a fan in fantasy rather than in reality


Over the last few weeks, I assiduously avoided sports. Literally. Much of my family spent hours is in another room swearing at the television and the games of the NCAA tournament.

I’ve never been into sports. I didn’t play sports growing up. In high school I avoided jocks and the games they played in. In college and graduate school, despite being in the fabled Tobacco Road, I attended one quarter of one football game.

When I moved in with my now husband I was appalled at how much he cared about sports. If his team lost a big football game, our weekend could be shot. Hours I’d have preferred to spend canoodling, he preferred to watch the NCAA, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, and, fortunately not very often, MLB.

 Over the years I have become slightly closer with sports. I do watch the occasional basketball game, and enjoy the current era of women’s and men’s professional tennis. I still, however, don’t really understand football, find hockey terrifying, and loathe baseball.

Thus it surprises me many of my favorite contemporary romances feature athlete heroes. Just today I read a book with an ex-NFL hero I adored. I’ve read and reread Rachel Gibson’s Chinooks series more times than I care to confess. I harbor an abiding affection for Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars football players – and I hate football. Continue reading

good gods, I love this book and this review of it


I am currently re-reading this book for the second time in a week. Usually, books with dom/sub relationships are interesting to me but not inherently engaging. (Have you met me?) The relationship in this book captivates me. I’d review it here but Michelle’s review is so spot on and well done that I think readers are better served reading it.

interviewing Elizabeth Essex


I recently had the good fortune to listen to Ms. Essex read from her latest novel, After the Scandal, at my local Lady Jane’s Salon. There, I asked if she’d answer a few questions. The result is this interview which was published at All About Romance.

Dabney: Elizabeth, you are the current historical romance writer I most associate with the sea. And so many of your books the characters are either on the sea, defined by their relationship to the sea, and/or deeply aware of their family’s debt to the bounty and education provided by the sea. I remember reading, after I read your first novel, you have a Masters degree in nautical archaeology. So I must ask, really? Nautical archaeology? What called to you about that field?

Elizabeth: I blame those marvelous old Jaques Cousteau National Geographic specials I watched when I was a kid. They just riveted me to the screen. I grew up on the seashore, sailing all summer long in a small pinnacle on Long Island Sound, so I have always felt very drawn to the sea and ships. And National Geographic showed me that there were actually people who studied shipwrecks as a profession. That combination of being underwater, and studying the remains of ships as an archaeologist was my idea of heaven. I got to travel all over the world, and work with some of the finest individuals I’ve ever met. And my studies gave me a very deep background in the history of 19th century sailing navies. Archeology and writing popular fiction aren’t as unrelated as they might seem—they both involve studying people, and figuring out how, and why they do the things they do.


Continue reading

And I don’t mind dying, but for the love of you


I’ve a thing for stories. I’ve a thing for music. When the two fuse flawlessly, I’m done.

The first time I heard Richard Thompson was on his 1991 album Rumor and Sigh. It’s a great album with one miraculous song.

1952 Vincent Black Lightning is–and no I do not watch HIMYM–legendary. The songwriting, the guitar work, and the pained power of Mr. Thompson’s vocals, well, just listen. I’ve since heard him live several times and this song, live on stage, tears my heart out.

But I’m not here to rave about the music. Tonight, I’m all about the story. It’s a romance for the ages. James loves red-headed Molly. She falls for him despite his warning he’s a dangerous man. He has a motorcycle but, rather than the lovers riding off into the sunset, he’s shot by the law and, dying, gives her one last kiss, and presses the keys to his Vincent into her hand. It’s heartpoundingly, heartbreakingly, brilliantly beautiful.

1952 Black Vincent Lightening is not the only perfect song I treasure. But it’s in my top ten. \I think I’ll share them all.

Next up, Rachel Sage’s Jane’s Dimitri.

a romantic first


I went to my first Lady Jane’s Salon tonight. My part of the world has an active chapter peopled by authors, readers, and publishers. I’ve avoided going before because… i’m often too impatient, at 52, to be read to. I love reading, on my own terms, in my own time. The idea I would to there and listen to someone else read something I’d neither chosen the content or the length of is just enough of a disincentive to not head out at the end of a long day to the my local Salon.

I went tonight, however, because two authors – of the three reading – I’m immensely fond of. The first, Jennifer Lohmann, is a friend and an author I admire. The second, Elizabeth Essex, is a writer whom, even when I don’t love her stories I adore her prose.

The piece that Jennifer read is one I know well–I know Jennifer pretty well–so that experience strikes me as singular and not one that would encourage me or dis-encourage me to again attend Lady Jane Salon

Listening to Elizabeth Essex, who was reading a piece I’d already read, was an encouragement to come again.

Ms. Essex has a thing for words. Her books are full of language my standard dictionary doesn’t recognize and the OED calls archaic. Her sentences are a tumbled lexicon, dense enough to require me to pause and parse their meaning. And it turns out that listening to Ms. Essex is as enthralling as reading Ms. Essex.

I’ll go again to the local Lady Jane’s Salon… if the authors reading are writers whose words I love on the page. It’s likely to happen. I’m lucky to live in an area rife with stellar writers. Here’s hoping a writer with the allure of Ms. Essex will be reading his or her work here soon.