Sunday, June 27, 2010

Update on's Best Romances of the Summer

I've been working my way (slowly) through some of the best books of the summer (see for that post). I started with Nalini Singh's "Slave to Sensation," the first novel in the Psy-Changeling series. To be fair, I don't tend to be a huge fan of paranormal books. I just sort of poke my big toe into the paranormal pool from time to time. I tend to like stories about psychics or ghosts more than shapeshifters or vampires. I thought a critically recommended title might be a good place for me to start. I finished the book, and I'm still somewhat of two minds. Singh is undoubtedly a gifted writer, and there were times that I found myself really enjoying the book. But the "heavy lifting" that goes into building a fictional world (all of the details about the Psy-Net, the shapeshifters' tribal structure, etc.) was too much for me at times--I found it to be a distraction from the emotions and the events of the story. That being said, the paranormal aspects of the story did add an interesting dimension that the standard romance doesn't have. The animal nature of the shapeshifters winds up being a good metaphor for the animal side that still remains in human nature. I will probably try another book in this series. This is the first book in the series, so perhaps it's just unusually heavy on the backstory.

The next book on the list that I've read (well, okay, still in progress) is "The Forbidden Rose" by Joanna Bourne. For me, this is the kind of book that I love as a reader, but I'm wildly envious of as a writer. How does she create these sophisticated characters that still remain sympathetic? How does she put herself so solidly in a historic time period (French Revolution) that is so under-utilized in romance, yet make it so convincing? How does she balance the suspense of the espionage plot with the genuinely moving, tender love story? I don't know. All I'm saying is that I'm glad I've discovered her, and I'm equally excited to explore her backlist.


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