Friday, 27 January 2012

With This Kiss eBook Tour - a Fiction Friday Review

by Victoria Lynne

Published: Amazon, July 2010 (eBook) and Dell, July 1999 (Paperback)

Source:  ebook review copy from CBLS Promotions

The Blurb (as per tour info): 

Beauty and the beast: they were the scandal of the ton.  All eyes feasted on the beautiful flame-haired gambler in London’s most infamous club.  But Julia Prentisse was interested only in the rake-turned-recluse whom they now called “The Beast.”  She lured him out of the crowded club to a deserted warehouse, where she made her scandalous offer: If he married her and protected her from her uncle, she would help him capture the arsonist who had ruined his life.

An act of heroism had left Morgan St. James burned, scarred for life, but Julia’s bold gaze lit other fires he had long suppressed.  And now this glorious stranger was his bride.  But when he tried to claim his husbandly rights, she demanded three months grace—three months to know a stranger’s mind, to touch a stranger’s soul, to go where no woman had ever gone before.  Into his heart…

Favourite quote: 
"And as your wife, it is my duty to accommodate your wishes. I will attempt to do so—within reason."
"Whose determination is it if my requests are reasonable?"
"Mine, of course."
What I thought: 

I spent most of my early twenties devouring Regency romance novels right alongside my perpetual favourite fantasy novels, so believe me when I say I've read a lot of them. 

Ms Lynn's With this Kiss covers much of the traditional regency romance ground - handsome, rich has-it-all aristocrat and beautiful, not quite so fortunate heroine, love at once reluctant and sizzling. It's also the beauty-and-the-beast story the blurb refers to. Morgan St James is injured, scarred, made ugly in his own eyes and in the ton's, in a fire set by the ominously named Lazarus. Julia Prentiss, the beauty, has suffered at Lazarus' hands, too - and suffers still, for he will not leave her alone. 

Let me start by saying that I love the names Ms Lynn gave her characters - nomen est omen, after all. "Morgan St James" - classic regency name, that. Morgan made me think of pirates, a bad boy, ruthless and successful. St James lends it respectability. Julia is a sensual name, smooth and almost lyrical. Prentiss brings her back down to earth. She's not sensual on the outside, she wants to be thoroughly governed by reason, be independent and proper all at once. She goes her own way as much as is possible in those times. 

Ahem. Sorry, that's my inner writer. 

So, as you can see, I started out reading the story with my writerly parts all expectant and happy. Well, they weren't dissappointed... while this is a regency story that does, as I said, cover much of the traditional ground, that's not all it is. The tragedy that cost Morgan so much comes back to haunt them both as Lazarus reemerges from the shadows, but the danger also pushes the two of them together...and the hunt is on. Out comes Morgan's inner pirate while Julia discoveres her sensual side! Nothing too surprising in that respect, but thoroughly satisfying. The ending is, too, but I'm not going to go into that because I don't want to spoil it for you. 

Suffice to say that this is a smoothly written, easily read regency romance with strong murder mystery elements to heat up the action. The main characters - our beauty and beast - are likeable, loveable and easy to let yourself fall into. And isn't that what we're looking for, when we pick up a romance of any sort?

What you should consider: 

If you've never read a regency romance, do give them a try. This book is certainly a good place to start - it has many modern-life elements (starting with a rather very socially minded and independent heroine) that appealed to me as a modern reader, but Ms Lynne still kept the style of storytelling (especially language-wise) well within the regency frame of things. If you're an old hand at regency romance and like mysteries too, give this a try!

My Rating: 

(8 out of 10 cupcakes)

Where you can get this book: 

Amazon Kindle Edition
Amazon Paperback Edition

Barnes & Noble Paperback

About the Author: 

Victoria Lynne is the author of five historical romance novels.  She’s received two RITA Award nominations, and has consistently earned Romantic Times’ “Top Pick” award.  Called “A Fabulous Storyteller!” by Rendezvous Magazine, her work consistently draws rave reviews and continues to attract new readers.  Her books have been translated into German, Italian, and Spanish, and are currently available online through Kindle and Nook.   

