Angry, So Very Very Angry

things that don't cause rape

Trigger Warning: Depictions of Sexual Violence Below

237,868

That is the number of rapes committed each year in the United States.  237,868.  That’s sickening, disgusting, nauseating…nope, there’s no word quite right to describe just how wrong that number is.  According to Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), roughly 60% of those rapes go unreported.  That means 142,721 (rounded to the nearest whole number) rapes are never reported to the police.  Even if a majority of those rapes were committed by serial rapists, that is still a lot of rapists going unpunished.  Even worse, 97% of rapists never spend a day in prison.  I don’t even want to calculate that number because there aren’t enough Christmas carols, romantic comedies, or episodes of Gilmore Girls to make that number less appalling.

You’re probably asking what brought this on now when on most other days I’m content to write about the books that I’m reading.  Well, today seems to be the day for rape to rear its ugly head in the media.  Just this morning, Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49er’s was accused of raping a young woman this past Monday.  This comes less than a month after the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office dismissed charges of domestic violence that were brought against him over the summer.  Those charges were dropped only because McDonald’s girlfriend and alleged victim wouldn’t cooperate with the police.

A couple of hours later, actor Stephen Collins, who played Reverend Eric Camden on the WB/CW’s long-running show 7th Heaven, admitted to having molested young girls, something he’d been under investigation for since his ex-wife released audio recordings of him confessing the same to her.

Of course, there are also the plethora of rape accusations against Bill Cosby, who allegedly raped or sexually assaulted dozens of women as far back as the 1970’s.  Recently, he was accused of assaulting a 15 year old girl back in 1974, but the Los Angeles Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges.

The worst, however, comes from the GOP, which while not completely surprising considering their reputation when it comes to rape, is still incomprehensible.  A couple of years ago, Todd Akin (R-MO) remarked that when a woman is legitimately raped that she cannot get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  Akin has since lost his senate seat to his democratic adversary Claire McCaskill.  He’s not the only Republican to make such statements–former Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Akin in which the same term was used.  More recently, Rep. Rick Brattin drafted an anti-abortion bill in which a woman would only be allowed to have an abortion if the man who impregnated her gives his blessing.  The only exception is if the woman was legitimately raped.  What constitutes a legitimate rape?  A police report.  According to Mother Jones, Rep. Brattin argued (emphasis is mine):

Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it…So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape….I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed. That’s just common sense. [Y]ou have to take steps to show that you were raped…And I’d think you’d be able to prove that.

Mother Jones notes that nothing in the bill explains how one is to prove rape.  Does this mean that there needs to be a conviction?  It would seem so, but when only 3% of rapists ever see a day of prison time that doesn’t seem like a good measure.

What is so frustrating about Brattin’s comments is that he assumes that the only women who are raped are the 40% of women that make police reports because in his privileged, male world being raped is the same thing as being robbed.  Of course you’re going to file a police report.  It’s common sense.  It definitely seems like it would be common sense, except if we’re equating rape with being robbed, then let’s go a little further with that analogy.  Say, you’re walking down the street and someone sticks a gun in your side and demands your cell phone, wallet, wedding ring, etc.  The common sense thing is to give the thief what he wants, so you do, and when he leaves you call 911.  The cops come and take your statement, reassuring you that they’re going to do everything they can to get your property back and find the person that took them from you.

Now, say you’re walking down the street and that same gun wielding man approaches you.  Instead of demanding your material goods, he pushes you down to the ground, tears at your clothes, and rapes you.  He, then tells you that if you say anything, he’s going to come back and kill you.  You’ve got two options: (1) You get up off of the ground, get in a cab, go home, shower, and try not to think about what just happened to you–even though this will prove impossible.  (2) You call 911 and file a police report.  The cops come and they take your statement.  Then, they take you to a hospital where a rape kit is performed.  This will feel just as invasive as what your attacker did to you.   Once this is all over, you have to hope that the cops find the man who raped you and that the prosecutor’s office will file appropriate charges.  At the same time, you get to hear how everyone else would have reacted in the same situation and question every decision you made.  They’ll tell you that you shouldn’t have been wearing the clothes you had on–no matter what those clothes looked like–and they’ll tell you that you shouldn’t been walking around by yourself.  If you’d been drinking, they’ll tell you that you shouldn’t have been drinking because then you wouldn’t have been raped at all.  These things will be said by everyone you know: you’re family, friends, co-workers, and maybe even the cops that are taking your statement.  With rape, it is almost always the victim’s fault because the victim was in some way asking for it.

