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Monday, January 17, 2011

2 great romances & 6 reasons why you should read them- Courting Miss Lancaster & Cross My Heart

If you usually shy away from romance, give me a few minutes to change your mind. Or at least tell you why you should give these two books a chance.

In the past week I read two novels that reminded me why I love a good romance story. One is a regency-era romance that is certain to be enjoyed by fans of Jane Austen, the other a contemporary romance that is both fresh and fun.

If that's not incentive enough for you, let me give you six more reasons to read Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden and Cross My Heart by Julie Wright.

1) The Authors

Having met and spent several hours in the company of both Sarah and Julie, I can say without a doubt that they are two of the sweetest, most intelligent, authentic and witty women I know. I'm not just saying this because I think they might read this (we won't talk about the $20 Sarah slipped me under the table- uh, I mean, what $20?)

Sarah has thoroughly researched the Regency Era and it shows in how well she writes her characters and setting. Julie embraces who she is, imperfections and all, and it makes her, and her characters, highly relatable. Both of these women do what they do--write what they write--because they must. They love it. The result: enjoyable, unforgettable stories.

2) The Setting

Courting Miss Lancaster takes place in Town during the Little Season. I love that Sarah gives her readers just enough detail to set the mood and lets the imagination do the rest. It keeps the flow of the story practically seamless. What makes the setting feel so authentic? How Sarah uses the words. The characters' internal dialogue is as authentic-sounding as the conversations. Never once did I feel pulled from the story because of an out-of-time sounding phrase.

The majority of Cross My Heart takes place in Boston, MA, and the surrounding area. The main character's love for the Boston area is obvious as she is willing to resort to a college-days menu of noodles for a place in the Back Bay and a view of the Charles River. At first she avoids the tourist attractions in and around Boston, which in turn made me even more curious about them.

3) The Heroes

No brooders here. In fact, both heroes are down to earth, sincere, and a bit unsure. Oh, and funny. I love a man with a sense of humor. Both have just the right amount of sweet, as well. What I loved the most about the heroes in both books is that they were good friends to the heroines. Was there chemistry and attraction? Oh yeah. First, though, there was friendship.

4) The Humor

I am glad to know Sarah for many reasons, and one is her sense of humor. Sign up for one of her classes at a writing conference and you will see what I mean. Let me give you an example from Harry's thoughts in Courting Miss Lancaster:

"He knew Persephone had a good head on her shoulders, and he suspected Athena did as well. One could not, after all, be named for the Greek goddess of divine intelligence and be a complete featherhead."

As for Julie, this girl is a blast to hang with. I have pictorial proof right here. She keeps the balance between serious and funny in Cross My Heart, and in some cases with Jillian's mother, shock and laughter. I enjoyed the banter between Jillian and the main love interest.

5) The Heriones

Athena is young and a little naive, but in no way a "featherhead." In fact, the heroines in both books are very intelligent. Athena had her romantic fantasy of a knight on a white steed, imagining she would know her true love the first time their eyes met from across the ballroom. She realizes rather quickly that she had better learn what she does want as fast as she was learning what she didn't want after meeting a series of gentlemen with rather undesirable characteristics.

Jillian is in advertising and has a knack for knowing what a client will go for. She watches television for the commercials, reads magazines for the ads (which she then edits), and has survived many company layoffs. When another ad agency starts winning away clients using suspiciously similar ideas, Jillian's boss sends her back to Boston to save their biggest accounts. She knows her stuff. She's professional yet feminine, even if she does wear a lot of black. She might not always be the most tolerant person in the world, but she tries. She appreciates her family and friends even when they are embarrassing her, and vice versa.

6) The Romance

What is a romance without chemistry? Not a romance. However, there can be too much of a good thing. Not so in Courting Miss Lancaster or Cross My Heart.

Harry's interest in Athena is known from the first pages of the book. He does not have a fortune, however, and is therefore ineligible to court Athena. He is asked by his good friend and Athena's guardian, Adam, Duke of Kielder, to sort through the unsuitable prospects and find an acceptable husband for her. Harry accepts, knowing what torture it will be to spend so much time with Athena, yet wanting to make sure she finds a husband worthy of her. There is one particular scene near the end of the book that tops my chart of most romantic scenes ever. Yep. Ever.

Julie effectively and consistently sprinkles the chemistry-filled moments throughout Cross My Heart. To me, it's the little things that make all the difference, and all those little things come together for a first kiss that is unforgettably romantic.

Despite all of the romancing going on, neither of these books ever felt unrealistic or over-the-top. Both have earned a spot on my bookshelf, and I look forward to reading them again. Many more times.


  1. I adore Courting Miss Lancaster and whole heartedly agree with your take on it. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Cross My Heart!

  2. Oh, I just finished "Courting Miss Lancaster" having heard of it here. I LOVED it! I'd checked it out of the library, but I ordered it today from amazon. I agree with you on everything you said about the book. Harry was a delightful, and I loved his sense of humor and how he played off Adam. That one scene where Persephone comes into the room and approaches Adam and he tells Harry to "Get out!" made me laugh out loud.

    I'm dismayed that I can't get a hold of a copy of "Seeking Persephone" because it's "out of print". Surely that can't be. I so want to read Adam and Persephone's story.

  3. Sorry, double post here. I think this clarifies it for Seeking Persephone:

  4. I LOVED both of these books. Thanks for describing just why, so well! Congratulations to Sarah and Julie on some seriously excellent writing.