August 19 - Romance!

Cindy M.
1 —
Mary J. Jones. Avalon. 1991. 237 pages.

Plot Summary: Argante, Queen Guinevere's illegitimate daughter, falls in love with Princess Elin, an old classmate, while recovering from a battle wound at Camelot. Though Elin loves her, too, the two part … that is, until Elin is taken captive several years later and Argante, of course, comes to her rescue.

Appeals: Traditional love story; strong female characters; will appeal to readers who like "Mists of Avalon"

2 —
Howard Stern. Private Parts. 1993. 446 pages.

Plot Summary: The autobiography of narcissitic Howard Stern who, after all, loves his wife Allison, the most stable force in his life. Too bad they have since divorced…

Appeals: Funny; fast-paced; fascinating look into the world of radio broadcasting

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Michael Habata
1 —
Tucker, Michael. Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy. 2007. 255 pages.
Plot Summary: Former L.A. Law actor Michael Tucker and his wife give up life in California for a house in rural Italy, where they learn to appreciate Italian food and wine, their neighbors, a slower life, and their love for each other.

Appeals: leisurely pacing, appreciation of food and wine, appeal to slowing down and enjoying the simpler pleasures, rejection of Hollywood and show business values.

2 —
Brown, Tracy. Twisted. 2008. 338 pages.
Plot Summary: Celeste Styles, having burned down her New York hair salon, escapes her privileged life as mistress to a drug lord by fleeing to Atlanta and becoming an independent woman. Five years later, her former lover decides to try to find her, bringing his spurned wife and best friend in his tow. Complications ensue, but Celeste finds love and a happy ending.

Appeals: urban fiction "chick lit"- empowerment of the female protagonist, glamorization of the criminal lifestyle, fast pacing, recurring characters (novel is a follow-up to author's earlier Dime Piece), fairly discrete sex scenes.

Glenda Gamboa
1 —
Kurosawa, Akira. Something Like an Autobiography. 1982. 205 pages.

Plot Summary: Akira Kurosawa tells of his life as a filmmaker. This autobiography follows his life from childhood up to the point when he receives international critical acclaim. Through his own eyes, we come to understand where his love of filmmaking originated.

Appeals: The pacing is fast. The language is vivid. It is a personal telling that shows us his love for the process of filmmaking.
2 —
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. 371 pages.

Plot Summary: Elizabeth Bennet is a smart and lively woman whose independent zeal may threaten her family's financial future. She and Mr. Darcy find each other intriguing, but pride and prejudice bar their way to love.

Appeals: The language is of the period. Austen has a keen eye for characterization where we encounter many interesting and comical characters. The events of the story unfold in a deliberate pace.

Marita Klements
1 —
Georgette Heyer. Devil's Cub. 1932, reprinted 1970. 265.

In order to protect her sister's reputation Mary Challoner tries to trick the rakish Dominic Lord Vidal, but she sparks his temper and he kidnaps her away to Paris. When he realizes that he has in fact ruined the reputation of a good women he determines to marry her despite his family's and her own objections

Appeals: wacky cast of characters, fast paced plot, snappy dialog, romance, adventure.

2 —
Abelard & Heloise, translated by William Levitan. The Letters and Other Writings. 2007. 301 plus appendices and index.

The writings of twelfth century lovers Peter Abelard and Heloise. Heloise was the most learned women in France, and Abelard was the most charismatic and famous scholar at the University of Paris. When he became her tutor they fell madly in love, and had what is perhaps the most famous and tragic affair of all time. This is a collection of the letters they wrote to each other fifteen years after their affair came to a disastrous end, including Abelard's memoir.

Appeals: real life love story, very literary poetry and philosophy by two of the greatest minds in literary history.

Danica Sheridan
1 —
Clinton, Hillary. Living History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. 528 pages.

Plot Summary: Smart girl meets smart boy. They fall in love. They strive to change the world. He becomes president of the United States. She becomes the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing and "a seat at the table." Smart boy betrays smart girl. They live through it… together.

Appeals: Modern romance with real life, albeit extraordinary, trials & tribulations, STRONG female protangonist, corporate greed, politics, leisurely paced but the story moves.

2 —
Kozak, Harley Jane. Dating Dead Men. New York: Broadway Books, 2004. 335 pages.

