Previous Mailbags:

January 26, 2004

July 11, 2003

March 10, 2003

January 26, 2003

  The Reviews
April 12, 2004
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eggleston@primus.com.au seems to dislike lighthearted romps:

Why must you assume that every woman around the world wishes to read "lighthearted romps?" Why do you routinely give silly, frothy books a 4-star+ rating & thus encourage editors and publishers to trivialise the women's fiction genre?

I belong to a wide reading group in Australia, and we're now finding that the shite being peddled by US publishing companies is sending us in the direction of good male writers.

Most of us haven't read a Nora Roberts, a Linda Howard, a Tami Hoag etc etc in years.

We're of the opinion that, if publishers can't supply good books by women, we'd rather read good books by men.

Editor's Note: While TRR does review some women's fiction, we primarily review romantic fiction. I don't think most romance readers would consider Roberts, Howard or Hoag to be "lighthearted romp" authors. What do our readers think?

marvin@proaxis.com agreed with our review of The Poisoned Serpent by Joan Wolf

Reviewer Dunlap has written an orderly and representative account of "The Poisoned Serpent." Readers who appreciate high quality reviews will find the review to forecast accurately the merits of this fascinating mystery/love story.

casey5@mts.net disagreed with our review of JemimaJ:

Obviously your reviewer totally missed the point of this novel. First of all, to say that Brad deserves respect?!?! He is the one who although he is supposedly in love with a fat woman, refuses to acknowledge her in his life except as his assistant at work, and she allows him to do so. They both deserve pity and Ms. Sova should go back and re-read that part of the book. I find it highly insulting that his refusal to admit that he loves a fat woman because of what it might do to his LA image. Although he is made out to be a "perfect man" once again that is only at the surface while underneath this image he is gross and disgusting and truly ugly.

Jemima goes through what many of us overweight women do - she is ignored by people and dismissed because of how she feels about her weight and the fact that, like it or not, we live in a very image concious world. So like it or not, this novel is about the journey to discover that liking yourself has little to do with your size. Jemima has to discover that being skinny doesn't mean that you like yourself. She is now seen as an object by many people, and not as a real person.

In terms of Ben, he was jemima's friend, and if he was not romantically involved with her, I would say that it was partially due to her lack of confidence. They did go out and spend loads of time together, and he truly liked her and wanted to share things with her. To say that there was no deep understanding, no basic friendship in their relationship is a load.

I did not get the "message" that Ms. Sova seems to think was in this novel. I think what she missed is that Jemima could have been romantically involved for years, as many of us overweight women are and have been for years. What she lacked was confidence, and for her that came from losing weight and realizing that despite being the right size, she still was the same inside. She needed to learn to work through this problem and come to accept her inner and outer beauty and her own value.

So if your reviewer could just got back and read this novel with an open mind, and see Brad for the skunk he is, and the journey that jemima took to like herself regardless of her size, then perhaps she might get to the real message in the book.

debbiecris@charter.net enjoyed DIVIDED IN DEATH by J. D. Robb:

thought this was one of her strongest in this series. I am more interested in the relationship aspects of the story than the actual mystery, and this one had such a strong focus on the two of them that it was especially enjoyable for me. The whole story in this one was very compelling, I thought.

I'd be truly crushed if she stops with this series. I'm very happy with the fact that there's a certain predictability in these stories - I come to rely on that. The evolving of Eve and the rest of the characters is great. And can you really EVER have enough Roarke? I don't think so.

I am also a movie lover, even though most of the moves today are pretty crummy. I think her In Death stories, especially the first one, would be a terrific movie. I have had a lot of trouble with casting, but what do you think of Angelina Jolie and either Jude Law or Hugh Jackman?

Anyway, if anyone "in the know" asks you, please tell them that this series needs to be continued indefinitely.

dueckr@sasktel.net enjoyed our "interview" with Georgette Heyer:

I just came across your "interview" with GH and enjoyed it very much. She has been my favourite author since I came across her as a young teenager more than thirty years ago. I think she is much too hard on herself. I still reread her books, and still laugh at them. Her mysteries are also among my favourites. Thanks for the enjoyment your piece gave me.

You're Welcome!

kestrand@optonline.net enjoyed UNDEAD AND UNWED:

I just finished reading Mary Janice Davidson's Undead and Unwed. Now here is a vampire novel with a twist. The heroine becomes a vampire by surprise; she is infected by fiends and then run over by a car several weeks later. As a result she seems not to suffer from many of the problems inherent for the average vamp. She is clueless at first, drinking blood is eeuuw! (but she is so thirsty!), she doesn't burst into flame in sunlight, and goes stomping into her parents' lives primarily because her evil stepmother has stolen all her expensive designer shoes. Because of these oddities she is hailed as the prophesied Queen of the Vampires. She is not a happy camper. Of course, she is thrown into the middle of a vampire power struggle. The harder she tries to stay out of it, the faster she gets sucked in (as it were).

