Sunday, April 18, 2010

GIVEAWAY & All Things Jo Beverley

The Secret Duke copyright by Jo BeverleyIn honor of Jo Beverley's The Secret Duke (April 2010) hitting #16 on the New York Times bestseller list, here's a post on all things bookish about Jo Beverley.

I'm also giving away a copy of DANGEROUS JOY by Jo Beverley to a blog commenter, to be chosen by El Randomizer. The contest goes until Mon 4/19 11:59 PM U.S. Pacific Time.

Jo Beverley photo copyright by was introduced to five-time RITA winner Jo Beverley's books by Janga. Janga has introduced me to authors and books that are now on my list of keepers, and as a result, when she recommends I listen. Upon her advice, my first JoBev was Devilish. Goodness! Gracious! I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing: the prose, the phrasing, the people, and above all, the emotions. I was in astonished awe throughout the book.

The Stanforth Secrets copyright by Jo BeverleyThe Secret Wedding copyright by Jo BeverleyThese past three weeks, I've been immersed in the same awe as I re-read, and continue to do so, Beverley's backlist: all the books I own, those that I can buy new or used online, and those that I can borrow through the public library system. So far, I've made it through all the medievals (so so so good), almost all the Mallorens, about half the Rogues, and a mere two of the Regencies (woe, indeed!). (I'm awaiting the clearing of the skies over Britain from the volcano fall-out before ordering Bryght's book.)

Every time I read a book, I think that this is The One, the most favored. Then the next one comes along and the next. All four of her medievals fall in my favorite medievals group and also favorite books of all time. In fact, I could list every Rogue and Malloren book here, and the list heading of clear favorites would be accurate. I own most of Beverley's backlist, and they're all keepers.

Devilish copyright by Jo BeverleyDevilish with Bey Malloren of Rothgar and Diana Westmount of Arradale — Rothgar fascinates. From the first Malloren book My Lady Notorious (the series were published out of order of occurring events), he's the power behind the scenes, the force that makes the entire series irrestible. Even in The Secret Duke, the most recent, and marginally related Malloren story, he pulls attention in every scene he's in. That JoBev could give him a woman like Diana is indicative of her writing chops, because truly anyone else would've been too mealymouthed to work for him, or even against him, for them to have an equitable life.

After seeing my current JoBev spate of reading, my husband asked to try one of her books, so I gave him Devilish. Before this, he'd read two romances and Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan's Beyond Heaving Bosoms on my instigation, so asking to read a rom-nov was a major step. He's half-way through it now and his comment: "After just the first chapter, you know that you're in the hands of a masterful storyteller."

An Arranged Marriage copyright by Jo BeverleyAn Arranged Marriage with Nicholas Delaney and Eleanor Chivenham — What a beginning. And by the gods, what a middle. You'd think that these two had the least chance of achieving a HEA. But merely through the strength of their characters, they survive impossible odds to achieve it. And for these two it truly felt like an achievement. For some couples, it feels like eventuality. These two fought hard for themselves and for each other.

Secrets of the Night copyright by Jo BeverleySecrets of the Night with Brand Malloren and Rosamunde Overton — Brand is my favorite Malloren. His book's also the most wrenching of them all. This is the book where the two acknowledge their love early on, and yet, are torn by circumstances to live apart for months in limbo.

The Shattered Rose copyright by Jo BeverleyThe Shattered Rose with Galeran and Jehanne of Heywood — The most painful of her medievals, it's also a bold one, because the story isn't of first love. This was a couple, who'd been separated, went through immeasurable suffering, and now are carving out a second chance for themselves, because in the midst of all the turmoil, what's not lost is the love they bear each other. The addition of a first-time young love between secondary characters is another bold risk. It pays off, because it lightens and contrasts with the tale of angst between the protagnoists.

Dark Champion copyright by Jo BeverleyDark Champion with FitzRoger of Cleeve and Imogen of Carrisford — One of the most formidable of Beverley's medieval heroes, he feels like the precursor to Rothgar. Progressive for his times and confident in his abilities and position in society, he's willing to grant rights to the heroine in 1101 that most men wouldn't even in 1901.

