Review: The Duke’s Disaster

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The Good:

  • The novel began with a bang – a really great concept with lots of tension and promise for a wonderful novel
  • Noah Winters is a great alpha
  • Thea Collins is a believable heroine with an interesting backstory
  • Noah’s support of Thea near the end is touching (expected, but nicely written nonetheless)
  • I wish I had more “Good” because I really wanted to like this one

The Meh:

  • Plot moved at a snail’s pace
  • Noah was so lovable I had a hard time believing he wasn’t nice, even though we were repeatedly told he wasn’t, his every action was that of a nice, thoughtful person
  • The Winters’ family history was difficult to piece together
  • The minor characters did not enrich the story
  • I didn’t find their inner conflict compelling enough to keep them from HEA sooner
  • While the sweet breakfast routine was a nice way to show the couple getting closer together, it, like everything else in this novel, became stale rather quickly

Overall:

  • I wouldn’t recommend this novel, but I have a feeling it was a poor introduction to the writing of Ms. Burrowes
  • The conflicts were not complex, or perhaps were not developed enough – I’m not sure what it was but I was unable to connect with the story and characters
  • Simply put, it was a boring novel – many a time I found myself closing it and loudly saying “Oh for crying out loud!”
  • The final scenes of violence were not very believable
  • Save yourself the time and perhaps give another of Grace Burrowes’ novels a try, I know I will.

Thanks for reading!  Any comments on this or another Grace Burrowes novel?

Summary from Goodreads:  Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year’s crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another’s proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.  Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?

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Glue Readers to Your Story #amwriting

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free stock photo from pixabay.com

The inciting incident in a work of fiction is what gets the plot moving.  Think of it as the first flashy set of fireworks that leads into an awesome display which lights up the sky and sets up the crescendo at the end.  In other words, it will also lead directly to the climax.

A superb inciting incident will keep your audience glued to your words, reading at warp-speed with the driving desire to finish your story.  And this image is what keeps our fingers flying on the keyboard, right?

Here are five suggestions to help you make your inciting incident heart-stopping:

  1. Immediately place your protagonist in a dire situation where a decision must be made and there is precious little time in which to make it.
  2. Force your protagonist to compromise on her ideals –  give your reader hope that this compromise will lead her to a bright outcome.
  3. Give your protagonist the opportunity to feel pain – allow him to be uncomfortable, hurt, vulnerable – give your audience a reason to root for him.
  4. Allow the villain free reign and control to show the strength in the protagonist, the refusal to give in despite towering odds.
  5. Forget the introduction altogether and begin the novel with the inciting incident – start your story with a bang!  The rest can be filled in throughout the rising action.

There are many ways to keep your readers engaged.  Obviously, voice and style are key.  However:

  • We live in an era designed to take our audience’s attention away.
  • Readers are also quite savvy and images/settings/backstories that once took pages or even chapters to create can now be created in a paragraph or even a sentence!

Therefore, it is essential to keep the plot moving.

I hope these suggestions help to spark your creativity and perhaps inspire you to try something new with your writing.

Would love to hear from fellow writers how you navigate your inciting incident and where you place it, first or later in your novel?  What works for you?

Thanks for reading!

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Slow Going on The Duke’s Disaster

Was super excited to read:

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When I started, I felt like: (cue the chirping birds)

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My surroundings are of course not quite so serene, but you get the idea.

A few chapters in and I’m feeling more like:

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I don’t want to feel this way…and I will finish the novel fully hoping for a reversal in my experience.  This is my first Grace Burrowes book and I want to really like her works after going through an impressive list on goodreads.  Not to mention there are two more of her novels sitting in my e-reader.

Do you have a suggestion for plowing through a book that has you feeling a little let down? Would love to hear how you rally yourself to the finish!

Thanks for reading!

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Note: photos are free stock photos from pixabay.com

How to Plot Your Romance Novel #amwriting

Every word counts.  I tend to skim and skip passages when I feel the plot of a novel is not moving.  So I try to put myself in my future reader’s shoes (or, eyes) and make every effort to ensure the plot is not stagnant.

My notes as an English teacher inspired me, as did the blog of author Nikki Owen, to use the tried and true plot graph in order to achieve this goal.

