Merry will have to find the real killer before her dad ends up in jail and the holiday is ruined.

it-must-be-christmasIt Must Be Christmas by Jennifer Crusie, Donna Alward, and Mandy Baxter

Three novellas with a delightful assortment of settings sweep readers off their feet with stories that highlight a variety of holiday experiences. A university librarian and a professor of Chinese lit (with a secret agenda) trade barbs and kisses as they spend Christmas Eve searching for an elusive action figure for a five-year-old in Crusie’s nonstop chuckler “Hot Toy”; a small-town doctor and an ex-Navy SEAL dad are thrown together when they find a newborn in the Christmas crèche in Donna Alward’s insightful “Christmas at Seashell Cottage”; and a wealthy rancher who wants nothing to do with his late father’s money finds romance with the founder of a sports-related charity for at-risk kids in Mandy Baxter’s steamy “Christmas with the Billionaire Rancher.” Library Journal states: “spirited, refreshing, and brimming with holiday joy, this diverse trilogy delivers both sexy and sweet, providing a little something for everyone.”

The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney and otherslast-chance-christmas-ball

Eight romance authors (collectively known as the Word Wenches) walk into a Regency-era ballroom and wreak fabulous, shimmering holiday mischief all over the place. The Dowager Countess of Holbourne is hosting an extravagant Christmas ball, and the guest list includes some of the loveliest, loneliest people in high society. Publisher’s Weekly states: “The best of the stories woven around this premise are Joanna Bourne’s ‘My True Love Hath My Heart,’ in which a little larceny spices a long-smoldering romance; Susan King’s ‘A Scottish Carol,’ wherein snowbound lovers never quite make it to the ball; and a maiden’s romantic rescue from a young ladies’ seminary in Anne Gracie’s ‘Mistletoe Kisses.’ The characters are smart and attractive-so much so that it can be hard to believe the ball is their only chance to find love-and their stories are delicious and appealing.”

our-first-christmasOur First Christmas by Lisa Jackson, Mary Burton, Mary Carter, and Cathy Lamb

Join four of the most favorite romance authors for tales of Christmas romance to remember forever.   In Lisa Jackson’s “Under the Mistletoe,” Megan Johnson’s marriage is over—or so she thinks. When her husband Chris lands in the hospital, she remembers the unexpected joy of their first Christmas together. The holidays bring painful memories for history professor Marisa Thompson in Mary Burton’s “A Ranger for Christmas.” But agreeing to help Texas Ranger Lucas Cooper solve a case presents her with more than a distraction. In Mary Carter’s “A Southern Christmas,” reporter Danielle Bright is heading home to write about Christmas down south—and possibly win back her ex. But Sawyer, the sexy photographer, is determined to jingle her bells. Family is where you go after quitting your job, but Laurel Kelly isn’t prepared for the changes at home in Montana—or the fact that her high school boyfriend now owns the family land in “A Ranger for Christmas” by Mary Burton.

Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisledeck-the-hallways

Contractor Shannon Hammer is back in Carlisle’s fourth “Fixer-Upper” mystery, an entertaining Christmas cozy. Shannon’s latest project is overseeing the remodeling of an old Victorian mansion into apartments for families in need. Since the bank donated the foreclosed house to the Holiday Homebuilders, company representative Mr. Potter is sent to keep an eye on the progress. However, he manages to harass and fight with several of the workers, including Shannon’s dad, then ends up murdered, leaving a long list of suspects. Hoping to keep her father off the list of potential killers and get the renovation back on track, Shannon does some amateur sleuthing.

trouble-with-mistletoeThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Fans of Shalvis’s Sweet Little Lies will surely want to pick up her second Heartbreaker Bay contemporary, which is also very accessible to new readers. The series’s cuddliness factor is amped up to 11 with redheaded Willa Davis and her San Francisco pet store, South Bark Mutt Shop. Willa’s single and happy that way; she gets her daily dose of love from half a dozen eight-week-old golden retriever pups and the other lost animal souls she tends. Then handsome Keane Winters, a man from her past, shows up with Petunia, a Siamese cat he’s nicknamed Pita because she’s a pain in the ass. Pita is his great-aunt’s pet, and he needs all the cat counseling he can get, but Willa, Christmas spirit notwithstanding, would just as soon he seek it elsewhere. Willa’s a gem, Keane’s a hunk-tool belt and all-and the two spar as only Shalvis’s characters can, fighting a losing battle against the powers of mutual attraction and the holiday season.