Lord of my Heart copyright by Jo BeverleyLord of my Heart with Aimery de Gaillard and Madeleine of Baddersley — The story could be said to hinge on a misunderstanding, but with a JoBev, it's rarely ever such a thin plot device. The socio-political reasons are layered on in more and more complexity until the readers' allegiance moves back-n-forth between the protagonists.

Lord of Midnight copyright by Jo BeverleyLord of Midnight with Renald de Lisle and Claire of Summerbourne — Another story with an impossible beginning. How would Claire reconcile herself to Renald's past since it bears such awful consequences for her? And here's the master stroke of accurate historical knowledge of the stakes at play in a Norman England post-conquest: political, religious, social, economic. That is what makes the story hang together and allows the two characters to heal and hove in to each other.

If I had to make a statement about a common thread running through Beverley's works, it would be that life forces impossible choices upon people, but those who adapt, learn, and endure come out forged into better, stronger people. Character is everything... and everything is possible.

To read more about Jo Beverley and her books, visit her website or Wikipedia.

Have you read any of JoBev's books? If not, are you tempted to give one a try now? If you're already a fan, which one(s) is/are your favorites?

Please comment by Mon 11:59 PM US PT to win a copy of DANGEROUS JOY.


PJ said...

A wonderful tribute to a wonderful talent. I think I've read pretty much everything Jo Beverley has written but I don't think I could even come close to naming a overall favorite. Each story has something special to offer to the reader.

From her current series, I'd probably choose A Lady's Secret but the one book that has had the most lasting impact on me would be To Rescue A Rogue (Dare's story). It was well worth the wait.

Keira Soleore said...

PJ, hi!! It's so lovely to read your comments here. Our paths haven't crossed much in Romancelandia of late.

You're absolutely correct in this: " I don't think I could even come close to naming a overall favorite. Each story has something special to offer to the reader." JoBev's stories are so intricately woven with complex emotions, they all hold your attention from the first to the last page on every re-read.

Dare's story is such an emotional story!

PJ said...

I've missed you too, Keira! Hope you'll be in Nashville!

Keira Soleore said...

I definitely plan on being there.

beckwith49 said...

I have been a Jo fan for some time and I believe that I have read everything. If i have missed something it has done a darn great job of hiding from me.

Keira, the way you talk of her writing makes me think I wish I had thought of that! I think an analysis of her writing would be a great piece for IASPR! I do feel that I am not capable doing here credit in that kind of work, but you do appear to be able to do so!

Keira Soleore said...

Beck, welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting.

That's a superb idea for a JPRS article or even an IASPR piece. I don't have an academic background in literary criticism, so I lack the high-falutin' vocabularly and mainly the analysis skills. But perhaps, they'll also take survey-type papers from lay people. Definitely worth following up. Thank you!

Heh, on books hiding. I had that moment earlier today when I went up to her page on Wikipedia and found two other medievals listed that I'd never heard of. Clearly someone had made mistake, but I didn't end up searching frantically on Google for a few minutes.

Janet W. said...

An Unwilling Bride: I can't count the number of times I've re-read it. Never has there been a couple more mismatched and more meant to be together. I thank the stars everytime I read it. Unbelievably, because's it's dark, like so many books by JoBev, it's riddled with humour.

Second, Notorious Lady -- for Cyn, for Chas and for the first formidable glimpse of Rothgar. Plus it's so sensuous ... that Cyn is just temptation incarnate.

Lastly, Forbidden. Serena's fatal beauty, capable of firing an arrow into the heart of a man. The conversation at the ball between her and Nicholas and Lucien. The horse race and Francis asking Blanche for advice on his love life.

That's it. I could go on forever: great blog Keira!!

Ingrid said...

Lovely blog, Keira!

I was looking for recommendations on what to read and came across this... I must confess that I haven't read anything by Jo Beverley before, but now I've just ordered "An Arranged Marriage". And I might get some more...

Keira Soleore said...

Ingrid, welcome to the blog. I envy you having Jo Beverley's entire list of books unread yet. Truly, what a treat!!

Keira Soleore said...

Janet, oh, how wonderful, my dear. Just read your tweet and e-mail to me. Thank you for your generosity.

