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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Something Sweet


by Anna Campbell

As everyone who frequents this lovely blog is very sweet - I sure know I am (snerk!) - I thought today I'd talk about some sweet category romances that I've recently enjoyed.

I've got nothing against a bit of passion. I've got even less against a LOT of passion.

But now and again, I seem to want something a little gentler than rampant desire and wild rapture. Some of my favorite romances are sweet, often they don't even include a love scene, but still they manage to pack a huge emotional punch and they sizzle with sexual tension.

When I think of top-notch sweet romances, I think of wonderful stories like Eva Ibbotson's A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS or Liz Fielding's A WEDDING AT LEOPARD TREE LODGE. Both unforgettable stories for all that kisses are about as hot and heavy as these characters get.

By the way, while these books aren't current releases, they're all available as e-reads (and some still in print). And I've read other books by the authors so even if you check out another story by one of these writers, you won't be disappointed.

LAST-MINUTE PROPOSAL (2008) by Jessica Hart is a real charmer. When cuddly wedding cake designer Tilly is paired with hard-jawed, hard-eyed, hard-bodied tycoon Campbell in a reality show to raise money for charity, they're both convinced that they have nothing in common. And they'd both be wrong!

I love stories of opposites attracting and finding rich depths in their own characters as a result. Definitely worth picking up.

THE LONER'S GUARDED HEART (2008) by Michelle Douglas is another charmer. Oh, no, I think that particular version of the 'c' word might be getting a workout in this review. It's another opposites attract story and features another hard-jawed, hard-eyed, hard-bodied hero in 'loner' Kent. When winsome Josie moves into a cabin on Kent's remote property in Australia's Hunter Valley, his days as a loner are numbered! It's a case of when an irresistible force meets an old immovable object, and something's gotta give! This one just gets better and better as you read it and the ending brought a happy tear to my eye. Again, well worth a look. 

THE CORPORATE BRIDEGROOM (2002) by Liz Fielding is the oldest book I'm reviewing today but it's still available digitally and it's a great read, with one of the most perfect, heartbreaking ends to a love scene EVER.

The plot is a staple of category romance - the hero's hostile takeover of the heroine's family business. But once Liz Fielding focuses her wit, wisdom and warmth on these wonderful characters, she turns this into an unforgettable story. The Claibournes and the Farradays have feuded for years over control of London's most glamorous department store Claibourne and Farraday. So Niall Farraday Macaulay definitely counts as the enemy for Romana Claibourne, the store's public relations whizz. But sometimes it can be fun sleeping with the enemy! Love enemy into lovers stories and this one is a great one.

My last in this roundup of excellent sweeter romances only came out in February this year so it's still very much available. THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd is an absolutely lovely story about reunited childhood sweethearts, Ben and Sandy. But will they be able to make a go of it as adults dealing with tragedy, the demands of career, and the years apart? It has a beautiful ending which will leave you misty eyed and smiling. This book also offers the added bonus of lovingly observed descriptions of the gorgeous seaside setting of Dolphin Bay on the New South Wales South Coast in Australia. I was all keen to move to Dolphin Bay, and then realized it was fiction. Sob! Great disappointments in modern fiction! LOL!

So do you like sweet romances or it is steamy all the way for you? Do you have any favorite authors who write on the sweeter side? Have you read any of these authors? What did you think?

39 comments:

  1. Hi Anna! Great post! I enjoy both sweet and spicy, depending on my mood. I agree with you on the emotional punch. Some of the most deeply emotional love stories I've read have plenty of sexual tension but no love scenes. I just finished one by Deanne Gist that's like that. She's written Christian historicals in the past but is moving into the mainstream with a series of books set at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 a/k/a the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. I'll be reviewing it here at TRD.