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morganmiracle-on-5th-avenue

As a surprise, Eva Jordan agrees to decorate for Christmas the apartment of the grandson of one of her events and concierge company’s oldest clients (even preparing frozen meals) and finds crime writer Lucas Blade lurking in the dark instead of in Vermont where he is supposed to be working. Recently widowed Lucas has hit a massive writer’s block and is hiding out at home. He certainly doesn’t want an effervescent, captivating, Christmas-loving woman disturbing his peace-although it’s exactly what he needs. A cynical novelist who doesn’t believe in love and an optimistic chef who thinks it’s more important than all else set the pages alight in a compelling romance that tempers the serious issues of loneliness, grief, and fear of commitment with the salutary joy of the season.

-Barbara

Isn’t it Snowmantic?

Christmas carols have been jingling through the loud speakers at the malls and stores for some weeks now, but most of us are just starting to get into the Christmas spirit. Whatever you find yourself doing this month, from decorating the tree, shopping for the perfect gifts, planning Christmas meal menus, baking, or just relaxing on the couch watching cheesy Christmas movies on cable TV, why not add reading a romance to your to-do list? So many holiday romance stories can add to your cheer, and make some cold winter night just that much hotter.

Not sure where to start? Try an anthology, where you get snippets from many different writers.

A Christmas kissA Christmas Kiss
Just in time to make the season steamy, an exciting new small-town romance anthology featuring three novellas set during the holiday, including Sealed With A Kiss by Celeste O. Norfleet, Mistletoe Lane by Regina Hart, and His Christmas Present by Deborah Fletcher Mello.

What happens under the mistletoeWhat Happens Under the Mistletoe
In this all-new story collection sparkling with sexy charm and heartwarming wit, four beloved bestselling authors reveal the mix-ups and make-ups, the missed chances and golden opportunities that come but once a year. Includes The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries, Twelve Kisses by Karen Hawkins, By Any Other Name by Candace Camp, and Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran.

On the naughty listOn the Naughty List
The most wonderful time of the year is back! Featuring perennial favorite holiday stories from Lori Foster and Carly Phillips, along with two Christmas stories that delighted readers a year ago, this sexy anthology will make you want to give your heart to Christmas again and again. Includes Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster, Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Phillips, Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison, and Some Kind Of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta.

Cowboys have been very popular in romance novels this past year. Looking to wrangle one up in your stocking? Look no further…

Cowboy firefighter for ChristmasCowboy Firefighter for Christmas by Kim Redford
Trey Duvall, a rancher and local firefighter, is out of luck. His ranch has suffered from several “accidental” fires and there is no explanation in sight. All he wants for the upcoming holiday is to get to the bottom of this mystery, but what he gets instead is hotter than any ranch fire. When city-girl Misty Reynolds drops into Wildcat Bluff, Texas right around the holidays, the last thing she wants is a Christmas surprise. But when a smokin’-hot cowboy flags her down one December day, she may be in for the sweetest Christmas treat she’s ever had. This is the first book in Redford’s Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series.

Long tall christmasLong, Tall Christmas by Janet Dailey
Facing foreclosure on her California home, widowed Kylie Wayne is grateful to accept her aging aunt Muriel’s offer to come back to small-town Branding Iron, Texas, and help out on the ranch. But when an early storm rolls in, Kylie’s dream of a perfect Christmas for her kids is blown away with the unexpected snow. Comfort and joy seem unlikely, unless a certain long tall Texan with a bad boy’s charm can rope some holiday cheer.

Mistletoe RomanceMistletoe Rodeo by Amanda Renee
His entire town was counting on Chase Langtry to win the championship title. Instead, the injured bull rider is slinking back to the family ranch. But how can he stay out of the spotlight with relentless reporter Nola West following him home from Vegas? His humiliating loss just can’t be her next story! Nola’s attraction to the youngest son of Ramblewood’s First Family is shaking her hard-won confidence. And it looks like the only scoop she’ll get is covering the Mistletoe Rodeo charity event. She’s never been a big fan of the holiday. Until Chase vows to show her a Christmas she’ll never forget.