Hah, will you know it. Just last night, I finished reading NOTORIOUS. Cyn's a dream, and I really like Chas. Well, except for the two TSTL moments when I was exasperated with her (wish she'd stay put), but they were adequately explained/dealt with by Chas and Cyn in the story. It's rare when I like both the hero and heroine equally. Even in this first Malloren book, you get a sense of how heroic both Rothgar and Cyn are, each in their own way, but just as important. Rothgar's introduction here makes his DEVILISH all the more delicious.

Ranurgis said...

Aah, I finally found a way to get here. I'm also still trying to find the spot on RT (online, isn't it?) where I can vote for the heroes.

And, yes, I've read about a dozen items by Jo: all the "Regency" romances (but about 12 years ago), the first 3 Rogue books, and a couple of short stories. I've read the Rogues in about the last week or so. I wanted to join the yahoogroup discussion but my copies of the books have been in storage for the last 5 years, our library had only the 2nd, and I had to wait several weeks to get 1 and 3 from another regional library. But what can I say than that I love them.

I haven't yet read any of the Medievals and only MLN of the Mallorens. In the middle of last night I had to check Wikipedia to see what Azay-le-Rideau looks like. I know I've seen it and am wondering if it was the chateau of which I took a reflection in the water. I'll have to wait to find my slides of France again to verify that.

I too have a hard time naming my favorites, perhaps because I can't really remember the shorter ones too well and have to digest the first 3 Rogues a little more. I don't have the Secret Duke yet, and am not certain I have absolutely all the others (can't visually verify that either.)

I've been very impressed by all the Rogue books and in one I like the heroine best, in another the hero, another the story, etc. I'll let you know when I decide.

Ranurgis said...

P.S. I know I no longer qualify for a prize but that's all right, Keira.

Ranurgis said...

Keira, I've gone to Jo's Wikipedia page and am wondering which items you thought were "de trop." Actually I've added a few more novellas to that list. There are 15 in all if I counted right.

I think I have doubles of a few books but I'm not certain which. That's another thing to discover when I get into my storage unit and correct box.

Ranurgis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janga said...

Hi, Keira! Sorry to be so late commenting, but I couldn't miss the chance to say that I enjoyed your tribute to one of romance fiction's best and most consistent writers.

I started reading Jo's books with Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed, and I recently read The Secret Duke, which I reviewed for The Romance Dish. As I said there, I've never met a Jo Beverley book I didn't like. Rereading the traditional Regencies that have been reissued has been a particular treat since I haven't read them in a while. Emily and the Dark Angel is my favorite in that group. Hazard and Forbidden Magic are two of the European historicals that I love that are sometimes overlooked. I add those to my recommendtions. :)

Keira Soleore said...

Ranurgis, lovely to see your comments here.

I couldn't find the RT blog and poll either. I believe the redesign launch of the site was delayed a bit, but I don't know what they did with the post and poll.

Are you a member of JoBev's Yahoo group?

How marvelous that you've been to Azay-le-Rideau and so can actually relate to story to the place. It would make for a marvelous personal connection to the books were I to actually see the places the stories took place in. Perhaps there needs to be a JoBev Travel Adventure. :)

Keira Soleore said...

Janga, as I've said before, recommendations from you are always welcome. In fact, any JoBev rec is welcome by anyone. :)

Forbidden, mentioned by Janet above, is one I haven't read it.

Forbidden Magic and Hazard are do get shoddy treatment, don't they? Just take a look at the Amazon reviews. And I liked both very much.

I'm looking forward to the reprinting of Emily and the Dark Angel later this year. Then I'll have collected all of her re-released Regencies.

I had to hie myself off to BookDepository to get Bryght's book. Despite the atrocious cover, that's the only copy available for a reasonable price.

Jo Beverley said...

Hi, this is Jo. Keira, thank you so much for doing this, and thank you everyone for commenting.

I've been away in Cornwall and other places south-west and with limited internet, so I haven't been here yet.

I don't know what's happened with the RT spot, but I've fired off an e-mail.



Keira Soleore said...

Jo, fabulous to see you here. Welcome!!

Your RT blog about your favorite heroes is now up on the RT site at Couldn't find the poll though.

Ranurgis said...

Hi, Keira, I didn't get to look at your reply until today. I've been awfully slow on the update/uptake/ whatever, recently.

