Portrait of a woman seated and reading possibly on board SS TANDA -- from the Australian Maritime Museum

Read-It-Again Romance Favorites

Earlier this month I re-read Pride & Prejudice for the first time in over 10 years. I had a completely different experience reading it as a 30-something historical romance reader than as a college-aged English Literature major. Somehow it was wittier, more romantic and subtle, more sly and tongue-in-cheek than I remembered it being. Of course I fell in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again and vowed to never again let so much time pass before re-reading Pride & Prejudice. 

It’s officially on my read-it-again romance list, and yes, I have a real list. It’s small at the moment, just a few select favorites that I turn to every year (sometimes less, sometimes more) when I need a little something that I know I can always find within its pages.

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And So It Ends (For Now): The Book Sisters Tackle Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

MOBY SadnessIt’s that time, folks: Heather and I have come to the end of our Outlander journey, and as you can see, our reactions are all over the place. Opening Written in My Own Heart’s Blood for the first time, I was giddy, heart-broken, breathless with anticipation, and oh so sad that this was the last Outlander novel currently in print. In short, I was a mess.

This series is real for me, y’all. It tugs at my heart in a way that few other written sagas have ever done, and I feel so lucky for having read it over the past year with the best book sister a gal could ever have.

As always, SPOILERS ABOUND after the jump, so proceed at your own risk! Continue reading

I Loved a Rogue (ME TOO, Y’ALL. ME TOO.)

Cover: I Loved a Rogue

Title: I Loved a Rogue
Series: The Prince Catchers, Book 3
Author: Katharine Ashe
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Google Play

Startling Confession #1: This is the first Katharine Ashe book I’ve ever read.

Perhaps less startling, but, nonetheless, worth mentioning Confession #2: After finishing this novel, I immediately began my notorious author binge reading habit, complete with library book holds and Kindle purchases of ALL THE KATHARINE ASHE BOOKS.

This one was a stunner y’all. Last in the series, it totally stands on its own super sexy ultra-romantic legs. It has just right mix of angst, sexual tension, deep back story, and gypsies that make it a stop-everything-and-just-keep-reading tale.

Did I mention gypsies? If, like me, you adored Kleypas’ Hathaway series–particularly Merripen and Cam’s stories–you need to pick up I Loved a Rogue immediately.

As the conclusion to what I hear is a fantastic trilogy, I Loved a Rogue is Eleanor Caulfield’s time for love. The consummate vicar’s daughter, Eleanor is steady, responsible, and yes, a spinster. Despite her staid exterior, Eleanor has passion in abundance, and has spent the last eleven years hiding her adventurous spirit, as well as love and heartache. As a young girl she fell in love with Taliesin, the young gypsy boy who was part servant, sometime rival and eventually, lover. His abrupt departure left Eleanor in despair, but she’s picked up the pieces of her life…Or so she thought, until the day that Taliesin shows up again, no longer a boy but a man who stirs her heart in a way she never thought would happen again.

Oh yeah, and he helps her locate her missing parents whom she’s never known because she and her sister’s washed up on the English coast after a brutal shipwreck…and stuff.

I know, I make light of the driving plot of the entire series–three sisters trying to fulfill a gypsy prophecy that says they’ll discover their true parents when one of them marries a prince–but really, it’s all about the Eleanor-Taliesin romance. Yes, the mystery is the driving force behind these adolescent lovers’ reunion, and it’s quite engaging, but for most of the novel it takes a back seat to the unpacking of the love and pain Eleanor and Tali have suffered over the past decade.

There is angst aplenty, but it’s never oppressive or overwhelming. It’s just the right dose for heart-stopping sexual tension (I found myself doing the nail-biting thing) and a deeply emotional connection. As I’ve written before, I adore grand reconciliations in romance novels. As Sherry Thomas once brilliantly stated in an interview for the Popular Romance Project, “We all know shit happens,” and to reflect that in a romance novel (and do it well) takes what could be a good story and makes it so much more powerful. Ashe created two characters who, for various reasons (some valid, some eye-roll inducing), have stayed away from the love of their life for ELEVEN LONG YEARS. Their reunion is intense, awkward, and even a little painful at times. It’s a rebuilding of a relationship left in ruins. Couple that with all sorts of meddlesome secondary characters and you have all the right elements of a seriously engaging novel.

