Austen—A Romance Trope Creator?

Austen—A Romance Trope Creator?

Jane Austen

The other day I was looking for one of my favorite TV adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma (the one where Mr. Knightley is played by Johnny Lee Miller) on Netflix (don’t bother; it’s not available there) and it got me thinking about how Austen basically created some of the most popular romance tropes to this day. Nothing new, I know, but I had never thought about it that way before.

Of course, not everyone is a fan or has read Austen’s books but I love them. She was ahead of her time, writing strong, willful women who fought for (and won) what they wanted and loved. It’s no wonder her popularity has survived for so long.

But less thought of when discussing Austen and her books is the fact that she was the “inventor” of at least three of the most popular tropes in romance literature today. The romance style is largely reviled by the “serious” readers today as crap or smut, but Austen is here to remind us that romance can be, and often is, a weapon against society’s prejudices and preconceived ideas about women (among other things). Not to mention the fact that romance can be well written and worth of as much praise and attention as any other genre of literature.

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Pride and Prejudice, arguably the most famous of her works, is an enemies to lovers romance. Elizabeth Bennet begins as hating and being disliked by the handsome but brooding and often obnoxious Darcy. We all know how that ended.

In Persuasion (possibly my personal favorite) Anne Elliot unwisely shuns Captain Wentworth despite her love for him, but eventually gets her second chance with him. A second chance romance.

Emma is clearly a friends to lovers romance. Emma has a best friend in Mr. Knightley and despite her attempts at matching every single woman in town with the perfect bachelor, totally misses the fact that the one she loves has always been right in front of her.

Mansfield Park is both an example of forbidden romance and love triangle with poor young woman Fanny who is loved by one man but in love with her cousin who is promised in marriage to another woman. In fact, this is also a friends to lovers romance since Fanny was best friends with her cousin with whom she grew up.

Nowadays these tropes are still being written with varying degrees of success. I am personally partial to the friends-to-lovers and second chances tropes and have written a couple books along those lines. Which kind of proves that a good love story never goes out of style if Jane Austen’s vast popularity even today is anything to go by.

Do you read romance? Do you have a favorite trope? I’d love to hear from you.

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Books Sale and Giveaway

 

GIVEAWAY

NATALINA REIS - GIVEAWAY

In celebration of sales of two of my books, my publisher is running a rafflecopter for your chance at winning $100 Amazon GC. Whoever wins has to share it with me. Just kidding 😉

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LAVENDER FIELDS

Natalina Reis Author’s incredible M/M paranormal romance opens up the world of angels in a whole new light.

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Sky Heavensent may be able to fly and guide the souls of the recently departed to the gates of Heaven, but he’s just as flawed as you or me. He loves with his whole being and doesn’t hesitate to break rules to defend the man he loves. And he’s fully prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if that’s what it takes to save his love, Caleb.

With Lavender Fields’s mix of fantasy, humor, and drama, it’d take a miracle not to fall in love with Sky and Caleb’s sweet and spicy romance.

 99 cents

Only this week

 

The Wicked King-Review

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)The Wicked King by Holly Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a book. I’m a little weird about reading books that are very popular because I have been disappointed before, but boy, am I glad I picked up The Cruel Prince because it led me to the even more fantastic The Wicked King. Holly Black is a true black belt of the writing craft. Jude and Cardan will live in my memory for a very long time. They are perfectly imperfect and their relationship, with all its twists and turns, both shocks and entrances. I found myself going from an “aww” to a “What? What the hell just happened?” sometimes on the same page. The world Black created, however fictional and the stuff of dreams and nightmares, feels familiar and organic as Black’s mastery comes through in the way she describes it in much detail without ever breaking the flow of the plot.
It’s going to be hard to top this one but I have all faith that Holly Black will be more than up for the challenge. Now, what can I read while waiting for November’s release of Queen of Nothing?