Let me make this clear: no one is ever asking to be raped.  The clothes I wear, the neighborhoods I frequent, and whether or not I have been drinking do not give anyone the right to rape me.

things that don't cause rape

Am I advocating not filing charges in the wake of a rape?  Not at all.  I believe that if you’re raped you need to go to the police and in a perfect world, people will gather around you and help you, but this isn’t a perfect world and the above situation does happen.  A lot.  Way too often to even contemplate.

Rape and robbery are not the same thing.  No one is ever going to question a robbery victim’s actions.  There’s even an internet meme about this very situation.  Apparently, Brattin has never seen it.

Something seriously needs to be done about the culture of rape in this country.  We need to teach boys not to rape women because teaching women how not to be raped sends the wrong message.  It tells them that being raped is their fault and that is insulting to both men and women.  It tells men that they can’t and shouldn’t control their impulses when a woman is around.

More importantly, we need to teach young men that young women are people too–that they’re not objects to be desired and possessed.  Only then will there be a change.  Only then will women be able to walk down a street without having to fear for her safety.

Review of “Once in a Lifetime” by Jill Shalvis

once
I wrote this back in July when I first read the book, but somehow, I never posted it on here.  I’ve made a few changes here and there, but otherwise it is exactly as I originally wrote it.
onceThe other day, I started reading Jill Shalvis’s most recent book (Once in a Lifetime) and I have to say that half-way through the book, I am very disappointed–not in the book, but in the author.
I started reading her books back in November when I came across “It Had to be You” at the library, and I glommed the entire Lucky Harbor series in a month’s time.  Then, I pre-ordered “Once in a Lifetime” on my Kindle, eagerly anticipating its arrival.  For some reason I put it off, waiting several months to read it.
My problem with this book is that it is seriously pissing me off on the heroine’s behalf.  The premise of the book is that Aubrey needs to make amends for the things that she’s done in the past and has created a list of people to whom she needs to apologize.  That’s all good and if she actually did anything worth apologizing for, I would be all over this.  The thing is that most of the things she did wrong happened when she was a teenager and were always the result of something that was done to her.  For instance, the high school librarian accused her of having sex in the library and then stealing some books, even though Aubrey was completely innocent.  (There is no reason why the librarian accused her thusly and all I can think is that someone did this and Aubrey was just the unlucky person to be accused.)  Of course people believed the librarian because Aubrey had a reputation as being promiscuous.  To get back at the librarian, Aubrey tells everyone that the librarian made it look like she failed to return a book (she actually forgot to return it) because she was out to get her, resulting in her suspension.  Was she wrong in what she did?  Absolutely.  Was it justified?  Maybe.  The librarian was a huge asshat, who did seem to have it out for Aubrey.
double standardThe biggest issues I had with this book involve “shaming”.  Slut shaming plays a big role in the narrative as Ben is constantly told that Aubrey isn’t good enough for him because of her promiscuous reputation.  First of all, who cares if Aubrey likes sex?  This is the 21st century and a girl can have as much sex as she likes.  Second, Ben isn’t some monk and he even admits to having lost his virginity at the age of 12!  Why is it that no one has an issue with him losing his virginity at such a young age?  Why isn’t Aubrey warned away from him because of his reputation?  Oh, right.  He’s a guy and he who possesseth a dick must use it or loose it.  Got it.
bodyshaming1The other form of shaming?  Beauty Shaming.  This is one that I haven’t seen very often, but every time I do it seriously pisses me off.  Aubrey is described as being very beautiful and because of this everyone thinks that she’s some kind of idiot.  Never mind the fact that she owns her own business.  Her beauty means that she can’t have a brain in her head.  To make matters worse, Aubrey has a sister who is a very successful doctor.  The girls are described as looking almost exactly like each other (so much so that Aubrey stood in for her sister once and caused her to lose out on an internship that she wanted); the only difference in their appearances is that the sister wears glasses.  This makes her look more intelligent and so people are willing to see her as a smart person.  So the takeaway from this book: Beauty = Stupid and Glasses = Smart.
I did end up finishing the book, hoping beyond hope that there would be some kind of town-wide grovel session at the end, but alas it was not to be.
2 Stars

The Worst Books I Read This Year

Last week, I posted the best books I read this year.  Tonight, I’m going to continue the fun by listing my least favorite books of the year.  As before, these books weren’t necessarily published this year.

