I will dispense with the “graphic novel” feature for now and just spend time discussing one of my favorite genres: romance. So, without further ado – I feel like I have to re-introduce this author to some of you “new” romance readers out there.
Yeah, some of the new authors out there are doing a great job [cough] with writing historical romance fiction but Laura Kinsale is by far the best historical romance writer bar none when it comes to telling stories about rakes, highwaymen and other characters (to me). I understand that the crown must be passed on but still, her stories are still worth a look today.
Sourcebooks have reprinted three of Laura Kinsale’s books sans Fabio on the cover: Midsummer Moon, Prince of Midnight and Seize the Fire (listed as October but they are available now). All three books are getting a “fresh look” and are being re-introduced to romance readers. I’ll briefly go over my favorite Kinsale titles and I have discussion questions for readers at the end.
If you’re a romance reader who enjoys angst and flawed heroes then you should give Laura Kinsale a try. My first introduction to her work happens to be the book that I favorite the most: Flowers From the Storm. It’s about a powerful Duke, who is a genius at math who inadvertently suffers a debilitating stroke and is sent to an insane asylum. To make matters worse, his family is more than willing to snatch away his ducal rights and have him committed forever.
Lucky for him, he finds an ally in Maddie Timms, who works at the asylum with her uncle. Maddie’s spirituality is a big part of who she is and she sees helping our hero, Christian, as her “calling.” Also, she realizes that Christian is still cognizant and reluctantly helps him escape the asylum. Ultimately Maddie becomes the life line between him and his greedy family members. The romance is electrically charged and the ending rocked as only Kinsale knows how. You all need to thank the publishing gods that this book is still around today. It is one of the best romances I’ve ever read. This book is currently available as an ebook and paperback.
The Prince of Midnight is another favorite Kinsale read. It’s about a ex-Highwayman, S.T. Maitland, who is forced to be reclusive because he has a bounty on his head. He also has a serious condition- a hearing imbalance where any sudden moves makes him nauseated and dizzy. The heroine, Leigh Strachan, is not very likable in here. I was often very frustrated with her myself because of her treatment of the hero. She is often cold, cruel and calculating but determined. The two go off on an adventure together in search of justice and revenge.
It is Leigh who is looking for revenge for her family and has sought out S.T.’s assistance based upon his reputation as a feared “highwayman” but when faced with the man she sees before her eyes, she finds him sorely lacking. Needless to say that winning Leigh’s love at the end was hard won by our hero. Not many readers like this story very much but I loved reading it, you just have to give it a chance. This book is also available as an ebook.
The Shadow and the Star Looking for a virgin hero? – then look no further than this title. Often The Shadow and the Star is listed as a favorite by romance readers but for me it ranks a close second next to – you guessed it – Flowers From the Storm. Samuel’s story actually started in another book, The Hidden Heart. In it, Samuel was a young, sexually abused kid who was eventually adopted by a well to do family. Kinsale herself has often said that this is by far her favorite book. It took me a long time to fully appreciate this story as it was one that I didn’t read until a few years ago. Miss Leda Etoile, Samuel’s love interest, fits very well with him and I enjoyed their many scenes together. Their relationship unfolds nicely and it is an emotional journey one doesn’t soon forget. Available as an ebook as well.
As much as I love Laura Kinsale, there a few of her books that remain unread: Midsummer Moon, The Dream Hunter (I know Janine loves this book), Seize the Fire, Uncertain Magic, Shadow Heart and For My Lady’s Heart. Kinsale’s stories are almost always populated with characters who are flawed or who carry around plenty of baggage. The biggest reason why I am drawn to her work is because I love reading about damaged people. Perfect people bore me. Give me angst and conflict any day of the week.
Kinsale’s stories are memorable (at least to me). I dare anyone to try her work and come back and describe it as “trash.” Having said that, if one were to ask me to pick out a romance novelist who best represents this genre, I’d pick Laura Kinsale in a heartbeat. YMMV. Among many others of her writing caliber, I could probably list several more. Another appealing factor for me is that many of Kinsale’s stories are often very sensual and the chemistry between her characters is smoking hot. Kinsale hit her stride mostly in the 90’s but her work is still vibrant and emotionally satisfying reads for the that savy romance reader in today’s market. If you haven’t read a Laura Kinsale novel, you should. Admittedly, her stories tend to unfold slowly but if you stick with it, you are rewarded with a very satisfying and memorable read.
Laura Kinsale’s Backlist
Uncertain Magic (1987)
Midsummer Moon (1987)
Seize the Fire (1989)
Prince of Midnight (1990)
Flowers From the Storm (1992)
The Dream Hunter (1994)
My Sweet Folly (1997)
Apart of a series, quartet or trilogy
The Hidden Heart (1986) and The Shadow and the Star (1991)
For My Lady’s Heart (1993) and Shadowheart (2004)
The Shadow and the Star, Flowers from the Storm, Seize the Fire, The Prince of Midnight, Midsummer Moon are available in ebook at Fictionwise are here.
Ok, I’m through talking. So Kinsale is the queen of angst for me. What authors do you enjoy that write with plenty of angst today? Do you enjoy emotionally or physically flawed characters? What are some of your favorite angst written stories? Who are some of your favorite tortured heroes? Heroines?