Posts Tagged With: genre: time travel romance

Review: Into the Dreaming, Karen Marie Moning

Title: Into the Dreaming (Bonus Edition)

Author: Karen Marie Moning

Publication: Random House , 2012

Pages: 272

Genre: Time-Travel Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 Stars

A really, really great little book highly recommended to all fans of Karen Marie Moning. Despite its small size, quite a lot is crammed in here, and it’s definitely not to be missed.

The first section is a simple re-print of Karen’s novella Into the Dreaming. It’s just under 120 pages and tells the story of Jane, a modern-day romance author, and Aedan, a cursed Highlander from 10th Century Scotland. With the help of the Faerie Queen, Jane and Aedan meet and fall in love in the Dreaming, a realm between worlds. When Jane is transported to medieval Scotland to save Aedan from being forever cursed by the Unseelie King, she uses her dream memories to bring him back from the brink. Obviously, not a whole lot can happen in such a short story, but Karen still works her magic and makes me fall in love with her characters.

At the end of the novella, Karen adds a truly heartfelt Afterward that talks about her own struggles as an author, and how the pressure to write what’s “popular” can be completely overwhelming, especially when you’re just beginning. She encourages writers to stay true to their own stories, no matter what the cost, because there will always be someone to take a risk on you. It might just take a little longer. I find Karen to be an extremely inspirational woman, and she’s VERY open with her fans in general about her writing process, so thoughts like these are always really great to read.

The next section includes a formal proposal for a novel that was never written, entitled Ghost of a Chance. I was actually a little nervous about reading this, because I was afraid it would sound SO GOOD, and I’d be dying to read it even though it didn’t exist. However, even though it DID sound interesting, and I’m sure I would have loved it had she written it, I can kind of see why she abandoned it. The characters didn’t grab me the way they normally do, and the plot didn’t seem as strong, at least in the conceptual stage.

The third section contains a deleted scene from Karen’s third book, Kiss of the Highlander, which won’t make much sense if you haven’t read that novel. Fans, however, will appreciate this alternate look at the relationship between the main characters, Drustan and Gwen, two of my personal favorites. While I completely agree that the published version was better, I’ll never say no to more of these two! Plus, it was really interesting to follow Karen’s thought process and see what other roads she was considering during the initial draft. It’s a bit like watching bloopers for a movie, though obviously less funny.

My personal favorite section was the next part, entitled Dark Highlander Lite. Apparently, Karen was two-thirds of the way through her fourth novel – a month before it was due to her publisher – when she realized she was writing, as she called it, the wrong book. It hadn’t come out in any way, shape or form the way she wanted, and she was determined to start over. Her publisher had a meltdown, but they compromised. Karen would start over, and send the first 50 pages of each book for editing, and if the second version was better, she’d get an extension. Karen agreed, but then burned all but those first 50 pages of the original book to ensure she’d be able to write her new version. Luckily, the publisher agreed the second version was much better, so she got her extension anyway. But can you imagine the nerve it took to literally burn her bridges??? All because she knew her own story and this wasn’t it.

Reading these first 50 pages, I have to agree. It’s a perfectly fine book, one I’d definitely want to read, but it wasn’t right for the story she wanted to tell. My respect for her pretty much doubled after reading this, if such a thing is possible.

The next section includes the first chapter of Darkfever, the first in her latest five-book urban fantasy romance series, which is really nice for those of her fans who adore her traditional Highlander romances and just aren’t sure about making the jump to something darker. (That would have been me five years ago, by the way!) And finally, she includes both black and white and full color illustrations from her upcoming graphic novel Fever Moon. I’m still on the fence about this, as I really REALLY dislike Western comic animation, but I’ve never NOT bought something written by Karen, so….

In any case, highly recommended to both old and new KMM fans! This little book packs quite a punch!

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Top 10 Romance Books

Happy Heart’s Day everyone!

