Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If I'm Reviewing It, It Must Be a Series...

This Winter season has been awesome for the reading stockpile, just saying. I'm a little tired of Old Man Winter--and so I'm going to blog about the last of the books from my Winter stockpile in a bid to give a helpful hint to Old Man Winter that as a guest, he's beginning to smell like old fish.

The last book from my Winter stockpile is Elizabeth Hoyt's LORD OF DARKNESS. It is the fifth of the Maiden Lane series--but don't let that run you off--you can read it without being left in the dark about the other five books. However, I think reading all the books, starting with WICKED INTENTIONS, sets the setting for 1740s London during the gin craze. It's dark and gritty and there are lots of orphans...and some sword-wielding Robin Hood like characters called the Ghost of St. Giles. Incidentally there are three.

It's witty, it's sweet, and as I said, dark and gritty and everyone is an inch from death. (This is about as close as I'd come to reading Dickens, but I think the premise is much like him.) Unlike Dickens (and probably more likely why I don't read him), the sex is hot and wonderful and you're dogearring pages to show your honey later. (Okay, that might only be me. I know everyone else SKIPS the love scenes. Seriously, what's wrong with people? It kills me when people say that. "Oh, I never read the sex.") Yeah, well, in this one, you'll read the sex twice. It's awesome. And she doesn't rush into it...there's plenty of tension and development between the characters (incidentally in this case, a husband and wife who have a marriage of convenience.)

Hoyt writes all kinds of heroes, but I think she leans more toward alpha males. This one though is much like the character Winter from THIEF OF SHADOWS in that he leans more "beta", a bit more sensitive and a little less rough-shod over every situation.

In this one, the hero Godric is in his mid-thirties (the heroine thinks he's quite on the cusp of dotage at several points that makes you laugh) and his wife, Megs, is a young miss about twenty or so. There is an interesting parallel between them: they've both loved others before they were married and basically swear never to love again. Their love for their previous lovers causes a lot of barriers between them, and it's interesting to watch them resolve it--and also how Hoyt resolves the quandary of having more than one love over your life.

So the question of the day is not about series. The question is what thing have you learned about in a story that you found so interesting you went to read more about it after you were done with the book? (You have a lot to pick from: glassblowing in Nora Roberts, natural magic a la Lisa Kleypas, the Scottish wars Julie Garwood are a few of mine.)

21 comments:

Maureen said...

Oh, wow. Well, herb stuff after Susan Wittig Albert mysteries. Glass blowing after Nora and a mystery involving a glass blower. Aromatherapy after a mystery series...

But for me it usually goes the other way, I read of an interesting subject and find a mystery series featuring a protagonist that practices the craft.

Marnee Bailey said...

I just read Maire Claremont's The Dark Lady and went in search of more info about insane asylums. Heartbreaking. Sad and horrible. The way the elderly and the mentally ill were treated in recent centuries is quite awful.

I haven't read this series. I have a couple of them but they're sitting in my TBR. :( I need to pick them back up. I like Hoyt's voice so much.

MsHellion said...

Mo, that would probably be a more intelligent way to go about it: finding fiction that features pursuits you're interested in, but I rarely seem to think that way and if I do, I don't know how to go about it to get the type of books I'm looking for. History, sure, I can usually find books in settings I want, but specific hobbies? Not so much. THOUGH I did stumble across one mystery series that had a heroine who did yoga...so of course, I had to read those.

MsHellion said...

Marn, I read THE DARK LADY as well, purely because of the insane asylums because I knew they'd be so bad and I applauded an author who delved into that difficult topic. I think this author will mature into a wonderful writer, but right now, her voice is a little young for me. (Her writing got a little WUTHERING HEIGHTS and I'm not a WH fan.)

But yes, it is extremely awful how we treated (and occasionally still treat) our elderly and mentally ill. It wasn't until like the early 1950s they finally took "hysteria" off as a diagnosis for a woman. Hell, anything could be attributable to hysteria--you could be locked up without trying! And the stuff they did to cure you!

Marnee Bailey said...

"cure" you, you mean. Ugh. How heartbreaking.

MsHellion said...

Oops. YES, "cure" should definitely be in the quotations.

You get these outraged modern people saying, "Why didn't they stand up for themselves? They ALLOWED this to happen to them. I would never allow someone to treat me this way." and all I can think is HOW could not allow someone to treat you this way? I can totally see how "being good" would be preferable to being locked in an asylum.

Which all leads to the Suffragette movement--and all the tortures those ladies went through to grant women rights to voting and more. How being marked as a woman who had spent time in jail for her beliefs became a badge of honor--how you'd be willing to face it and witness about it. Not sure I could be that brave.

Terri Osburn said...

Are y'all being depressing for a reason? LOL! I've learned so much from Nora's characters over the years. From the glass blowing (as mentioned) to scuba diving to wine making to horse racing to burglary. But I've never closed the book and went looking for more information.

Incidentally, I've learned from other authors too. Elizabeth Lowell has an amazing series that centers around the gems industry. Pearls, rubies, diamonds, and amber. And Lisa dabbles in design, non-profit, business, stained glass art, wine making, and hints of magic.

I love when an author can bring these elements to life as if they've practicing themselves for years. In a convo with Hellie recently, I realized I want to write a heroine who does her own pottery. Guess who will be taking pottery classes for that one.

Janga said...

Hoyt, as always, is amazing. Have you read Cecilia Grant, Hellie? I think you'd like her books.

