Monday, November 16, 2009

Finding The Reading Mojo

Every reader has a "method" for breaking out of a dreaded reading slump. Whether it's to reread old favorites, or pick up a book by an author who usually delivers for them. Me? I tend to suck it up and try to power through it. In other words, just sit my ass in the nearest chair, pick up a book, and read it. My slumps usually are the result of reading several lackluster books in a row, and it's amazing how quickly I get the mojo back when I actually read ::gasp:: books that are entertaining me. Last week I managed to read six books. Yeah, six. OK, so they were all Harlequins - but still that's already two more books than I managed to read all of last month. Since I took the weekend off from blogging, I thought I'd jump-start the Bat Cave by taking an opportunity to talk about a couple of these recent reads:

Under The Boss's Mistletoe by Jessica Hart is a November Harlequin Romance with a lackluster title and back cover description, but ooooh, look at the purdy cover! I'll be honest. I like reading the hot sexxoring in romance novels. I love erotica. I love erotic romance. Truly. But sometimes I need a sweet read. And by sweet I don't mean saccharine, toothache inducing either. I just want a nice, straight-forward, "traditional" romance. I devoured this story in record time, charmed by the wedding planner heroine and the former bad boy hero who is wound fairly tight. Glory be, characters who actually talk to each other? Well-done sexual tension and chemistry? Be still my heart! My review has been posted over at TGTBTU and I'm thinking I might have to buy a Dead Tree copy to add to my collection (yep, read this one as an ebook).

Longtime readers of this blog may remember a time when I was severely burnt out on Regency historicals. When I say burn-out, I mean downright crippling. It lasted for years. It got to the point where I was reading maybe one Regency-set book a year. That's how bad it was. However, now that the burn out has begun to lift, I'm getting back into the Regency groove, "discovering" authors that others have been likely reading for years. My latest find is Julia Justiss. I read her latest (and insipidly titled) From Waif To Gentleman's Wife (an October Harlequin Historical) over the weekend, and really enjoyed it.

One reason I suspect it's easy for me to get burnt out on this sub genre is that after a while I get fed up with reading about rich, privileged people. Just do. Honestly, that probably explains my rabid devotion to the western romance more than anything else ever could. What struck me about Justiss' latest was how "real" it felt. The heroine comes from a "good" family, but she's broke. When her solider husband dies, and her in-laws wash their hands of her, she's left with few options, so she becomes a governess. When the Lady of the house catches her husband accosting our heroine, she fires her. Because, you know, it's all her fault that the Lord is a lecherous asshole. Getting fired means no references for future employment. None. With only a small stash of coins to her name, our heroine is well and truly screwed. Which is how she ends up meeting our hero. With her back up against the wall, and hoping to throw herself on the mercy of her brother (who, it turns out, has gone missing).

It's the sort of book that makes me infinitely happy to have been born in the latter half of the 20th century. Because this is how it was for women back in the day. You were at the mercy of men and the circumstance of who you were born to. It was also nice to read about a hero, who while titled, wasn't anywhere remotely near "bad boy" or "rake." No debauchery, no string of mistresses, no drinking, no gambling, no endless litany of how all he needs is the "love of a good woman" to reform him.

A review is forthcoming over at TGTBTU, but yeah - this one earned a B from me. Which means I'm definitely entertaining the idea of reading more books by Justiss. Anyone have any recommendations for either her or Jessica Hart? Because I am listening.


Katie Mack said...

I have no recommendations because I have read neither of those authors, but I do have a comment about reading slumps in general. I can't imagine just powering through one -- you have stronger willpower than I do.

I finally pulled myself out of a very recent slump by reading books far outside of my usual genre/subgenres. I think I was just getting tired of the same-old, same-old -- especially since my old favorites didn't even interest me. So I started reading a lot of short-stories, non-romances, etc. I think it was the total change of pace that kind of shoved me out of the slump.

Victoria Janssen said...

I'm reading THE BRIDAL VEIL by Alexis Harrington, which might have been one of your recs to me...or someone during the Great Western Drive.

Just finished Jo Goodman's NEVER LOVE A LAWMAN last night and really, really liked it. As in, I think it's one of her best books.

Wendy said...

Katie: Depends on what kind of slump it is. My slumps are usually the Read Too Many Lackluster Books In A Row variety - which means I can generally "power through" by finding something "good" to read. That's the trick though. Finding a "good" book. If I didn't have a stack of books I just have to get too, like yesterday - I so would have picked up a Maggie Osborne to read.

And I like to read short too, when in a slump. Sometimes my slumps are nothing more than Short Attention Span Syndrome. Thank goodness for anthologies and Harlequins.

Victoria: Someone mentioned Harrington on Twitter the other day - which may be where you picked up on her.

I STILL need to read the Jo Goodman! Argh! I'm trying to get caught up on my reviewing first, but it's killing me I haven't read that book yet.

Anonymous said...

That's great that you managed to read so many books! Under the Boss's Mistletoe sounds like such a cute read.

To shake myself out of a reading slump I read different sub-genres of romances. Right now I'm really into sports romances after reading a long line of paranormal romances, with a few disappointing enough reads to make me take a break. Spicing things up helps me get back into the reading mood.