After the first chapter or two we get past her complaints about her job and how she gets fired from it. The characters are quirky. The situations left me laughing out loud. I do have to admit that I am not a fan of romances that take themselves too seriously and this one really appealed to me. I am looking forward to Ms. Davidson's sequel.

gkacbeckett@direcway.com agreed with our review of BLUE SKIES by Catherine Anderson:

I just read the review for the above referenced book (AFTER I had already read the book) and all I can say is ‘Yes, my thoughts exactly. I could not have said it better myself!!” I really enjoyed Ms Anderson’s other books, but this one left a whole lot to be desired. I am very sorry about that. Next time I will definitely read your review BEFORE I read the book.

Thanks for a great review, even though it may step on a few toes.

Author Caroline Leavitt was appreciative of our review:

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I was so thrilled to see my new novel GIRLS IN TROUBLE reviewed in The Romance Reader--and with such care and thought. I would love to thank the reviewer.

You're welcome."

Judants@aol.com enjoyed LADIES WITH OPTIONS by Cynthia Hardwick:

Loved it, great entertaining read-is this fiction?

Editor's Note: Yes, it's fiction and watch for Ms. Hardwick's sequel LADIES WITH PROSPECTS.

s.n.patterson@worldnet.att.net enjoyed THIEF OF WORDS by John Jaffe:

It is intriguing. I started it at 4 p.m., completed it without interruption at 2 a.m. and began re-reading it at 10 a.m. Jaffe/Muncie are to be commended for their revelations, true or contrived, and of course could never write a sequel. Restores one's faith in love and all it encompasses. Pass along to them my congratulations for literary entertainment extraordinaire.

Tesschag72@aol.com enjoyed the Big Stone Gap series:

I just had to write to let you know that I read all three books in five days. I couldn't put them down they were so wonderful. I also read Ms. Trigiani's latest book Lucia Lucia which I loved also. I was sorry when each book ended. I felt that all her wonderful characters became my family and friends. The books made me laugh and cry. Ms. Trigiani is a wonderful writer and I look forward to more books from her.

Two readers recently discovered THESE IS MY WORDS by Nancy Turner. SccrNik@aol.com says:

This was the most beautiful book ever written. This has been one of two books that has made me cry. I loved reading this boo. If you like this book you might want to try reading A Prayer for Owen Meany.

viandtom@cox.net agreed:

I thoroughly enjoyed the book also. Choosing it for our April book discussion. (A group of University of Arizona women) Should be fun! Thanks for the review.

Nancy.Ryan@hillsdale.edu enjoyed Jane Feather's THE BRIDE HUNT:

You are wrong, this was a good read. I look forward to the last installment.

This army wife (armywifeva@aol.com) enjoyed EVERYDAY AVERAGE JONES by Suzanne Brockmann:

I thought it was an amazing book! I loved every minute of it!! I couldn't put the book down, it was exciting, romantic and suspensful....i can't wait to read more of these kinds of books.

I also want to add, i grew up on Navy bases...my dad is retired and worked with the SEALs for alot of years, i am now an Army wife...and i deal with loving a Soldier that has to go away for long periods of time...including Iraq. I think its great that there are books out there that not only have great stories about the military, but add romance and true life to the stories. AGAIN.....GREAT book. Thanks so much!

amyschwalb@hotmail.com enjoys our site:

I've been a romance reader since high school, but I almost gave up on the romance genre altogether because of lack of plot and good characters. Until I found your site. I want to write you and thank you for all of your time and effort to steer me away from the bad novels, those I feel that only waste time! I love the Bedwyn series by Mary Balough. I'm having a blast! Thanks!

Editor's Note: Thank you, Amy!

BvMain@aol.com enjoyed LORD JOHN & THE PRIVATE MATTER more than we did:

I have to disagree with you on this one. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and hope that Ms. Gabaldon writes more. It should probably be made clear to readers of her Outlander series that this book is in no way, shape or form a romance novel. It isn't even a gay romance novel. It's just a darn good story. I found it fascinating, read it quickly and then recommended it to friends.

Maree (eggleston@primus.com.au) had only one small quibble with Laura Kinsale's SHADOWHEART:

Like Deann Carpenter, I had to take my time with this book. Unusually for me, given my normal reading habits, I found my bookmark appearing between the pages unexpectedly often.

Elena and her sudden conversion from innocent rustic virgin to madam of rough sex was a bit of an ask, even for a writer of Kinsale's calibre. The progression, if it happens at all, is usually more gradual in one's personal sexual life, and tends to be in the nature of spice rather than meat & three veg.

This was my only cavill about "Shadowheart." Allegreto was gorgeous, the plot was great, and I can't wait for Laura Kinsale's next book.


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