New Glom and Links

I am on a bit of a Kelly Hunter glom.

I’m not sure what’s happened – I’ve suddenly doubled the number of M&Bs I’ve read in a year within a fortnight (though to be fair, it was a rather low number to start off with).  I’ve loved all three of Ms Hunter’s Bennett Family series that I’ve read so far – she pulls off very convincing romances, combined with dialogue that makes me laugh and some crazy chemistry between the hero and the heroine.  And she puts her own spin on tried-and-tested tropes, making them feel fresh and new to me – and that’s no easy thing, bearing in mind the number of M&Bs I’ve read over the years.

The first book is WIFE FOR A WEEK if any of you are interested – there were passages that made me smile right from the start and the eventual reveal appealed to my sense of the ridiculous.  There’s no obvious sequel-bait in these books, but I’m liking the sibling relationship between the four brothers and one sister and am looking forward to finishing the series.

I’m just annoyed because I can’t download the remaining two Bennett books I bought from the Mills & Boon UK website.  Grrrr.  I’ve emailed their customer services and hopefully will get a response tomorrow, though I’m very tempted to ask for a refund and repurchase from Amazon instead.  Yes, that’s how much I want to read them.

Anyway, apart from my glom, I’ve been browsing the internets.  Did you know Naomi Novik has a redesigned website?  And a cover for the next Temeraire book (CRUCIBLE OF GOLD out March 2012)?  And there’s a prologue?

And then there’s a couple of ebook-only releases.  I think 2011 is the year the ebook finally went mainstream.

Tracy Grant‘s re-released one of her backlist books.  DARK ANGEL’s an historical romance – I’ve only read her current series, which is more historical mystery/suspense, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s very different.

And Tanya Huff‘s released a collection of short stories.  I’ve bought NIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE & OTHER STORIES off Amazon UK, so I’m assuming it’s now available widely.

Kate Hewitt’s MR AND MISCHIEF

I completely missed this – “The Powerful and the Pure” is a Mills & Boon’s (or Harlequin’s, depending on which side of the pond you sit) miniseries inspired by classic literary romances, including EMMA, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, JANE EYRE, and WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

I love the concept and EMMA is probably my favourite Austen, so I obviously had to read Kate Hewitt‘s take on it.  After a couple of false starts (tip – it’s THE MATCHMAKER BRIDE in the States, but MR AND MISCHIEF in the UK), I downloaded it onto my Kindle* and ahhh, fun read.

I did wonder how this would read to someone not familiar with EMMA because really, I had the original novel and its characters and plot at the back of my mind more often than not, comparing and contrasting the two.

Did this detract from my reading experience?  I think not.  There were just enough allusions to the original novel to delight me, while Emily and Jason were more than enough to hold my attention in their own right – I certainly didn’t view them as mere fascimiles of Emma and Mr Knightley.  In a way, having read EMMA may even have added to my enjoyment of MR AND MISCHIEF – being familiar with the eventual relationship between Emma and Mr Knightley made me love Emily and Jason’s interactions even more, right from the start.  I did think Emily came across as more sympathetic than Emma (while still retaining that I-know-best personality), which is probably a good thing in a book constrained by category romance word count limits.

Friends-to-lovers is one of my favourite tropes, and having that bit of history between Emily and Jason made the chemistry and romance even more satisfying, while the London background was a lovely way of bringing EMMA into the present-day.  Emily’s insta-friendship with the receptionist struck me as slightly off (Emily being the head of HR), but then again, Emma’s friendship with Harriet in Austen’s novel was probably just as unlikely, and the office setting – unlikely friendships aside – hit the right note (one of my pet peeves is anachronisms in office settings, which used to be prevalent in M&Bs**).

I thought Ms Hewitt’s MR AND MISCHIEF did an excellent job of capturing the key themes and the spirit of the original novel, while translating EMMA into a category romance.  I really enjoyed this book and am planning on reading the rest of the “inspired by” books, especially if they’re all just as good.  And I hope there will be more than four in this series.

