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review 2014-12-06 19:31
Mistress of the Groom
Mistress of the Groom - Susan Napier

Lightning Review:

 

  • Jane interrupted the wedding of her best friend because...reasons
  • The Groom is rich and vengeful
  • Years later he vengefuls Jane right into bankruptcy and homelessness
  • But she is a Harlequin Heroine!  and She chin quivers with the best of them
  • Battle of wills ensue
  • Will he pimp her out to make a point?
  • Will she prostitute herself out of Pride?
  • WIll they give into the hot lust they feel for each other instead?
  • This a Harlequin romance so I am thinking...Duh!
  • But wait... he was all wrong about her...and she was all wrong about him.
  • Sometimes I wonder about what is considered romantic.
  • Some scenes were distasteful and makes me wonder why either of these two want each other or why we'd want to care about them.
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review 2014-10-24 01:07
Fumbling, Bumbling Spy Lady
The Hawk and the Lamb (Harlequin Presents, #1616) - Susan Napier

I liked how the whole set up builds suspense, but it's in a lighter, humorous way. I'm a sucker for that spy vibe, so I enjoyed it. Elizabeth is clearly way out of her depth as a spy, but she's clearly good enough to keep the hero guessing. I agree with one of my friends that the description of the hero in a tight swimming briefs didn't sound that appealing to me, and he sounds kind of skeevy with the earring and the abundant chest hair. However, I felt the chemistry was well done, and it was nice touch the the heroine feared being too passionate because of her first and last lover making her feel bad that her libido was much stronger than his (he was older). I felt the way that Elizabeth wigged out near the near was kind of weird and melodramatic. It was tension the story really didn't need.

Not my favorite by this wonderful author, but still a four star read.

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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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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-02 21:07
Rich Virgin Hero Gets Blackmailed
The Mistress Deception - Susan Napier

Unfortunately this one didn't amuse me as much as The Bellini Bride (A Mediterranean Marriage). There were no down-pourings of out of the blue crazy revelations, which was a bit of a disappointment. But honestly, despite some minor hang-ups, this book was fairly decent.

Rachel is a 30-something personal trainer who only works at that job so she can supplement her lack of income from the security business she co-owns with her dead fiancée’s brother. (Take a minute to wrap your mind around that.) She also has a 15 year old daughter who she adopted out to her older sister because the kid was a result of a rape when Rachel was 15 herself. After so kindly helping a rich guy, Matthew, out of his wet clothes at a party where she was working guard duty, Rachel is outraged when incriminating photos show up on her doorstep with a harassing letter from Matthew.

Matthew, of course, was the original person the photos were addressed to, but instead of thinking rationally about who could've sent them, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that it was Rachel. Thus resulting in the harassing letter and photos making their way to her. This leads to some loaded barbs getting traded back and forth between them until the misunderstanding is cleared up and the two decide to work together. That happens around the half-way point and quite frankly its where the story started to lag for me. The villain was painfully obvious and descriptions of Rachel and Matthew's newly found bliss with each other got old kind of quick. Of course, there's one more misunderstanding that gets tossed in near the end for some needless melodrama between the two, but its quickly resolved.

What this book did that racked up some serious points with me was subvert some of the tropes that are typical to the genre. For instance, Matthew is the unbelievably old virgin and Matthew's the one sticking his nose in an investigation that the heroine is more qualified and able to properly handle. The only way this could've made me happier is if Rachel would've had a scene where she got to rescue Matthew. But unfortunately, the big confrontation with the villain was rather lack luster. In fact, they basically just talk it out which was a little lame after having such a huge build up. Dude doesn't even get a slap on the wrist.

All in all, a fairly enjoyable read. Kudos to Napier for shaking things up a bit.

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review 2013-08-26 00:00
The Mistress Deception (Presents)
The Mistress Deception - Susan Napier Yep, still talking about Susan Napier over at H&H.
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