If you’re hoping for a ho-ho-hot holiday season, you might be interested in these picks:

A Bad Boy for Christmas by Jessica Lemmon
‘Tis the season to be naughty! Connor McClain knows what he wants. And after four harrowing years in Afghanistan, that’s a quiet life in the lakeside town of Evergreen Cove. But coming home has land mines of its own-the most dangerous of them being long-legged bombshell Faith Garrett. Now getting her into his arms this holiday is going to require more than mistletoe . . . With a cheating ex behind her, all Faith wants is a relaxing holiday free from man drama. And even though every moment with gorgeous Connor is a sweet temptation, Faith is determined not to give in. But Jack Frost has other plans, and soon Faith and Connor are snowbound in a winter wonderland with only the sparks flying between them to keep them warm. As one hot kiss leads to another, they’ll have to decide if they’re ready to give each other the best gift of all–love.

UnwrappedUnwrapped by Katie Lane
Jacqueline Maguire has a problem tying the knot. After fleeing the altar (again), the runaway bride drives off with no particular destination in mind. Which is how Jac finds herself stranded in a snowstorm with a hot, hard-bodied stranger who treats her to the naughtiest night of her life… but come morning, he’s long gone. Patrick McPherson is deeply committed to his bachelor lifestyle. No strings, no rings. As the Christmas season approaches, however, Patrick still can’t quite forget his curvalicious one-night stand. This is the third book in Lane’s A Hunk for the Holidays series.

Silver Wolf ChristmasSilver Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear
CJ Silver and his brothers have returned to Silver Town eager to reconnect with the pack. And with the she-wolf newcomers renovating the old Victorian Silver Town Hotel, it looks like the holidays are going to be very merry indeed. Laurel MacTire and her sisters are excited to be living in a wolf-run town, but they have another motive-to solve the fifty-year-old mystery of their aunt’s disappearance. When CJ gets a whiff of trouble brewing, his protective instincts kick in. Now Laurel has a hotel opening to prepare for, a mystery to solve, and a brawny wolf shifter underfoot. Perhaps she should have resisted the temptation to kiss him so wickedly in the snow. This is the fifth book in Spear’s Silver Town Wolf series.

Finally, for those of you looking for a gentler romance, give these titles a look:

All is calm all is brightAll Is Calm, All Is Bright by Colleen Coble
Return to two of Colleen Coble’s most beloved settings Bluebird Ranch and Hope Beachfor holiday romance and mystery!

Christmas bride in pinecraftChristmas Bride in Pinecraft by Shelley Shepard Gray
When Beverly Overholt’s Orange Blossom Inn is broken into, she’s shaken to her core. After all, the inn has been her whole life since her fiance left her for her best friend. In the face of repairing what’s been lost, Beverly calls Eric Wagler, the inn’s handsome owner. To her surprise, he promises to be on the next flight out to Sarasota. Beverly’s been closed off to love for years, but with Eric, she can’t help seeing a glimmer of hope, even if they’re from different worlds. Will Christmas bring a second chance at love for Beverly? And if it does, will she be brave enough to take it? This is the fourth book in Gray’s Pinecraft Brides series.

Falling like snowflakesFalling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter
Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver. He’s recently left his job with the sheriff’s department to take over the family Christmas tree farm to save it from insolvency. But he’s flummoxed. During the busiest season of the year, he’s shorthanded. Then Eden shows up looking for work, and Beau believes he’s been rescued. Competent, smart, and beautiful, Eden’s also guarded and quiet. He soon figures out she comes with a boatload of secrets. But Beau can’t seem to help himself from falling for her. This is the first book in Hunter’s Summer Harbor series.

Dashing through the snowDashing through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
Ashley Davison is desperate to spend the holidays with her mother in Seattle. Kevin Tyler just got assigned a job in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Both frantic to book a last-minute flight out of California, Ashley and Kevin collide at the airline to learn there are no flights and only one rental car available. Squaring off before meeting halfway, the two reluctantly agree to drive to Washington together. But their journey isn’t without obstacles, and a misunderstanding with the law threatens to upend their holiday plans altogether.

– Barbara

Top 10 romances

At roughly a quarter of the overall popular fiction market, by both number of titles and amount sold, romance is the single biggest category of popular fiction – nearly double that of the next genre, mysteries. So the old saying is pretty true: (almost) everyone loves a love story.

