Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reading romances

I actually slid into reading romance novels by reading a mystery series that had a complex, believable romance intertwined with it. Even though the two main characters get married in the second or third book, the author takes her time exploring this relationship between a Hispanic divorced, former narcotics cop (reformed alcoholic), and a young widow in California over the course of 7 or 8 books. The clash of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences that were frankly more interesting than the actual mysteries. Her books didn't have any sex, just sexual tension, romance, and relationship struggles. (The author is Earlene Fowler and her books are found in the mystery section of the bookstore, not romance).

I was reading Fowler's website when I clicked some links to "romance" authors. Fowler admits her books cross genres, and obviously enjoys both romance and mystery books. I've since come to understand that romance crosses boundaries with mystery and sci-fi/fantasy so deeply that some books are shelved both places in bookstores. BTW- romances are loosely divided into historical, contemporary, paranormal (werewolves, vampires, etc), sci-fi, and suspense/action.

Okay, so that sets up the background. From Fowler's link I found other authors and started checking them out at the library. I started with mysteries. Charlaine Harris has several series, and they vary in their sexual content. The lighter series is the Aurora Teagarden series. A grittier series, with more sex, is the Lily Bard series. Her sexier, much weirder, often humorous series is the Southern Vampire (also called Sookie Stackhouse) series. The HBO show True Blood is based on these books.

From the mysteries with some sexual content, I "graduated" to the romance with a little action/mystery. ;-) The difference is subtle sometimes, but the major component is that the relationship is as important as any other plot line in the book, maybe more so. One of the first authors was Susanne Brockman. She writes a decent suspense/action book filled with hunky ex-Navy SEALS and such. Her plots and characterizations are decent. Her story is as important as the relationship, and she's good with the sexual tension part. Many of her books are about the same group of people, just focusing on different characters. One main character is gay. She has a gay son (she writes about him in a moving prologue), and she does a decent job with that character and his relationship. Two of my favorites are Bodyguard and Flashpoint.

Other decent suspense/romance or mystery/romance authors where the plot is as important as the romance aspect.:
Penny McCall
Susanne Enoch (series starting with Flirting With Danger)
Nora Roberts (She writes all types of romance, and she writes futuristic detective type stories as J. D. Robb. One of my favorites is High Noon- not a western, btw.)
Linda Howard- some are good, some so-so.

I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, and some of the better books of the romance genre are cross-overs in these categories. My favorite author is Linnea Sinclair. She writes strong female characters who aren't dominated by their sexy male counterpoints. She writes good sci-fi plots and has well-visualized universe. Games of Command is probably my favorite, but I've liked all her books.

Other good sci-fi/fantasy authors:
Ann Aguirre
Jeaniene Frost
Eve Kenin
Patricia Brigg (especially her Mercy Thompson series. She is not a romance author, but romance is part of her books. She is probably considered a YA author by some, but one or two of her books get a little racy for young teens.)

Okay, please note: Many of the books I mentioned have fairly graphic sex scenes somewhere in the book. Mostly the characters aren't married when this happens. If you don't like reading about pre-marital sex, these books aren't for you. ;-) If you'd rather no sex, one excellent author of Regency period romances, known for historic accuracy, wonderful dialog, great plots, and detailed characters is Georgette Heyer. Her books are being reprinted and are truly wonderful reads.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Have You Ever....

In the spirit of Random Things and getting to know you better, I'll add this list. Thanks to my friend, Beth.

01. Start your own blog -- Yes
02. Sleep under the stars -- Yes
03. Play in a band -- No
04. Visit Hawaii -- Yes, but I was young
05. Watch a meteor shower -- Yes
06. Give more than you can afford to charity -- No
07. Go to Disneyworld -- No, but I went to Disneyland as a child.
08. Climb a mountain -- No
09. Hold a praying mantis -- Yes
10. Sing a solo -- No
11. Bungee jump -- No
12. Visit Paris -- No
13. Watch a lightning storm at sea -- Yes
14. Teach yourself an art technique -- Yes
15. Adopt a child -- No
16. Eat sushi -- Yes, well I tried. Ick.
17. Walk to the top of the Statue of Liberty -- No
18. Grow your own vegetables -- Yes
19. See the Mona Lisa in France -- No
20. Sleep on an overnight train -- Yes
21. Have a pillow fight -- Yes
22. Hitch hike -- NO
23. Look at the rings of Saturn through a telescope -- Yes
24. Build a snow fort -- Yes
25. Hold a lamb -- Yes
26. Climb to the top of a lighthouse -- Yes
27. Run a Marathon -- No
28. Ride in a gondola in Venice -- No
29. See a total eclipse -- Yes
30. Watch a sunrise or sunset -- Yes
31. Hit a home run -- No
32. Go on a cruise -- Yes
33. See Niagara Falls in person -- No
34. Visit the birthplace of your ancestors -- Yes- it helps when some are Native Americans.
35. Visit an Amish community -- Yes
36. Teach yourself a new language -- No, I tried and failed.
37. Have enough money to be truly satisfied -- Yes
38. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person -- No
39. Go rock climbing -- Not formally. I've climbed rocks.
40. See Michelangelo's David -- No
41. Sing karaoke in public -- No
42. See Old Faithful geyser erupt in person -- No
43. Buy a stranger a meal at a restaurant -- Yes
44. Visit Africa -- No
45. Walk on a beach by moonlight -- Yes
46. Ride in a helicopter -- Yes
47. Have your portrait painted -- No
48. Go deep sea fishing -- Hmmm...I don't really know. I've been fishing in a boat off the Bahamas. Is that "deep sea"?
49. See the Sistine Chapel in person -- No
50. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris -- No
51. Go scuba diving or snorkeling -- Yes
52. Kiss in the rain -- Yes
53. Play in the mud -- Yes
54. Watch a movie at a drive-in theater -- Yes
55. Be in a movie -- No
56. Visit the Great Wall of China -- No
57. Start a business -- No
58. Take a martial arts class -- Yes
59. Visit Russia -- No
60. Serve meals at a soup kitchen -- No
61. Sell Girl Scout cookies -- No
62. Go whale watching -- No
63. Get or send flowers for no reason -- Yes
64. Donate blood, platelets or plasma -- Yes to all three.
65. Go sky diving -- No
66. Visit a Nazi Concentration Camp -- No.
67. Adopt a pet from a rescue shelter -- Yes
68. Pilot an airplane -- No
69. Save a favorite childhood toy -- Yes- not a toy, but a iron statue of a horse I got when I was 7.
70. Visit the Lincoln Memorial -- Yes
71. Eat Caviar -- Yes, ick.
72. Make a quilt -- No
73. Stand in Times Square -- Yes
74. Tour the Everglades -- No
75. Visit the Viet Nam Memorial -- No
76. See the Changing of the Guard in London -- No
77. Drive a race car -- No
78. Ride on a speeding motorcycle -- Yes
79. See the Grand Canyon in person -- No
80. Publish a book -- No
81. Visit the Vatican -- No
82. Buy a brand new car -- Yes
83. Walk in Jerusalem -- No
84. Have your picture in the newspaper -- Yes
85. Read the entire Bible -- No
86. Visit the White House -- No
87. Kill and prepare an animal for eating -- No
88. Hike the Appalachian Trail -- Yes, a part of it.
89. Save someone's life -- No
90. Sit on a jury -- No, I was called for jury duty but never sat on a jury
91. Meet someone famous -- Yes, I think so.
92. Join a book club --Yes
93. Own an iPod -- Yes
94. Have a Facebook page -- Yes
95. See the Alamo in person -- Yes
96. Swim in the Great Salt Lake -- No
97. Cross country snow ski -- No
98. Hold a snake -- Yes
99. See Van Gogh's Starry Night in person -- No
100. Read an entire book in one day -- Yes, many times.