Now, I know this is a rather controversial holiday, and a lot of people feel like it gets shoved down their throat. But whether or not you’re in love in the real world, fictional love is always there to cheer you up and remind you that true love really does conquer all.

To celebrate, I’m listing 10 of my favorite romance novels. While my all-time favorites would likely be split between two authors, I made a conscious effort to only use each one once. Romance is a rather iffy genre – rather like digging through the dregs of to find the quality work – so this ought to save you some time. Maybe one or two of these will look good to you!  😀

10.) Wishes Come True, by Kathleen Nance: Single mother Zoe is proud of the life she’s built for herself and her daughter, independent of any male influence. She’s been burned once before, after all. But nothing prepares her for the appearance of Simon, a djinni she accidentally conjures during a ritual. Determined not to use her wishes, Zoe tries to ignore him, but that becomes difficult when she realizes that he’s just as trapped as she is. If you end up liking this, I highly recommend one of her sequels, Spellbound, about a djinni minstrel.

9.) A Rose in Winter, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss: Lovely Erienne is sold into marriage by her father in order to pay gaming debts, and she finds herself wed to the cold but gentle Lord Saxon, a man horribly scarred by a past fire. His kindness touches Erienne’s heart, but she finds herself also – must reluctantly – attracted to the dashing Yankee Christopher. When forced to choose between the husband who respects her and the man who desires her, Erienne discovers that not everything is as it seems. I’m always slightly reluctant to read a book by this author, because I either love them or truly despise them, but I think this is her absolute best!

8.) Stardust of Yesterday, by Lynn Kurland: Genevieve just inherited a castle. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? The problem is that it’s haunted by Kendrick, a 13th Century knight, and he has no plans to move. Claiming that his and Genevieve’s families were mortal enemies, he has every intention of protecting his castle from the hands of his foe, no matter how beguiling. But things don’t work out quite as planned, and Genevieve eventually finds herself tossed back in time, fighting for the man she’s come to love. Ms. Kurland is a master storyteller, but this was the first book of hers I read, so it retains a special place in my heart.

7.) The Last Warrior, by Kristen Kyle: Captain Jake Talbert came to San Francisco with only one task in mind: Retrieve a set of stolen katana swords, and with them, his honor. Shipwrecked in Japan, Jake spent years learning the way of the samurai, and he’s not about to lose his most prized possessions. His search catches the attention of Meghan McLowry, who just happened to have received just the swords he seeks as a birthday gift. She offers him a trade – If Jake can protect her father from the deadly vengeance of the Tong, the swords are his. Little do either of them know how easily business soon mixes with pleasure, and how dangerous that can become. This is the only Western romance book I’ve ever read that deals with Japanese culture, so it’s worth a read for that alone!

6.) Charmed, by Katherine Hart: In 1813, Silver Thorn, a Shawnee warrior, buries a magical amulet. In 1996, history teacher Nikki Swan uncovers it and is thrown back in time. She feels an immediate connection to Thorn, but it takes a lot for her to accept that she’s traveled over100 years in the past. But when war comes to the tribe, Nikki suddenly has to choose between protecting the man she loves and allowing history to run its course. (I recommend this book if for nothing else than the cover, which is HOLOGRAPHIC!!!)

5.) The Innocent, by Bertrice Small: Lady Eleanore is days away from taken her final vows as a nun, her most cherished dream, when dreadful news of her brother’s sickness and death reach her convent. Now the owner of an important estate, her king commands her to wed one of his knights to secure the land. Having been raised to be a bride of Christ since the age of five, Eleanore has no concept of how to be the bride of any mortal man, but her new husband, Ranulf, is more than willing to slowly and gentle teach her. Their blooming love in threatened before it even begins, as her brother’s killer schemes to remove Eleanore from the picture and take all her lands and power for herself. Often recognized as the queen of historical fiction, Bertrice Small is most well-known for her epic series, but this stand-alone will always be my favorite.

