I’m not going to waste my time.

My August reading list experiment is no more.

I read Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris and found it a bit hollow, particularly the end, where the heroine, Hero (I’d find that funnier if I didn’t know it was a Shakes reference), is kind of…forgotten. Hello! She lost her virginity. A teensy bit of half of a resolution would have been nice to ease me into the next book in the series. Actually, (please mark your calendars) I didn’t think the token sex scene was at all necessary (nor was it in character for either of them) and for me, that scene was a WTF? It made me wonder if the editor made her insert the de-virginization scene. Because without more emotional preparation before or reflection after by either of the characters, it made it superfluous. It was like a question that didn’t get completely asked, much less answered.

I’m 100 pages into Tribute by Nora Roberts. It’s going back to the library tomorrow with the rest of the list.

I have no interest in any of these books and I wouldn’t have picked them up in the first place, and my hypothesis will thus officially remain a hypothesis because I’m so not interested in proving it.

I have to finish beta-reading for a friend (this is not a chore, believe me and plug: her debut novel, On These Silken Sheets, is out on September 8—go preorder right now!), I am caught up in Seabird of Sanematsu and Fight Club so I need to finish those, and I want to glom some Victoria Dahl.

And that’s just what I have on my READING plate.

Zoe Winters’s “Kept”

by Zoe Winters
published by IncuBooks

Zoe is an independent publisher I “met” by happenstance when I got soundly thrashed on Dear Author for suggesting that a multi-published author whose 3-book SERIES contract had been canceled after book 2 (leaving her fans out in the cold with characters they loved) actually self-publish the third book in the series (you know, since her rights had reverted back to her and she already has a fan base salivating for it). Good gravy, you’d’a thunk I’d said the Rapture was coming tomorrow and they’d all be left behind and have 666 burned into their foreheads bwahahahahaha burn in hell losers.

Anyhoo, as Bob Ross would say, it was a happy accident.

Kept is a free novella you can find at her site (link above) in PDF form. You can find it at Amazon in Kindle for 80¢ and you can find it on Smashwords in various formats for those of us who bitch if we don’t get it the way we want it. Somebody call me a waaaaahmbulance.

And really, “free” is my second-favorite four-letter f-word.

Here’s the blurb:

Greta is a werecat whose tribe plans to sacrifice her during the next full moon. Her only hope for survival is Dayne, a sorcerer who once massacred most of the tribe. What’s that thing they say about the enemy of your enemy?

Now, I don’t do much paranormal and I really don’t like shapeshifters, but throw the word “sorcerer” or “wizard” or “warlock” at me and I’ll take a second look. And I’m glad I did.

Beefs first:

The story was a little choppy in moments of transition, but I’ve seen that so much lately that it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to and, I’m guessing, readers are being taught to get used to it and, by extension, writers are doing it more.

Also, the story could’ve been longer with more explanation of the world. I (Random Reader who likes really really really long books) would have liked that. Let me get you some salt for that opinion.

Good stuff:

What glimpses of their world I got, I liked. I could tell it wasn’t a half-assed world half-thunk-up on the fly, and that it had depth and detail underneath. (Repeat: wanted more.)

I really enjoyed the hero’s crankiness and the fact that he was “old” (how old we’re not told, but I inferred around a century). I liked that when the hero and heroine had sex pretty nearly upfront it was because of species-specific hormone issues (i.e., cat in heat) that she usually controls with medicine, but didn’t have her medicine with her.

I laughed a lot through this book. The banter is witty and cute, seems natural to both of them, and gave the characters the depth that natural humor brings to people.

The cover’s pretty and the interior design is good. In short, it’s right up there with a lot of the novellas in the anthologies by traditional publishers that are on bookstore shelves and much better than a lot of other stuff I’ve read lately from the e-presses that I paid for. I enjoyed myself.

Coulda been longer. Did I say that?

So. If you get it from Smashwords, leave a tip, okay?

Book Review: The Truth About Roxy

The Truth About Roxy
by Jenny Gilliam
published by The Wild Rose Press

I like the longer single-title contemporary romance (no suspense, thanks, and the category lengths are just way too short) and lately, the ones I really like have been coming out of the smaller e-presses. They’re not as well edited as I’d like, but they’re fun reads whose story lines seem to stick with me quite a while.