25 Random Things About Me

This was suppose to go on Facebook, but there are too many teens who check out my page. So I'm putting this here.

1. My parent and siblings thought I should never have children because I wouldn't be a good mom. They thought I should have a career and animals.
2. It took me many years to believe what they said wasn't true.
3. It took me a few more years to realize they really didn't mean it to be unkind. But it showed me the power of words in a person's life. Be careful what you tell a child they can or cannot do. They believe you.
4. It was after my divorce at 24 that I realized what I wanted was a husband, home, and family.
5. I spent 4 years working with race horses and living on racetacks up and down the east coast, from 20-24. I was alternately an exercise rider and a groom.
6. Horses are my first love. I haven't really been around them in years, but I know exactly how they feel, small, and sound. They will always be the most beautiful things on earth to me.
7. I gave up horses to be a wife and mother. I don't regret it, but I miss it. I believe life is about choices and that "having it all" is a myth that breeds discontent and heartache.
8. This past year I've started reading romance novels for fun. I'm not into the historic bodice-rippers, but I like the contemporary romantic suspense or sci-fi novels. Even the risque ones.
9. I'm an extrovert. I get energy from being around people. But I'm more likely to want to be home these days than out and about. Maybe it's because I've got enough people around me here that I don't need to venture far from home for company.
10. Fridays after I teach at Providence are my favorite times of the week. I don't have any commitments and no deadlines. I get into pj's and curl up with a good book or a movie. Bliss.
11. I went skinny dipping in the ocean off the NJ shore long years ago. That was during my racetrack years.
12. I'm not really fond of ice cream. Homemade is good, store-bought I can pass on.
13. I can't pass on homemade cookies (although I almost never eat packaged ones). I'll eat my weight in just about any homemade cookie. Hense the reason I don't make cookies.
14. I don't really know what I believe anymore, but I'm less worried about it than when I thought I knew. I've stopped trying to pin God down. I can recite the Nicene creed and believe it. I just don't sweat the details anymore.
15. I'm still not 100% sure about what to about church. I like the Catholic Mass, but shy away from the commitment of joining. I'm not much into obligations right now.
16. I've never been skiing, or ice skating.
17. I wear earrings every day. I rarely wear any other jewelry except my wedding rings. I feel really naked without earrings.
18. When I'm feeling stressed or depressed, I can read an entire average-length book in a day or less. One month last summer I read close to 50 books.
19. I don't really mind clutter in my house. I mind that other people might mind my clutter.
20. I don't like day-to-day meal making, but look forward to the day I have time to make fun and interesting dishes. I like cooking with Will.
21. I'm scared of getting Alzheimer's, like my mother.
22. I lived in Japan for a year when I was young. I've rarely worn shoes in the house since. It's just never felt right.
23. I took 4 years of French in high school and another two semesters in college. I had a decent grasp of the language. At 19 I gave up a chance to go to Paris for a month to live with a family and speak only French. I gave it up 'cause my boyfriend was angry I was going. Not THAT, I regret to this day. That was the guy I married and divorced.
24. I am a master procrastinator. I'm doing that now, writing this and not grading papers due tomorrow.
25. For two hours every Friday I have a room full of teens for Biology. I like these kids. And for two hours I try to accept them unconditionally. I don't think about what I know of them outside of class, if they are "nice" or not, wild or not. I try to treat them with respect and love. To help them feel valued. I hope I succeed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Congratulations to us! 25 Years and still loving it.

To my dearest husband, Will: You are my heart.

Every year really is better than the last. Thank you.