Or simply stop reading for a day or two and veg out by watching movies with my friends, or something else not related to reading.

Phyl said...

I've been considering buying the Justiss. I think I'll have to go ahead and do that.

And when I'm slumping, I turn to a re-read. That always helps!

nath said...

Ohh, you're right, Under the Boss's Mistletoe's cover is very pretty :) and it does sound good! :)

and congrats for reading 6 books! :)

SandyH said...

When I hit a slump I go back to my comfort reads. If you have not read any of Carla Kelly's regencies, you must. She does not write about Lords and Ladies but the middle class during the regency time period. Mostly soldiers and sailors. She is one of my favorite authors.

Wendy said...

Anna: I usually try to change it up too. Like right now I'm reading a medieval and after that I'll probably turn to something contemporary-set.

Phyl: It's part of a series, but stands alone extremely well (obviously, since this was my first read by her). I quite enjoyed it.

Nath: 6 books, mostly B's with a couple of C's tossed into the mix. All in all, it was a very solid spat of reading.

SandyH: I have read Carla Kelly and do enjoy her books. I still have a TON of her trads in the TBR too.

Janet Webb said...

Whenever I make a comment, I wonder -- is that "make you" tiny or should it be "make your" tiny ... whatever? Just curious :) OK, His Scandalous Proposal is a super Justiss. I can unreservedly recommend it. A mistress book. And *ahem* ... "From Waif to Gentleman's Wife"? WTF: a waif to me is an urchin forced up a chimney with a fire for an incentive. Wish the Harlequin bad*godmother*title*fairies would leave the Harlequin Historicals alone. But I know I'm not preaching to the choir -- more a voice in the wilderness. Oh well. Here's a B+ AAR rec :)

Wendy said...

Janet: Yeah, that's supposed to be "your." Hello typo!

OMG - I thought the same thing about this title. I couldn't get the picture of a dirty, underfed, Oliver Twist-like child out of my mind. Although according to Webster's one definition of waif is "something found without an owner and especially by chance which is actually kind of fitting for this story. Of course after that the dictionary said "a stray person or animal; especially : a homeless child"


Janet Webb said...

Hmmmm, heroes hitting on underfed, homeless children ... that's an underserved Harlequin trope :D

Heh indeed.

Leslie said...

Reading slumps stink - especially when you've got such a huge TBR pile like I do. LOL I couldn't decide what to read the other day, must have picked up 3-4 books and put them down. Ended up reading the latest Reader's Digest. It was a nice quick break and did the trick.

I haven't read either author but that Hart cover is pretty. I seem to be attracted to holiday covers lately.

Keira Soleore said...

Nice commentary on the Julia Justiss novel. It goes to show that even if you take a very familiar set-up, the characters make the final story.

I get tired of the rakes (who really should be diseased) or worse, the wanna-be rakes. I much prefer the beta and gamma heroes.

Tara Marie said...

1. Glad to hear the mojo is back.

2. The Justiss sounds good

3. Forget the reviews, read the Goodman :)

Wendy said...

Janet: That's just wrong - LOL

Leslie: I'm a sucker for holiday romances, although this year I've been a bit more restrained in my buying.

Keira: The fake rakes drive me batty! The hero in the Justiss is great, because while he's titled, he's not afraid of hard work and he's a genuinely nice guy.

Tara Marie: Sigh, I know! I really need to read the Goodman! The good news is that I'm getting close to be caught up on my backlog of reviews.

Lynn Spencer said...

I haven't read Jessica Hart (though I have that book in my TBR), but I really like Julia Justiss' books. Definitely second the recommendation for A Scandalous Proposal. I loved reading that one even when I was in the midst of one of my periodic "I can't take the ^&*#^ Regency anymore!" reading fits. I also like The Proper Wife and Rogue's Lady. Rogue's Lady has its issues, but still a fun read.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the suggestions Lynn! I'm going to be near one of my favorite romance-friendly UBSes this afternoon. I may have to squeeze in a shopping rip before heading home :)

~ames~ said...

Good stuff on reading 6 books! I haven't been in a slump for a while but reading Bet Me or Crazy for You by JC always works to pull me out of one.

That Jessica Hart sounds very interesting. My one complaint about a lot of books I've read lately is the lack of communication between the h/h. So much drama in life can be avoided by communication. Ya know? LOL

Wendy said...

Ames: Which is why I suspect the Hart worked so well for me. I hit a stretch of books where the characters weren't talking to each other, thereby driving me insane! LOL

Lyndee said...

I want to read "Under the Boss's Mistletoe"! I could use a fluffy read right now.

Lynn Spencer said...

Hope you made some good finds at the UBS! I'll be curious to hear what you think of some of the other Julia Justiss books. I was planning my own excursion into Mt. TBR here to read some older HHs, but my bright, shiny box o'review books arrived today.

Wendy said...

Lyndee: It's a straight-ahead, straight-up, traditional romance. It hit the spot!

Lynn: I was able to find A Scandalous Proposal and Rogue's Lady. This UBS also sells some new books - so I was also able to nab Skin Game by Ava Gray.