Thursday, June 28, 2007

Books That Stay With You

What are some books that you can't get out of you head and just linger in your mind after you read them?

Lately the books that have had that effect on me are:

Alabaster by Caitlin Kiernan
Lover Awakened by JR Ward ( I think I will probably reread this soon, that's how much Zsadist just captivated me).
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
If You Decieve by Kresley Cole
Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell
The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe

A short story called The Witch by Isaac Bashevis Singer, which I read nearly a year ago and really just resonates with me.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase has that effect on me, which is why it is my all time favorite romance

The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale is a long time favorite in this category

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Heartless by Mary Balogh
The Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas
The Last Mercenary by Diana Palmer
Ice Station by Matt Reilly
Demolition Angel by Robert Crais
Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (there is something about his writing that just really touches a part of me deep inside. Like I recognize it on an instinctual level. He has a way of appealing to the thinker and the feeling person in me.)
Most of the Dark Hunter books, particularly Fantasy Lover and Dance With the Devil
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
The Untamed One by Ronda Thompson
The Horseman by Jillian Hart
Sweet Liar by Jude Deveraux
Velvet Angel by Jude Deveraux
A Well-Pleasured Lady, Rules of Surrender, One Kiss From You, Lost in Your Arms by Christina Dodd
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Guilty Pleasures and The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton
Most of Anne Stuart's books
Most of Johanna Lindsey's older books and Marriage Most Scandalous (loved Sebastian, the hero) and A Loving Scoundrel.
Fate by Pamela Leigh Starr (just a good, old-fashioned love story with an interracial couple)
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

I'll have to go back and look at my journal to find more.

What elements make books stay in your mind (in a good way)?

For me sometimes it's wondering if things really unfolded the way I believe they did. A lot of times it's having a really tortured hero or heroine who manages to overcome so much. It is often an amazing chemistry and sense of rightness between the characters. It could be the blazing intensity of the love scenes that make you now want to put the book down, or the excitement and that feeling of being on the edge of your seat. When it comes to western novels, it the fact that the writer makes you believe you're back in the old west, and you can smell the dust and horses, and feel the desperation of those people who lived by then in that world that was so brutal and where nothing is guaranteed. The same thing happens with really good medievals--the typically short, unglamorous, brutal and violent life where you hope that people find love and a little bit of piece in a crazy world.

One of the things that makes me like urban fantasy is that you can really make a person believe that even though these characters are clearly fictional, it's possible that vampires and werewolves walk the same streets as human beings.

As strange as it sounds, I think an act of unexpected violence preceeded by a quiet scene in a book really can live a lasting impression on you. I'm not sure that I like that feeling, but it is very effective.

A really good, scary story has the effect of imprinting on the reader's psyche. I think that a lot of the classic horror writers were excellent at this, and that's why I prefer the older horror stories.

For example, Manly Wade Wellman, a weird fiction writer from the golden days of weird tales is excellent at creating this sense of dread and belief that superstitions do prevail and knowing and respecting them can save you from the dark elements that await in the shadows. Most of his stories that I have read really made me think, or shudder for some time afterwards, and make me consider that people who hold on to archaic beliefs might actually be right sometimes.

Since I was a young girl and my mother read fairy tales and bible stories to me, I have realized the power of the written word. Books have been my friend, my companion, and my solace through dark moments in my life. And those books that have the power to imprint themselves on the psyche of the reader, they are the most powerful of all.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why Tortured Heroes?

I love a man with a tortured soul. At least a romance hero. Why?
Well that's a complicated question. My guess is that this adds another layer of depth to the character. I feel that it also lets me be more accepting if the hero behaves badly in a book, at least until he acknowledges that he is madly in love with the heroine and wants to turn over a new leaf.
What defines a tortured hero to me? Well, he has had some signficant event in his life, past or present, that has made him deeply unhappy, or troubled. This causes him to be moody or withdrawn from life. He is often misunderstood because others are afraid of him because of his surly manner, or rumors that are circulating around him. He pushes everyone away in general. If he has relationships with women they are very shallow, even if sexual, and deeply unfulfilling. He may even be quite morally flexible. Perhaps in his mind, he is already banned from heaven, so nothing can make things worse for him in that sense.
This probably seems sadistic on my part. I just know that when he gets his happy ending it's all the more sweeter for the adversity he has faced in his life. In that sense, it proves that love does conquer all, and all things work for the good of those that love God, and all that.
I don't think there is a major potion to make such a scarred character happy. No, it is a journey and an evolution, and it takes a skilled writer to pull this off. I have read some books with tortured heroes that did not touch me, because the writer was not successful in either making the character real and believable, fully-fleshed, or because the change to happy, well-adjusted husband, and possibly father was too unbelievable. Here's to the authors that know the psyche of the tortured hero, and what makes him so beloved to their readers.
Who are some of my favorite tortured heroes?
1.Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain from Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
2.Zsadist, from Lover Revealed by JR Ward
3.Zarek of Moeisia, from Dance With the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon
4.Sin MacCallister, from Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor
5.Samuel Gerard, from The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale
6.Sheridan Drake, from Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale
7.ST Maitland, from Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale
8.Derek Craven, from Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
9.Simon Navarre, from Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart
10.Nicholas Blackthorne, from A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart
11.James Killoran, from To Love a Dark Lord by Anne Stuart
12.Jack Seward, from All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
13.Harrison Bainbridge, from Never Love a Cowboy by Lorraine Heath
14.Trevor Sheridan, from Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney
15.Julian of Macedon, from Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon
16.Kyrian of Thrace, from Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
17.Duke of Kylemore, from Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell
18.Ian Cameron, from Veils of Silk by Mary Jo Putney
19.Reginald Daveport, from The Rakey by Mary Jo Putney
20.Wolf Mackenzie, from Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard

That includes some of my long-standing and newer favorites, but I will always add more!

I challenge you to read some of these, and you find yourself strangely attracted and addicted to tortured heroes, just like I am.