Monday, February 13, 2012

14 Days of Romance: Caroline Clemmons

We’re coming to the end of our 14 Days of Romance Valentine’s Day celebration and we’ve saved the best for last! Readers, please welcome fellow Sweetheart of the West, author CarolineClemmons! Take it away, Caroline….

Happy (Almost) Valentine’s Day! Thanks to Amber Leigh for inviting me to share the Cozy Page with you today.

She asked me to share my favorite romances. Wow, is that ever a difficult question! As authors, Amber Leigh and I know literally hundreds of people who write and whose books we read. I believe she means books that I hold as sterling examples of the craft I love. There are five books I reread - to study and for pure pleasure - at least once a year.

The first is THE PROMISE OF JENNY JONES by Maggie Osborne. It’s out of print now, but is probably the most unusual romance I’ve ever read. For starters, the heroine is almost six feet tall, cusses, smokes cigars, and works as a muleskinner. (For you contemporary readers, that means she drives a freight wagon pulled by mules). Early in the book we learn what makes Jenny tick. She is stuck in a Mexican jail for killing a soldier who tried to rape her. She explains why she wouldn’t lie to save herself from a firing squad. “Honesty is all I’ve got . . .I don’t have family. I don’t have beauty, or a man. I don’t have money, and I sure as hell don’t have a future. All I’ve got to prop up my pride is my word . . . When Jenny Jones says something, you can bet your last peso it’s true.” But she does have a future because a dying woman trades places with her, and so begins her eventful journey. All of Maggie Osborne’s heroines are unusual women.

LORD PERFECT and MR. IMPOSSIBLE are by Loretta Chase. Choosing between these books would be difficult, but I lean toward the former. What is better than watching a perfect man’s world crumble because of a strong yet unsuitable woman? I love all of Loretta Chase’s books for her wonderful descriptions and unusual characters. And what lovely names she uses! I love the way Loretta Chase introduces the hero in LORD PERFECT. The artist heroine, Bathsheba Wingate, watches the hero in the book’s opening. The setting is a London museum and the hero is Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, heir to the Earl of Hargate (and Lord Perfect).

He leant against the window frame, offering those within the exhibition hall a fine rear view of a long, well-proportioned frame, expensively garbed. He seemed to have his arms folded and his attention upon the window, though the thick glass could show him no more than a blurred image of Picadilly.

It was clear in any case that the exhibition within—of the marvels Giovanni Belzoni had discovered in Egypt—had failed to hold his interest.

The woman surreptitiously studying him decided he would make the perfect model of the bored aristocrat

Supremely assured. Perfectly poised. Immaculately dressed. Tall. Dark.

He turned his head, presenting the expected patrician profile.

It wasn’t what she expected.

She couldn’t breathe.

From the same book, the author uses the hero’s POV to describe the heroine.

She was the sort of woman who made accidents happen, simply by crossing the street.

She was the sort of woman who ought to be preceded by warning signs.

From a distance, she was breathtaking.

Now she stood within easy reach.

And now . . .

Once, in the course of a youthful prank, Benedict had fallen off a roof, and briefly lost consciousness.

Now, as he fell off something and into eyes like an indigo sea, he lost consciousness. The world went away, his brain went away, and only the vision remained, of pearly skin and ripe plum lips, of the fathomless sea in which he was drowning . . . and then a pink like a sunrise glowing upon finely sculpted cheekbones.

A blush. She was blushing.

His brain staggered back.

Sigh, can you blame me for studying Loretta Chase’s writing?

PRINCE CHARMING and FOR THE ROSES are by Julie Garwood. These are her only forays into western historicals. PRINCE CHARMING begins in England, but moves through the U.S. to Montana. I love both the heroine Taylor Stapleton, and the hero Lucas Ross. FOR THE ROSES has a group of ragtag boy heroes who raise a young baby they find in a New York dustbin. Sounds impossible? Unfortunately, it still happens every day in America. These characters come alive for the reader. 

Rereading these books still brings me pleasure and helps me understand the structure that keeps me engaged. None is the first romance I read, but they continue to be my favorites.

And now Caroline gives us a glimpse into her latest romance novel, Home Sweet Texas Home....