1. The First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde

first loveI read and reviewed this book almost a full year ago, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The heroine, Sara Collier a.k.a. Sadie Cool, was decidedly tstl, caring more about some idiotic mistake she made when she was a teenager than anything else. When I reviewed it last January, I couldn’t help feeling that the hero, Travis, was done a huge disservice by having Sara as his heroine, and I still feel that way. Travis was a really great dad, doing everything he could for his little girl. If Sara wasn’t the heroine, I probably would have loved the hell out of this book.

 

2. Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb

concealedI love J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts and I can count on one hand how many of her books I truly disliked. Unfortunately, Concealed in Death is one of them. It is hard to put my finger on what exactly I didn’t like about it as it had everything I like about the In Death series, but it just felt like it was missing something. Most of the book seemed to drag and by the time I actually got to the end I was happy it was over. Even though, it picked up steam towards the end, it was way too late to save it.

 

 

3. Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

onceShalvis seems to be hit or miss for me and this book was a serious miss. I loved her writing, but I just didn’t like Aubrey and Ben, which is a shame because I’d been looking forward to their story since before I finished Always on my Mind. There was a lot of potential here, but it just wasn’t it for me.

 

 

 

 

4. The Collector by Nora Roberts

collector

It just isn’t normal for me to not like TWO Nora Roberts books in one year. The Collector is one of her stand-alone novels and I just couldn’t get into it. I did manage to finish it, but I just wasn’t feeling the relationship between the hero and heroine. The only thing I really liked about it was the relationship between the best friends of the hero and heroine. I love second chance romances and if the book had focused on them, I would have been all over it. Alas, it was not so.

 

5. To Sire Phillip, with Love by Julia Quinn

sir phillipAfter first reading Ms. Quinn’s Smythe-Smith books last year, I decided to try the Bridgerton series. I absolutely loved the first four books in the series, especially An Offer from a Gentleman and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. This book just missed the mark for me. I didn’t believe that a woman of Eloise’s background would have taken off to the country all by herself to meet a man she’d never met in person. The best part of the entire book was when her brothers showed up at Philip’s house and threatened him when really it was all Eloise’s fault.

 

6. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

when he was wickedI literally just finished this book last night, so it is very fresh in my mind. As I wrote in my review of this book, I just didn’t understand either the hero or heroine and I especially hated the way Michael decided to manipulate Francesca into doing what he wanted. It was sick and twisted and not worthy of hero status. The only thing that kept it from being a wallbanger was that he didn’t stoop to rape to get what he wanted, although consent is somewhat iffy when arousal is used against a person.

 

7. The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig

manzanilla

This book came out over the summer and after reading last year’s Passion of the Purple Plumeria, I had high hopes for it. However, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the other Pink Carnation novels. I would have much preferred it if we went straight from Gwen’s book to Jane’s. I couldn’t have cared less about the main characters of this book. The biggest disappointment was that there weren’t even any real spies in this book! Imagine a Pink Carnation novel without any spies!

Review of “When He Was Wicked” by Julia Quinn

when he was wickedRecently, I have been on a Bridgerton kick.  It started when I decided to re-read Romancing Mr. Bridgerton last week and continued with When He Was Wicked.  Having issues with To Sir Philip, With Love, I decided to skip that one and go straight to WHWW, hoping that I would enjoy yet another friends to lovers story.  Unfortunately, I did not.

There was so much wrong with this book that I don’t know where to start.  As Maria von Trapp was fond of saying, “Let’s start at the very beginning” because that’s “a very good place to start.”

The book opens in 1820 when Francesca Bridgerton was happily married to John, Earl of Kilmartin.  They’ve been together for two years and are widely regarded as being extremely in love with each other.  Based on the cover copy, it is obvious that John dies, leaving Francesca a widow at the tender age of 22.  A good 20% of the book is spent on this period of time.