Ms. Lynne lives in Vermont with her husband and two children.  When she’s not plotting her next novel, she loves to get away from her keyboard to ski and hike.

Find her on Facebook, too!


Friday, 20 January 2012


Tomorrow's my birthday, and it's a big one. I promise I'll blog after I've gotten over the fact that I'm turning XXX tomorrow....


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

10 Things about Myth(ology) Trends

I'm sure you've noticed the recent (well, not that recent anymore) trend towards myth- or mythology-based stories, particularly in the YA-sector of the market. I don't mean myth-based stories in a Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces ) way either, but stories that acually refer to existing myths and/or use existing mythological creatures.
  1. The first move in this direction that I noticed was the use of Greek mythologyPercy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, to name one extremely popular example. I didn't really like the books all that much (although I did read them all), but I did like that, all of a sudden, kids were interested in greek mythology again, if in a superficial kind of way. As with Harry Potter, anything that gets kids to read is a good thing. 
  2. There's many, many different sets of mythology (or religion, if you prefer to call it that). Pretty much everything humanity could imagine, in fact. The most popular ones are indubitably the Greek and Roman pantheons, followed by the Egyptian and Norse beliefs. 
  3. Japanese/chinese mythology is very popular, too, though (for now) mostly in the manga market. Or do you know of a (YA) novel inspired by/using this set of beliefs?
  4. Norse mythology appears to be the current favourite, or at least the "new thing". I've come across a few romance novels and the odd YA using Odin and company. My favourite example: Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout.
  5. What I like to call "Christian Mythology" - angels and demons, that is - are everywhere right now, in all kinds of incarnations. I find it particularly interesting that in the newer stories "angel" does not carry the traditional, halo-holy meaning. Nope, there's angel bad guys around, my dearies! Isn't life fascinating? Current favourite: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and The Fallen 1: The Fallen and Leviathan by Thomas E. Sniegoski (there's a cool TV-movie trilogy based on the latter, too)
  6. As far as demons are concerned, everybody loves a bad boy, right? And who could be badder than a demon? And what greater joy than to reform him and make him yours? Countless romance and urban fantasy novels live off this particular concept, so I'm not going bother you with a list. Do you have any favourite demon-centered novels?
  7. Folk mythology plays a great part in many novels (predominately fantasy and urban fantasy). I say folk mythology, but this term is one of my making. What I mean are vampires, werewolves and company. Come on, they're everywhere! And what are they, if not mythological creatures? There seems to be no clear origin, country/culture-wise - or perhaps many origins - for these "alternative people". The most popular is probably the transsylvanian vampire (thank you, Bram). I'm not sure what the equivalent "base tale" for werewolves would be - I know of some russian folk tales where wolves turn into men, and then there's that beast that haunted France in medieval times. My favourite take on werewolves as of this moment would have to be Maggie Stiefvater's  Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls); for the vampires, I'll admit to being a Jean Claude girl (Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K Hamilton). Sorry. Though...Anne Rice got me started on vampires, so The Vampire Lestat (Vampire Chronicles) definately deserves an honorable mention. 
  8. Veeeeeery popular these past few years: Faeries. Faeries are sometimes the same as Sidhe, sometimes not. They take many forms and are invariably rooted in celtic/gaelic mythology. The possibilities here are pretty much endless, because the fae have many, many forms even in the original mythology. I particularly like Julie Kagawa's  The Iron Daughter  (Part 1 of the Iron Fey Series) and Richelle Mead's Dark Swan Series.
  9. Faerie Tales, in the non-celtic sense. Who doesn't love a good Cinderella story? Faerie Tale - Grimm or otherwise - retellings seem to be quite the rage right now. Or how about The Day After the Faery Tale-type what happened after Cinder married her prince? Or once Sleeping Beauty was finally awake? And what happens when Snow White discovers the Mirror and gets curious as to its' powers? (btw, have you heard of the new Snow White movie coming out? Other than the fact that Snow White is Bella, it looks like it might be quite good...) Example of a faerie tale out now: Cinders by Michelle Davidson Argyle.
  10. The Next Big Thing: uhm yea. Did you really expect me to tell you? Do YOU know? If so, share with us, please. What I don't think it is, though: werewolves, vampires or faeries, unless someone thinks up a totally new twist on the theme (think Maggie Stiefvater for new twists on classic themes). I kinda have my doubts about angels, too. 
Can you think of another set of beliefs/legends/another pantheon that's popular right now in fiction (YA or otherwise)? Do you use mythology in your story? If yes, what kind?