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*I also love the fact that you now no longer have to buy category romances within the first few months before they disappear forever – yay for ebooks!

**I’ve not been reading many M&Bs recently, so have no idea whether this is still the case or not – I think this tends to be author-specific actually.

Books for October

New month, new releases – here are the ones I’m getting:

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ANGELS OF DARKNESS anthology (fantasy): It’s rare when you’ve read all four authors in an anthology; it’s even rarer when you like all four.  But that’s the case with this one – Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, and Sharon Shinn all in one book. *happy dance*

I get my Shinn fix for the year (I don’t think she has a full-length novel out this year?) as she returns to the world of Samaria.  Ilona Andrews’ contribution is from the world of the Alphas mentioned on their blog every now and again – looking forward to finally reading it.  Nalini Singh contributes a Guild Hunter novella and Meljean Brook a Guardian one – I admit to stalling somewhat on both these series, so this may give me the impetus to continue.

The (slightly boring) blurb:

Tales of alpha angels…from four alpha authors.  They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.

Out Oct 4

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Erin McCarthy‘s SLOW RIDE (contemporary romance): I pretty much glommed the first three books in one go when I came across this stock-car racing series – it was the perfect combination of testosterone-filled settings and steamy romance.  However, the fourth and most recent (THE CHASE) didn’t really do it for me – I just didn’t get the relationship and found the plot a bit OTT.  Having said that, I’m still planning on getting this one just because of how much I liked the first three.

Blurb:

As a tribute to her late journalist father, Tuesday Jones is planning a career benefit, auctioning off racing memorabilia and meet-and-greets with drivers. Ex-racing star Diesel Lange has had his own brush with death, and is determined not to waste another minute of his life- especially when he meets Tuesday. He wants nothing more than to shift their romance into high gear, but he knows she’s still grieving. Can Diesel do the one thing he could never do on the track and take it slow?

Out Oct 4 (excerpt)

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Catherine Asaro‘s CARNELIANS (SF): Speaking of series stalling, I never quite got around to finishing the prequel to this book, DIAMOND STAR – not because it wasn’t good, but because I had a feeling it was going to go somewhere rather painful.  And I didn’t want to read that.  I know – stupid, huh?  Anyway, I now have to bite the bullet and finish that story because I really want to read the latest in her Skolian series.

Blurb:

Two emperors navigate an uneasy peace, while a powerful trader guild does everything in its power to bring on war. And as if Kelric, the Skolian Imperator, didn’t have enough problems, his own brother—who happens to be a rock star of galactic proportions—has a hit song that calls the traders out as the hidebound blueblood jerks they are, and pleads for an end to centuries of war. Kelric and his Eubian Trader Empire counterpart Jabriol attempt finally to meet in a public summit and sign a treaty that will save billions of lives and end the grinding, millennium-long war. But assassins lurk everywhere, and intrigue is afoot as the baroque old order has no intention of giving up its war-bought privilege and power without a fight to the death—and they don’t care if they take the rest of galactic civilization down with them.

Out now (excerpt)

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DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (urban fantasy): These two editors have a talent for attracting big names to their genre-crossover anthologies, and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS is no exception.  There’s Patricia Briggs, Diana Gabaldon (new Lord John Grey novella!), and Charlaine Harris amongst others.  And this time around, the theme is mysteries, so of course I’m going to cave and buy.

Blurb:

All new strange cases of death and magic in the city by some of the biggest names in urban fantasy.

In this all-new collection of urban fantasy stories, editors George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois explore the places where mystery waits at the end of every alley and where the things that go bump in the night have something to fear…

Out now

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Tamora Pierce‘s MASTIFF (YA fantasy): The previous book was published back in April 2009 – talk about a long wait for this trilogy to be wrapped up.  I’ll be honest – none of Tamora Pierce’s later books have yet displaced the original Alanna quartet from the top of my favourites list, but I’m always up for another visit to Tortall, especially when it’s set in the past and gives us tantalising peeks at how Alanna’s Tortall was shaped.

Blurb:

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

Out now