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National Pet Day Book Sale

April 11th is National Pet Day! Come celebrate with us!  Pets of all shapes and sizes enrich our lives and bring us joy.  Some of our favorite authors have included beloved pets as characters in their books.  After all, pets bring people together! If you enjoy stories that feature furbabies, fish and pets of a more unusual variety, have we got a sale for you! For a limited time, only on our website, the ebooks featured below are on SALE, at a discount of up to 75%.  Grab one – or more than one – of these today and discover your next amazing read!

And while it’s our party, we’d love to gift YOU with your choice of ONE of the books included in our Pet Day Celebration Sale.  Sign up for our newsletter to enter! Share the giveaway via the blog post for another entry!

We’ll choose four winners, one paperback book each.  Open Internationally. Follow this link to enter the GIVEAWAY:

AFTER THE SCRUM by Dahlia Donovan

Sherlock is one of those pets who is larger than life. He has more personality than some of his human counterparts. Sherlock is a service dog that recognizes impending anxiety attacks in his beloved human and quickly attempts to comfort or distract.Scrum

AT WAR WITH A BROKEN HEART by Dahlia Donovan

The pets of At War With A Broken Heart are some of my favourites in all my stories. We have Rabbit, who’s a fox, and Fox, who’s a rabbit. Still with me? I love the not-fox and the not-rabbit. And lastly, Haggard, a loyal and intelligent service dog, who lives for his human. Haggard was trained specifically to help a retired military veteran dealing with survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress. A blue merle Australian Shepherd. Beautiful, clever, and funny. He’s the perfect companion.

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THE TRAIL TO YOU by Lindsay Detwiler

My mastiff, Henry, appears in all of my novels simply because I love him. I’ve always wanted to write a book, however, in which he is a more integral part of the story. In The Trail to You, Henry is a main character; several of the chapters even follow his journey. When his owner, Ronan, returns from a deployment to find his best friend Henry missing, he will set out on an epic journey to get him back. Ronan doesn’t expect that Henry will lead him to the path he was always meant to find, however. Even though my real-life Henry has never been in this situation, there are many true-to-life traits of the character in the book. For example, my real Henry is obsessed with cupcakes and would love Cupcakes of the Abyss as featured in the book. This story celebrates the magic that happens when a human and dog bond, a magic I’ve come to know firsthand with Henry in my life.

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THEN COMES LOVE by Lindsay Detwiler

I used to say I was an aspiring crazy cat lady, but now that we have five cats, I think I’m definitely there. Charlotte Noel in my chick lit series Then Comes Love shares my love for cats. When she moves into the nursing home and her daughter is forced to adopt her five cats, chaos ensues. One of the scenes in the book where the cat is stolen by a neighbor is based on a real-life event with my own cat; a neighbor of ours ended up snatching our cat by mistake, and after looking for her for months, I happened to see her in their window.

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OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX by Genevive Chamblee

Hockey captain, Christophe Fontenot, is tall, blond, and sexy with a “massive” personality larger than the area he pulverizes his opponents. It stands to reason that this stacked with muscles hunk’s furry companion would be his four-legged match. Claire, a slobbering but lovable Bullmastiff, is a rags-to-riches canine sort of speak. Nearly starved and beaten to death as a pup, Claire was rescued by Christophe. With nothing in his heart to give other than love, Christophe spoiled her rotten with gourmet treats, hugs, and special-order plush toys. Now, Claire’s pastime consists of sunbathing by the pool and chasing Allie, Christophe’s pet gator. Yeah, it’s like that in bayou country. Read more about Claire in Out of the Penalty Box.

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BREAKING DOWN by Megan Lowe

In Breaking Down Buttons comes along at just the right time for Jax. In her he sees a lot of himself and identifies with her. At a difficult time for the youngest Ryan, she becomes the family he feels he has lost. The relationship between Jax and Buttons is pure love, of two “abandoned” souls coming together to form a family. I think it proves that pets are as much a part of a family unit as any person can be.