PLOT

For an explanation of each plot point see: how-to-plot-a-novel

Please note, I used this method once I had a very good understanding of my protagonists’ motivations and backstory, not before.  Knowing my heroine and hero first helped me to plot their story.

The following steps might help you organize all of the wonderful ideas buzzing inside your head:

  1. In point form, list the main ideas of your novel
  2. Then, use the graphic above to plan where the main ideas should fall
  3. In point form, on the triangle, write down what will happen at each plot point in the novel.
  4. Then repeat this process for each chapter – draw a triangle, label the plot points, then write what will happen in the chapter at each plot point.  This will ensure you have a clear goal for each chapter which includes a climax and a way to flow into the next chapter. (NOTE: ensure to use only the front of the page, keep the back blank for notes later on)
  5. And voila!  Novel done.  Haha!  Kidding – if only it were that easy 😉  You won’t have a finished novel, but you will have a clear outline of each chapter when you sit down to write.  And, since each chapter has been outlined on a separate sheet of paper, you may reorganize the chapters before you start writing.

In order to accomplish the above I bought a cheap notebook to keep my ideas together:

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I found that this process helped me to stay focused during precious writing time (which is hard to obtain with marriage, career and children).  Also when other ideas came to me as I wrote I could jot them down on the blank side of the page.  If it was an idea which didn’t fit into the chapter or the novel as a whole, I was able to set it aside (after writing it down of course) for future books.

I hope this helps you on your writing journey!  Please remember, every writer has her or his own process and this might not work with your style.

I’d love to know how other writers plan and plot out their works.  What do you do when you start to write a novel?

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Review: Falling Into Bed with a Duke

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The Good:

  • Minerva Dodger quickly became one of my favourite heroines because she knows herself and is beyond strong.
  • Ms. Heath creates a female protagonist who is confident in every aspect of her life and relationships – except, in love.  This is something that many women of the modern age experience.  The biggest lesson Minerva Dodger delivers is to remain true to yourself.
  • Her counterpart, the Duke of Ashebury, is everything one looks for in a male protagonist.  He is arrogant, gorgeous and powerful.  Naturally, he is considerate and thoughtful as well.  Watching him fall in love with Minerva is a definite treat since he is so unaware that it is occurring.
  • I really enjoyed the minor characters too – very well defined without distracting from the romance.  I particularly enjoyed Minerva’s friendship with BFF/sister-in-law Grace Lovingdon and her relationship with her parents was both strong and tender.
  • I also liked the way Ms. Heath created her world and gave us just enough back story to understand the context in which Minerva and Ashe moved without huge info-dumps.
  • And the ode to Dickens’ Miss Havisham and her clocks? C’mon! That was pretty cool.

The Meh:

  • I tend to skim over too much description about the angst.  While angst is a necessary component of a character’s development in a romance novel, I quickly get bored of extensive analysis of emotions.  I also find that modern readers easily understand a character’s predicament – once it’s been stated, is it necessary to go over it again and again?
  • Having said that, there were times when I skimmed or skipped entire passages where too much rambling was occurring.  “Does he love me? Why is he spending time with me? Is Minerva really Lady V? etc. etc.” Again, this is my reading quirk and there are many readers out there who love the analysis as the protagonists evolve.

Overall:

  • This novel is a beautiful read.
  • I loved reading the evolution of Minerva and Ashe’s relationship.
  • I especially loved Minerva’s realization and acceptance of her own beauty on her terms.  And, Ashe’s realization that his feelings extended well beyond sexual attraction for Minerva.
  • Ms. Heath had me cheering for these two from the very beginning.
  • If you’re looking for a well-written book with a strong heroine give this novel a try.

Favourite Lines:

“‘I could suffer through [my father’s] disappointment much more easily than I could suffer through not gaining retribution for being wronged.’ A corner of her mouth hitched up. ‘On the other hand, I might just kill you myself.’ She gave a quick nod. ‘Probably would.  I’d find immense satisfaction in it, come to think of it.'” (Minerva to Ashe in Chapter 3).

“‘Dear God, how can you possibly believe there is any part of her that is equal to nothing?‘” (Ashe to Jack Dodger in Chapter 20)

Did you read Book 1 of the Hellions of Havisham?  If so, let’s chat about it!  Thanks for stopping by.

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Summary from Goodreads:  After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.  A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure?