In the very first scene, we meet Michael Stirling, John’s cousin, who is head over heels in love with Francesca and is more than a little bitter over that fact that John met her first.  Being an honorable man, he doesn’t get in the way of John and Francesca’s relationship (a good thing, since Francesca does not feel the same way about him as he does about her).  After John dies, Michael becomes the earl and immediately feels weird about stepping into his cousin’s life, especially since he has always wished that Francesca was his.  Instead of dealing with his new position in society, Michael runs away to India, where he spends 4 years growing up–the entirety of his time in India is skipped over and we start up again in 1824 on the very day that he arrives back in London.

Michael times his arrival in London, so he would be back a full month before Francesca is due to arrive for the season, but little does he know that Francesca is already in the city, hunting for a new husband because she wants a baby, and they run into each other in the Stirling family’s home in London, where Francesca still lives when she is in Town (because Michael has not married, she still holds her title as the Countess of Kilmartin).  Of course, they can’t both stay there and Francesca goes back to her mother’s home until proper chaperones (in the form of Michael and John’s mothers) can arrive.

My main issue with this book is that the relationship seemed forced to me.  We were never really given a reason as to why Michael loved Francesca; we were simply meant to believe it because he did.  To make matters worse, Francesca’s attraction to Michael was so sudden, but once she felt it all she could think about was how handsome he is and the shape of his lips.  Still mourning her husband, she feels guilty as hell about these feelings and honestly, I couldn’t help feeling as if she was on the rebound.  She missed her husband, she wanted a baby, and she needed a husband to fulfill her needs.  Michael fit the bill.

I also had a problem with the way Michael changed mid-way through the book.  For the first 60% of the book he’s all woe is me about his feelings for Francesca, but as soon as her brother suggests to him that he marry her, he’s all for it, haring off to Scotland, where Francesca ran away to after sharing a passionate kiss with Michael, to find her and convince her to marry him.  All of his misgivings just disappeared after two conversations with Colin.  It just didn’t make sense to me.

What made even less sense to me was how he went about convincing Francesca to marry him.  (Highlight to read.) He decides that the best way to get her to marry him is to get her pregnant so she has no choice but to marry him.  What???  How is this a good way to do anything?  Forcing someone to do something they do not want to do is not the way to go about things.  At this point, I started to wonder if maybe Michael had somehow fallen out of an old skool romance.  At least he didn’t try to rape her, although he did use her desire/attraction for him against her.  This isn’t even something that he does once of twice–he does it all the time from the moment he decides to marry her.

Michael wasn’t certain when it had become apparent to him that he would have to seduce her. He’d tried to appeal to her mind, to her innate sense of the practical and wise, and it wasn’t working. And it couldn’t be about emotion, because that, he knew, was one-sided. So it would have to be passion. He wanted her — Oh, God, he wanted her. With an intensity he hadn’t even imagined before he’d kissed her the week previous in London. But even as his blood raced with desire and need and, yes, love, his mind was sharp and calculating, and he knew that if he was to bind her to him, he would need to do it with this.

Quinn, Julia (2009-10-13). When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Family) (p. 247). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

This is supposed to make me root for them?  I’m supposed to sit here and believe that he actually loves her and doesn’t simply want to possess her when he’s deciding to manipulate her into marrying him.

In the same scene, he ponders:

he had to do this slowly. He had to tease her and torture her, bring her to the very heights of ecstasy and then keep her there as long as he could. He had to make sure they both understood that this was something they could never, ever live without.

Quinn, Julia (2009-10-13). When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Family) (p. 253). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Nice.  Totally hero material.  He even uses this same tactic to get her to marry him immediately.

His hand crept under her dress, sliding right up her thigh. “All I care about,” he said thickly, one finger turning very, very wicked, “is that you’re mine.” “Oh!” Francesca yelped, feeling her limbs go molten. “Oh, yes.” “Yes on this?” he asked devilishly, wiggling his finger just enough to drive her wild, “or yes on getting married today?” “On this,” she gasped. “Don’t stop.” “What about the marriage?” Francesca grabbed his shoulders for support. “What about the marriage?” he asked again, quickly withdrawing his finger. “Michael!” she wailed. His lips spread into a slow, feral smile. “What about the marriage?” “Yes!” she begged. “Yes! Whatever you want.” “Anything?” “Anything,” she sighed. “Good,” he said, and then, abruptly, he stepped away.

