Most of us have certain stories we gravitate towards, like romance novels or stories with a happily ever after. Bu it’s a huge category and there are so many great romance books we readers tend to gravitate to certain themes. Or tropes as they are known. Romance novel tropes refer to a broad theme that speaks to the overall arc of the story. Like my favourite starting over in a small town. Or enemies to lovers, another favourite of mine. Reunited lovers. Friends to lovers. Or the grumpy sunshine trope which is very popular right now.
I wanted to share one of my favourite tropes: Starting Over in a Small Town:
A couple of my favourite books with Starting Over in a Small Town as a trope:
Kate Logan needs a safe haven, a place to start over after her modeling career disintegrates in scandal. But her hometown of Aspen Lake isn’t the sanctuary she hoped. Her vow of a low-key life is disrupted by a break-in and other strange happenings at her boutique. As the chair of Aspen Lake’s Gothic Revival Festival, she’s also drawn the ire of a religious fanatic. Kate is up to her stilettos in drama and intrigue including one sexy carpenter who’s determined to get in her way.
New to town, Seth Stone is seeking inspiration and solitude to concentrate on his art. Short on funds, he agrees to take on a second job restoring the damage to Kate’s Closet. Trouble erupts along with the desire to get to know Kate better. When he’s used as a pawn in a smear campaign against his gorgeous boss Seth fights back. But now the whole town is watching. Including the man determined to further his own agenda. Time is running out with nowhere to hide.
Until next time…
What are your favourite tropes whether it’s fiction or television?
It just so happens that Wednesday was #IReadCanadianDay. So, I’m extra happy to talk about Rachel Reid’s Time to Shine. Rachel Reid is one of my favourite authors and she hails from the lovely province of Nova Scotia.
For Landon Stackhouse, being called up from the Calgary farm team is exciting and terrifying, even if, as the backup goalie, he rarely leaves the bench. A quiet loner by nature, Landon knows he gives off strong “don’t talk to me” vibes. The only player who doesn’t seem to notice is Calgary’s superstar young winger, Casey Hicks.
Casey treats Landon like an old friend, even though they’ve only interacted briefly in the past. He’s endlessly charming and completely laid-back in a way that Landon absolutely can’t relate to. They couldn’t have less in common, but Landon needs a place to live that’s not a hotel room and Casey has just bought a massive house—and hates being alone.
As roommates, Casey refuses to be defeated by Landon’s one-word answers. As friends, Landon comes to notice a few things about Casey, like his wide, easy smile and sparkling green-blue eyes. Spending the holidays together only intensifies their bromance-turned-romance. But as the new year approaches, the countdown to the end of Landon’s time in Calgary is on.
I love Rachel Reid’s Game Changers m/m hockey romance series! Even though I’m not much into the sports. Her two books featuring Shane and Ilya will find a place on my favourite couples’ list for the rest of time. But the rest of the books in the series are excellent, too.
Time to Shine is not part of the Game Changers series but does feature hockey players. It also takes place over Christmas and there are some Christmas vibes but it’s not the main focus of the story. It’s also sweeter than her Game Changer Books which are spicy. So, so spicy!
Landon and Casey are perfect for each other in an opposites attract kind of way. Casey is laidback goof with no filter and Landon is quiet and intense. Casey is a forward for the Calgary Outlaws (a fictional NHL type team). Landon plays goalie for the Outlaw’s farm team. Landon gets called up to play for the Outlaws when the backup goalie gets hurt. They become roommates.
But playing professional hockey isn’t the only thing these two are managing. Landon is still grieving the loss of a close family member, as well as battling anxiety. Casey is terrified of the dark and being alone in his giant house. They become friends. Each helping the other navigate family and their mental health challenges. Then they become more as they figure out how to be apart when the backup goalie returns and Landon goes back to Saskatoon.
It’s got such sweet vibe. It’s about finding your place and finding your people and being accepted for who you are, quirks and all. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
Let me know some of your favourite Canadian authors!
