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Friday, June 24, 2011

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane?

by Anna Campbell

No, it's a SuperRomance!

As I said last month, I've been on a bit of a Harlequin kick lately. And I must say it's been blissful. There have been all those Sarah Morgans (check out last month's review if you missed it - highly recommended reads!). There were a stack of India Greys and the wonderful week where I managed to knock over five Liz Fieldings in a row.

As you've probably gathered from the title of this piece, I've also read some great SuperRomances so I thought I'd share a couple of them with you. I'm delighted to say that all these books are still available from Amazon.

Since I discovered Aussie Sarah Mayberry a couple of years ago, she's moved into the position of a must-buy for me. I love her books - they're full of so much heart. And her books are heartbreakingly real, full of people you could imagine meeting and liking if they lived next-door (as in fact, the hero and heroine here do). I think that's one of the strengths of the SuperRomance line - these wonderful love stories are based so closely in the here and now. You KNOW I love a larger-than-life story like a passionate historical or a Harlequin Presents - but occasionally it's nice to touch base with the everyday and discover it can be as magical as any romance featuring arrogant dukes or managing millionaires.

In HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, widower Joe Lawson is seeking to put down roots in Melbourne for him and his kids after a really rough couple of years. He falls in love with his free-spirited neighbor Hannah Napier who hasn't had an easy time of it lately either, what with her fiance dumping her just before the wedding in favor of her sister. All she wants to do is leave the humiliations of the past behind and get outta Dodge (well, Melbourne). Joe and Hannah are just so darn likeable so you cheer every uncertain step they take toward love. The first date scene in particular is poignant. You'll love this!

I reviewed another Karina Bliss (WHAT THE LIBRARIAN DID) back in June last year. At the time, I commented on the rich emotion and the wonderful cast of characters, not just the hero and heroine (this was the rockstar going back to uni and falling in love with the outwardly-repressed librarian, lovely story!). There's equally rich emotion in HERE COMES THE GROOM and you'll fall in love with the residents of this small New Zealand town. They perform like a Greek chorus on the increasingly madcap courtship of childhood best friends Dan Jansen and Jocelyn Swann. Barry, the owner of the local menswear store, is a particular favorite. I was snickering into my morning cup of tea when I read his scenes and you will be too.

Friends into lovers is one of my favorite themes and this is a lovely exploration of that often fraught process. After facing tragedy in Afghanistan, ex-Special Forces officer Dan returns to his home town determined to establish a family and a fulfilling life. An essential element of that life is his childhood friend Jocelyn who runs the local newspaper. Jocelyn has had trauma of her own to deal with in the past years (trauma Dan doesn't know about and when he finds out, it's a heartbreaking scene). She's unwilling to risk the one stable relationship in her life for the possibility of romance with Dan, especially as she recognizes that he's still shell-shocked from his army experiences. When Dan sets out to change her mind, there's some wonderful comedy but at the heart of this book, it's a moving story of healing and forgiveness and love finally brought out into the open. Recommended!

Two of the authors in this review are already auto-buys for me. Molly O'Keefe was a new writer to me when I picked up THE SON BETWEEN THEM.

One word - wow!

The tone of this one is darker and more intense than a lot of Supers. And the story was really unusual - don't be fooled by that secret baby tag on the front. Yeah, there is a secret baby but it's handled in such a different, intriguing way, you'll be drawn in from the first page.

Sam and J.D. (Sam's the heroine and J.D. is the hero) have been in an uncommitted but passionate relationship for years when suddenly everything in their world tuns upside down. It's not just the existence of their child, it's events in the outside world that suddenly impinge on their affair and threaten either to destroy it or to carry them towards an emotional fulfillment both always believed beyond their reach. Sam is my favorite sort of romance heroine - she's smart and capable and strong and she acts like an adult in even the most trying of circumstances. J.D. is a genuinely tortured hero and he's gorgeous. His unforgettable struggle to emerge from the dark into the light will touch your heart. Molly O'Keefe was a major discovery for me.

So what's been your genre of choice lately? Are you a SuperRomance reader? Can you recommend any other authors I should try in this line?

36 comments:

  1. Hi Anna! Hi Dishers! Great post, Anna. I don't read a lot of category but I'm a huge fan of Sarah Mayberry (and she's such a great gal in person, too!) I must try the others you've recommended, although I admit I'm not getting much reading done at the moment. I feel like I won't get to read for pleasure again until at least November! Sorry not to add to your already tottering TBR pile!

