Tag Archives: Squee

Special “Guest”: Cheryl!!!

HI YOU GUYS!!! I’m totally totally excited to share this post with you. You’ll see why. 😀 WHEE! And I put “Guest” in parenthesesquotes(Obviously my brain is still broken), because…

My First Historical “Romance”

On more than one occasion, Limecello has asked if I’d like to write a review or two here at ALBTALBS. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness or lack of sleep or unrealistic optimism regarding my schedule, but I finally agreed. So this post serves as my introduction or, perhaps more accurately, a forewarning of sorts.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved history. All sorts. As a child I spent hours reading of foreign countries and battles and historical figures from my parents’ set of Encyclopedia Britannica. In high school, when electives outnumbered required courses, history classes filled my schedule. The same held true in college although anthropology and archeology classes were thrown into the mix as well as an abundance of literature classes. So it’s not surprising in the least that I adore historical romances.

But that got me thinking. What was the first historical romance I read?

At first I thought it was Jane Austen’s Emma, but soon realized others came before. Was it my mother’s copy of Danielle Steel’s Crossings? Now I realize Crossings is considered a contemporary romance, but if I studied World War II in history and Steel’s story takes place during World War II, shouldn’t it be considered a historical romance? Only makes sense to me.

And it is this argumentative nature of mine that leads me to the decision the first historical romance I read was… Johnny Tremain.

Yes, it’s a Newbery Medal winner. And yes, I know it’s considered historical fiction. But it has all the makings of a great historical romance. Or at the very least, historical fiction with romantic elements.

If you haven’t read it, Johnny Tremain is the coming of age story of a bitter, self-centered orphan who works as a silversmith apprentice and is considered to be quite a talent. Cilla, his master’s granddaughter, has been promised to marry Johnny so the silver shop will remain in the family. But tragedy occurs when Johnny severely burns his hand and results in him no longer being able to do trade work. The marriage arrangement is cancelled and Johnny is forced out with an uncertain future. And this is just the beginning. The story paints a vivid image of the days leading up to the American Revolution and integrates many historical figures as secondary characters. But in true historical romance fashion, it also includes the claiming of birth rights, accusations of theft, a love triangle and treasonous acts.

Who cares it was required reading when I was in 6th grade and not shelved on the romance aisle. Thirty years later, I still remember how exciting it was when Johnny and Cilla finally shared a kiss.

So it is with this same enthusiasm I will be reviewing historical romances here at ALBTALBS. I am very much looking forward to this new little gig as long as Limecello and all of you who want to chat historical romances will have me!

Cheryl is now going to be reviewing here! A guest no more, but “one of us!” Yesssss!

Guest: Sarah Mayberry (… *squee!*)

You! Guys!!! Look who’s here! It’s Sarah freaking Mayberry! She’s more than one of my favorite category authors, she’s one of my favorite authors. (Um, have you read her Blaze books? Because if you haven’t you’re missing out. That’s how I got totally hooked on her, and basically the Harlequin Blaze and Desire lines. She just cemented it.) If you’ve ever met me in person, you’ll know I’m not all that effusive and fangirly about authors. (I mean I’m nice and all, and excited, I just… don’t squee.) But I would totally be all “OMG IT’S YOU!” If I ever got to meet her. Either that or I’d hide behind someone. My mood varies. Enough about me- you don’t care what I have to say, just what Sarah Mayberry is here to say!

First up, a big thinks to Limecello for having me here today. I love writing and reading and talking about romance, so it’s always great to meet fellow romance lovers.

I wanted to talk about Happy Ever Afters today. I was talking about books with my mother recently when she said something that I found really interesting. She likes to read big sagas and a bit of women’s fiction, and when she found out that the book I was pimping to her was a romance, she pulled a face and said “no thanks.” Not because she’s a literary snob or anything like that, but because she knows how it’s going to end. Her words, not mine. “You know they’re going to end up together, so what’s the point?” she said.

It gave me pause. Because I love a book or movie where I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I love it when I’m not absolutely sure if what I would like to happen is going to actually happen. But in a romance, the HEA is part of the deal, isn’t it? When you start a romance, you know pretty quickly who the hero is and who the heroine is and, a lot of the time, what the grounds for conflict will be. You also know that whatever that conflict is, it’s all going to work out in the end and they’re going to be together and in love by the end of the book.

When its laid out like that – and when my mother said it so starkly – I had to wonder why romances didn’t bore me into a coma. I mean, talk about predictable! And yet I love romance stories. I gobble them up, am absolutely absorbed while I’m reading and even a little dazed and confused when I’m spat out the other end of a really good book.

How can all that happen when the ending is, as I said, a given? I’ve been giving it a bit of thought over the past few weeks, and I think, for me, that when it comes to romance, it’s not the destination that’s important, it’s the journey. The ups and downs, the emotions, the tension. For the duration of the read, I get to walk a mile or two in another woman’s shoes. Sometimes I get to be in a man’s head, too, and I get to re-experience all the excitement and anxiety and lust and despair and uncertainty of falling in love again, with the comfortable knowledge in the back of my mind that all will be well in the end because there’s a HEA just waiting for me at the end of the book. Kind of like going on a roller coaster ride – you get all the thrills of a near-death adrenalin rush, but your life is never actually at risk (hopefully!).

The greatest accolade I can pay a book is that it made my chest ache. If I get to a certain point in the book and my chest literally aches for the hero or heroine to understand the other or for their sadness or nobility to be soothed or rewarded, then I am a happy little camper. I re-read a Mary Balogh recently and there were certain passages that had so much poignancy for me on a second reading because I knew that the self-talk the heroine was using to protect herself was an illusion. And yes, I cried. Yesterday, I gobbled up Kristin Hannah’s On Mystic Lake and I think I cried every twenty minutes or so because it was so sad and moving and emotional.

But even in the midst of all that suffering and chest aching, I knew I was in good hands, because both those books were romance novels. I had my HEA safety net there to catch me. I knew all the trials and misfortunes would be worth it. I knew I’d feel as though we (me, the hero and the heroine) had earned our HEA by the time we got there.

I guess that’s why I enjoy writing romance stories, too. I like going on that journey. I like watching my hero and heroine learn things about themselves and accept or reject challenges. And I like knowing that in the end they will be together and happy.

My November Super Romance, All They Need, takes my hero and heroine, Flynn and Mel, on some big ups and downs before they find their HEA. Flynn’s struggling to cope with his father’s diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers, and Mel is trying to remember who she was before she married a man who spent 6 years trying to change her. Neither of them are looking for love, but it finds them anyway. I’d like to think that it’s a warm, funny, emotional journey that they go on together, but the final judges of that will be you, the readers.

So, over to you. How do you feel about the promise of HEA in a romance novel? Why do you read romances? Do you feel cheated when you read what you thought was a romance and the HEA is missing?

I would love to give away a copy of All They Need today. Just comment to be in the running.

Awesome, right? Answer any of Sarah’s questions, and you’re good! She’s giving away at least one copy – winner(s) announced next Tuesday, so start talking! ;-D