October was one fun month with Thanksgiving, our grandson’s first birthday, and plenty of fresh air and outdoor work. And, of course, Halloween, where our grandchildren were dressed as the cutest little Jack Skellington and the most adorable dinosaur around.
Now we’re into November and, even though I’m resisting the coming of the winter months, there’s something about November that signals a slowing down. It’s time for comfy clothes, puzzles and cross stitch. But one of the things I’m most excited about is the start of Globe Theatre season.
The award-winning hit show, Blind Date, comes to Regina’s Globe Theatre after playing off-Broadway, in London’s West End, and all across Canada & the US!
When Mimi’s date for the evening fails to show up, she turns to the audience for someone willing to answer love’s call. What happens next is anybody’s guess, and different each night. This is theatre at its most thrilling, and you will want to see it again and again. Featuring international powerhouse actor and home-grown Saskatchewan talent – Tess Degenstein. Mimi is open to dates of any gender, on any night.
We had a lovely time at this show and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about going. Tess Degenstein does an excellent job and I was in awe at the command she had of the show. She never knows she’s going to be going on a date with for the show. Her confidence, her timing and her ability to keep things moving while giving the audience plenty of laughs is commendable. In fact, I’m going again on Sunday because each show is different. It was modern and fresh and a joy to watch. Highly recommend.
Until next time…
Have a wonderful weekend! What are you looking forward to doing in November?
I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s been hard to focus this week. Some many awful things happening in the world. So much suffering. But making a donation to the Red Cross made me feel proactive, like I was able to help in some small way. There are many trusted charities and aid organizations doing the hard work in places torn apart by war or natural disasters. If you are able, any amount helps.
Let’s take a bit of a breather and talk about books. Or one book, in particular. Sarah MacLean’s Knockout, Book 3 in her Hell’s Belles series. If I wasn’t a huge Sarah MacLean fan, I’d have picked this book up for the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?
With her headful of wild curls and wilder ideas and an unabashed love of experiments and explosives, society has labeled Lady Imogen Loveless peculiar…and doesn’t know she’s one of the Hell’s Belles—a group of vigilantes operating outside the notice of most of London.
Thomas Peck is not most of London. The brilliant detective fought his way off the streets and into a promising career through sheer force of will and a keen ability to see things others miss, like the fact that Imogen isn’t peculiar…she’s pandemonium. If you ask him, she requires a keeper. When her powerful family discovers her late-night activities, they couldn’t agree more…and they know just the man for the task.
Thomas wants nothing to do with guarding Imogen. He is a grown man with a proper job and no time for the lady’s incendiary chaos, no matter how lushly it is packaged. But some assignments are too explosive to pass up, and the gruff detective is soon caught up in Imogen’s world, full of her bold smiles and burning secrets…and a fiery passion that threatens to consume them both.
I have been waiting for Imogen and Tommy’s book and it did not disappoint. I loved it, as I’ve loved every book in Sarah MacLean’s Hell’s Belle series. An immersive story in a skilled writer’s hand is a grand thing and MacLean has plenty of skill in both storytelling and the writing craft. Imogen likes to blow things up. It’s Tommy’s job to maintain law and order. Too bad the Hell’s Belles are bent on making his life difficult, especially Imogen. Chaos ensues.
The book is a roller coaster. Part of the reason I love MacLean’s books is they read like a historical romantic suspense. And you all know, I love a good romantic suspense. Imogen and her gang are intent on helping women who have nowhere to turn in times of trouble and to keep one step ahead of those trying to stop them. MacLean’s ability to bring a modern perspective to the Regency era is a huge draw. She also brings big action, huge emotion and exquisite detail to this story. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
Are you finding it hard to focus these days? What are you doing to stay focused? Or escape from it all?
The one thing all romance novels have in common is the developing emotional connection between the main characters. The details of their physical connection differ from book to book. Heat levels or intimacy ratings of romance books are often very subjective and can depend on the reviewer, reader, or a writer’s own preferences. In this post I’m talking about steamy vs spicy as I believe my writing falls within this range.