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  2. My genre of choice lately has been quirky & humorous. Terry Pratchett in fact. My daughter insisted I read his work & I am hooked.

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  3. Hey, Christine, lovely to see you here! Hey, you keep writing, hon, and my TBR pile will be adequately filled! Both Karina and Sarah are long-time faves for me. The Molly OK was a real revelation, though. Definitely worth checking out when you get back into reading.

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  4. Mary, I've never read Terry Pratchett. I must give him a go! How cool that your daughter is sharing the reading love.

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  5. You've done it again Anna, added another list of books to my tbr without even trying. I am pretty much a historical gal but have to go contemp from time to time to clear my palate so to speak.

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  6. Hi Anna!

    Supers! One of my favorite category lines! First, I must thank you again for introducing me to Sarah Mayberry's books. She's become an auto-buy for me. I haven't read Karina Bliss or Molly O'Keefe yet though I've heard fabulous things about both. I've bought some of their books and they're on my tbr, patiently waiting for me to find some time. It's a rare commodity these days. :(

    Two of my long-time favorite Super authors are Kay Stockham and Holly Jacobs. They never fail to touch my heart with their richly emotional stories.

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  7. Anna
    I have read a few of Sarah Mayberry's and have a few on the tottering TBR pile love her stories I have a few Molly O'Keefe's on the TBR pile as well need to move them up but now must try Karina's. Of course I really love Beth Andrew's super romance stories as well.

    I really need more time to read LOL

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  8. Anna, most of the categories I read are Superromances. I have an eARC of Sarah Mayberry's One Good Reason that I'm hoping to find time to read this weekend. What the Librarian Did was one of my top ten romances of 2010, and I fell in love with Molly O'Keefe's voice when I read her Notorious O'Neill's. All three are autobuys for me, along with Kay Stockham, whom PJ mentioned, Helen Brenna, Geri Krotow, and Beth Andrews, of course.

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  9. Lately, I have been reading anything and everything from humorous non-fiction to historical romance to classics. Occasionally, I too get on a "kick" and read nothing but one genre. It's just wonderful to have so many delightful reads from which to choose.

    Connie Fischer
    conniecape@aol.com

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  10. Anna, I love to read Supers or Blaze, especially when I don't have as much time to read a longer book.

    Right now I spend most of my reading time on review books, so I'm reading just about every sub-genre. I love it because I never get bored, and I get to read some wonderful books. It's definitely a win/win!

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  11. I read a variety from Harlie but the Superromances that I've been reading have been the ones from Amy Knupp - just love her Texas Firfighters series...I've also been reading Leslie Kelly and Sarah Mayberry.

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  12. I usually read the Special Editions, but I occasionally read the Super Romance line, too.

    Although I don't have a rocommendation for the SR line, have you ever read Jessica Bird's (AKA:J.R. Ward) Silhouette Special Editions? Her books are so well-written and the characters so developed, that they're must-reads.

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  13. I have to add Ellen Hartman to the list - great heroes! It's a total pleasure to be in such fine company!

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  14. Molly, Ellen Hartman's Married by June is on my read-soon TBR shelf.

    Anna, I left Janice Kay Johnson off my list earlier, but I never miss her books. And I don't think Jean Brashear is writing supers anymore, but some of those she wrote a few years ago--Coming Home and Forgiveness are among my all-time favorites.

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  15. Anna, I really need to check out Sarah Mayberry's books. It seems like everyone I know has read them and loved them! Sounds like I'll be putting the gift cards I received for my birthday to good use! *g*

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  16. I haven't read a contemp for a couple of years, but you've whetted my interest with these books, Anna. I will certainly pick them up and read them.

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  17. Dianna, it's interesting how every so often we all need a change of scenery, isn't it? As I said, just at the moment I'm on a Harlequin binge. Worked out talking to a friend last night it's partly to do with the fact that I'm really into writing my current story and the Harlequins are different enough not to interfere with that, if that makes sense.

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  18. PJ, I've got a Kay Stockham on my TBR pile and I've read and enjoyed Holly's books before. Beth Andrews, our Bandita friend, writes wonderful Supers too. So glad you're loving Sarah's books. I think she's great - I love her Blazes too!