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BLUE, Dragon Runner Book 3 by ML Nystrom

Toto and Sam were my son’s childhood dogs. My son had turned four years old when Toto joined our family. She had such a variety of DNA, I have no clue of what breeds she had in her. Her version of a doggie hug included walking up to you, pressing the top of her head into your chest, and staying there until you petted her. She was just short of sixteen when she passed. Sam came into our lives with a sadder story. A rescue group found him in a box abandoned in a parking lot. By some miracle, he was still alive and won the doggie lottery by coming to live with my son and me. Sam was a boxer/pit bull mix and the biggest cuddle bug ever. Toto helped Sam tremendously on how to be a family dog. They would play hard in the backyard, eat together, and sleep curled up next to each other. Very often all four of us would crowd in my bed. They took up more than their fair share, and I learned to sleep on a tiny piece of the edge during those times.

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TIME FOR LOVE, Timeless Love Book #2 by Laura N. Andrews

Thor is loved by his two daddies, Nicholas and Caleb. A German shepherd cross husky, Thor’s light blue eyes can sparkle with mischief and shine with intelligence. He’s both cheeky and smart and loves to have his dads chase him around and dote on him. His favourite things in life are sleeping in their bed and running and swimming at the beach.

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OCEANS AWAY by Skye McNeil

In Oceans Away, Gideon Taggart has two Australian Shepherds, Diesel and Dallas. As an owner of a blue merle Aussie and lover of the cute wiggle of the breed, I had to incorporate a little of that into this story. Diesel and Dallas are quite the pair. They help Gideon around the farm with chores of chasing anything that moves. Both dogs also get into trouble when it comes to the woman in Gideon’s life: Ireland Leighton. I won’t give too much away, but I will say that slobber is involved with these cuties. Since Ireland and Gideon live on farms, animals are abundant, and pets are equally as involved in their day to day routine. If you’re an animal lover, Oceans Away is sure to bring a smile to your face and a desire to hug your furry best friend.

 

Oceans

HEARTS ABROAD by Skye McNeil

In Hearts Abroad, Callum Archer has a basset hound named Sherlock. As you can probably guess, the dog is slobbery, lazy, and loving to all. Once a hunter, Sherlock now spends his days lounging in his favorite dog bed near Callum’s desk and chases squirrels every so often. He prefers leisurely walks around the mansion or playing with Callum’s two daughters to hunting these days. Sherlock isn’t the only fun pet in Hearts Abroad, though. Enter Oreo, a black and white tuxedo kitty who also happens to love chicken lo mein and crawling wherever he desires. While Oreo belongs to Londyn Bellerose’s roommate, the chubby cat tends to walk all over Londyn and even hide in her luggage. He’s the epitome of a curious cat who just wants you to sit down long enough to pet him. Both Sherlock and Oreo bring the characters in Hearts Abroad to life. Plus, a little fur makes a story warm in all the right places. Check out Hearts Abroad to learn more about Sherlock, Oreo, and the humans who make the story come to life.

Hearts

FINDING MARNIE by MV Ellis

They say dogs are man’s best friend, and in Finding Marnie Luke puts that theory to the test when he gifts his love Marnie a gorgeous female puppy who is in need of a home. Marnie is going through a rough patch in her life, and wanting to help, Luke thinks the new puppy will be both a distraction, and a source of uncomplicated and unconditional love–something Marnie’s in desperate in need of. It’s fair to say that her life hasn’t been easy–in fact, at various points, including when she was very young, it has been marred by hardship and tragedy. As she points out, it wasn’t the kind of upbringing where she had a pet, or anyone, to love her, or whom she could love in return. Luke’s hunch is right, and Marnie falls instantly in love with her new dependent. If only opening her heart and accepting her love for Luke could be so simple.