Steamy vs Spicy
Think Nora Roberts, Kate Clayborn and Katherine Center.
Think Rachel Reid, Katee Robert and Sierra Simone.
This might seem like splitting hairs, especially to readers who are fans of romance books that don’t include sexual content. But I would place my books in the steamy category. To me, steamy romances fall somewhere between PG-13 romances, where sex might be implied but not described, and spicy romances, where the main characters physical relationship is as important to the story as their emotional bond.
I’ve read books with no sex, lots of sex, and some sex. If the intimacy matches the tone and mood of the story, I’m happy. Just know that if you read one of my books there will be a couple of sex scenes woven into the story.
Until next time…
I’m always looking for book recommendations. I would love to hear other examples of steamy romances?
I hope everyone survived Thanksgiving. Our fridge is full of leftovers. I tried a recipe for waffles that used leftover stuffing that was delicious. Definitely recommend trying one of the many recipes out there.
When Joanne Shreve’s former student, Val Masluk, writes the biography of acclaimed novelist Steven Brooks, Val once again becomes part of Joanne’s life. The biography is already raising troubling questions about Brooks’s past, and the wedding of Brooks’s daughter and Joanne’s son is scheduled for the day before the biography is published.
Both Joanne and her former student are haunted by memories of the seminar that led to the deaths of two people and the murder conviction of a third. The publication of the Brooks biography poses a threat not only to the future of the man and woman about to be married but also to the futures of those who love them. Joanne is certain that the threat is rooted in either her past or in that of Steven Brooks. The collateral damage caused by exposing that link will bring pain to both families, but life has taught Joanne that the only thing worse than knowing is not knowing.
The Legacy by Gail Bowen is a mix of reflection and complex family dynamics. On the cusp of Joanne’s youngest son’s marriage, fans are treated to a look into what’s happening in Joanne and Zack’s personal life. One of the best things about the Joanne Kilbourn mystery series is Bowen’s ability to make Joanne a mature, three-dimensional woman with an active life full of all the activities usually associated with much younger protagonists. The Shreve family’s day to day is intertwined with a slow burn of a mystery involving their future daughter-in-law’s father. What follows is a complex web of past and present happenings that end in a page turning resolution. Definitely recommend.
Thank you to ECW Press and Netgalley for gifting me with an ARC.
Until next time…
What’s everyone reading these days now that the nights are longer and cooler?
It’s been a dreary couple of days here on the prairies but the Thanksgiving prep has begun. The menu is set. Turkey and all the trimmings. I’m planning on making both a pumpkin and apple pie. So, fingers crossed it all turns out.
Top Five Writing Things I’m Thankful For This Year:
Highlights have been the slightly cooler temperatures. It was a hot summer, which was wonderful, but cooler is always a relief come September. It’s also been a month of great books, of digging in flowerbeds, and getting out and about.
Highlight of the Month:
Hearing Jennifer Podemski tell her story as part of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum‘s Solistice Speaker Series was the highlight of my month. She spoke her truth about being an Indigenous person trying to find her way in the entertainment industry. Listening to how she is working to create more opportunities and breakdown stereotypes was incredibly inspiring.
Her latest project is Little Bird and you can stream it on Crave.
Bezhig Little Bird was adopted into a Jewish family at the age of five, being stripped of her identity and becoming Esther Rosenblum. Now in her 20s, Bezhig longs for the family she lost and to fill in the missing pieces. Her quest lands her in the Canadian prairies where she discovers that she was one of the generation of children forcibly apprehended by the Canadian government through a policy, later coined the 60s Scoop.
Remembering the children. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Orange Shirt Day) is Saturday, September 30, 2023. You can find out more about the impact of residential schools, the children who never came home and survivors from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
For those of you who want the opposite of last week’s book recommendation. Follow the Swallow Home by Annette Bower falls solidly in the gentle romance genre.
