Posts Tagged ‘paranormal romance’

At one point in Jennifer Crusie’s new novel Maybe This Time, Andie is on the phone with her fiance Will, a good guy who is nevertheless the wrong guy for her because the right guy is always going to be her ex, attorney North Archer. But Andie has yet to figure that out as she tries to convince Will she can’t talk now because she’s really, really busy.

” ‘Look, my plate’s a little full today.’ I’ve got a TV reporter, a ghost expert, a wack-job housekeeper, two disturbed children, homicidal ghosts, and a seance this afternoon. ‘I have to go.’ ”

I have to admit that I would never have thought of pairing contemporary romance superstar Crusie with long-dead literary lion Henry James, but her spin on the classic The Turn of the Screw is wicked fun. James might be turning over in his grave, but he and literary purists should know that Crusie, who has advanced degrees in literature, feminist theory and writing, loves the original story and and used to teach it before she became a best-selling author. She knows her way around a Gothic, and her homage to James also includes references to Poe, Du Maurier and other great haunted-house tale-tellers.

But she puts her own stamp on the proceedings from the very beginning by subbing smart, snarky Andi Miller for James’ nameless, nervous governess. Andi, as a last favor to North, chained to his desk at the family firm (why she left him 10 years ago), agrees to look after his distant, orphaned cousins, who have already been through three nannies at their creepy old mansion in back-of-beyond southern Ohio. 

Andi arrives like a breath of fresh air at the dusty, cheerless house being run by Mrs. Crumb, a Mrs. Danvers/Dickensian creature who spikes the tea and neglects her odd young charges, Carter and Alice.  Winning their trust won’t be easy, but Andi immediately calls North to order cable TV, computers, a handyman and a cleaning service.  She discovers that solemn, serious Carter likes to draw and that Alice likes to decorate, especially with sparkles.

Crusie’s tale sparkles, too, as three ghosts make their presence known, and interested bystanders arrive on the scene — a scheming, toothy TV reporter; a medium with attitude and a spirit guide named Harold; North’s brother Southie and mother Lydia; Andi’s mother Flo; a psychic researcher; Will the fiance; and, eventually, North. 

The narrative may appear a bit crowded, but Crusie’s colorful characters are convincing, even, especially, the ghosts. One dances, one hovers, and the third threatens in a terrifying manner. These ghosts just don’t want to have fun. But readers will.

Open Book: I bought the e-book version of Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time because I love a good ghost story, including James’ The Turn of the Screw. If you like your ghost stories with grins, check out Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth novels (the third, Ghost at Work, was just published) and Nancy Atherton’s long-running Aunt Dimity series.

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Kresley Cole is another Central Floridian who writes vampires. Also werewolves, demons, witches, Valkyries and other “Lore” creatures. The paperbacks in her paranormal romance series, “Immortals After Dark,” are regulars on the best-seller lists — the recently published Demon from the Dark debuted at No. 5 on the New York Times‘ list. An earlier entry, Kiss of a Demon King, won a coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Her fans love, love, love her.

It’s easy to see why. Her entertaining tales are wicked hot and dead funny. Near the beginning of  Demon from the Dark, a centaur sneers “Dead Wicca walking” as witch Carrow Graie is led down a corridor of cells at the Immortal Internment Compound. She promptly tells “Mr. Ed” where he can get off.  As it turns out, she’s not offed by the mortals who abducted her because her destiny is entwined with that of fiercely handsome Malkom Slaine. A demon warrior bitten by a vampire viceroy, he’s now a dreaded “venom.” He’s captivated by capricious, green-eyed Carrow and wants her as his mate. Little does he know the mercenary witch has been blackmailed into luring him out of his lair in hellish Oblivion.

The two don’t speak the same language, and Malkom’s courtship skills are that of a Neanderthal. Carrow’s attracted by his sculpted torso, although his lank hair and scruffy beard are a “disasterpiece.” Both have sorrows in their past, powers they don’t completely understand. Are they star-crossed, or will love (and lust) win the day?  What do you think?

Carrow often thinks, “What would Ripley do?,” as in heroic Ellen Ripley of Aliens fame. My guess is that in her down time, Ripley reads Kresley Cole.

Open Book: I about half of Cole’s 15 books. I downloaded the e-book version of Demon from the Dark (Simon & Schuster) the day it was published.

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