Plot Summary: Struggling to make ends meet and feelings woefully single, greeting card artist Wollie Shelley agrees to participate in a research study that requires her to date 40 men in 60 days for $5,000. Mostly boring, occasionally amusing, moonlighing as a dating glutton's not all that bad. That is, until she finds that dead body in the middle of the road.

Appeals: Romance, crime underworld, humor, Hollywood glamour, action, quirky but strong female protagonist, love where you least expect it.

Cathy McGowan
1 —
Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. 2006. 227 pages.

Plot Summary: The first year of grief following her husband's death includes remembrances that fill the reader in on the love story of the writer's 40-year marriage. She wonders if she was unusually dependent, or unusually lucky, and realizes how she and her husband were equally incapable of imagining life without the other.

Appeals: We have a window into the life of a well-known writer, as well as into the most personal grief of losing a spouse. The simplicity of many of their happy times is very poignant, and we are eager to follow and observe her coping mechanisms.
2 —
Lamott, Anne. Blue Shoe. 2002. 291 pages.

Plot Summary: Mattie Ryder is a divorced single mother who works as a size 12 fit model for Sears. She has an immediate connection to Daniel,the man who comes to exterminate rodents in her mothers old house but doesn't have the heart to follow through. There are obstacles, however, mainly that he is married and that she is emotionally drained from caring for her declining mother, and finding out about some skeletons in the family closet.

Appeals: contemporary characters with realistic problems, easily paced in a conversational tone, the unperfect find love amid calamity

Elizabeth Guth
1 —
Heyer, Georgette. These Old Shades 1926. 362 pages.

Plot Summary: The Duke of Avon, considered by society to be a cold calculating rake, crosses paths with Léon, a French red-headed teenager of low birth who is fleeing from his brother and a beating. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. But Léon is not what he seems and the Duke of Avon has a plan.

Appeals: pre-Revolutionary France/England, fast paced, lots of witty dialog, quirky characters, plot twists, happy ending
2 —
Browne, Jill Conner. The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love. 1999. 210 pages.

Plot Summary: The Book of Love recounts some of the Sweet Potato Queens’ (a group of middle aged woman from Jackson Mississippi) most wild adventures with the opposite sex and gives tips on how to be as fabulous and queenly as they are. Chapter titles include “True Magic Words Guaranteed to Get Any Man to Do Your Bidding” “The Five Men You Must Have in Your Life at All Times.”

Appeals: strong female narrator, very Southern, conversational/colloquial style almost gossipy, outrageous anecdotes

Rachel Longaker
1 —
Amanda Quick With This Ring 1998. 343 pages.

Plot Summary: The setting is Regency England. Since becoming a widow in her early twenties, Beatrice Poole has written Gothic romance novels under a pseudonym in order to support herself. When she suspects that her uncle, Lord Glassonby, has been murdered in connection with a statue of Aphrodite she enlists the aid of the reclusive antiquarian scholar, the Earl of Monkcrest. He is disarmingly like the brooding heroes she writes about and their romance develops as they solve the mystery of the Forbidden Rings of Aphrodite.

Appeals: Fast-paced, with the suspense and romantic plots nicely interwoven, along with mildly erotic sections interspersed; Regency England; light-hearted tone; recognizable characters but with clever twists; a satisfyingly happy ending.
2 —
Stanley Weintraub Charlotte and Lionel: A Rothschild Love Story. 2003. 293 pages.

Plot Summary: In Victorian England Lionel Rothschild was the grandson of one of Europe's wealthiest financiers. His arranged marriage to his German cousin, Charlotte, proved to be a love match. The Rothschild family was enormously powerful, and Lionel and Charlotte consorted with many politicians and members of the ruling class but were nonetheless subjected to the bigotry of anti-Semitism. The couple transcended this paradox and supported one another in raising a family and using their influence to improve English society and make it more just.

Appeals: A scholarly view of Victorian England that is well-researched; historical details; densely written; historical figures from a famous family are brought to life; a marriage that is meant to consolidate family fortunes turns out to also be a love match and a fulfilling partnership.

Simon Lee
1 —
Krentz, Jayne Ann. Sizzle and Burn 2008. 359 pages.

Plot Summary: Raine Tallentyre is an attractive and gifted young woman with paranormal psychic abilities to read minds. When the last of her blood relatives dies, a sequence of events lead her into a suspenseful murder mystery that would acquaint her with Zack Jones — a psychic with visions. His affiliation with the Arcane Society holds answers to her past, hones her potent abilities, and unites them in matters of business and pleasure.

