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review 2015-11-27 09:00
'Tis the Season Review: Hot Toy by Jennifer Cruise


Hot Toy



Jennifer Cruise




Genre: Contemporary Romance Holiday Novella
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Date of Publication: October 13, 2015
Number of pages: 77





Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN     Kobo
Previously published in the anthology Santa, Baby, HOT TOY is now available as a standalone e-story for the first time!

Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game and in the arms of a sexy secret agent...

This is a reprint from the Santa, Baby Anthology in 2006, so if you are a fan of Jennifer Cruise, this might be a reread. There doesn’t appear to be any updating, since there is mention in the story of it being Christmas 2006, but otherwise, there weren’t any seriously notable outdated issues to be found. This fun short reminded me of a cross between Jingle All the Way and the real life Snowden conspiracy. (Art imitating Life or Life imitating Art?)

There was plenty action mixed with a second chance at love romance. I loved how they split up because neither was true to themselves and tried to be what they thought the other wanted. But of course, they had to actually communicate honestly with each other to find this out. This lead to plenty of witty dialogue and snarky good times.

If you like a great mix of Action and Romance and don’t mind slightly older reads, this could be a great choice for you. I had a fast, fun, frolicking holiday good time and gave it 3 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2015/11/tis-season-review-hot-toy-jennifer-cruise.html
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text 2014-05-07 04:28
Getting Rid of Bradley - Jennifer Crusie,Elenna Stauffer

“Would she hit a dog to get great sex?”

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text 2014-03-05 18:51
Real Curves and the Romance Heroines Who Have'em in Contemporary Romance
Dangerous Curves Ahead - Sugar Jamison
Sweet Dreams - Kristen Ashley
Tall Tales and Wedding Veils - Jane Graves
Wild Orchids - Karen Robards
Too Much Temptation (Zebra Contemporary Romance) - Lori Foster
Love Kinection - Jennifer James
Crash: A Pepper Pace Novella - Pepper Pace
Defying the Odds - Kele Moon
Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie
Perfection (Neighbor from Hell #2) - R.L. Mathewson

When I started researching for this series on Plus Sized Heroines in Romance, as I think I noted in the first post, I noticed that this subjected engaged readers deeply and sometime revealingly. The Smart Bitches, Trashy Books article from 2008 was the most riveting I am not sure all that much has changed. What do you think? 


Some people thought BBW went against the fantasy based reading appeal of Romance. While other readers thought it fed into the fantasy instead. 


Many readers agreed that a heroine with low self esteem because of her weight can be okay but most preferred that the character have a positive body image. 


The make over/weight loss scenario or a hero who only becomes sexaully interested in her after her transformation was largely found to be unpleasuerable.


The question of where are the Big Beautiful Men was raised followed by heated rants on who would read that. (I would and am making a list now.) 


And then as the posts in reply to the article went on the conversation changed and got a little ugly in fact, much more declarative and much less thoughtful. 


The debate around this kind of heroine really turned into one about women's bodies. 


Do BBW as heroines encourage unhealthful lifestyles? What is too fat? 

What size makes you plus sized?

My personal weight loss or gain or both and all my feeling projected on the books. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) 

Beauty norms around the world and throughout history. 


The article "Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?" by Sonia Brown does an excellent job of capturing all the nuances. 


Here are some great Contemporary Romance Novels with Plus Sized Heroines, you can enjoy and think about all those questions as well if you like! 


1. Perfection by R.L. Mathewson 

2. Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise

3. Defying the Odds by Kele Moon

4. BEAST  and CRASH by Pepper Pace

5. Love Kinection by Jennifer James 

6. Too Much Temptation  by Lori Foster 

7. Wild Orchids by Karen Robards

8. Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves

9. Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley

10. Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison



Did I miss a favorite? (I tend to really dislike Chick Lit so those books are not likely here.) Please let me know what you would recommend?


If you would like to vote for the best of the best, go to my Goodreads list: Real Curves: The Best Contemporary Romance Heroines Who Have'em.