Giddy Over New TBR

I spent five minutes browsing Kobo and this is what happened:

I decided to get started on on my goodreads TBR shelf and looked up Lorraine Heath’s Falling into Bed with a Duke.  And then of course, Grace Burrowes’ books were on sale at 2 for 3. And while perusing Pinterest, Melissa Foster pinned that her Lovers at Heart is free at Kobo…and ta-da! A new TBR list at my fingertips.

Can’t wait to dive in.  Is there a TBR list you are giddy over? Please share & thanks for reading!

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Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

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Hathaway (Book 1) image courtesy: kobobooks

 

The Good:

  • Cam Rohan – can a writer bring to life a sexier alpha male protagonist?!? This guy is HOT!!!  Rich.  Clever.  Perceptive.  Considerate.  In control.  Suave.  The list is endless…
  • Introduction to the Hathaway clan is superbly handled by Ms.Kleypas – it is a big family.  Each Hathaway is portrayed so that we know their role in the family and have some insight into the trials of their eventual love story.
  • The fact that the Hathaways are considered outcasts gives so much opportunity to learn more about Victorian society than just the ways of the ton.
  • Setting and minor characters are richly described
  • The central romance of the book is so beautifully written – how can Amelia not fall for Cam?

The Meh:

  • Amelia’s struggle to finally accept Cam.  Her angst seemed without foundation – it wasn’t believable to me that she found it so difficult to say yes.  But this was such a small part of the book that it didn’t stop me from reading.
  • Leo…what a train wreck…except, this will make his HEA tale all the more delicious.

Overall:

  • If you love romance and reading a strong, sexy male lead – this is the book for you!
  • I also really loved the strong relationship and love in the Hathaway family – Ms. Kleypas creates strong female characters who support each other instead of tearing each other down and I love that!
  • Finally, the strong sense of setting and atmosphere is undeniable.  Ms. Kleypas brings us into her world seamlessly.
  • Oh one last thing – I love that it overlaps with her previous series, Wallflowers, and we get to revisit some favourite characters!

Did you read Mine Till Midnight? If so, what did you think?  Any other juicy romances you would recommend based on this review?  Would love to connect!

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Here’s a synopsis of Mine Till Midnight from kobobooks:

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter….in Lisa Kleypas’s Mine Till Midnight.

 

A Romance Novel About Marriage?

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courtesy: http://www.cruxnow.com

The idea about a novel which focuses on the romantic aspects of marriage intrigues me.

Ok, stop laughing.  I realize romantic marriage is almost an oxymoron.

As I enter my 40s and my 10th year of marriage, with 2 children (how’s that for stats and numbers?) I realize that marriage isn’t at all like falling in love.  Perhaps that’s because most love stories are about the falling, not the ever after.

We’re great at the falling.  Stories about the falling are awesome.  We swoon over the falling, the wedding and the promise of love and lust forever.  Roll credits.

Except a bottom is inevitably reached.

The falling ends with a resounding thump and plateaus into the most levelled, smooth ride (at best) or into a bumpy, stormy ride (at worst) which leaves most of us wondering what the heck happened?  Where is the excitement, the onslaught of sex and indulgent adoration of each other, the promise of being loved forever?  Most of us who are living through these years of being very married and raising children are struggling.  We remember how our marriage started and our feelings vary between nostalgia and resentment because a most intoxicating time has become ancient history.

But, does it have to be buried?  Can it be excavated?

Most of the evidence at hand (anecdotal comments from many friends and friends of friends and my own less than lively marriage) points to a big NO.  However, in the deepest part of my heart, I have to believe that YES, marriage can be a state of ultimate romance in which love is celebrated…as long as both partners are willing participants.

I think that’s the kind of novel I would love to read.  The novel where a couple does not allow the daily routine of school/activities/dinner/bedtime to kill a marriage; where two people keep careers (aka phone/tablet/laptop) out of the bedroom; where personal interests don’t supersede the needs of the marriage.  Wait a second, that sounds more like fantasy than romance!

I love reading Regency and Victorian romance but would love to venture into Contemporary because I need know whether or not a book like this has been written. And if it hasn’t, maybe it should be.  After all isn’t that the point of Romance – to celebrate love and inspire us to do the same in our own lives?

How do you think we can prepare for marriage better?  Do you have a novel you can recommend to fulfill this reading craving I have?

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