    Like you, I thoroughly enjoyed Kandy Shepherd's The Summer They Never Forgot and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

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    1. That's Deeanne Gist. My fingers don't work that well after midnight. ;-)

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    2. PJ, I had the pleasure of meeting Deeanne at the first RomCon in Denver. She's such a hoot - and she does a fantastic workshop on underwear! I haven't read her books - I must check them out. Isn't Kandy's book lovely? I can't wait for the next one. She put the cover up on her Facebook page recently: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200871938239579&set=a.1123943837634.16772.1798276537&type=1&theater

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    3. Hi P.J, I'm so glad you enjoyed reading The Summer They Never Forgot. The next story set in Dolphin Bay, The Tycoon and The Wedding Planner is due out July 1. There's a third inn the series, too. You are the first I'm sharing the title with, A Diamond in Her Stocking. We are talking Christmas stocking here! it's a December 2014 release!

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    4. Kandy, didn't realize we were the first to hear the new title! I hadn't heard it before and I think it's brilliant.

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    5. Awesome news Kandy doing the happy dance :)

      Have Fun
      Helen

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  2. Hi Anna! I read it all, from sweet to heat. LOL I really like Jillian Hart's McKaslin Clan, Grangers and Buttons & Bobbins series.

    Marcy Shuler

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    1. Marcy, I haven't read Jillian Hart. Must check her out. I just seem to be in the mindframe for sweeter things at the moment.

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  3. I agree with the McKaslin's of Montana series by Jillian Hart. I would add LaVyrle Spencer, Debbie Macomber, Sheryl Woods, Renee Ryan...

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    1. Laurie, LaVyrle Spencer always makes me cry - which is a good thing! :-) Another recommendation for Jillian Hart? Clearly I need to buy her books!

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    2. LaVyrle Spencer always makes me cry too, Anna. I love her books!

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  4. I like Betty Neels. The steam level depends on my mood.

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    1. JCP, Betty Neels is still incredibly popular here in Australia. I know my mum loved her books! All those lantern-jawed Dutch surgeons!

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  5. I too like to mix it up once in a while although I always go back to my historicals. I have a couple of Liz Fielding books in my tbr pile and going to check them out - thanks for the recommendations.

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    1. Catslady, give Liz's books a go. I absolutely adore them. Reading one is like going on a wonderful holiday.

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  6. I enjoy sweet, but a bit of steam is nice too. I've enjoyed Liz Fieldings stories, also Margaret Way and Betty Neels.

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    1. Di, I remember adoring Margaret Way years ago - must check her out again. I love the way she describes Australia. I remember reading her very first book The Time of the Jacaranda serialized in the English Women's Weekly that my grandmother bought for the knitting patterns. Gosh, that takes me back!

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  7. I can go either way. The KISS books are generally not too steamy. If you are talking about historical romance, Jennifer McQuiston & Erin Knightley have excellent book that are romantic, but not steamy.

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    1. Sharlene, I was very sad to see the Harlequin is canning the Kiss line. There were some wonderful books in that line, including some of my favorite Liz Fieldings. There's a gorgeous one called TEMPTED BY TROUBLE about an ice-cream truck that's one of my all-time favorite romances.

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    2. I picked up quite a few of them when they were in print & they were all good. I didn't realize they were canning them. I thought they were just switching to all digital. :(

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  8. Anna

    I too love all types of stories from sweet to hot :) and I have read Kandy's book absolutley love it and am very much looking forward to the next one and I have read most of Michelle's stories but this is one I haven't read yet although I do have must fall into it soon and I have some of Liz's on the kindle as well need to read them as well. I have to say that Michelle's stories are such great sweet stories and there are so many great authors out there too many to name

    Have Fun
    Helen

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    1. Helen, it's hard to keep up with everybody, isn't it? I also loved Michelle's Christmas at Candlebark Farm if you haven't read that. You can't go wrong with Liz's books and the lovely thing is she's got a huge backlist. Try Tempted by Trouble and Nothing but Vanilla - and of course A Wedding at Leopard Tree Lodge which is wonderful.

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  9. This was a great post. I enjoy sweet although I do read spicy as well. I'll definitely check out the recommendations. Thanks!

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    1. Pam, so glad you enjoyed it. I just seem to be in a sweet mood at the moment - at least as far as my reading goes, LOL! Hope you enjoy these books. They're all great authors.