Quinn, Julia (2009-10-13). When He Was Wicked (Bridgerton Family) (p. 330). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

At this point, I wasn’t about to give up on the book, although I did give up on liking Michael and wanting him for Francesca.  He just didn’t understand why she would have a problem marrying him when he struggled with the exact same misgivings less than half the book earlier.  It just didn’t make sense to me.

Despite all of this, I do enjoy JQ’s prose and that alone makes this a 3 star book.  If this was written by any other author, I doubt I would have finished it.

The Best Books I’ve Read This Year

As 2014 draws to a close, it is time to look back at the year that was and here at The Fiction Vixen that means looking back at all of the books I’ve read since last January and deciding which ones I really enjoyed and which ones just didn’t do it for me.  These books did not necessarily come out in 2014, as I tend to read a lot of older books as well as new ones, so don’t be alarmed if some of them are much older than the others.  So, in no particular order, here they are:

1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride, how this Fiction Vixen hasn't read this before is inconceivable!
The Princess Bride, how this Fiction Vixen hasn’t read this book before is inconceivable!

I am definitely a late-bloomer when it comes to The Princess Bride, having first watched the movie a few years ago.  When I noticed that Amazon Unlimited had it for free (during the free trial, so it was really free for me), I jumped at the chance to read the book that inspired the movie.  I have to say that Rob Reiner did a wonderful job adapting the book for the big screen because from what I could tell from my reading of the book it was very faithful to the novel.  The thing that I liked the most about reading this book was seeing all those lines that I know so well from watching the movie written there.  One of the things that worried me when I started reading it was that those wonderful lines wouldn’t be there that they were the product of the movie.  Thankfully, my worries were unfounded.  If there are any fans of the movie that have yet to read the book, what are you waiting for?

2. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

romancing mr. bridgertonAnother book that I came late to was Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, which is part of the Bridgerton Series.  This book is the 4th in the series and focuses on Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington.  I’ve actually just finished re-reading this book last night (the second time in 6 months) and I just love the chemistry between Colin and Penelope.  They remind me a lot of Miles and Henrietta from The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig.  The only thing that was slightly disappointing about this book was that the conflict at the end, while always a possibility, felt unnecessary, although its resolution was done really well.  I felt as if it was added in there just to cause drama once Colin and Penelope were finally happy.

3. It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

it happened one weddingLast year, I discovered Julie James novels and glommed her FBI/US Attorney series in less than a week’s time.  I loved them, especially About That Night, the hero of which, Kyle Rhodes, is listed as one of my all time favorite romance novel heroes.  As soon as I finished Love Irresistibly, I wanted more.  Unfortunately, there weren’t any more.  At least not until this past June when It Happened One Wedding was released.

IHOW is about Sydney and Vaughn (no, not that Sydney and Vaughn) and their road from really really disliking each other to falling head over heels in love–all while hiding the fact that they even knew each other from their siblings for whose wedding they are serving as Maid of Honor and Best Man.  It was a sweet book, especially the passages in which Sydney would text Vaughn for dating advice while on dates with the other men in her life.  Those were actually my favorite parts of the book and the rest of the book was great too.  I’ve been longing to re-read it since July (and I only read it at the end of June!) and I’ll probably do just that soon.

4. Watch Your Back by Karen Rose

Stevie and Clay! Finally!
Stevie and Clay! Finally!

Last February, I was really excited to start Karen Rose’s Watch Your Back because it felt like we were waiting for Stevie and Clay’s story forever.  A lot times when the anticipation was as strong it was for this book, disappointment is bound to occur.  Surprisingly, Watch Your Back lived up to all of my expectations.

The one thing that bothered me about this book was that the villain fell into one of the oldest stereotypes in the book: gay = evil.  I don’t know Ms. Rose’s political leanings and I hate to say that it would make me stop reading her books if I found out she was homophobic, but that’s exactly what would happen.

5. Haunted by Kay Hooper

hauntedI’ve read every single one of the Bishop/SCU novels, although I had stopped for a couple of years, missing the last three books in the series.  This past October, I decided to get back into them, starting by re-reading Out of the Shadows and several of her other books. When I finally got to the end of my favorite Bishop books, I decided to start on the newer ones.  Haven was meh, Hostage was better, and Haunted was awesome.