I don't know if you remember that the "Temple" in AN UNWILLING BRIDE was modeled on Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire region in France. We just saw it from the outside but given Jo's description of the Temple's inside, I would have loved to have seen the inside of Azay.

Yes, I'm a member of the Yahoogroup but have very rarely commented there. So today I saw the link and have gone to the blog to see Jo's entry there. Unfortunately, I've still to meet all these heroes, so I can't really relate to them, though I guess there's a peripheral appearance of Rothgar in My Lady N.

Keira Soleore said...

Ranurgis, if you get the chance, do read DEVILISH. That's Rothgar's story.

We did a tour of the Loire Valley's chateaux a few years ago, but chose not to see Azay-le-Rideau then. Now I regret the oversight.

Ranurgis said...

I've been thinking of you too especially since I started FORBIDDEN, Francis, Lord Middlethorpe's story today. I think you wrote you hadn't read it. I'm not certain I have it myself, but I got a Large Print copy from the library. I don't strictly need LP but it's easier for me to read. I'll see if the library has a copy of DEVILISH available; mine is, like most of my books, in storage. Once I get everything sorted out--it'll probably take years--I'll be selling any doubles that I have. I do have a few but not DEVILISH and probably not FORBIDDEN.

BTW, I took my Loire tour in 1973 or '74. Did we ever have a boorish guide, more just driver, who knew no French and tried to insist that HE had a right to a single room and that, instead, I, as the third woman, should bunk with our male Australian. But we 3 girls stuck together and one of them is still one of my best friends. He also decided to go to Le Mans for the big race and drove so crazily that he busted the windshield of our VW bus. He also stopped all traffic on the bridge at Blois because HE wanted to take a certain picture; spent lavishly so that I had to pay our last nights' accommodations.To top it off, he decided to take a "short cut" on the way home, ran out of gas in a lonely corner of France and we had to wait until we were rescued from Stuttgart. Certainly an adventuresome journey. It took me a while to get my money back. But we 3 girls certainly hope he never got another chance to "guide" or drive another group after the blast of pages we mailed to the Tour Group. And remember, there were no cell-phones at the time. Even the French telephone was highly unreliable.

Well, that's not the only adventure I had.

Keira Soleore said...

The guy from your France tour sounds like a pattern card for a cad. What a pity to have a trip of a lifetime spoiled by such a jerk.

What a coincidence to read you talking about Loire and Stuttgart in your one trip. Did you do Paris, too? The reason I ask is because that was exactly my itinerary on that trip to Europe. I had a wedding to attend to in Paris, Loire was for us, and Stuttgart was to see a friend.

Ranurgis said...

I can't remember what the guy's name was, but we 3 women came to think of all chauvinistic, boorish men by his first name. We also mostly thought of American tourists as behaving in such an unmannerly way. This guy was German.

I guess from my side it might not be that much of a coincidence that we went to the same places since I lived in Europe for 10 years, all of the 70s, which I sometimes call my lost decade for what happened in my homeland, Canada.

But it certainly was a coincidence that these 2 places played a part in your trip as well. Was it your only trip to Europe?

Keira Soleore said...

Ranurgis, I've traveled through England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, and France and Germany (as I already mentioned). We hope to visit London this summer--let's see.

Where have you lived in Europe?

Ranurgis said...

I've only lived in 3 countries: Canada, Germany and France. I've traveled as much as possible, though my travel in Germany was restricted pretty well to the West. I've been in east Germany only once since the wall came down. The other trips were always just in transit to Berlin. Actually, I was born in what became the Russian zone shortly after I was born and that's one of the places I went in 1995.

I've seen the most where I lived of course. France from the north to the Pyrenees, Atlantic to Monaco; Germany: Hamburg, where we learned of the JFK assassination, to Swiss and Austrian borders; Canada: Quebec City to Victoria and as far north as Edmonton. I've also been in Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Italy (to Sorrento); Spain: Santander to Malaga; UK: London to Bath to Colluden Field in Scotland; Ireland: Dublin & area.

So that's it except for US, Mexico and Dominican Republic.

Have a wonderful trip to London, UK I presume. Otherwise, you might be coming to see me.