If you want to gaze at some lovely heroines who fall into this category across all the subgenres of Romance and get more recommendations as well, check out my Pinterest Board:  Real Curves: Best Romance Novel Heroines Who Have'em.

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text 2014-03-05 01:35
Plump: Great Category Romance Heroines with Curves
Beautiful Stranger - Ruth Wind
A Whole Lot of Love - Justine Davis
Taken! - Lori Foster
Indulge Me - Isabel Sharpe
Phantom Lover - Susan Napier
The Sicilian's Virgin Bride - Sarah Morgan
In His Good Hands - Joan Kilby
Coming Home to Texas: Baby to Be - Victoria Chancellor
The Sheikh's Kidnapped Bride (Desert Rogues) - Susan Mallery

In my continuing series on the Plus sized Heroine in Romanceland...


Plump: Great Category Romance Heroines with Curves!


I cut my teeth on Category Romances. They were cheap to buy at thrift stores and my grandmother also had them delivered to her house every month as she was in some amazing book club or the other all the time. 


Romance Wiki:  Category romance is also known as "Series" romance, depending on who's doing the talking. The term "category romance" derives from the fact that the books are published in clearly delineated categories, with a certain number of books being published in each category every month. Their alternative name, series romances, came from the sequential numbers sometimes printed on the books' spines. Category romances are short (usually no more than 250 pages), and have a low purchase price compared to other fiction books. 


We are talking your Mills and Boon, Harlequin, Loveswept, Candlelight Ecstasy (to really date me), and Silhouette titles.  They range from sweet to burning hot and cover all the sub genres now but are mainly Contemporary. 


Many of Romance's best writers honed their talent writing in this format. 


Linda Howard

Jennifer Cruise

Nalini Singh

Janet Evanovich

Nora Robert

Ruth Wind 

Lori Foster


I could on and on...


These romances tend to be a bit of a guilty pleasure even to the most "out" romance reader because of they  tend to have awful titles and are not afraid of stereotyping in the least. Sheik ________ is an often used title as is Virgin, Billionaire, Italian and other horrors. 


Dear Author has a lovely post called Confess Yourself: Are You a Closest Category Romance Reader? dealing with the shame/pleasure of these books.


I confess: I will cringe at some of the titles I will recommend later in this post but not the contents of the books. 


While this sub genre can be the most conservative (and backwards or just plain offensive to evolving understanding of the world) in all of Romanceland and the slowest to change due to the restrictions and it is true that  quality varies widely due to the sheer volumes of books published each month so some of these books are just very, very bad, these books are also sometimes the best written, most subversive and groundbreaking due these same factors. Wow. What a long sentence (likely with some run on issues I refused to address)!


Finally, I am getting closer to the topic of this post, BBW in Category Romance. 


Category Romance publisher can afford to take risks on new writers because of the volume of what is being published and consumed by loyal readers to the House. Once that new writer has been at it a while, supported by an editor unlike the Indies (who I adore but are shape by different elements), they begin to experiment. These writers need to produce a great deal and like any thing the more you do it the better you tend to be at it. 


Trying out a new troupe or unusual character can go unnoticed. There is low risk. 


Also, the short format means that these love stories tend to be character driven. A heroine with a bit more omph in the curve department add a layering and complexity to the romance. 


Thus, some of the earliest and best drawn Big and Beautiful Heroines of Romance can be found in Category. 


The two stand outs for me are:


Ruth Wind's Beautiful Stranger: Raised in a gilded cage, she was the chubby twin sister no one noticed. Now her weight loss made Marissa Pierce the kind of woman every man desired—including Robert Martinez. If only she had the courage to return his seductive gaze…


A proud Native American, Robert resented Marissa's privileged lifestyle. Yet this elegant stranger understood his wounded heart. Now Robert was determined to show her how truly beautiful she was—before the princess could escape to her ivory tower forever.


