Some Some Summertime

Joanna here, 

The thermometer tells us it's 100 degrees today, (thank you, Mercury, god of thermometers). Another ikea bookcases
The cat is conked out on her back in the shade, too tired to harass the birds.  I'm listening to my heatstroke playlist. That's the one that starts with the Beachboy's Kokomo, ("Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take ya to …") and shimmies on to the Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City, ("Doesn't seem to be a shadow  in the City").

Summer is upon us.

So let me ask, "What books would you take to the beach this summer?  Old friends?  New discoveries?"

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs. 
                                 Henry Ward Beecher

HammockonBeach wiki

Here in the South we know all about the heat index creeping stealthily up toward the triple digits.  We've raised 'doing nothing' to a graceful art form.  It's an art practiced by the swimming pool or a big 'ole lake,  or at least in company with a hose spraying around the backyard.  Bonus points for the lifestyle include barbecued ribs and cold Mountain Dew.  And beer.    Backyardhose attribclapstar

For me, any day of the simmering summer is incomplete without a book in the bag.  Or a couple books, since you never know exactly how the spirit will move you.  Summer reading needs the background noise of kids running around barefoot and yelling about nothing at all.  It needs a shady porch or umbrella and maybe a dragonfly hovering just off the port side of the hammock.    

Kai lungI'll tuck an old friend in the straw bag — Kai-Lung's Golden Hours by Ernest Bramah.  There's a funny, clever, dreamy, irrationality to it that suits hot weather and lying by the pool.  I own it in paperback, but it's free on e-readers, being out of copyright an' all. 

(Go ahead and click on any of these book names for more information 'bout the book.)

Jennifer Crusie always picks me up.  Funny, funny woman.  I haven't had a chance to read, Tell Me Lies yet, and I'm looking forward to it.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a new book out in July The Great Escape: A Novel.  I might top those two off with rum and coke and Grace Burrowes' most recent book, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal

In one of those fortunate happenstances, the ARCs for Mischief and Mistletoe are wending their way Wenchward, so I have that to look forward to.  A cool read in so many ways.

Mary Jo Putney says:

I am a Reader for All Seasons, and certainly can’t evoke languid summer reading times as well as Joanna can. (The dragonfly is a nice touch. <G>)

But a favorite I just reread fits the summer reading theme: White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz.  The  book is one of her Arcane Society romantic suspense novels, and it’s set in blazing summer heat in Arizona as the heroine, Clare Painteddesert wikiLancaster, becomes involved with murder, mayhem, and a hot alpha hunter named Jake.  I like  the characters and the plot—Clare is a human lie detector, which gives her an unusual philosophy of life.  And I like the JAK banter. 

I also like the way the book makes a reader feel the Arizona heat.  The burning steering wheels and the blasts of air conditioning when entering a building.  The deliciousness of a desert night, with softly slinking coyotes and giant stars on a dark velvet sky.  The crunch of bruschetta and the cool wine that follows.  Perfect summer reading if one is lounging on a shaded patio.  

But in general, any good story will do, summer or winter!

(Teacup attrib merdeglace, girl with hose attrib clapstar, bookshelves charliebrewer)

Nicola Cornick, who is not suffering the Virginia swelter or even Arizona's At-Least-It's-A-Dry-Heat desert, says: Teacup attrib merdeglace

There is a saying that summer in the UK consists of three hot days and then a thunderstorm, but this year it’s been so cool and damp we’ve barely had three hot days in a row and not much in the way of humidity.  So when my thoughts turn to summer reads they tend provoke ideas of pale sandy beaches and cool breezes off the sea and me sitting behind a wind break as I try to read, cradling a cup of tea from the flask to warm me up!

5 Paul Cesar Helleu (French artist, 1859-1927) ReaderMaybe that’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to reading The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick. It sounds wonderfully evocative of the county, its coastline, its history and its atmosphere. I love holidays in Cornwall and one of my all time favourite books is Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier, which evokes the spirit of time and place in Cornwall so beautifully. I was even lucky enough to stay in Daphne Du Maurier's house at Frenchman's Creek one year and I could feel the ghosts all around me.

Which brings me neatly to my other hotly anticipated summer read. This is The Silent Touch of Shadows by HWW Christina Courtenay, a time slip book set in the present and the 15th century. I love time travel books and can never find enough of them to read. There's a pdf file with an extract from the here.  It's out in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to pick it up! 

Susan King brings us three recommendations and a garden:

I'm a dedicated year-round reader, though I tend to read a little more during the summer, with the pace of the household quieter, the Guys being busy and not around as much — I'll find an air-conditioned corner, curl up with the dog, and make a dent in the TBR pile. If it's not too hot 'n buggy, I love sitting out Morton_distanthoursto read on the shady side of the deck. But summer or winter, the reading situation depends on the deadline situation, but with my deadline a ways off yet (I'm time-dyslexic, ahem), this summer I have serious Reading Intentions.  