Appeals: Strong female protagonist, fast-paced leisurely read with frequent dialogue, suspenseful with paranormal integration, dark setting, minimal but steamy sex scenes.
2 —
Bentley, Toni. The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir. 2004. 208 pages.

Plot Summary: A unique testimonial of a woman’s passion, intellect, and philosophy towards her holy awakening — anal sex. The sexual experiences of a shameless narcissist and sadomasochist written with literary ambition. An intimate description of events before, during, and after her awakening.

Appeals: Strong female narrative, erotic memoir written with an IQ, passionate and serious tone towards individual values, beliefs, attitude, philosophy and way of life.

Sarah Clark
1 —
Susan Anderson. Be My Baby. 1999. 372 pages.
Plot Summary: When good-girl Juliet goes to New Orleans for the opening of her father’s hotel, the last thing she wants is to be escorted everywhere by the coarsely-mannered and ruggedly handsome cop, Beau Dupree. While trying to get rid of each other, Beau and Juliet discover they have electrifying chemistry.

Appeals: Steamy sex-scenes; good girl, bad boy dynamic; fast-paced, light read; colliding personalities who fall for each other.
2 –
Oliver Sacks. Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain. 2007. 381 pages.
Plot Summary: From musical hauntings to music therapy, this book passionately explores the mysterious power of music through stories of patients with neurological disorders or recent brain trauma, musicians and everyday people.
Appeals: Reputable author; well-documented cases and science that, while not dumbed-down, is accessible; compelling characters; good footnotes and references that act as a readers’ advisory tool, potentially guiding the reader to many other great books and movies.

Sheila Purcell
1 —
Horan, Nancy. Loving Frank. 2007. 362 pages.
Plot Summary: A woman tired of her marriage falls in love with Frank Lloyd Wright who has been hired to design her new home. They elope together and create a scandal.

Appeals: short chapters, intellectual characters, realistic portrayal of a failing marriage, feminism.

2 —
Waller, Robert James. The Bridges of Madison County. 1992. 171 pages.
Plot Summary: A lonely Italian housewife in Iowa meets a wandering photographer whose constant traveling ruined his previous marriage. They few days spent together are recollected in every detail.

Appeals: sensitive and introspective characters, detailed right down to the beads of sweat, rural and quiet setting, midlife disillusionment, relationship builds slowly making characters more sympathetic.

Oleg Kagan
1 —
Roquelaure, A.N. (Rice, Anne) The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. 1983. 253 pages.

Plot Summary: An erotic retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale. Beauty is awakening from her 100-year slumber by a "poke" from the Prince. The rest of the novel reveals a world full of nobles, and slaves(other nobles given as tribute) learning to submit and "serve".

Appeals: textual pornography, power dynamics, lots of spanking, male/male male/female female/female male/male/female female/female/male/female/male sexual unions, paced like a whip's snap, non-literary(naughty) writing style, first(of three).

2 —
Durant, Will & Durant, Ariel. A Dual Autobiography. 1977. 406 pages.

Plot Summary: The life of famed historians/philosophers/authors Will and Ariel Durant, told through the voices of both.

Appeals: tenderly paced, famous intellectuals, good portrayal of liberal zietgiest throughout century, small text-size(do not recommend to readers with bad eyesight), a real life romance with ups and downs; Mr. Durant's soppy love poems factor throughout but can be easily skimmed or skipped.

Kim Tocco
1 —
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Shanna. 1977. 666 pages.

Plot Summary: Set in in the mid-18th century, this lushly woven tale follows Shanna Trahern as she seeks to outwit her father's plan for a forced marriage by marrying a man set for the gallows, Ruark Beauchamp. However, he cheats the hangman and what follows is an adventurous plot filled with deception, action, and eventually, love.

Appeals: Fast pacing, rich characterization, wonderful description of the place and time, great love story.

2 —
Chris Stewart. Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia. 1999. 248 pages.

Plot Summary: Englishman moves to Andalucia with reluctant wife in tow, tries to befriend and understand quirky natives, farm his land, and survive an area he loves despite it all.

Appeals: Humorous story, nice reading for those who enjoy "back to the land, live the simple life" books, likable characters, and regional charm.

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