Monday, April 24, 2006

REVIEWBALL: Seduced By Crimson, Jade Lee

Seduced By Crimson
Jade Lee
Dorchester Love Spell imprint
February 28, 2006
ISBN 0505526727

Stephanie: Take one very determined Druid surfer. Add one Cambodian healer. Give them the same enemy – demons. Sounds like just another day in the life of Crimson City dwellers, doesn’t it? Not so much. Jade Lee gives her Crimson City offering a new twist. Both characters think one of them has to die to defeat the demons or at least close the newest portal to the demon world, Orcus.

Xiao Fei watched all of her sister Phoenix Tears die in an attempt to close a demon gate 20 years earlier. Patrick Lewis was moments too late to his own death by demon party, but his parents and siblings were the guests of honor. His dying mother tells him to find the Phoenix Tear or all hell will break loose – literally.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. Lee uses some verboten romance formulas such as attempted forced sex which may turn some readers away from her writing. She uses it in a way to move the story and the connection between the two “we can’t be lovers” lovers so I did not see it in a negative way.

Cai: And yet, this was one of my biggest beefs with the story. I don’t like forced sex scenes. Never have. That’s why I stopped reading romance novels for a long period of time – you remember the ones I’m talking about? The ‘barbarian’ at the gate who takes the daughter of the house much against her will to some undisclosed location where he forces her to have sex with him and she eventually enjoys it so much that she falls in love with him…yeah. Didn’t work for me 20 years ago, doesn’t work for me now. I normally avoid books and/or movies with rape and or forced sex scenes. In Seduced by Crimson, Patrick is a likeable enough guy – until he ties the heroine up and forces sex on her. Yeah, yeah, he’s doing it to “save the world” – right. Okay. Still doesn’t work for me.

Xiao TELLS him repeatedly that he’s raping her and yet…eventually she enjoys it? She’s so overcome by passion that she enjoys being raped and made to bleed? I don’t think so, buckaroo.

Stephanie: Both characters learn as they go. Xiao learns that the ability to heal has to be freely accepted by those she is healing or more harm than good will come of it. Patrick realizes that his role as Draig-Uisge is larger than he knew. Xiao and Patrick have to trust what they fear most – each other.

I recommend this book with this caveat. You need to have read the others in the series to get the full picture. Lee’s demons are only one part of the demonic world. Characters from past books put in cameos that are made sweeter if you understand who and what they are. Definitely a bleacher cheer from me!

Cai: The entire concept of a Phoenix Tear is astounding, amazing and a fabulous plot device. The idea of an “enforcer” in a Druidic community is excellent! Patrick and Xiao have their own internal demons and yet they have to come together to get ride of the real demons who are slowly and methodically taking over Crimson City. Xiao is convinced that she will die – how noble. Patrick is convinced that sex and just a “little” blood can close the gate between the two worlds – yeah, “let’s do it for the world, babe.” May I just say YUCK.

I’ve enjoyed the majority of the Crimson City series – I really liked Keeli and Michael’s story in A Taste of Crimson. This one just doesn’t do it for me. At all. I have read Crimson Rogue, and Liz managed to draw me in all over again. I LOVE Crimson Rogue and (a little inside scoop, here, folks) look forward to the upcoming Crimson City Anthology – I know that Patti O’Shea is writing one story for the anthology – due out sometime in 2007.

This one gets a half-hearted wave of the pom-pom from me – no cheer – and yet…because of the CONCEPT of the novel – one woman’s sacrifice at the hands of the man who does come to care for her – I can’t quite bring myself to give it a Jeer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When bad things happen to writers...

One good thing about being a writer is that you can take a bad experience and turn it into a scene in a book.

Mad at your significant other? Write out what you want to say to them and file it for later use by a character.

Your boss driving you crazy? Kill him/her – ON PAPER.

Overhear a conversation in the hallway that could be taken in a number of ways? Write it out and save it for the villain in your next book.

Have a bad dining experience in a restaurant? Use it to your advantage by writing down as many details as you can remember and save them for a scene where you need mounting tension or to show how someone would react to the same situation in your book.

Remember that bad haircut? Well what if the same thing happened to your heroine right before a big interview or date? Remember that self-tanning accident? What if that happened to your heroine?

Writers can take any life experience and twist it to fit their current character or needs. Add in a little imagination and you’re good to go. Who cares if no one will believe there’s truth in your fiction? Use those “bad” experiences in your life to add depth to your writing, to breathe life into a character who might be a little flat.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Powering Galaxies

Kate Duffy, Editorial Director at Kensington Books made the following statement regarding the romance genre and romance writers: “We are creative smart women with imaginations that could power small galaxies. I just cannot wait to see what happens next."

I love that statement – especially the part about imaginations that could power small galaxies – how profound a statement is that?

While it is the Paranormal/Sci Fi writers who are creating their own worlds, the rest of us are still powering our own galaxies. We decide who our heroine is and what her goals, motivation and conflicts are. We decide who our hero is and how his goals, motivation and conflict will interact with our heroine’s.

It is our imagination that gives birth to our books. It is our desire to share that imagination with others that prompts us to sit in front of our computers agonizing over what comes next in a scene, where we need to beef up our conflict, and exactly how intense we need to make what comes next.

We are creative and smart. We are powering small galaxies, and like Ms. Duffy, I cannot WAIT to see what happens next.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Next up on REVIEWBALL...

Seduced by Crimson by Jade Lee

Part of the Crimson City Series - stay tuned for our review.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

On Submissions

Trying to get your work in front of an editor is nerve-wracking. Actually sending something out the door is enough to make you gnaw on your fingernails, pull out your hair and rend your clothes.

Okay, so it’s not THAT bad…really. See, the hard part is already done: YOU’VE WRITTEN THE BOOK. Now you just have to find someone who shares your vision, your taste and your view of things and who wants to publish your book.

Yesterday I sent off the first three chapters, a (sucky) synopsis and a query letter to an editor. I’ve corresponded with this editor prior to sending the items off, so it wasn’t that bad, but as soon as the envelope left my hands, the doubts started.

What if I didn’t find and fix all the passive voice? Oh hell! Did I remember to use one-inch margins all the way around? What if she reads the synopsis and laughs? What if she reads the first three chapters and uses them to start a fire in her office? What if…what if she really likes it and wants more?

Submitting your work to an editor or agent is like riding a roller coaster. There’s the shaky feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you put everything in the envelope, check to make sure you’ve spelled the editor’s name and the name of the publishing house correctly, seal the envelope – oh no, did I remember to put in a SASE for a rejection note – maybe it won’t matter, maybe she won’t reject it! - etc.,

Then the ride starts – you check the USPS website every day to see when the package is delivered – and of COURSE you used the “delivery confirmation” slip, the one that doesn’t require a signature for delivery. You’re going up that first hill now…then, when you know the envelope has been delivered, your stomach drops out from underneath, just as it does when you start down the hill on that blasted roller coaster.

Now the nerves kick in – is she reading it? Does she like it? Is she laughing at the funny parts? Is she tearing up if there something sad in there? Is the sexual tension strong enough? Too strong? Does she like the style? Are the characters catching her attention? This is the up and down part of the ride – your heart is beating fast, your palms are sweaty, you feel as though you could just hurl…

The end of the ride can either be a smooth coast to a stop or a jolting halt…we’ll know more about that when we hear back from the editor in question with either a “loved it, want it” or a “thanks, but no thanks.”