I've just started The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, and then I've got my eye on A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. At the same time (because who reads just one book), I'm catchingDeck_summer up with some Wench novels (Mary Jo's delicious No Longer A Gentleman is toppling the stack). I've also loaded up the Kindle with lots of books and good intentions — mysteries, romance, a couple of YAs.
In a few weeks, when we'll be at Lake George for a bit, I'll find time to sit out on the breezy porch and read for hours. There's always the bottomless stack of research books, notes, and pages to read/revise — that sort of reading never stops!
It's a lovely thing, reading. I couldn't get through a summer (fall, winter, spring) or a lifetime without it!
The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don't, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.
                    Polly Horvath

Andrea Pickens
brings us a couple few interesting suggestions, including our only hit on nonfiction:
It’s been a little hard to think of summer reads because here in the northeast where I live, it’s been unseasonably cool. But the vernal equinox seems to be bringing in a wave of sun and heat, so am looking forward to stretching out under a beach umbrella and diving into some of the books on my TBR pile.

I can highly recommend one that I just finished. Anatomy of Murder, by Imogen Robertson, is the second in her Georgian-set mystery series and it features fascinating characters, a compelling plot and wonderfully gritty description of life in London. It’s a compelling read that’s very hard to put down.  I’ve also got Past Wench Loretta Chase’s new release, Scandal Wears Satin, in my beach bag, for her pithy humor is perfect for making me laugh on a lazy summer day.

Now,  I know it’s the season for light reads, but I thought you all might get a laugh at what else I’m currently reading. A  dear friend of mine is fascinated by physics—about which I know less than nothing. However, he finds the subject so interesting that I recently read The Clockwork Universe, which was about Isaac Newton,  the Royal Society and the making of the modern world of science, so I could talk to him about it. To my surprise, I found it fascinating. However, I’ve now opened Pandora’s Box, because he just gave me Quantum, a book on quantuBanished bridem physics. I have started it—and feel like I’m back in school because I’ve started taking notes so I can try to understand some of the concepts. To my utter shock, I am enjoying learning about something that is utterly alien to me. And given that we want young people to get excited about science as well as reading, I feel I’m doing my bit. (If I don’t surface for the rest of the summer, you will know why!)

And (Shameless plug!) for those of you in the mood for a traditional Regency read, I've just posted three more of my old Signet books in e-book format at Amazon.  The Banished Bride, Second Chances, and A Stroke of Luck.

Jo Beverley points out:

I've never understood the concept of summer reads. To many it seems to mean a Marie_Danforth_Page Young Girl Reading 1914time when they're allowed to goof off and read the books they actually enjoy instead of the ought-to tomes. Come on now, break free and read for pleasure all year long!

Next, I'm not sure people have the most reading time in summer. Why should that be? Surely many people spend their summer holidays places they enjoy, not escaping to somewhere else in fiction. Now a long winter evening — that sounds like good reading time!

Anyway, I've never liked reading in the sun. However, that might not be a problem, given the weather summer's starting with here in England!
Irving Ramsay Wiles (American artist, 1861–1948) Reading in the Garden
Do you read more in summer?

And we round it off with suggestions from Anne Gracie:

It's a lovely idea — summer reads — but it's a bit hard to wrap my head around at the moment, because where I am (downunder) it's cold and wet and wintry, so I'm thinking more of reading curled up in front of the fire, or snuggling down under the bedclothes with a good book. In any case, I'm like Jo — I don't much like reading on the beach. Too bright and glarey to read, and I always end up with sand in the pages.  Give me a shady garden with a hammock and a long, cool glass standing by, any time.

R Curt Herrmann (1854-1929) Sophie Herrmann. (2)I'm actually not reading a lot at the moment because I'm on deadline, and at such times I reread, more than read,  but I have a lovely pile of new books ready on my TBR pile, and a few more on order.

I have Eloisa James's Paris book waiting, and Loretta Chase's Scandal Wears Satin on order, and I did try to leave Nalini Singh's Tangle of Need until after I'd finished my book, but I gave in. I've been hooked this series since Slave to Sensation. Julia Quinn's latest is singing its siren song to me, too. I've also got a pile of P.G. Wodehouses standing by — a lot of my old copies have gone walkabout, so I treated myself to a pile of new ones recently.

But summer heat or winter chills, as far as I'm concerned it's always time for a good book.

So, there you are — round about two dozen books for your delectation and enjoyment.  Have you read any of these?  Would you second the recommendations?

Is summer your time for light reading and a lot of it?  Are you expecting to get much reading done over the next few weeks?


Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

No Longer a Gentleman, Lost Lords #4, is about to hit bookstores. (April 24th is the official release date.) 

Sometime back I wrote a blog called “Another Dead Hero” because raising NoLongerAGentlemancharacters from presumed death is obviously a plot trope I enjoy.  But Greydon  Sommers, Lord Wyndham, was deader than most.

There are references to him earlier in the series. First, just oblique allusions to a lost and much mourned friend. Gradually it’s revealed that he was in France when the Peace of Amiens ended. 