The Truth About Roxy was a light, fun read that still managed to make me laugh and cry. I’ve read another of this author’s non-suspense novels (Letting Luce) and it was just as light and fun. Even *I*, lover of all alpha heroes monied, adore that Jenny’s characters are normal people like me, with normal-people jobs and normal-people problems.

Here’s the blurb:

Roxy Palmer is a walking, breathing cliché. And darned tired of it. Working as the assistant librarian in her small, Southern home town, Roxy also anonymously pens the local love column, ASK PAULA ROCKWELL–Thorton, Georgia’s answer to Dear Abby. But when the door leading to Roxy’s lifetime dream is slammed in her face by one of the good ol’ boys, Roxy brings out the big guns–and turns the genteel town upside down with her racier, feminist, home-wrecking new format. Paula Rockwell is making Sheriff Noah Kennedy’s life crazy. He’s got angry husbands lined around the block, demanding the cancellation of the column, fights breaking out and women catching their boyfriends’ trucks on fire. If he ever gets his hands on that woman… But he’s got his hands FULL of Roxy at the moment, and if he ever discovers the truth about Roxy, all hell will break loose.

Beefs first:

I thought Noah’s extreme reaction to Roxy’s coming-out (as it were) was too much, because he’d known her all his life and he should’ve understood her better.

And oh, that cover, bless their hearts. [Insert longsuffering sigh here.]

Good stuff:

Again, fun, light romp. The characters were engaging and I believed in the nutjobs and the goofy backwater Southern town because they were drawn so vividly.

I had a really good time with this book, and that’s all I care about.

Pretty women

feminine but businesslike pink shell and chunky necklace, with understated pinstripesDisclaimer: I can’t stand Hillary Clinton. At all. But… I find her very attractive in this picture. I’m not even going to chalk it up to the hair (very nice) or necklace (meh—not a fan of chunk jewelry). Perhaps the smile? Yes, that’s it. It looks…genuine. Happy. Even as much as I despise her, I didn’t like the constant yammering on her looks. On the other hand, if she’d let this side of her show more often, would she have gotten farther?

Then there’s this picture of Dame Helen Mirren who, at 62, is totally rockin’. I wouldn’t have posted it because Karen already did, but it’s stuck with me for 3 days. To me, it’s an illustration that Mother Nature doesn’t necessarily punish us XX types for having the audacity to turn 40. Or 50. Or 60.

And the last 2 ladies in today’s lineup are Alfre Woodard (56) and Diane Keaton (62). I don’t guess I have any commentary because, well, look at ’em. Obviously, I don’t know which ladies have had what work done, if any, but still.

Over at Teach Me Tonight, Laura Vivanco discusses the topic of older women in romance vis a vis Charlotte Lamb’s novels. She also points out RfP’s post at Access Romance and about young heroines who don’t really seem young and Robin Uncapher’s post about the time warp in romance.

Well, I’ll tell you. I didn’t really feel like writing an ingenue because at my age, it’s just silly and I was never an ingenue when I was that age. I wanted to write people who had some experience with life. Now, Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes older romance, but always within the context of having the older couple as a secondary love plot.

Mine aren’t 50-ish, but they are 40-ish and as the series progresses, they age. In book #2 (Stay), the hero and heroine (Eric and Vanessa) are youngish by my standards (late 20s and early 30s, but this is a challenge I set for myself). By book #3 (Magdalene), the oldest of the original characters are on the wrong side of 45 and still going strong. Mitch and Cassie, the hero and heroine of Magdalene, are on the wrong side of 45, with grown/almost grown children and possibly a grandchild or two.

So along with my other crimes against romance, you can add major characters in their 40s. Gee, how many other ways can I bend this genre?

By gosh and by golly

Harlequin. I *lurrrrve* you.

Got an email from Ms. Malle Vallik today on the subject of my ebook shopping woes. She will be addressing my concerns for the Harlequin digital team and wanted me to know that.

And you know what? With that one little email, all my lingering irritation vanished.

Harlequin is not hurt by the fact that I am now also in love with Kristan Higgins.

My credit card is trembling at this very moment. With anticipation or fear, I don’t know, but it’s going to get abused.

And you know what else? With that one little email, Harlequin got a customer for life, delivery issues be damned.