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  19. Helen, I hear you on needing more time to read! I think you'll really enjoy Molly's books. I've since read a few more of them and they've all been great.

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  20. Janga, I should have known you'd already be a fan of these three. Molly was a real discovery for me. I've just finished the O'Neills. One of the things I adore about her books is that she doesn't tie everything up with a big pink bow at the end. The characters stay true to themselves for good or bad, and sometimes that's for bad. There's such a wonderful depth of emotion in her writing too tht appeals to me. I haven't read Geri Krotow. Beth, as you know, I love and I'm a huge Helen Brenna fan too. There's some amazing writers in this line.

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  21. Connie, you're so right - there's such a variety of wonderful romance out there at the moment. I think because I'm busy writing a historical at the moment, I'm not really settling to historical romances when I'm reading although I've got some great stuff on the TBR pile. Their day will come!

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  22. Gannon, one of the lovely things I love about sites like The Romance Dish and the Bandits is that I get to discover new authors who I wouldn't necessarily hear about otherwise. I discovered Karina because of all the wonderful reviews of What the Librarian Did which I think everyone loved. I agree with you about Harlequins being JUST the thing when you've only got a couple of hours and you want your romance fix!

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  23. Ooh, Maria, fantastic. More authors to add to the mix! One of the things I really like about Supers is that they're long enough to include things like secondary characters and subplots while still giving me a great romance. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  24. Ooh, Penfield, I haven't read any of Jessica Bird's category romances although I was at an RWA Nationals conference where she won a RITA. I'll have to try and find them. Thanks for the recommendation. I haven't really explored Special Editions. More books for me to read!

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  25. Hi, Molly! Lovely to see you here. And thanks for writing such fantastic books! I just ordered MARRIED BY JUNE by Ellen. Looks great. I haven't read her before. A couple of the other authors here don't seem to have current releases but I've made a note to keep an eye out for when they do. I can see I'm going to be reading Supers till the cows come home!

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  26. Ooh, Janga, more recommendations. Wonderful! Off to the Book Depository to see what I can find!

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  27. Janga, just ordered Charlotte's Homecoming which sounds really nice. Oh, dear, this blog is turning out to be lethal for my credit card!

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  28. Oh, Andrea, READ SARAH!!!!! I've told you before, you know! LOL!

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  29. Deb, I think any of the three are great reads. Can't see anyone not liking them, really! Hope you agree with me. Happy reading. As I said, I seem to be on a binge of these at the moment. They're hitting exactly the right spot of reading pleasure!

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  30. I used to read Harlequins when I was younger. I think any genre that gets people reading is terrific. They tend to be shorter reads thus more accessible to many people. Once you start reading, it can open up a whole new world of other books and genres. What could be better?!
    Right now I'm catching up on my Connie Brockway in preperation for her new ebook sequels and re-releases.

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  31. Ooh, FS, you mention one of my favorite writers when you say Connie Brockway. Some of her books are among my all-time keepers. I too am looking forward to the new ventures she's undertaking. I must say my romance reading journey started with Harlequins many years ago although we call them Mills and Boons here in Oz!

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  32. I have been on a Harlequin kick lately, too. In my case, it has been Harlequin Intrigues. I have been working my way through Debra Webb's Colby Series.

    I have read the Super Romances in the past and they are always worth it. As you said, it is nice to get back to real people with real lives we can relate to. The last one I read was THE FIREFIGHTER'S SECRET BABY by Anna DeStefano. It is part of the Atlanta Hero series and I will be looking for the rest of them.

    I have a stack of Love Inspired historical westerns I may start on next. I am hitting thin books right now because I just don't have the time to dig into something I can't read in a day or so. I'll have to check out some the books you mentioned.

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  33. Pat, that shorter time factor is a real appeal of the Harlequin books, isn't it? I can knowck over a Presents in a couple of hours and then I'm ready (well, sort of) to face the world again. I haven't actually read many Intrigues. I'll have to check them out.

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  34. Hey, thanks, guys, for all the great recommendations and for all the wonderful comments! Happy reading and see you on the 24th July!

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  35. Hey, Anna, on behalf of Super authors I thank you! What a wonderful advocate you are for romance.
    Karina

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  36. Hey, my pleasure, Karina! I love your books. Keep writing 'em!

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