Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review--Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4)

Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family, #4)Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quite enjoyable, moved along at a good pace, had a great heroine, hero and secondary characters (not to mention Coco). I was worried about the resolution of the heroine's career vs. love dilemma, but found the ending quite satisfactory. In addition, there's a set up for another Travis Family related story.


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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review--Siren's Call (Rainshadow, #4; Harmony, #12)

Siren's Call (Rainshadow, #4; Harmony, #12)Siren's Call by Jayne Castle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the perfect airplane book. I could read & enjoy it on a long flight without feeling like I had to work my brain too hard (I'm convinced they decrease the oxygen on the flights). It had a satisfactory mystery, trademark Jayne Castle H&H, and best of all, it had a great Dust Bunny, Lorelei. I recommend it to fans of the series.


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Review--The Privateersman

The PrivateersmanThe Privateersman by Frederick Marryat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this was a ripping good yarn! Swashbuckling! Pirates! Privateers! Romance! Really, what more do you want from your reading?

Capt. Marryat was one of the premier authors of naval fiction in the 19th c., and his stories still hold up over 100 years later. In this tale we have the story of a young man's journey from callow sea rover to an adulthood filled with drama and command, turmoil and travail, but at the end of the story is the love of a good woman and a just reward.

I recommend the Privateersman to armchair sailors who enjoy Forrester and O'Brien. You can't go wrong with the author other authors (Melville, for example) credit with inspiring them to write their own tales of life at sea.


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Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Interview with Kelly Faircloth from Jezebel - Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The Pirate's Secret Baby is one of the books mentioned in this week's podcast. Lots of great authors and books are discussed, along with conversation about romance tropes and how the romance publishing industry is viewed. As always, the @SmartBitches podcasts are entertaining and well worth a listen.

154. An Interview with Kelly Faircloth from Jezebel - Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

THE PIRATE'S SECRET BABY wins Award of Excellence

I'm very pleased to announce The Pirate's Secret Baby won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Historical Romance. It's thrilling to see my love story of pirates, puppies, poppets and a befuddled governess receive recognition from other writers.

This is the second national award for The Pirate's Secret Baby. Earlier this year it received the New England Chapter RWA Readers' Choice Award for best historical.

As always, I'm grateful to my publisher, Amber Quill Press, to my editor, Catherine Snodgrass, and most of all, to my many readers and fans.

Thank you all for making my books winners. I couldn't do it without you.


Review--The Prince (The Original Sinners #3)

The Prince (The Original Sinners, #3)The Prince by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm enjoying this series tremendously, and readers should know this one ends in a cliff-hanger. There are multiple storylines: Kingsley & Soren, past & present, and Nora and Wes reconnecting on his home ground.


Readers should again be cautioned that there are severe depictions of S/M behavior and this series is clearly not for every reader. However, for those who've been fascinated since The Siren, it's bound to be a winner.


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Happy Left Handers Day!

Turns out August 13 is a salute to those people who smear the ink when they're using fountain pens. Who knew they had their own special day? I've got a couple of southpaws in my family, so I'm glad they're getting recognition, especially since they were always made to sit at the end of the table so their elbows wouldn't jab the normal people in the side during supper.

I have such fondness for those odd types that I wrote an entire book about a character whose name is a clue. No, I'm not going to tell you what book it is, you'll have to figure it out for yourself.  All I'll say is, there are some advantages to being of the widdershins persuasion.

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

Review--Maud's Line

Maud's LineMaud's Line by Margaret Verble
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm conflicted about this novel. I wanted to like it. A lot. The writing is lovely and lyrical, the sense of place is reminiscent of novels like The Yearling, Their Eyes Were Watching God, even A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Stories of community and struggle and family.

Verble's debut novel brings to life the hardscrabble Cherokee and Seminole communities of Oklahoma in the 1920s. Maud Nail is part of that community, living on the government allotment given to her family by the US government, a valuable commodity for people who've had everything taken away from them.

When a handsome peddler with a wagon full of goods comes down Maud's section line she's immediately attracted to him. Booker represents all she desires--learning, city life, an existence with indoor plumbing and modern temptations like bobbed hair and short dresses. Most importantly, he has books, and it's her love of reading that brings the spark between them to life.