Justine Davis'  A Whole Lot of Love:  On the phone, Layla Laraway had always driven men wild with her sexy voice. But in face-to-face encounters, few looked past her full figure to the woman inside. So, long ago, Layla had stopped believing in fairy tales...and Prince Charming


One look at Layla Laraway and CEO Ethan Winslow knew he'd found a princess. Layla was more woman than any he'd ever met, and he desired her far more than all those 34-24-34s he used to date. And suddenly this far-from-marriage-minded man was seeking to sweep Layla off her feet-and convince her that happily-ever-afters could come true....


Some other great BBW Heroines in the sub genre, I would recommend are...


1. Phantom Lover by Susan NapierHarlequin Presents

2. Taken! by Lori FosterHarlequin Blaze

3. Indulge Me by Isabel SharpeHarlequin Blaze

4. The Sicilian's Virgin Bride by Sarah Morgan, Harlequin Presents

5. Empty Net by Toni Aleo, Loveswept

6. In His Good Hands by Joan Kilby, Harlequin Superromance 

7. Coming Home to Texas by Victoria ChancellorHarlequin American 

8. The Sheikh's Kidnapped Bride by Susan MallerySilhouette Intimate Moments.

9. Baby at His Convenience by Kathie Denosky, Silhouette Desire

10. Treat Her Right by Lori FosterHarlequin Temptation


You can read them on your E Reader. No one need ever see. :)


Arguably the best and certainly the most popular BBW Heroine, Minerva Dobbs in Bet Me,  was penned by Jennifer Cruise who is a former Category Romance writer (yeah, I already mentioned this but her catagory books are just that good).  


Right now, Catagory Romance is enjoying a lovely rebirth through ebooks and the low price love we have going on. Loveswept and the newish Entangled are great publishers with wonderful talent- Tessa Bailey, Ruthie Knox, Mary Ann Rivers, for example. 


I hope to see more and more diversity in our heroines  all over the genre-- skinny, pale, dark, grumpy, and on and on. 


Do you have a favorite BBW Heroine in a Category Romance? Let me know!


If you would like to vote of the best of the best, go to my Goodreads list: Plump: Great Category Romance Heroines with Curves.


If you would like more recommendations for Plus Sized Heroines in all the sub genres of Romance as well as utterly lovely images of curvy beauties, my Pinterst Board awaits you:. Real Curves: Best Romance Novel Heroines Who Have'em.



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text 2013-11-28 01:18
Food and Love
Heart Search - Robin D. Owens
The Chocolate Touch - Laura Florand
Marriage of Mercy - Carla Kelly
Howl For It - Shelly Laurenston,Cynthia Eden
Wild Man - Kristen Ashley
Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
Shelter Mountain - Robyn Carr
Lush - Lauren Dane
Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie
Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn

As my pies bake for Thanksgiving and we get ready to light the menorah on this the first night of Hanukkah with the magic of latkes, applesauce, and chocolate coins spilling over the dining room table, I can't help but think about food as love. 


So, I hope you have great joy and light in your life and eat food made by hands of love this time of year and everyday. 


Here is a list of great romances featuring food for when you need to slip away for a moment of just for yourself. 


1. Heart Search (Celta's Heartmates, #10)  by Robin Owens features a tea shop we all wish was just around the corner.

2. The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand. Each bite he feeds her heals her. 

3. Marriage of Mercy by Carla Kelly. Donuts in a little English town.

4. Howl For It (Pride, #0.5)  by Shelly Laurenston. Shifters and Pies. 

5. Wild Man (Dream Man, #2)  by Kristen Ashley. Hmmm, cake.

6. Sweet Inspiration (Klaus Brothers, #1) by Penny Watson. Pastry Chef, oh yeah.

7. Shelter Mountain (Virgin River, #2)  by Robin Carr. Preacher.

8. Lush by Lauren Dane. Food and Friends. 

9. Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise. Krispy Cream Donuts.

10. Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) by Julia Quinn. Chocolate Cake.


What are some of your favorites?


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