Treaty of Amiens cartoonThis was a brief truce from March 1802 till May 1803.  The wars between France and the rest of Europe had been going on for almost ten years, and when peace was negotiated, everyone wanted to party,

And Paris is where the party was.  Hordes of well-born Britons poured into the city—including my hero, Grey.  One of the first class of students at the Westerfield Academy for “boys of good birth and bad behavior,” he was the golden lad who was equally adept at getting into mischief and charming his way out of the consequences.

Grey’s father, the Earl of Costain, sent his heir to Westerfield in the hope that the formidable headmistress, Lady Agnes, would be immune to Grey’s charm.  While not immune, she did call him on his behavior, but it wasn’t enough to teach him good sense. 

Which is why consequences finally caught up with Grey in Paris in May 1803, just as the Peace of Amiens ended.  Every British male in France between the ages of 16 and 60 was interned, and most weren’t freed to return home until 1814, after Napoleon abdicated.   

Napoleon's soldiersIn the chaos of renewed war, Grey vanished.  Friends such as Lord Kirkland, even then a budding spymaster, had warned him to return home before war was renewed, but Grey, who’d never been in real danger, lingered until it was too late.

But he wasn’t interned, which is why friends and family back in England didn’t know if he was alive or dead.  Caught in the bed of a French official’s wife, he’d been condemned to solitary confinement in the private dungeon of the lady’s husband.

And there Grey stayed for ten long, harrowing years.  What happens to an extrovert deprived of human company?  To a golden haired charmer whom even close friends doubt has the will and grit to survive a harsh captivity?

Cassie Fox is a half French, half English spy who appeared in Nowhere Near NNR lower resolutionRespectable.  A tough and guarded woman, she lost her whole family to revolutionary violence.  She has spent the last dozen years as one of Kirkland’s most capable operatives, and never expected to survive the war. 

It is Cassie whom Kirkland sends to check out information that an English lordling has been held captive in Castle Durand for ten years.  It is Cassie who frees Grey and must get a crazed, semi-feral man back to England.  And it is Cassie who becomes the one person who can touch Grey’s anguished soul and make him feel safe. 

Dungeon--So—not only a dead hero, but a tortured one.  I loved Grey!  Cassie is also fairly tortured, but Grey’s taut courage and vulnerability begin to crack the barriers around her frozen heart.  This is a romance, so you know that one way or another they’ll work things out, but as always, the journey is the fun—and Grey and Cassie have a lot of journeying before they reach their happy ending.

Here’s a brief excerpt of when Cassie, disguised as an old woman, rescues Grey:

He scrambled to his feet, feasting his eyes on the sight of another human being. Better yet, a clean, normal woman. He impulsively wrapped his arms around her and crushed her warm body into an embrace, his heart pounding.

She swore and shoved at him.

"Please," he said, his voice shaking. "I've been so…so hungry for touch. Only a moment. Please!"

She relaxed and let him hold her. Dear God, she felt good! A warm, breathing woman with a sweet old-lady scent of lavender that made him think of his grandmother. He never wanted to let her go.

Here’s another excerpt that shows what happened just before this snippet.

Map_redIn an extra bit of fun, Kensington did a mini-site for No Longer a  Gentleman.  There’s a map with the four key locations of the story.  Go to the site and click on each star, and you'll get an image, a description, and a bit of music.  Very cool!

I’ve been really delighted by the reviews NLAG has received.  A sampling:

“Romance and wartime espionage mix delightfully in the fourth Lost Lords Regency…The unusually balanced and sensitively depicted romantic duo, suspenseful adventure, and well-researched historical background make this a must for Regency fans.”
 Starred review, Publishers Weekly

“The incomparable Putney returns with a Lost Lords novel that touches readers’ hearts.  No ballrooms or marriage marts appear, but spies and danger, passion and adventure and love and redemption keep readers glued to the pages and immersed in another unforgettable tale.”
 Romantic Times BookClub, Kathe Robin. 4½ star Top Pick.   Romantic Times BookClub KISS designation: “Mary Jo Putney’s Lord Wyndham is No Longer a Gentleman, but he’s all sexy, courageous hero.”

NoLongerAGentleman“With sensitivity and inimitable skill, Putney rescues another lost lord; gives him a brave, resourceful heroine who helps him heal; complicates things with foiling villains, readjusting to society, and falling in love; and weaves it all together in another beautifully written, unforgettable romance.”
 Starred Review, Library Journal, reviewed by John Charles

Considering how I slogged my way through the writing, this is vastly gratifying!

I’m now working on Lost Lords #5, which is scheduled for September 2013.  There will be at least a couple more books beyond that, but I really can’t say how many.  These interesting, tortured fellows just keep turning up….

In the meantime, I’ll give a copy of NLAG to someone who comments between now and Tuesday midnight.  (It will probably be an ARC since I don’t have author’s copies yet.) 

French chateauSo if you've been waiting to read about the mysterious, long missing Wyndham, here he is.  And while admittedly I put Grey through a lot, he thanked me for it in the end.  Really!

Mary Jo