Monday, July 19, 2010

Cage Match: His At Night and The Forbidden Rose

This is a close one, for me. In my heart I have a winner, but I can be swayed. For anyone who hasn't read these books - get thee to a bookstore, because once again, Sherry Thomas and Joanna Bourne have elevated the genre and for those of us aspiring to not only be published but to be as good as we can be - we have a lot to keep up with.

For me Sherry Thomas' His At Night wins. As a romance it's perfect. And I mean perfect. The characters, the conflict, the courtship dance, how it all falls apart and comes back together, broke my heart a thousand different ways. I've read reviews that didn't like that the hero is lying to everyone in his life in order to be a spy - I bought it. I loved it. The pay off of that lie, when he decides to come clean, is a bit rushed, but it's a minor quibble. Also, the subplot of the bad guy and his past, was in parts skimable, particularly when it didn't directly pertain to the heroine. When the heroine and the bad guy crossed paths - AWESOME. The twists and turns of the romance were utterly and totally compelling and Thomas makes conversation and the small reveals of the heart into page turning plot points.

The Forbidden Rose, I feel gets slowed down because it had to pretend to be a romance. I totally believed that the two characters would love each other, but unlike traditional romances, the dance between them was the least interesting part of the book. And that's because the external plot was freaking AMAZING!!! She's smuggling french aristo's out of France, he's an English spy looking for her father and the details about how he blends into every situation by simply changing the set of his shoulders was fascinating. The minor characters - AMAZING! The big bad - terrifying. This book worked in so many ways, that the romance brought it down. As soon as the two characters got to Paris and the book became about espionage and historical amazingness, I couldn't put it down. Bourne's books are coming out in trade now, at least her first book is being republished and I think she'll find as much and more success in that niche of historical mystery/romance with Deanna Raybourne. The scene where she gilds her toenails...wow. WOW.

Either way you can't lose with these books. So, anyone else? It's a cage match....

9 comments:

Stephanie Doyle said...

This is so funny! I am just about finished with Rose - and was going to have to Cage Match with Sinead because she mentioned feeling luke warm about the book...

I haven't read Sherry T - I will - but it is going to have to be ONE HELL OF A BOOK to beat Rose.

I find this book to be amazing on so many levels.

The side characters. All interesting. The winding in and out of plot points... so easy. Everything feels effortless.

The research. The feel of the time period without being loaded down with facts... I see her Paris.

The vocabulary! The word choice. The imagery.

I could go on for days about this book.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I also have to add...

I read a trade "historical/romance" recently. It's interesting to me what NY chooses for trade vs. mm. What they think is "big" enough.

I read the trade book and thought...okay. I can do this. I'm as good as this. I can write trade... (flexing arm muscles along the way)

I read Bourne... and my head drops and my shoulders slump and I think... I'll never be this good.

Eileen said...

I so want to cage match with you, but I haven't read either! I will put them on my list tout de suite. I swear.

About the trade vs. mm thing . . . as a person who's been published in both, I would take mm any day of the week over trade. The lines of distribution are soooooo much longer. I will not tell you what my reaction was when I found out Don't Kill the Messenger was coming out in trade because I don't think we're supposed to use that kind of language here at DWT.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen that fascinates me! To me trade says it's bigger, more serious, more effort on the publisher to reach outside normal genres.

I would have thought having DKTM in trade was a bonus not a detriment.

Once again... the things I don't know about this business...

Eileen said...

Well, think about the racks for books in the grocery store, the drug store and even at the airport. By coming out in trade, you've already crossed a good number of those venues off the list.

Also, a trade book is generally $12 - $14. A mass market book is $6 - $8 or so. If someone is thinking about trying a new author, the lower price helps, especially these days.

I like the trade size for how it looks. I like it for how it feels in my hands. For how it sells? Well, not so much . . .

Molly O'Keefe said...

Steph - you won't be disappointed. I know you're on the fence about Thomas -but this is one you'll dig.

Eileen - that is interesting. I think I forget the power of the drug store purchase. One of the things I'm interested to find out is how my harlequin sales will stack up against single title sales. It's the grocery store/drug store factor that probably plays a much bigger role than I thought.

Maureen McGowan said...

I haven't read either of these yet, but can't wait to read the Sherry Thomas. Big fan. She creates real and interesting characters like few others can.

I always thought I'd want to come out in trade because i like the look/feel of them better and, like Steph, thought they were more "serious".

But I saw a talk by an agent last summer at Nationals (I think it was Kristin Nelson) that talked about royalty rates and break points and a lot of other details about trade deals that made them seem very disadvantageous for the author. And that's another reason (beyond the distribution thing) where MM seems preferable for the author.

My theory about genre fiction and trade is that they put them out in trade when they think the books will cross over to non-genre readers... Trying to capture a bigger market? But not sure my theory makes sense because clearly it cuts out some market, too...

Eileen said...

Molly, I'll be interested in seeing how you think things stack up, too. My general perception from what I've heard from other authors is that those Harlequin books have pretty decent print runs. I think it's possible that the single market stuff stays on the shelf longer, though. I have no idea what that means for your pocketbook, though.

Maureen, I think your theory has some merit. I think the chick lit novels that came out in trade were sort of marketed as more literary than regular romance. I know mine were all shelved in Fiction and Literature as opposed to Romance with the idea that we were capturing a different audience.

I don't think it was advantageous to the authors. Think of how many romance novels are sold vs. the rest of fiction.

Sinead M said...

I agree with your cage match and I'm slightly ashamed that I couldn't fall in love with the Bourne book...

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