Here are the top 10 most-loved romance novels at WPL right now:

fast1. Fast track by Julie Garwood. If you like Garwood’s fast-paced contemporary romances, try books by Lori Foster or Suzanne Brockmann too.

grey2. Fifty shades of Grey by E.L. James. Now that the movie adaptation’s been released, this recent bestseller is seeing another jump in popularity. Mainstream romance novels have been getting steamier for years, but the fad for this book definitely heated things up as publishers realized there was such a huge market for explicit romance.

whisper3. Her last whisper by Karen Robards, a classic writer of romantic suspense. Try Heather Graham if you like this one.

love4. Love Letters : a Rose Harbor novel by Debbie Macomber. There are still lots of sweet romances for readers who aren’t looking for super-sexy love scenes. These books tend to focus on family ties and small-town setting; writers like Debbie Macomber and Donna Kauffman from this list are perfect examples.

blood5. Blood magick by Nora Roberts. Roberts is the Wayne Gretzky of romance writers. In her decades-spanning career, she’s written hundreds of titles in every sub-genre – including four of the titles on this list! This one is the final volume in the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy.

collector6.  The collector by Nora Roberts. A big-city tale of suspense and romance inspired by the classic film Rear Window.

sandpiper7. Sandpiper Island by Donna Kauffman. For a similar reading experience, try Robyn Carr.

darkDark witch andshadow Shadow spell by Nora Roberts. Eight and nine on the list are books one and two of the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy. For a while, witches, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings – think of the TV series True Blood (based on the hugely popular series by Charlaine Harris) – were all the rage in romance. Lately, readers seem to be turning away from this trend, but trust Nora to revive it.

swan10. Swan Point by Sherryl Woods. Another small town romance, part of the Sweet Magnolias series. You might also enjoy visiting Genell Dellin’s Honey Grove.

Looking for other popular romances? Try the Romance Writers’ of America’s annual RITA Award winners for a broad range of moving love stories, from inspirational (Christian) stories to romantic suspense and historical tales.

Danielle

Love Is In Your iTunes Library

Well, Valentine’s Day is almost here. Love is in the air, and love songs are playing on the radio, and on my iPad. Most of us can think of particular songs we associate with the love relationships of our lives. I experience my first heartbreak again and again whenever I hear “Angie” by the Rolling Stones. Adam Ant’s “Wonderful” played on the radio when I was getting ready for my wedding, and it’s been our song ever since. Everclear’s “Learning How To Smile” reminds me of dear friends. Songs have power, as do all forms of poetry, and in honour of this special day (even if Hallmark was behind it), here’s my playlist:

Band On The RunMaybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney & Wings
Baby I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I’m afraid of the way I love you
Baby I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time, hung me on a line
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you

Released in 1970, this song has been dear to my heart since I first heard it in 1986. Written by Paul MacCartney, this song is dedicated to his wife, Linda, who helped him get through the break-up of the Beatles. But sadly, there’s no lentil soup recipe to be found when you play it backwards.

21Someone Like You” by Adele
Nothing compares, no worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes, they’re memories made
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

Love is wonderful, but sometimes it hurts, as this song so clearly shows us. “Someone Like You” is 21’s album closer and it summarizes the now defunct relationship that the record is all about. As Adele told MTV in 2011, “Well, I wrote that song because I was exhausted from being such a b*tch, with ‘Rolling in the Deep’ or ‘Rumor Has It,'” she laughs. “I was really emotionally drained from the way I was portraying him, because even though I’m very bitter and regret some parts of it, he’s still the most important person that’s ever been in my life, and ‘Someone Like You,’ I had to write it to feel OK with myself and OK with the two years I spent with him. And when I did it, I felt so freed.” And we’re so glad you did.

BabelI Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons
Well I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust
Which we’ve known
Will blow away with this new sun

This is Mumford & Sons most successful song to date, a fact that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. As Billboard.com stated, “It’s hard not to bow to the craftsmanship behind this single.”

Kaleidoscope DreamAdorn” by Miguel
Let my love adorn you baby
Don’t you ever
Don’t you let nobody tell you different baby
I’ll always adore you

“Adorn” was released on August 7, 2012. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, becoming Miguel’s most successful single to date, as well as his third number 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Miguel was inspired to write the song by his girlfriend, model and artist Nazanin Mandi, and said in an interview with People magazine: “I had been on a long trip and was anxious to see her. That’s where the song began, with that emotion while I was on the plane. I don’t remember how I got from ‘These lips can’t wait to taste your skin’ to the end of the song, but when I listened to it, I thought, ‘This is special.'”