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THE JEWEL CHRONICLES – DESERT JEWEL & SNOW JEWEL by Natalina Reis

In the Jewel Chronicles series, Princess Milenda has a special kind of pet. His name is Mjusi and even though in Afrika they call him a forest lizard, he’s actually a young dragon. Mjusi’s relationship with Milenda is so much more than that of a pet and its owner. They’re best friends who grew up together and would do anything for each other. He might be green and iridescent—and at times cough up smoke—but he was Milenda’s only friend growing up and was always there for her through thick and thin. They found each other in loneliness and filled an empty space in each other’s hearts. Such is the power of a pet’s love.

 

 

 

The Jewel Chronicles

 

Hot Tree Publishing Pet Day Sale

 

The Cruel Prince- Book Review

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t think I was going to like this book because every book I read that featured the Folk sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Let’s face it, fairies and all their kin are not very nice. But I was so wrong when it came to this book. I absolutely loved it. All the twists and turns, surprises, the very flawed characters who in spite of it all manage to be somehow likable. I don’t like bad boys but I got to say I’m in love with Carden and the love-hate relationship (mostly hate) between him and Jude. I admire Holly Black’s talent to move the characters and the reader from a totally magical, unfamiliar world to our modern, very familiar world and vice-versa. I admit, I was shocked by the bloody scene in the beginning (thinking, is this really YA?) but as you read on, you realize how necessary that brutal scene was in order to establish Madoc’s personality. Extremely well-developed characters, intricate plot, and tantalizing promises of things yet to come.
Already bought The Wicked King and I can’t wait to start reading it.

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Syrian Brides-New Release

 

Syrian Brides

New Release

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Book Blurb:

Syrian Brides, published on November 3rd, is a collection of eleven short stories about the lives of women in Syria. The author manages to make the reader laugh while introducing a range of serious topics, such as domestic violence and the role of women in the Syrian society.

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Author’s Bio:

Anna Halabi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She emigrated to Europe in 1999 for her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
Syrian Brides is her debut as an author. The stories and characters in this collection were inspired by her personal experiences as well as her relatives, friends and TV Shows.

 

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Further details:

·  Paperback: 136 pages

·  Publisher: Independently published (November 3, 2018)

·  Language: English

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic (The Dowser #1)Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book on accident and boy, am I glad I did. I got sucked in shortly after I started listening to it (I bought both the book and the audible book) and it was a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Loved it and will be buying the second in the series as soon as possible. My only issue was that there wasn’t much romance in it. I had been under the assumption it was a romantic urban fantasy. But it’s not like I missed it too much. Loved Jade’s voice, her sister, the complicated relationships with the other magical beings, and ultimately the mystery all rolled up into a thick layer of chocolate frosting. Lovely. Excited I have found a new favorite author.

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The Slandering of Fairy Tales

A few days ago I was watching a news’ report about how several female celebrities are raging a war against Disney movies, claiming they’re sexist and promote rape culture (I’m paraphrasing). I get very upset when people bad-mouth Disney movies. I’ve been a groupie my whole life and before Disney, I was a fairy tale nut (still am) and I really don’t like the insinuation that I am supporting sexism by watching those magical creations of human imagination.

Fairy tales were written a long time ago when things were very different from today, but they are also works of fiction that ooze symbolism while trying to teach important lessons. No, I don’t think the lesson is “girls can only succeed if a man comes to rescue them”. Instead I’ve always thought that the message is that nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams, and that kindness and honesty are always rewarded. The men in the stories are the mere personification of the girls’ goals and not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

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I’ve been on a solid diet of fairy tales and Disney movies since I was a little girl and never once hoped or expected a man to come and make all my dreams come true. Yes, I dreamed of being loved (who doesn’t?) but I wanted to succeed on my own, have a career I loved, achieve my dreams. Never did I make plans for a big wedding and wished to stay home and take care of babies while my husband went to work and reached out for the stars.