Now please let me share one of my own books.  HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a departure for me, because it is a sweet romance. Yep, no consummated sex, but - according to excellent reviews - it has plenty of sexual tension.

In HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother Jimmy is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers--but Courtney learns that, while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine.

Rancher/entrepeneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic--evidenced by his late wife and now the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. As far as Derek is concerned, all he wants is to be a good dad to his children Warren, aged 8, and Meg, aged 5. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. The only way he can protect his children and himself is to keep his private life very private. Besides, he knows what women do to him--they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He's been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Isn't he?

Amber Leigh, thanks again for having me as your guest.

Thank you, Caroline, for sharing your favorite romances with us today! Readers, purchase Caroline Clemmon's Home Sweet Texas Home today at The Wild Rose Press. To learn more about her and her books, visit her website, blog, Sweethearts of the West as well as Facebook and Twitter!

Come back tomorrow for our final day of 14 Days of Romance!!!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Amaber Leigh, thank you for hosting me on your blog.

Mona Risk said...

Amber, you have a beautiful blog.

Before I started writing I was hooked on historical romances. Favorite authors Heather Graham, Joanna Lindsay, Kathleen Woodiwiss,... After writing my first contemporary romance, I started reading contemporary to improve my knowledge and style, but historicals still represent relaxation time for me.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Caroline, thanks for the memory...I love Prince Charming. I've re-read some Garwoods tons of times in the past. Need to resurrect them again.

Diana Cosby said...

Always a pleasure to read your writing as hear your opinion. I'm a huge Julie Garwood, "For The Roses," fan myself. An amazing read. :) Take care and wishing you continued success!
H-A-P-P-Y V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E'S D-A-Y!!!

Ruby Johnson said...

Hi Caroline:
Wonderful examples of romance novels. I think the romances I really got into were Mary Stewart's books such as Nine Coaches Waiting. I read everyone of them. I read historical, switch to contemporary and go back again.Nothing is better than the budding of a romance if done well.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Caroline,
Great blog. I haven't read any of the books you mentioned. The first romance books I ever read were Mills & Boon, then I graduated to an Australian author, Lucy Walker. Loved all of her books, although I couldn't remember even one title now (that's how long ago it was).



Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Caroline! I've never read any of the books you mentioned, but I actually came late to reading romances. When I was young my passion was mysteries and science fiction. When I did start reading romances, I was reading newer authors. Quite a few influenced my own writing, but it would be really hard to pin down just a few.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

OK - you've pulled me i just ordered Mr. Impossible. It is exactly the kind of story I like. My all-time most favorite story, the one that got me into reading and wanting to write, is Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. The hero stole my heart and has never given it back.

Always the best of luck with your writing, Caroline.

Virginia C said...

Hey, Caroline & Amber Leigh : ) Caroline, I have always said that you have excellent taste--and that's not just because we share so many favorites. Really, it isn't ; )

As a young reader in my early teens, I was enthralled by the historical romances of Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland, and Jane Aiken Hodge (who also wrote the classic biography: "The Private World of Georgette Heyer). One of Jane Aiken Hodge's books, "Marry in Haste", is on my all-time keeper shelf. I checked that book out so many times in high school that the school librarian gave me "my copy" and ordered a new one for the school : ) I also enjoyed great gothic romantic mysteries from Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Mary Roberts Rinehart. Category romances eventually began to fill my bookshelves, and then my reading life was changed forever when I read my first book by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss! I was also captivated by the works of the great Alexandre Dumas, the famous French author of "The Three Musketeers," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "The Man in the Iron Mask," and many other classic tales of romantic adventure.

You have great curiosity and a genuine interest in history and people' lives. Those are just some of the things about you that make you a wonderful storyteller!!!

Lyn Horner said...

Caroline, sorry I'm so late getting here. I haven't read the books you mentioned, my loss I'm sure. I'll be checking them out soon.

BTW I love Shanna too.

Siar said...

Nice stories! Happy Valentine's Day!

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Elaine Stock said...

Caroline, great post. My all time favorite is a twist of a love story: THE FIRST TIME by Joy Fielding. A tragic story, but amazingly beautiful. It's about a couple on the verge of divorcing who fall in love again when a trouble strikes.