As I said, I wanted to love it more than I did. Maud's love of books and desire to better herself resonated with me. The descriptions of life in her community were spot-on. But at the end of the novel I was dissatisfied with Maud's inability to seize control of her own destiny. The action at the end seemed rushed and even somewhat incoherent. She gave up something that could have made her future secure for a future that seems tenuous at best. I simply could not be satisfied with what came across as a weak action from a character who up until that point had been strong and durable.

However, I enjoyed Ms. Verble's writing immensely, and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future. Maud's Line is a promising debut novel.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Saturday, August 08, 2015

Review--Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories #5)

Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very satisfying conclusion to a most entertaining series. Watching the lovers grow and develop as a couple was a fun and moving journey. In this final book we're in Antigua where Vincent has to deal with family business, but finds things are not as they seem at his family's property.

I'm looking forward to more and different projects from Ms. Kowal in the future.


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Friday, August 07, 2015

Top Ten Romance Picks

What? Only ten?

When the Alachua County Library District contacted me about listing my top ten picks for Read-A-Romance-Month, I knew it wouldn't be easy. After all, I've been reading romance since I was a young girl and checked Mara, Daughter of the Nile  by Eloise Jarvis McGraw out of my school library (that was a sneaky way of adding an eleventh book).

However, I understand that we can only talk about books in limited time and space, otherwise we'd be here well into the new year. Since I'm willing to do almost anything for my public library district, I ruthlessly pared down a list to come up with my ten picks from various genres in romance.

The modern romance novel is defined by Romance Writers of America this way:

"Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
 
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love."

So, while one can say Pride and Prejudice is a romance novel, Wuthering Heights would not fit the definition.  Is my list subjective? Heck. yeah! But at the same time, you'll find all of these novels listed on some "Best Of" groupings. For more to read, I highly recommend NPR's list of 100 Swoon-Worthy Romance novels. It's an excellent compilation. And I love to share my recommendations, and you can reach me at darlenemarshall [at] darlenemarshall [dot] com. Happy reading!


Western: The Outsider, Penelope Williamson
Americana: Morning Glory, LaVyrle Spencer
Erotic Romance: Natural Law, Joey Hill
Regency romance: The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer
LGBT: Think of England, KJ Charles
Suspense: Cry No More, Linda Howard
Contemporary: Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie
SF & F: An Accidental Goddess, Linnea Sinclair
Paranormal: Slave to Sensation, Nalini Singh
Inspirational: Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers


My Response to RWA

RWA has issued a response to concerns over an offensive novel being a finalist for the RITA award, romance publishing's top award. I won't rehash the details here, but after reading the organization's response, I felt compelled to reply. For the record, I am a member of PAN (Published Author Network), and of RWA for many years:

"There's a difference between censorship and judging a book's subject matter to be so tasteless and offensive that it should not be considered suitable to win Romance's top award. RWA's own guidelines say: "An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love."
It boggles one's mind that a relationship predicated on an unequal status of mass murderer and victim can lead judges to find that "emotional justice". In addition, we're not talking about a book in a mythical time of Vikings or gladiators, we're talking about a novel set in a time real people, RWA members and romance readers, lived through, and still suffer its effects as children and friends of survivors, and simply as caring human beings.
The RITA judges are held to a high standard because they're supposed to be judging the best of the best. That is not censorship, that is a call to action."

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Happy Birthday, U.S. Coast Guard!


A Revenue Marine officer looked down on the crowd, his gaze seeking out one dancer, and Julia felt that stare from across the room like a hit from a nine-pounder. He was standing with [redacted], and as with the other Revenue Marine officers, [redacted] dress uniform was more subdued than that worn by the navy men, but he hardly needed gold braid to stand out.

When he left [redacted] side, more than one pair of feminine eyes followed him as he crossed the ballroom, his dark blue coat set off by black braid and a black silk cravat. There was a flash of gold from the epaulette on his right shoulder, and from his service sword with its spread eagle beneath the Roman hilt. The sword with its gold bullion and silk sword knot was the most elaborate accoutrement of the revenue uniform, but it said what it needed to say. The Revenue Marine was a service that battled during peacetime, guarding the young nation’s borders and protecting the economy that drove it toward the first ranks of the world’s powers. It was a more powerful statement than gold trim and lace, and she thought he looked like a dark raptor among the uniformed popinjays.