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  10. Hi Anna, thank you so much for including THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT in your sweet reviews. It was such a thrill to see it there in such great company!
    I've written stories on the more sensual end of the romance scale but am really enjoying writing deeply emotional stories for Harlequin Romance. As you mention, the level of sensual tension in "sweet" romance can be very high without any explicit details. I love the "aah" feeling of the characters falling in love on the page. If a tear or two is evoked that's even better!

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    1. Kandy, congratulations on THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT. It's a beautiful book. Can't wait to read THE TYCOON AND THE WEDDING PLANNER. 1st July isn't far away!

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    2. Thank you Anna. The third Dolphin Bay book is on its way, too. A DIAMOND IN HER STOCKING is a December 2014 release. Of course we're talking a Christmas stocking there! A diamond in the other type of stocking could be a tad uncomfortable, not to mention very unkind on the actual stocking itself!

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    3. What a lovely title, Kandy! Looking forward to that one too.

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  11. Aw, Anna, thanks for including my Loner in your line-up. I do have a bit of a soft spot for him. :-)

    I adored both the Jessica Hart and the Liz Fielding (brilliant writers!) and I have Kandy's on the top of my TBR pile. Can't wait as I've heard such good things about it…and, call me shallow, because I love the cover. A couple of sweet reads that have stayed with me are Liz's THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY GABRIELLA (had me bawling) and Marion Lennox's CHRISTMAS WITH HER BOSS, which I just thought so warm and witty and unique. Also an oldie that I adore (and I think you must read) is THE BLUE CASTLE by LM Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame) -- very sweet, but SO heartfelt and amazing. :-) Ah, so many good books out there...

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    1. Michelle, you know both the JH and LF? They're both older books but well worth a look. You'll love Kandy's book. I haven't read the others you mentioned. Somehow I missed out on L.M. Montgomery although I remember really enjoying the Anne of Green Gables miniseries many years ago. Congratulations on your lovely Loner story!

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  12. I enjoy the sweeter romances. The relationship is there, the tension is there (whether it is contentious or sexual), and love does find a way. There are times when the continuous explicit descriptions of the physical relationship becomes tiring. It seems the sex is more important than the story or character development. With sweet romances, you don't have to worry about running into another one of those scenes that make you feel like a voyeur.
    I have read and enjoyed Liz Fielding and Michelle Douglas. Most recently, I read Jessica Hart's WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS. Definitely worth reading. Inspirational fiction can also be a good sweet read. Some get overly preachy and heavy-handed and I avoid those. There are some authors that write stories where religion/belief is part of the character's lives, but it doesn't drown out the story or the characters. A good blog to find many of these authors as well as some good non-inspirational authors is Petticoats and Pistols. I have enjoyed many of their books.

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    1. Pat, thanks so much for the recommendations. I'm just off to order We'll Always Have Paris. I hadn't read Jessica Hart for a while until a friend of mine lent me a couple and I just loved them. I don't mind hot and heavy in the love scene department if it's serving some purpose in the book - revealing plot or character. But I agree with you, if the sex scene is just there for the sake of it, I get bored pretty quickly.

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  13. My recs are:
    To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
    A Cowboy to Come Home To by Donna Alward
    The Beauty and the Baby by Marie Ferrella

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    1. Thanks, JCP. I'll check those out! I've got a Marie Ferrella on the TBR pile. Must pull it out.

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  14. I enjoy sweet romances its a change of pace. Anything can be over done.

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    1. Quilt Lady, I think we're very lucky that we have such a wide variety of romances to choose from.

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  15. I forgot one I have to mention:
    The Baron and the Babe by Carola Dunn

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    1. JCP, I haven't read any of Carola's Regencies but I absolutely adore her Daisy Dalrymple mysteries. If you haven't read them, give them a try!

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  16. Thanks to the Dishes and everyone who came by to say hello. What a fun discussion we had - and I've got some great sweet romances to try now. Thanks for the recommendations! See you next month when I'm also on the sweet side. I'm talking about M.C. Beaton (Marion Chesney) and her Regency Traveling Matchmaker series. They're absolutely charmers these books so I hope you'll swing by and read my review.

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