Fairy tales don’t teach girls that they are helpless without a man. Cinderella dreamed of “moving up” and she did. The Little Mermaid wanted adventures, to learn new things, and see a new world. And she did.  Snow White (not my favorite character) managed to control seven guys on her own (Reverse Harem anyone?) and got rescued by a kiss. She was an unloved child who, like everyone else, needed to be loved and have someone to love. Love does not equal subjugation or dependency. It’s a vital emotion that all humans need for a happy life. Does it have to be the love of a man? No, but fairy tales are simplistic stories trying to convey a message in a way that will grab the attention of readers. The man in fairy tales represent dreams to be achieved. And yes, back when these stories first were imagined, the world was a very different place and marriage was indeed a female goal because there weren’t many other options for women. But what those men symbolized then hasn’t changed: they still represent dreams come-true, wishes realized–even if those dreams have changed substantially.

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Don’t underestimate your daughters. If you teach them right, they won’t think that the message behind a fairy tale is that the only way for a woman to succeed in life is getting married. I’ve been a feminist my whole life and I love fairy tales for what they are: magical stories about finding what we always dreamed of. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you think? Do you think fairy tales and Disney movies are sexist and they give the wrong message to little girls everywhere? Or do you think they are simply stories that entertain and feed the imagination of children around the globe?

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The Big Baddie

This blog post was first published in MM Good Book Reviews

People who know me personally would be very surprised if they knew that I love to write evil characters. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it’s because of how satisfying it is to beat them at the end of the book. Maybe I’m unconsciously taking my revenge on bad people that I either know personally or heard of. After all that’s how a writer fights—with words.

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In Lavender Fields I wrote an evil angel who puts the two MCs through hell before getting defeated by the forces of good. In Infinite Blue I went with a more mortal version of antagonist. Even though not a supernatural being, this character wins the trophy for being the Most Wicked.

When I was a kid I loved watching scary movies, especially those with a paranormal or sci-fi background, but refused to watch movies where the big baddie was someone close to the MC—that scared the crap out of me and meant many sleepless nights. Because of this I have written Shahin’s mother as the antagonist—and not only because she doesn’t approve of his relationship with Cai. Her behavior from the beginning of the book is despicable for a mother. It starts with her refusal to accept Shahin the way he is and develops into something truly malevolent (don’t want to give any spoilers so you have to read the book to find out).

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Is there anything viler than someone who’s supposed to love and take care of you but instead chooses to hurt you? It brings a sense of betrayal along with whatever wicked thing they did. If you were ever betrayed by someone you cared about, you know how it hurts in more ways than one. It hits you right in the heart, burns you from the inside out, and often makes you blame or even hate yourself. That’s why I picked someone close to Shahin to be the big baddie in Infinite Blue.

Who are your favorite types of antagonists and why?

 

 

For the Love of Food

***Originally posted on Stories that Make You Smile blog***

Cai is a foodie who cooks to relax. Lyra, his slovenly sister, loves her brother and his delicious dishes. And Shahin, the man Cai loves, is a dedicated fan of raw meat, though he makes a valiant effort to cook something edible for his boyfriend.

Food plays an essential role in Infinite Blue. I’m not sure how it ended up being such a large part of the plot since that’s never happened before (coffee always, food not so much), but it did. In this book, food is the glue that holds the scenes and the characters together. The first (official) time Cai meets Shahin is at a restaurant where he unwisely orders mussels and spends the rest of the evening worried about making a mess out of himself.

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There are quite a few family gatherings around the dinner table for Shahin, events that generally don’t end well, and Shahin is formally introduced to Lyra at a dinner meticulously prepared by a very nervous Cai.

There are also romantic moments where food is merely the backdrop for some sweet and sensual encounters between Cai and wild man, Shahin.

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I’m from Portugal where food has a very important role in society. Much of our social interaction takes place around the table. In the U.S. people eat, pay the bill, and leave. In my country, restaurants are accustomed to having the same people around the table for a long time. Meals there last for hours. Even now, certain foods or dishes always bring back memories of my friends and family—delicious snapshots of my childhood. Maybe that’s why I added so many food references in Infinite Blue. These two guys are lonely people—for different reasons. I wanted to give them something that would evoke happy memories. In the end, life is made of those small moments, and I didn’t want Cai and Shahin to miss out on a single one of them.

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