Essential Cyndi LauperTime After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you I’ll be waiting
Time after time

“Time After Time” was Cyndi Lauper’s second single from her album She’s So Unusual, back in 1984, and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 1985 Grammy Awards. So many other bands and singers have covered this song, including Ronan Keating, Sarah McLachlan, Willie Nelson, and Boyz II Men, to name just a few. But IMHO, no one does it better than Ms Lauper.

Our Version Of EventsMy Kind of Love” by Emeli Sandé
‘Cause when you’ve given up
When no matter what you do it’s never good enough
When you never thought that it could ever get this tough
That’s when you feel my kind of love

The fourth single released from Ms Sandé’s debut album, Our Version of Events, “My Kind of Love” was inspired by the patients Sandé met while studying medicine in Glasgow. As she told Digital Spy, “During my time studying medicine, I found it hard to write, but one of the things that inspired me were the patients and the interaction that they had with their loved ones during their time of illness… This interaction, declaration of support and love, was the inspiration for ‘My Kind Of Love.'”

+Kiss Me” by Ed Sheeran
And your heart’s against my chest, your lips pressed to my neck
I’m falling for your eyes, but they don’t know me yet
And with a feeling I’ll forget, I’m in love now

I have to admit, the only reason I’m going to Taylor Swift’s concert this summer is to see my ginger boy, Ed Sheeran. I know it’s not popular with the critics, having been called mawkish  and a “bottom-of-a-Tube-escalator ballad,” but I just love the song. Really, that’s all that matters, right?

Best DayFirst Love” by Dala
And you were my first love
I thought it would last love
But I sure had a blast
In my fifteenth, fifteenth year

Ah, young love. We all remember it, some of us with more bitterness than others (I’m looking at you AB). Kudos to this Canadian duo for helping us to remember just how lovely and warm it made us feel.

Turn On The LightsWhat I Meant To Say” by Daniel Powter
I told you I would be okay
I said I won’t stand in your way
But I should have said I love you
I just want you to stay
But that’s what I meant to say

Canadian Daniel Powter covers Wade Hayes’ 1995 single in glorious style. The song deals with a familiar theme: the narrator realizes that he hurt his lover when he said he could walk out on her and regrets it deeply; what he really meant to do was  apologize and to tell her that he loves her. Tsk tsk tsk…

UnoStay The Night” by Green Day
I got to know if you’re the one that got away
Even though it was never meant to be

Not your typical love song, this song from their 2012 album ¡Uno! is just simple, good, and straightforward. He doesn’t have much time and he’ll get to the point: do you just want to get out of this joint? A thousand fans scream out, “YES!”

— Barbara

Caught in a Bad Romance

“We are all fools in love.”

                                                                 —Jane Austen

   As I was riding the bus the other day, a couple of women sitting next to me were comparing their e-readers and commenting on the convenience, portability, and so on. However, the best thing about an e-reader, they both agreed, was that they could read their romance novels in public, and nobody would know.

That started me wondering – what’s so bad about romance novels? Why is it that reading romance novels is seen as something to hide? Is it the cover art? Is it the writing style? The subject matter? Why judge romance novels, and those that read them, so harshly? Considering the huge market share that romance novels command, shouldn’t their readers demand more respect, if only because there are so many of them?

According to the article The Social Significance of the Romance Novel, this style of novel has been around for centuries, with the first ones appearing during the English Renaissance. Perhaps because the earliest romance novels were written by men, they started out as morality tales, in which errant females were punished for their faults.  Despite the strongly anti-female bias in the stories, the primary reading audience was women. Criticism and ridicule of  both the books and those who read them began soon after. So there’s a longstanding tradition of not taking the romantic fiction genre seriously. Despite the negative publicity, women embraced this writing style eagerly, and a new genre was born.

As time went on, the romance novel developed into the form as we know it today – essentially, two people meet, feel a powerful connection to one another, surmount a series of obstacles to their relationship, and end up falling in love.

Pamela by Samuel Richardson is considered to be among the first of the romantic novels written in the English language.

Jane Austen took those essentials and gave them a depth and resonance that still speaks to us today.