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sunday Wishes

Sundays are strange, and this one was no exception. They tend to pass me by as if I were somehow in suspended animation, and then, all of a sudden, it's late at night and Monday and a working week loom ahead.

So now I'm watching Criminal Minds while I write this post and I'm wondering which particular pile of "it can't wait" stuff I'll tackle tomorrow.

Am I the only one who does this? Even when I have lots to do, friends and parties and what have you, on Sunday evening I invariably feel like the weekend just vanished on me completely.

Right now I wish I'd done more constructive things this weekend than I did. Since I think this pretty much every weekend, I'm going to try something new. Here's what I want to get done this week:

  • read two books I'm meant to review (they're short, so that should be doable)
  • do some preliminary plotting for a Shiny New Idea I had last week to see if it's worth my time or not
  • do at least half the cost/benefit projections for a major project I'm working on
  • get my work correspondence up to date, including contracts 
  • find a dress for my birthday party
  • invite people for a dinner party next week
  • get my hot water boiler fixed (right now the water pressure is so bad that the shower won't work)
Quite a list, huh? We'll see how I do.

What about you? Do you get those oh-my-God-where-did-the-weekend-go feelings?

ps. I went to see Jane Eyre with my parents today - the first successful family cinema outing in a long time (as in we all liked it).

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Cut to the Quick (a dare)

I was chatting with a good friend of mine (who's busily editing and proof-reading her most wonderful novel right now) on FB the other day and somehow we got to the topic of first chapters, or rather how problematic they can be.

She said she changed hers around over and over, and she's still not sure it's what it needs to be right now (she has my vote of confidence, though - she's brilliant, and so's her work). I've had this problem many, many times before - so much so, in fact, that more than one idea was stopped at chapter one because I came no further than that.

Then she mentioned something she read somewhere: When editing, just cut the first chapter off. In fact, cut the first two and start with chapter three.

I was a little taken aback by such a radical suggestion, but it did get me thinking...

How long does it take a writer to find his or her voice, and truly get to the meat of the story? How much of this voice-finding is part of the story?

The answer: I don't know.

So I thought I'd give it a try. Here's the first paragraph of the third chapter in one of my WIPs....
I followed along behind my master like the good dog I was, right up to the main doors of the temple and the silent guards on either side. I approached more slowly than the prince. I really hate to admit this, but they kind of intimidated me. I’ve always had a healthy respect for all things holy, and these guards fairly glowed with godly righteousness in their pristine white uniforms with their pretty but slightly disturbing blood-red crosses and golden sunbursts on their right shoulders. 
I stopped a few feet from the entrance, not sure what to do. My master almost crossed the threshold, but he looked back, beckoned me forward. 
But I couldn’t. Not one more step, not towards His holiest of holies. Their God, their male God, implacable, unforgiving. I would not, could not, go into this his most personal realm. 
I think my master understood, or perhaps he felt my fear, because he gave me one of his half-exasperated, half-understanding looks and turned to speak to the guards instead.
“Marik, Soren, you keep an eye on Cavan, here”, he told them. “And you, my boy, you stay right here where they can see you. If someone bothers you, you may defend yourself this time.” He turned to the guards one last time. “You heard what I said. If someone attacks him, he is permitted to defend himself. See to it that he manages that, will you?” They saluted, but he was already gone, into the temple and whatever prayers called him there. 