Today is  the birthday of the United States Coast Guard, celebrating 225 years of service to this nation. In its early days it was known as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter service, reflecting its role in protecting the economy of the fledgling nation by ensuring monies flowed into the Treasury. 

Now its role is more varied and encompasses water safety, homeland defense, search and rescue and other services. The Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus, "Always Ready", reflects its service. But no matter what name it's known by, Happy Birthday, Coasties!  


Monday, August 03, 2015

National Watermelon Day

“Whew! This young’un’s givin’ me what-for today,” a pregnant matron complained as she straightened and rubbed the base of her back. “I’m glad it’s coolin’ off some, because I’ve had ’bout as much of summer I can handle, carryin’ this one around.”
“I ate so much watermelon when I was carryin’ my Jeremiah, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had popped out spittin’ seeds,” said one lady with a grin. “That was the only good thing about bearin’ a July baby—gettin’ as much melon as I wanted. That summer I must have eaten a wagonful."



I was blessed with an August baby a few decades back, and all that summer I craved watermelon. The sweet fruit was hydrating and full of fiber, along with plenty of vitamins. It was one pregnancy craving I didn't worry about indulging. Fortunately for me, it's a Florida crop and North Central Florida is bursting with watermelon of all varieties this time of year--heirloom, seedless, yellow-fleshed, large and small.

Today's #NationalWatermelonDay, so it's an excellent time to enjoy some of our summer fruit. I'm already looking forward to the Union Street Farmers Market this Wednesday to get some for myself, and indulge in one of my favorite sweets.






Saturday, August 01, 2015

Review--Shards of Hope

Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling, #14)Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, and am in awe of Ms. Singh's ability to continue to craft a complex and involving universe in her long running Psy-Changeling series. Too many paranormal franchises lose steam after a while, running out of original material.  Not Psy-Changeling. The characters and society evolve and change in the finest science fiction fashion, and the world building continues to be a major part of the joy of reading these books.

Then there's the romance. It's steamy. It's intense. It'll bring the feels. I have a special fondness for stories about the psy characters with their repressed emotions, because you just know when they let loose it's going to be like pon farr to the nth degree. And it is in the story of Aden & Zaira, both Arrows--highly trained assassin/enforcers trying to navigate their way through the post-Silence world.

If you've never read the Psy-Changeling novels, I would not recommend starting with Shards of Hope, but if you start at the beginning I predict you'll want to binge-read this series to catch up on the roller-coaster ride of life in this multi-species world so much like our own, and yet so fascinatingly different.


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My Worldcon Schedule: Sasquan Edition!

The Program is set for Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Society convention (Worldcon). Here's my schedule, and I'm looking forward to these lively panels and to meeting old friends, making new ones, and attending some great parties in Spokane. I also have to figure out what I'm going to read from the WIP, What the Parrot Saw. For more information, go to Sasquan.org.


PG-13: Violence, Sex, and Teen Readers (Moderator)
Thursday, August 20 2015, 2:00 pm
303A (CC)
with Wesley Chu, Fonda Lee, Jenn Reese, Alaina Ewing

We Won: How SF, Fantasy and Comics Have Taken Over TV (Moderator)
Thursday, August 20 2015, 5:00 pm
300C (CC)
with David Peterson, Andrea G. Stewart, Annie Bellet

The Ties Between Romance, SF and Fantasy (Participant)
Friday, August 21 2015, 12:00 pm
Bays 111B (CC)
with Cynthia Felice, Louise Marley, Sharon Shinn, Fred Lerner

Reading - Darlene Marshall (Participant)
Saturday, August 22 2015, 11:00 am
303B (CC)

Demigods, Chosen Ones & Rightful Heirs: Can Progress, Merit & Citizens Ever Matter in Fantasy? (Moderator)
Saturday, August 22 2015, 3:00 pm
300C (CC)
with Anaea Lay, Mary Soon Lee, Setsu Uzume, Katherine Addison