Published: 2023 Soulmate Publishing
Categories: Contemporary Romance / Small Town Romance / Gentle Romance
At a crossroads, Keanna Dixon packs her car and hits the road. She stops in the small town of Regina Beach, where she pitches her tent after deciding to stay awhile. At twenty-five she’s ready to put down roots and this little town may be the perfect place to do it.
Keith Campbell, at thirty, is happy with his independent life. Computers are his playground, racquetball his sport, and his thoughts are not concerned about love or family. But with the unexpected responsibility of caring for his five-year-old deaf nephew, he finds himself on a ranch, because of a pony.
Keith knows all about apps and blogs, and he hopes his research will assist him in showing Keanna that he is her home.
The story revolves around Gerry, a young boy who has lost his hearing and who is grieving the loss of his father. When his mother is called back into service and sent overseas, his Uncle Keith steps in to look after him. He meets Keanna, who has experience within the deaf and hard of hearing community, when his nephew starts to feel overwhelmed and she offers to help them adjust to new circumstances.
The main characters, Keanna, Keith and Gerry are well developed and you really get to know who they are. Keanna and Keith have different approaches to solving challenges. But they listen to each other and they find a way to work together. The quaint resort town of Regina Beach is the perfect setting and a lovely look at life in a rural Saskatchewan. You are introduced to many examples of this as Keanna and Keith get to know each other.
Follow the Swallow Home fits perfectly into the gentle romance genre. You find tenderness in the timely arrival of a little teddy bear that gives Keanna someone to talk to as she searches for connection within the small town. You find it in sticky notes Keith places around their rooms to help his little nephew. You find it the baking of cakes, and the offering of apples to horses, and in all the little things this community does to take care of each other. It’s what you find within the pages of an Annette Bower book. Gentle stories about real people connecting with each other and their surroundings. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
It’s the first day of fall! Who’s happy to see the season change? I’m definitely looking forward to slightly cooler temperatures.
I haven’t read many thrillers lately. But I was offered this ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press and because I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump I decided to mix it up.
*This isn’t my usual book recommendation. This is definitely a thriller/mystery. It involves an investigation into a teenager’s murder. So, if that’s not your thing…
Published: October 31, 2023 by St. Martin’s Press
Categories: Thriller / Suspense / Mystery
One girl murdered…another one missing…and a medical examiner desperate to uncover the truth in When I’m Dead, the latest Black Harbor mystery by acclaimed author Hannah Morrissey.
On a bone-chilling October night, Medical Examiner Rowan Winthorp investigates the death of her daughter’s best friend. Hours later, the tragedy hits even closer to home when she makes a devastating discovery—her daughter, Chloe, is gone. But, not without a trace.
A morbid mosaic of clues forces Rowan and her husband to question how deeply they really knew their daughter. As they work closely to peel back the layers of this case, they begin to unearth disturbing details about Chloe and her secret transgressions…details that threaten to tear them apart.
Amidst the noise of navigating her newfound grief and reconciling the sins of her past, an undeniable fact rings true for Rowan: karma has finally come to collect.
I was immediately absorbed by this atmospheric page turner. Holy Moley. Black Harbor reminds me of Gotham City. It has that kind of vibe. The story is told from three points of view: Rowan who’s the medical examiner; Axel, a homicide detective and Rowan’s husband; and Libby, the awkward teenager who lives next door.
The night of the high school play, a teenage girl is found murdered. Rowan and Axel are called to the scene only to find the victim is their daughter’s best friend. Things escalate when they realize their daughter is also missing. What follows is a desperate search along a twisted path for their daughter as well as answers to unexpected revelations that come to light.
This book never lets up. Rowan and Axel are thrown into crisis mode and become unreliable narrators of sorts. That’s where Libby comes in. You never know what’s up with her but her perspective gives you a different take on the action and gives you a break from the turmoil enveloping Rowan and Axel.
Overall, it’s a gripping thriller with lots of dark twists and turns. The setting sets the tone. The well done characterizations bring the drama. It’s the perfect book to read come October 31st. Definitely check it out if it’s your jam.
Until next time…
What is it about fall that makes you want to read something a little more atmospheric?