Ashe’s writing is lovely. Her allusions to various lovers from epic tales (Tristan and Isolde; Guinevere and Lancelot) is a signal that Eleanor and Tali’s romance isn’t this sort of fly-by-night, whirlwind romance. There is going to be trouble and there is going to be anger, but there is also going to be the kind of epic love that makes those stories so worth reading.

This one is just as worthy of a read.

Yes, I did find the ending a bit madcap and perhaps a little rushed, but that was in large part because I’d been so focused on Eleanor and Tali that I failed to realize the entire trilogy also needed its own resolution. Perhaps if I had read the first two novels I would have been more invested in the story of the Caulfield daughters’ parentage. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that if you’ve been reading hoping to find the answer to the gypsy prophecy, you will find satisfaction in the end.

Rating: A- (For many wistful sighs, gasps, and sessions of anxious nail-biting, thank you, Katharine Ashe!)

Fashionably Late: Two Friends Read the Outlander Series for the First Time

The Fiery Cross by Diana GabaldonTitle: The Fiery Cross
Series: Book 5 in the Outlander ongoing saga of awesome sauce
Author: Really?
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

As I’ve previously mentioned, I am totally late to the Outlander party. Despite picking up a copy of the blue brick (otherwise known as book 1) a few years ago at a small used bookstore, it wasn’t until last year that I decided to crack it open and HAVE MY ENTIRE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. Joining me in my new-found obsession with redheads and the time-travelers, gay soldiers, and children who love them is my Book-Sister, Heather De La Garza, who writes the wonderful book blog True Stories and Make Believe. We’re doing a cross-post of this piece on both my blog and hers for maximum Outlander love.

Over the past few months Heather and I have been gushing about everything that happens in the Outlanderverse as we read each book in the series together. In between our anxiously awaited Skype virtual book club sessions (which really should just be called The Two Grown-Ass Ladies Swoon Over Jamie Fraser Club) we text OBSESSIVELY.

ME: OMG WTF just happened to Ian?
HDLG: IAN!!!!!!! NO!!!!!
ME: I canna handle it!
HDLG: I ken! Also, grrrrr Frank.
ME: :c( Not cool, bro, not cool.
HDLG: Just wait a few more chapters. Then the cray happens.
ME: SHIT JUST GOT REAL!!!! BONNET!!!!

You get the idea.

So joining me in this review is none other than JAMMF fangirl for life, Heather DLG.

HEATHER:  Veronica (“Ronnie”) is absolutely right. From the moment I opened Outlander and read page one of this epic saga my life has been completely upended. Examples:

Yah. ‘Tis bad.  I’ll forever be in Ronnie’s debt for pushing me to begin reading this beautiful series.  But enough dillydallying! ON TO THE FIERY CROSS!

VERONICA: We promise to keep this post real and emoticon free, but we can’t promise that we’ll refrain from indulging in mega-spoilers. Read on at your own risk!

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Review: In Which I Gush About Drums of Autumn (because yes, I am late to that party)

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Title: Drums of Autumn
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

I know, I know, Drums of Autumn was published in 1997 and Gabaldon’s writing her 9th book in the series as I type. Excuse me please while I a) apologize to romance lovers everywhere for not reading these books sooner and b) proceed to gush about Drums of Autumn, because it was kind of mind-blowing for me.

My book sister, Heather, the author of the fantastic book blog True Stories and Make Believe, and I are book-clubbing our way through the Outlander series one novel at a time and falling in love with James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser a little more every day. Although my lack of a Starz subscription and inability to watch the new Outlander tv series has been steadily breaking my heart, Heather’s been keeping me in the loop with her great episode analysis and video clips from the show. Check it out if you’re a fan.

On to Drums (with spoilers, but seriously, y’all–It was published in ’97)…

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