Jilly: Magic Stars – A Dark, Beautiful Promise

magic_stars_smWhen I read that my favorite fantasy author, Ilona Andrews, planned to self-publish a novella in time for Christmas, I did the happy dance. Then I learned that the protagonist of Magic Stars was Derek, an important and much-loved secondary character from the bestselling Kate Daniels series, and I started counting the days.

There was no chance of me saving this book for a holiday treat. I applied for and was lucky enough to receive an ARC, which arrived in my in-box just before 11pm one night. Suffice it to say I didn’t go early to bed 😉 .

It’s no criticism to say this book is not what I was expecting. It was much, much more.

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Jilly: Strong Women and Alpha Heroines

Alpha HeroinesHow strong do you like your heroines? Do you think there’s a difference between a strong heroine and an Alpha? If so, do you have a preference?

Last Sunday I wrote about my theory that Alpha Male heroes work best in sub-genres like paranormal romance, historicals, or romantic suspense, the idea being that extreme manifestations of dominant behavior are fun to read about in worlds where such behavior is not only expected, but necessary. In a setting that’s closer to real life, like contemporary romance, the reader’s tolerance for macho chest-beating is much, much lower.

In last week’s discussion, regular 8 Ladies visitor Rachel Beecroft said “the other BIG reason I love Alpha men is because it generally takes an Alpha woman to tame them (at least in the stories I like – I can’t be bothered with Alpha man being tamed by ‘little me’ heroine). Yes! Exactly what Rachel said, and we agreed we’d follow up today Continue reading

Jilly: Keeping The Mystery Alive

Keeping The Mystery AliveSome books, like mysteries and police procedurals, are all about solving the puzzle. The reader expects to play detective, and it’s the author’s job to play fair and feed the reader enough information for them to work out the answer, though ideally not too soon.

How about romances, though? When you read a love story, do you expect to be an active participant, or do you think the author should do all the heavy lifting?

I like it when a romance author raises lots of questions in the first act of a book. A hint of a connection here, a whiff of back-story there, and I’m mentally making note of information I believe will be important later. So the Duke believes he’ll never marry? The movie star is in disguise, working in a supermarket under an assumed name? Please don’t tell me why, or at least, not yet. As long as I’m confident the dots will be joined before the story ends, I’m super-happy when an author piques my curiosity. I start speculating, which makes me engage with the story, and as the author adds in pieces of the puzzle, I pick up clues and adjust my guesses.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, thanks to Continue reading