The main issue I have with these novels is that as the series has progressed romance has taken a back burner to the paranormal mystery and at times it feels as if what little romance there is in the book is rushed.  This was especially true of Hostage where there wasn’t even any chemistry between the people who were supposed to be the hero and heroine.

You’re probably wondering why I consider Haunted to be one of the best books I’ve read this year.  The answer is simple.  Hollis Templeton.  She is really the hero in this last trilogy (the Bishop novels are split into trilogies) and in Haunted Hollis really comes into her own.

6. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

EnchantedI first encountered this book at Lady Jane’s Salon in Manhattan.  The author came and read the opening pages of the book at one of the salon’s (if you’re in the NYC tri-state area, I highly recommend the reading series–it is one of the few things that I really miss about New York.  I really wish someone would start a Bay Area version that was close enough for me to get to every once in a while.

Anyway, Sunday is one of the seven Woodcutter children, each of whom has some sort of special gift.  Sunday’s is that she can make her stories come true.  One day, she’s sitting around when a frog shows up and starts talking to her.  The frog, Grumble, wants to be turned back into a human and asks Sunday to kiss him…What follows is a fun mash-up of different fairy tales.  When I first read it, I couldn’t help thinking that it is what Once Upon A Time would be like if it was a book (well, the origin parts anyway.  There is a decided lack of Evil Queen-ness in this book, although the king isn’t exactly the nicest guy on the planet).

7. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

abraham lincoln

This book is not a romance novel in any way, shape, or form, but I had to include it on this list.  I’d seen the movie and really enjoyed it, despite the fact that it is most decidedly out of my wheelhouse.  The book is far better than the movie, which unlike The Princess Bride is not the most faithful adaptation.  The ending, especially, is very different and I much prefer the book’s ending to that of the movie.

Well, there you have it.  The seven best books I’ve read in 2014.  Of course, there are still 3 weeks left in the year, so if I read some really good books in that time, I will do another post, but for now: That’s all, folks.

What I’d Like to See More of in 2015

As 2014 draws to a close, I would like to talk about the types of books I would like to see more of (or in some cases any of) in the coming years.

1. 20th Century Themed Books: Nostalgia is very big lately.  There are car commercials targeting Gen X with 80’s era toys and people are having 80’s and 90’s themed parties, so why not write books that take place in those times.  We may not like to think about it, but times have changed a lot since then (hell, I caught the beginning of A Cinderella Story last night, a movie that was made just 10 years ago, and I couldn’t get over the old school cell phones that Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray were using to text each other).  Sure, there are many books that were written in the 80’s and 90’s that we could go and read, but so many of those are undesirable because of the ridiculous rapist heroes that were everywhere in Romancelandia during that time.  Not all of them did, I’ve read many Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber novels written during the 80’s and none of them involved rape, although as I mentioned in my review of Home for the HolidaysMacomber is no stranger to slightly misogynistic heros.  Plus, many of those books are out of print and can only be found in used bookstores, on ebay, or at the library.

Any 20th Century decade would be nice, to be honest.  I love the Deadly series by Brenda Joyce, which takes place in 1902 and uses the Progressive Era as a back drop.  At times, it does have a 19th Century feel to it, there are nice moments in them where the dawn of modern technology is present–like when Rick Bragg is depicted as driving a Daimler instead of a horse drawn carriage, the use of electricity in the upper class households, and the fact that Francesca’s family, Rick, and Calder Hart all have telephones in their homes.  There is also the presence of a more modern policing structure in Joyce’s New York City, although there are still instances of the extreme police brutality that characterized the 19th Century (and that seems to be celebrating a resurgence in many cities across the country right now).  It also draws a nice picture of what it was like to reign in the police, a challenge faced by Teddy Roosevelt when he held the position of NYPD Commissioner in the years prior to becoming president in 1901.

I would definitely love to see an increase in the number of books that take place in the 1920’s, which I’ve previously posted about on here.  Jamie Brennan did a great job of translating the turmoil of that time period when she published The Gin Lovers, and while I enjoyed the books I did have some issues with things that were left unfinished.  Unfortunately, this was the only non-paranormal novel that I have been able to find that takes place in the 1920’s, which doesn’t make much sense because if ever there was a time period more suited to romance novels it was the 1920’s!

