Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A recipe for romance

I love to cook. More to the point, I love to try cooking something new. I take a little of this and mix it with a little of that. I throw it in a pot with a dash or a sprinkle of whatever sounds good, give it a mix and cook until done. Sometimes it is a complete flop. Usually, the dish just misses the mark by a small margin. It either is too spicy or too bland. Maybe there is too much onion, or not enough shrimp. Something is just a little bit off. Then there are those wondrous times when all of the ingredients come together in a perfect balance. It is hearty and savory without being too spicy. The tomatoes don't get too watery and the garlic permeates the entire dish. (Can you tell I am anxiously waiting on my homemade spaghetti sauce to finish cooking? I have a long wait ahead.) This precise balance of ingredients, seasonings, heat and time produces an end product that you want to sit back and savor.

I think this is also true in writing. It is all about balance. Character development, action, smexin', and plot. Each element needs it's time in the spotlight. It is the author's job, just like the chef's, to make sure that each one is measured out just enough to allow it to come to its full flavor. This is what sets successful authors apart from less successful authors. Those who have become master chefs at the craft of writing are the authors whose books make us want to turn back to page 1 after finishing the epilogue.

For me, one author who manages this balancing act time and again is Elizabeth Hoyt. I just love her writing. I have already read and reviewed The Raven Prince and Hot. Both were fabulous. Within the past two weeks I bought and read The Leopard Prince and To Taste Temptation. (I still need to hunt down The Serpent Prince.) Ms. Hoyt gives you interesting, well developed characters whose interactions are by turns amusing and intense. There is always an intrigue or mystery, something to get the characters moving or fighting or planning. When her heroes and heroines come together the sparks fly. Hot, sexy, and (my fave) very few flowery euphemisms. Damn hot sex. Her stories are just plain fun and interesting.
In The Leopard Prince we see Harry Pye once again. He was first introduced to readers in The Raven Prince. As a land steward, Harry knows that Georgina Maitland is far above his station. To want her is to reach for the sky. Georgina is 28 years old and owns the estate on which she lives. What could she possibly need a man for? Oh right... that. Well, Harry Pye is a man, and what a man he is! Suddenly, sheep are dying and folks are blaming Harry. It seems that there is bad blood between Harry and Georgina's neighbor. But is it bad enough for Harry to enact a long await revenge by killing the livestock on the neighbor's lands? Georgina does not believe so.

Ms. Hoyt's heroines are among my favorite in historical romances. Strong, mature, self-assured, experienced, outspoken. They are very contemporary women who live in historical times, yet not to the point where it in unbelievable. Her heroes are one thing that is often difficult to find from a single author: diverse. Edward was a physically scarred Earl who would far prefer to stay in the country and study agriculture. Harry is a commoner, a land steward whose past haunts him and drives him to succeed. Samuel was a brash American colonial soldier-turned-business man who disdains English society and snubs his nose at the ton by ignoring convention (and wearing moccasins to grand balls.) The chemistry she creates between her H&h is flaming hot.

In To Taste Temptation Ms. Hoyt begins a new series based around a fairy tale about four soldiers. Samuel has come to London in search of answers to what happened one fateful day to the 28th Regiment. His former commanding officer perished as a result of that day, but his sister was alive and well in London. When the two meet they mix like oil and water. Samuel is uncouth, arrogant, and mysterious. Lady Emeline is cultures, aristocratic, and just a bit uptight. Oh baby, do these two clash, and the results are fantastic. Trust me. Go read it. Yes, she is kind of awful to him in the beginning, but trust me, you want to keep reading. Two words: country party. Oh, two more words: linen closet. ::fans self::

I am such a fan that, when I found out I had the opportunity to meet Ms Hoyt at a signing this past weekend I knew I had to ask her for an interview. Such a gracious woman, she said yes. What did she say in the interview? Well that, my friends, is something you will have to wait for. In the meantime, I am going to go check on my spaghetti sauce. The aroma of garlic and basil is just starting to waft through my apartment. Mmmmm...


Stacy~ said...

Great reviews Shannon. I can't wait to read "To Taste Temptation". Maybe this weekend, which will be all about reading.

little alys said...

Oh, I've been trying to track down most those books for a long long time. I agree, I love how the characters are diverse with their own quirks, problems, and personalities.
Love your reviews. :D

Christine said...

Awesome post, Shannon. And wonderful insights to Ms. Hoyt's work. I have The Leopard Prince and The Serpent Prince in my TBR pile, but still haven't found The Raven Prince locally. I need to just order it, because I'm adamant about reading this trilogy in order even if they are very loosely related and I keep hearing wonderful things about all three novels!

So where's the recipe for your tomato sauce?