What do you think? Does this sound like a good place to start a story? What about you? I dare you to post the first paragraph of your third chapters on your blogs!!!


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Backwards and Forwards

Becca, one of my fellow book bunnies, had a great idea how to start this year. I know I already did my two 10-Things posts (one of things I didn't do in 2011 and one about my 2012 resolutions) but I figured I might as well give it a go... ; P

What I learned in 2011: 

  1. Stress can be a good thing. No, seriously, it can. 
  2. You can't choose your family, and sometimes there's no point in just fixing up your own side of the fence. 
  3. On the other hand, you can choose your friends. Yay. 

What I hope for in 2012: 

  1. Finishing something to the point of submitting it, maybe even getting something published. *fingers crossed*
  2. Finishing my current degree. 
  3. Not freaking out over the big birthday I'm celebrating in about three weeks' time. 

Best Books in 2011:  I'm going to take a page out of my friend Kerry's book here and do this one in a seperate post ; P

What I'm looking forward to in 2012: 

  1. My degree ceremony, which will be in the Sheldonian Theatre (Oxford). With gown and everything! 
  2. A couple of years ago I started a company with a friend of mine, and this year we'll probably be able to expand. Big time. YAY!! 
  3. My birthday party - even though it is a big one, and it makes me feel really old, I think it'll be great fun. Maybe I'll even let you see some photos... ; P

Things I'm proud I achieved in 2011: 

  1. Finishing all but one of the exams I need for the degree I'm currently working on. 
  2. It's not really an achievement on my part, but I got a third goddaughter last year, and she's sooooo sweet!!!! 
  3. Making a healthy profit with that company I mentioned earlier (hence the expansion plans) ; )

So what about you guys? What are you really proud of achieving last year, and what's the thing you look forward to most in 2012?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

10 Things I plan to do in 2012

10 Things Tuesday + Beginning of the Year = A List of Writerly Resolutions...

  1. This year, I've signed up for three Reading Challenges (see tab above) and I plan on completing them all (they do overlap somewhat, as Alex pointed out yesterday, so that should be doable) 
  2. I will be blogging at least three times a week
  3. I want to be more proactive in commenting on other people's blogs - I've seriously been slagging off in that respect - Sorry guys. 
  4. I've almost signed up for the Write One Sub One thingy, but then didn't because knowing myself I will just plain fail at it and I resolve not to set myself up for failure this year. Challenges, yes. Failure, no. Know your limits, I say. 
  5. I want to finish/edit/submit the three short stories that have been hibernating on my hard drive for most of last year. Two of them are horror/suspense stories, one is a fantasy/romance thingymajig. And I want to do this before I start a new one. 
  6. I will make notes of all Shiny New Ideas in my journal, but will not pursue them until I have time to give them the attention they deserve. By this I mean no more half-written stories if I can at all help it. 
  7. My writing desk will no longer resemble the illegitimate offspring of a fleamarket and a tornado-stricken library. No, really. 
  8. I will participate in NaNoWriMo again in November, but will NOT take part in any other NaNo-like challenges because quite frankly I have to do some paying work, too. That way I can really have fun in November and not just groan at the effort/time it takes. 
  9. I will seriously consider what to write for a thesis. I'm close to that point in my academic career, and it pays to have an idea of what you want to do before the time comes to find an appropriate supervisor. 
  10. That said, I will finish all other coursework/paperwork asap, so I can truly get on with it. 
There, that's 10 doable things for 2012! I have a couple of less realistic ones, too, but I want to stick with these for now. 

How about you? What are your writerly resolutions, or are you anti-resolution? 


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