East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood has gone from a piece of light reading to a literary classic.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels are widely credited as being the first historical romances.

And of course, there’s no way to write about romance fiction without at least mentioning Harlequin, the publishing empire started in the 1930s whose name is synonymous with romantic fiction in all its forms.

With all of that rich history and influence on their side, readers of romantic fiction shouldn’t feel that they have to hide what they read; in fact, they should show off their book covers with pride. Readers of romantic fiction are carrying on a fine tradition–and you never know, today’s Harlequin could be tomorrow’s literary classic.

If you like facts about fiction, take a look at  A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis to gain some great insights into the evolution of the romance novel, and how it reflects the changes in society. A feminist view of romantic novels is explored by Janice Radway in Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature. The author’s conclusions go far beyond the generic stereotypes, and provide an understanding of not only the books themselves, but also to the audience that reads and enjoys them.

Things have come a long way in the romance world since the first pairs of eyes met and the first hearts beat a little faster. Romance readers have their choice of almost any possible plot, from a chaste kiss to the sky’s the limit: historical settings, mythical beings, drama, comedy,  supernatural creatures, outer space, tragedy, time travel, inspirational writing, domestic settings, or any combination you can dream of. And really, isn’t that what romance is all about – daring to dream? There’s nothing bad about that.

-Lori

Royal Reads

Well, today’s the day! The royal wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. For those of you who have been up since 3am, I admire your dedication. Along with the other lazy people, I’ll be watching it later this evening. In doing so, I hope to postpone the inevitable let down that comes after such a large event.

But really, is it that inevitable? Maybe we can keep the mood going by reading, listening, and watching stories about other royal loves. The following list is sure to give us even more to think about after we see the happy couple on their big day.

The queen’s lover, by Vanora Bennett, tells the story of Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king Charles VI. Before she is out of her teens, Catherine is married off to England’s Henry V. Within two years she is widowed, and mother to the future King of England and France—even though her brother has laid claim to the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions of her own family and under threat by the powerful lords of the English court, she must find a way to keep her infant son safe. In Owain Tudor, a childhood friend for whom Catherine has long had affection and who now controls the Royal household, Catherine finds both strength and kinship. As their friendship turns to love, however, she risks not only her life and that of her son but the uneasy balance of power in England and France.

Suzannah Dunn’s The confession of Katherine Howard chronicles the life and personality of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard (1524-42). Told from the perspective of Cat Tilney, who was a ward of the Duchess of Norfolk like Katherine, the novel follows the allied ladies as they progress from childhood to womanhood. Want to see more about Henry VIII’s many loves? Look no further than The Tudors, the Irish/Canadian produced historical fiction that appeared on CBC, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The golden prince, by Rebecca Dean, is an historical romance that sees Edward VIII ready to give up the throne for love before he met Wallis Simpson. Raised by the harsh disciplinarian King George V and his unfeeling Queen Mary, the prince longed for the warmth that had been deprived of him. The high society Houghton girls’ lives however, were full of fun, both at their magnificent family seat Snowberry, and at the whirlwind of glamorous parties which punctuated their lives. When a moment of serendipity brings Edward and Lily Houghton together, the pressures of a stuffy court are replaced with the lightness that Edward has dreamt of. But a future monarch could not choose his own Queen, and even an enduring love might falter under the furious gaze of a King. Could the devotion of Edward and Lily triumph against him and the impending doom of World War I? Or would they bow to the inevitable and set in train events that could bring down the Crown, and change the course of history forever?

The CBC dug through their digital archives and have put together a wonderful web site entitled Modern-day Fairy Tales. There you’ll find radio and television clips looking back at British royal weddings since 1947. Want to know more about Queen Elizabeth’s wedding? Borrow our copy of The 1947 royal wedding. This recording documents the wedding ceremony of Princess Elizabeth and The Duke Of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. It includes the complete service and liturgy, remarks by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, and music by the choirs of Abbey and The Royal Chapel.

For those of you wanting a shorter read, try Robert Pagani’s novella, The princess, the king, and the anarchist. Inspired by a true historic event, anarchist Mateu Morral’s assassination attempt of Spanish King Alfonso XIII and his new wife, Victoria Eugenia  on their wedding day, May 31, 1906. The story is set in the space of a few hours on that day, beginning with the wedding procession and building up to the assassination attempt.

– Barbara