Carrie Lofty's His Very Own Girl, which was one of my top reads of 2012, set me to looking for more information on women pilots in World War II. NPR did a good piece in 2010 on U. S. women pilots of WW II, and I have half a dozen books on the subject checked out of my university library. I'm appalled at my ignorance.

MsHellion said...

No, Terri, I'm depressing quite naturally. *LOL*

I love learning stuff in Lisa's books! But I totally wish you lived closer so we could do the pottery class together. I don't intend to have any characters who do it, but I know it's fun as hell!

MsHellion said...

Janga, I don't think I've read Cecilia Grant yet, but will give her a whirl...and will have to look up that Lofty book. I love WWII set romances. (I cried a lot at Jill Barnett's WWII story.) I love reading about women in history and the great things they did. I just want to tell everyone about it, you know? (In college, I was really into my gender studies classes, wish I could have had some history classes set in gender studies specifically, but the literature was awesome too.)

Terri Osburn said...

I'm not naturally artistic so this could be good or it could go very badly. LOL! I'll be sure to take pictures either way.

MsHellion said...

You keep saying stuff like that, but you ARE published with a contract...so I think it's going to be fine. If anything you can say you were channeling Van Gogh...his stuff looked weird but everyone loved it anyway.

Terri Osburn said...

I mean that actual shaping of something with my hands. I can picture it. I can talk about it or write about it, but making my hands fashion something? Never been my strong suit. The hands and the brain don't communicate well or something.

MsHellion said...

Yeah. It's a little like writing though...if your head is too much in it, you mess it up, you know? Art is like that...once you get the basics down of how to do something, you'll find the art takes over and you'll come up with something that you think arrived by magic. And I know you believe in magic. Isn't everything in life basically a product of magic and hard work?

P. Kirby said...

Hmmm. Maybe because so much of what I read is centered in fantasy, I can't recall being inspired to research anything because of a book. Typically, I get inspired by stuff in real life. Like we went to renaissance fair a while back and there was this belly dancing troop performing, and they were amazing. And...now, I'm thinking of taking a beginner's class.

Pottery looks fun. A friend of ours does fabulous work in clay and porcelain and teaches as well. We have a couple of his pieces. I'm also thinking of taking his class one of these days.

I like reading about artists [protagonists], but I don't go out of my way to read books about hobbies or activities I know a lot about. Especially, anything involving horses. I'm really picky about horse details, and I can tell if the writer isn't a horse person.

MsHellion said...

P.Kirby--totally recommend the belly dancing. The ones I've been a part of (and I'm still no belly dancer!)--have been inclusive, self-affirming, wonderful. And fun.

I totally hope I don't come across as a non-horse person...because I was totally horse crazy as a girl which in no way means I know a blessed thing about horses (even if I owned one at one time.)

P. Kirby said...

Heh. If you've owned one, you probably come off as a horse person.

Besides outright factual errors, I find that one identifying feature of a non-horsey writer is a sort of gushy, Pollyanna-ness about horses. Where everything about riding and horses is wonderful. The writer may get the basic details right, but it still feels false.

Why?

Because most real horse people, as much as we adore the big beasties, aren't that sanguine about equines. We've been stepped on, bitten, kicked. We've been flung face first into fences, cacti, and prickly bushes. We've stayed up all night with a dying, colicky horse. We've come out to the barn, ready for a long, relaxing ride, only to find that our transportation has somehow managed to bow his tendon. We've repaired and re-repaired fencing and structures that were destroyed by horses.

Unless the protagonist is eight years old, I expect an experienced horse person to view equines with the kind of affection one might have for a difficult but beloved relative.

MsHellion said...

I have fortunately not had to sit with a dying horse, BUT I have been thrown to the ground a number of times so I learned quickly that even if you are thrown--and you will be--hang onto the reins no matter what so you still have a horse to remount.

Dance was a comical pony. She wasn't a pony-pony, but more a stunted horse that had been impregnated too early and was medium sized. (And reading about the right weight for horses--I'm sure I was probably too large for the poor dear but clearly that wasn't a big thought then.) I rode bareback the whole time and she was great at cantering and taking an occasional hay bale (one of the small ones) at a jump. She also liked Pepsi...and carrots and oats. She was stubborn as hell, but a good pal.

Maureen said...

Geez, stroll any good mystery section at a bookstore and you'll see covers that feature anything from scrapbooking, to wine tasting, to yoga (I know that series), to fly fishing, pottery, candle making, knitting, sewing, quilting, crochet, gardening, cooking, chocolate, ice cream, remodeling, tea shops, coffee shops...and I'm sure I'm forgetting tons. It's a matter of scanning the covers. It has been the rage for years that cozy mysteries teach and target an audience of hobbists in one form of the other.

Dog training, dog rescue, renaissance faires, owning a bookstore, ghost writing, coin collecting, stamp collecting, national parks (Nevada Barr), vintage clothing (really like this one). And then there are the ones that are setting orientated. Washington DC, for example.

Pat, there is a great mystery series by Laura Crum set in the hills of Santa Cruz featuring a horse vet.

Want to know how to restore antique books? There's a mystery out there.

I swear, I've read them all!

MsHellion said...

Mo, mysteries aren't my primary reading material. I think I was fishing for ROMANCES that have interesting little side bars about hobbies and the like, things that wouldn't be apparent on a romance cover. But to each their own!

Maureen said...

Romances are harder...I agree. Not always a lot of clues from the covers. Historicals are usually dripping with details and modern standards hold them to a rigid rule of getting the details right! But the rest? Tough... I do think the authors writing things like Amish romance are very authentic with their details, whether they are historical or contemporary.