4.) Outerlander, by Diana Gabaldon: After serving as a combat nurse in WWII, Claire Randall wants nothing more than to relax on a second honeymoon with her husband in Scotland. But when she walks through a standing stone and is thrown back in time to 1743, Claire faces dangers even war couldn’t prepare her for. Charged with spying and about to be handed over to a twisted English captain, Claire is married off to Jamie Fraser to give her the protection of his clan. In addition to saving her life, Jamie also soon saves her heart. This is the first book in a sweeping epic. It’s time travel romance and historical fiction at its absolute best, set against the backdrop of a war-torn Scotland, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Culloden, and all the horrors of the era. While later books in the series fizzle out, this first is an absolute masterpiece, and can easily stand alone.

3,) Believe, by Victoria Alexander: This was the very first romance book I ever read, and it remains one of my favorite. Professor Tessa St. James loves literature but hates the Arthurian legend, though she’s forced to at least touch on it. But when a strange man appears in her classroom asking too many questions, Tessa begins to wonder if there’s more to the story than meets the eye. And when touching an old book actually sends her back in time and INTO the legend, she know’s something up! Sent by Merlin to help Galahad discover the Holy Grail, Tessa learns a lot about what it means to love, to seek, to protect, and to fight for the things that matter most to us. As this book combines my intense love for everything having to do with Arthur and some excellent time travel, it’s no surprise I adore this book. Plus, the banter between Merlin and his lover Vivianne is just hysterical! (I’d also recommend Yesterday and Forever by Ms.Alexander, where a woman is thrust back in time to Regency London – one of my favorite eras! – and into the arms of a most interesting gentleman. While the two main characters are wonderful, it’s the hero’s sister who captures my heart every time!)

2.) Breath of Magic, by Teresa Medeiros: I’ve already mentioned my intense love for this author, but Breath of Magic is truly her best work. Being a witch in Puritan New England is a dangerous profession, but Arian just can’t help herself! Unfortunately, her quest for excitement and a joyous life leads her to the town prison, and only by sheer luck is she able to escape….into the 20th Century. Ice cold billionaire Tristan has a very good reason for hating magic. It killed his best friend and he narrowly escaped being branded a murderer. But when it becomes clear Arian’s powers are more than just a trick of the light, he’s forced to come face to face with his worst nightmares. This book is a beautiful romance, and it’s one of the few that truly makes it obvious that BOTH the hero and heroine need saving in their own way. I’d recommend anything this woman wrote, but make sure to start here.

1.) The Immortal Highlander, by Karen Marie Moning: This woman is the best in the romance business, no question. Karen has two distinct series – the Highlander novels and the Fever novels, and this happens to be the sixth in the Highlander. Unfortunately, it means you can’t pop right into it, but that’s fine. Just read everything she’s ever written. Trust me, it’s worth it.

This particular novel focuses on my favorite of her characters, Amadan Dubh (or Adam Black) one of the most powerful fae of all time. (Remember Puck? That was him!) Unfortunately, even the best fae can sometimes anger their queen, and Adam has a fascination with humans he’s never been able to shake. Cursed with being human himself, Adam roams the world, trying to survive without his god-like powers for the first time in millennia. Oh, and he’s also invisible. Luckily, he runs across Gabrielle, one of the few humans who can see between the veil of fairy and human, and in exchange for getting him off her doorstep – and bed – she agrees to help find away to get his powers back. The thing is, Gabby’s been taught NEVER to let a fae know she can see them, otherwise she’s dead. And when royal Hunters start tracking her, she wonders if saving Adam means damning herself.

I absolutely ADORE pairings where the all-powerful, arrogant male is brought to his knees by the Right Woman, and this is exactly what Karen brings. I love all her heroes and heroines, but Adam and Gabby are the best.

But seriously, just read all her books. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

So what are some of your favorite romances? I’m always on the look-out for recommendations, especially if they’re time travel or historical, but really, I’ll try anything!

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