2. Non-Regency Books: It is time to face it, folks, the Regency is played out.  It would be great to see more Victorian Era books, especially since that covers a much wider swath of history than the Regency Era does.  There is so much more that could be done with Victorian themes than can be with Regency ones.  Also, books that take place during the Renaissance would be nice.  Can you imagine Shakespeare as an ancillary character?  Jane Austen pops up in quite a few novels (like Lauren Willig’s The Mischief of the Mistletoe), so why can’t Shakespeare?

3. Historicals Outside of England: At this point, I know more about Regency Era customs of the British aristocracy than I care to know.  Let’s visit some other places.  How about Italy or Spain?  What about African or Asian locales?  Let’s have some diversity in 2015.  In the last few years, Ms. Willig has published books taking place in India and Kenya and next summer the last Pink Carnation novel will be set in Portugal.  That’s definitely a start.  Way to go, Ms. Willig!

What about you, Dear Readers?  What would you like to see more of in 2015?  Please, don’t say vampires because I don’t think I can take more of those.

Review of Home for the Holidays by Debbie Macomber

Home for the Holidays by Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite Christmas books and I can’t count how many times I’ve read it over the years.  I first bought it in paperback from Target, but this year I downloaded the Kindle version to read.  This is not a full length novel, but a book containing two Christmas novellas: The Forgetful Bride (originally published in 1991) and When Christmas Comes (originally published in 2004).

The Forgetful Bride is the story of Caitlin Marshall and Joseph Rockwell, who as kids were “married” by Cait’s brother Martin.  Close to 20 years later, Joe shows up at Cait’s workplace, a brokerage firm in Seattle, where he is heading up a renovation to the building.  Joe immediately recognizes Cait as the little girl he married to get her to kiss him all those years ago, but Cait doesn’t know who he is just that he keeps staring at her, making her uncomfortable (but not uncomfortable enough to say something to anyone about it).  She does eventually realize who Joe is and once she does, he starts making her life miserable, namely by telling everyone and anyone that they’re married, potentially sullying her reputation with the firm.  For some reason, Cait doesn’t do anything about it other than complaining to her friend Lindy–not because of the hurt to her reputation but because it could hurt her chances of getting her boss to fall in love with her.  This novella is cute, but it was obviously written in a different time.  Cait never once stands up for herself against Joe’s actions and in the moments when she tries to no one believes her.  They give her pittying stares because Joe’s told them that she’s suffering from amnesia and fail to help her when she tells them that Joe won’t let her go.  I do like the chemistry between the hero and heroine, but it doesn’t completely make up for the rest of the story. 2.5 Stars

When Christmas Comes is a much better story and is obviously written for a more modern audience, having been published in 2004.  Emily Springer is a 40 year old widow living in a Santa’s Village type of town in Washington state and all she wants is to spend Christmas with her 21 year old daughter, who is in her junior year at Harvard, but Heather, her daughter, would rather spend the holiday with Elijah on the beach in Florida.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t tell her mother this, so Emily ends up alone in Boston, living in a stranger’s condo for two weeks while he lives in her home.  Professor Charles Brewster wants to escape Christmas, a holiday that holds sad memories for him, so he decides to spend the holiday in a quiet prison town.  Too bad he forgot that the prison was in Kansas not Washington and he ended up living in a Courier and Ives portrait.  Neither Charles nor Emily thought they would have a happy holiday.  Enter Faith Kerrigan and Ray Brewster.  Faith is Emily’s best friend and she decides to surprise Emily for Christmas, but she ends up surprising Charles instead, especially when she shows up with Santa and a cadre of elves!  Ray is Charles’s brother and he shows up at the condo where Emily is staying because his mother asked him to check on his brother, who she believes may have been taken hostage by some woman.  My only complaint about When Christmas Comes is that the ending comes much too quickly.  This could have easily been a full length novel and if it was it would have worked even better than it did as a novella.  Both couples fall for each other very fast and in ways that aren’t very realistic.  Plus, Heather almost immediately realizes the mistake she has made in choosing Elijah and Florida over her mother.  If given even fifty pages more, it could have been fleshed out a bit. 4 Stars

3.5 Stars