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Posts tagged: Lisa Kleypas

At The Gutter: For Worse and For Better. But Mostly Worse.

Chris shares her least favorite current trends in Romance.

We’ve finally gotten down to actual summer weather in the last two weeks. So of course I spent the last two weeks without AC as I dealt with a series of cascading electrical problems. One complete power shut-down later, things are finally back on the level… just in time for the humidity to drop to a bearable level.

Argh, argh, argh.

Since I’ve pretty much hit peak Crabby, I’m believe I’m in a good place to write my annual complaints piece.  This is the column in which I enumerate the things I dislike about the Romance genre. As usually, I won’t single out specific titles — rather, I’ll talk about the larger trends and habits across the genre that make me go “”@#$%!”

But since I didn’t manage to burn every good feeling out of my heart (because the AC came back on before I actually had to sacrifice the contractor to the dread gods of the humidex), this time I’ll also add  counterexamples, writers who manage to do whatever-it-is well instead of poorly.

Image: “Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring” (1943) by Laura Knight. (via The Guardian)

For Worse And For Better. But Mostly Worse.

For Worse And For Better. But Mostly Worse.

xcircleNow is the summer of our discontent…

We’ve finally gotten down to actual summer weather in the last two weeks. So of course I spent the last two weeks without AC as I dealt with a series of cascading electrical problems. One complete power shut-down later, things are finally back on the level… just in time for the humidity to drop to a bearable level.

Argh, argh, argh.

Since I’ve pretty much hit…

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At The Gutter: “And They Call It Puppy Love”

Chris looks at pets in romance novels:

I own several shares of a cat.

It’s not a weird as it sounds. A friend with a cat travels travels a lot, so the kitty spends a fair amount of time with me. She’s spending this week with me in fact, while her owner is off swimming, running, and cycling hundreds of kilometres at a triathlon training camp. Voluntarily. The cat and I are occupied with much more civilized pursuits, like synchronized napping.

There’s nothing quite like the pleasure of falling asleep with purring cat by your side (and I say that as a person who is extremely allergic). But then, there’s nothing quite like the pleasure of a dog, either. Aside from the walks, and the fetching, and the sweet, sweet, eyes, a dog loves more than anything else on earth. What’s not to like about a creature so overjoyed to see you when you come out of the bathroom it’s like you’ve come back from the dead?

So this seems like a good week to look at Romances with pets in them. Narratively speaking, pets are a smart device: they’re a great way to demonstrate character (for good or bad). But some people write pets better than others, and I thought we might take a look at a few of those.

Image: Henri Matisse, “Girl with A Black Cat” (1910) via "A Survey of Cats across the Centuries."

And They Call It Puppy Love

And They Call It Puppy Love

dogcatI own several shares of a cat.

It’s not a weird as it sounds. A friend with a cat travels travels a lot, so the kitty spends a fair amount of time with me. She’s spending this week with me in fact, while her owner is off swimming, running, and cycling hundreds of kilometres at a triathlon training camp. Voluntarily. The cat and I are occupied with much more civilized pursuits, like synchronized…

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At The Gutter: Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

Romance Editor Chris explores the charms of winter:

This week, I thought I saw the first snow of the season. Turns out it was actually sleet, which is kind of like snow’s annoying idiot cousin. But I got excited anyway, because the thing is…

I love winter.

Don’t get me wrong: that doesn’t mean I don’t love fall and spring too. Bright green things unfurling; leaves flaming against a crackling sky – both are wonderful. Spring and fall are energizing and beautiful. Summer… eh, not so much. The heat’s nice, but the humidity can go back to hell at its earliest convenience. I like to do things in the summer, but the season itself is on the bottom of my list.

Winter’s on the top.

At the Gutter: Top 10 of 2012

Chris shares her favorite books of 2012.

It’s the end of the year; I work in retail; I have the flu.  All  of which means that for the past couple weeks I’ve been re-reading rather than reading. Mostly Eva Ibbotson, whose warmth reminds me not only that I love reading, but why.  Which makes this a good time for a retrospective list. Below are my top 10 reads for 2012.  They’re not ranked in any order, just listed alphabetically by author.  If anyone has any to add, please feel free to do so.  I can always use more suggestions for what to try next.

At the Gutter: The Measure of Success

Chris writes on the appeal of success:

[I]t isn’t not just the ‘good vs evil’ paradigm that keeps people reading Fantasy, it’s the heroic.  Not simply in terms of divine power or nobility of action, but in acheiving something against difficult odds.

In other words, success.

That set off a lightbulb.  As humans, we spend much more of our time seeking progress than attaining it.  Which is not a bad thing:  it means we’re not static.  We strive.  And success is what we strive for.  So right now I’m feeling my way around the idea that success is why the Romance genre remains so overwhelmingly powerful.  Why the Fantasy genre is still expanding.  Heck, it’s why sports are so popular.  Think about it.  Professional sports have a fixed time period, an immediate and potentially difficult objective, and a winner.  Success!

Image: Nike, from a bronze vessel found in Tarano, Italy and photographed by carolemadge1

At the Gutter: Things That Go Bump In The Night

Editor Chris suggests some romance titles for this spooky season:

But it was a little harder than I thought to put together a reading list.  I wanted to concentrate on books that are Romances first (ie: not Urban Fantasies) that are nonetheless well-flavoured with woo-woo.

Woo-woo, I found;  spooky was tough.  Going through books I was reminded that Romances contain a lot of scary things.  Like being stuck in a job that traps and stifles you.  Or sinking into debt.  Learning how to grow past the scars of abuse.  Losing your partner, or parents, or children.  Even facing the giant chasm of loneliness to reach out emotionally for the first time.  These are all damn frightening things; they just happen to ordinary people every day.  But Halloween isn’t about the everyday:  it’s about the extraordinary possibilities when the boundaries between the worldly and the uncanny blur.

(image: “The Three Witches” by Daniel Gardner)

At the Gutter: Hitting the Books, Hard

Romance Editor Chris takes a look at students in Romance:

As I said this time last year, I like back to school season.  I love the energy of it.  I miss the sense of anticipation, of knowing I had lots of new things to look forward to.  At least, usually I do.  Perhaps I’m just feeling particularly curmudgeonly this season, or maybe summer was just too busy.  But for some reason, looking ahead past Labour Day this year all I can see is a long dull grind.  Bah.

So in an effort to caffeinate my mental state, I’m going to write about students in Romance. In other words: the heroine and hero meet because one needs to learn something from the other (yes, last year I wrote about teachers.  But education is like a highway:  it goes in both directions).   Hopefully exposure to so many stories about the desire to learn will rub off on me.  Inspiration is catching, you know.

image via Hey, Girl, I Like The Library, Too.

At the Gutter: Lovers In A Dangerous Time

Chris investigates romance blended with danger:

These are the stories that drop the hero and heroine into physical jeopardy in addition to exposing them to all the emotional risks of falling in love.  When done well, they share the same sense of breathless excitement of a good movie thriller.  When poorly written, they’re overwrought, melodramatic, and annoying.

image via Joanna Bourne’s blog.