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Karen Ostertag's blog

Second Chances

Have you ever said or done something you later regretted?  Or worse, have you not said or done something, and spent the rest of your life wondering how things might have been different "if only..."?  Even if you're content with the choices you've made, it can be hard to let go of some of those missed opportunities.  And if you're not entirely happy, those poor decisions and unresolved endings can really haunt you.

Now imagine the regret in question is a person you once loved.  What do you do when that once-special someone suddenly walks back into your life?  It could be that friend you crushed on in college, but never had the courage to approach.  He's single now... and he's moving into your building.  Perhaps it's your ex-- he's in recovery from the very issues that drove you away, and he's looking for a fresh start.  Sure, you could ignore him, and let the history between you keep you apart.  (After all, you had good reasons for breaking up with him in the first place, right?)  Or....

Arturus Rex: The Once and Future King

"And when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur took it up."If Shakespeare is Britain's most enduring voice, surely this man is the heart of its most enduring story: Arthur, the legendary King of the Britons.  Arthur and his knights have inspired the pens of such literary giants as Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, C. S. Lewis, and Marion Zimmer Bradley... but they've also found their way into the adventures of Indiana Jones, Monty Python, and Sonic the Hedgehog.  (I find it intriguing that Shakespeare, who regularly borrowed from England's history and other stories far and wide, never once touched upon what became known as "the matter of Britain"-- the Arthurian mythos.  Perhaps he was leery of poaching in Edmund Spenser's territory.) 

New Romance Fiction for April 2013

In paperback:

Relentless by Cherry Adair (3, Lodestone trilogy) C, M, S
High Risk by Vivian Arend (1, Adrenaline) C, M, E
Passion's Prey by A. C. Arthur (3, The Shadow Shifters) C, S, M, O, E
Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks (2, The Montgomerys and Armstrongs) H
A Shot of Sultry by Macy Beckett (2, Sultry Springs) C
Secrets of a Runaway Bride by Valerie Bowman (2, Secret Brides) H
And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake by Elizabeth Boyle (2, Rhymes with Love) H
Thrown by a Curve by Jaci Burton (5, Play by Play) C, E
The Wanderer by Robyn Carr (1, Thunder Point, OR) C

New Speculative Fiction for April 2013

New to our shelves:

Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear (2, Eternal Sky) F, H
Halo: Silentium by Greg Bear (3, Halo: The Forerunner Saga) SF
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (1, Others) F, A, R
Frost Burned by Patricia A. Briggs (7, Mercy Thompson) F, H, M
Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks (2, Shannara: Dark Legacy of Shannara) F, H, M
Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill F
The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll (3, Black Swan Rising) F, H, R
Deep Down by Deborah Coates (2, Hallie Michaels) F, H, M, R
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy

Real Men Write Romance (Really!)

Romance fans tend to be voracious readers, always on the lookout for a new author to follow (or an author who's new to them).  With that in mind, I'd like to spotlight a few great romance writers you might not have picked up before.  Let me introduce you to Leigh Greenwood, Dale Cramer, Jessica Stirling, Naomi Neale, M. L. Buchman, Lee Carroll, Z. A. Maxfield, and Ilona Andrews. 

On the surface they don't seem to have a lot in common, aside from writing great romance.  Some are award winners, while others have seen more modest success.  They're all over the map, as far as subgenres go: western, inspirational, historical, chick lit, suspense, gothic, LGBT, and urban fantasy/ paranormal.  Oh... there is one other detail they all have in common: behind every one of their keyboards sits a male author.

New Romance Fiction for March 2013

In paperback:

Once again a Bride by Jane Ashford H
Rush by Maya Banks (1, The Breathless trilogy) C, E
Sex and the Single Fireman by Jennifer Bernard (3, The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel) C
Wait until Dark by M. L. Buchman (3, Night Stalkers) C, M
Lady Eve's Indiscretion by Grace Burrowes (7:4, Windham: The Duke's Daughters) H
The Seventh Victim by Mary Burton C, M
Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan (3, Darkest London) H, S, M
A Bride by Moonlight by Liz Carlyle (4, Fraternitae Aureae Crucis) H, M, S
Ripe for Seduction by Isobel Carr (3, League of Second Sons) H

New Speculative Fiction for March 2013

New to our shelves:

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination by John Joseph Adams, ed. SF, CB, R (SF Mad)
Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian (11, Midnight Breed) F, R, H
Extinction by Mark Alpert SF, M
Fuse by Julianna Baggott (2, Pure trilogy) SF, A, M
Domino Falls by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due (2, Devil's Wake) H, SF, A, M (Horror Barnes)
Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell H
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett F, H, R
Farside by Ben Bova SF, M
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (1, Memoirs of Lady Trent) F, R

The Weird, Weird West

It's been a few years since I blogged about the resurgence of steampunk, first popularized in the 1980s.  Today I can report that steampunk is not only still going strong in speculative fiction but has been adopted by other genres as well, notably mystery and romance.  Even the superhero cosplay community has seen an increasing number of "steampunked" takes on popular characters.

I'm not sure why, but London (or some alt-history version of it) seems to be the unofficial capital of the steampunk world.  Easily three-quarters of the steampunk I've read has been set there.  Mind you, I have nothing against England's capital city, but it seems a shame that so many other worthy venues are going untapped.  Happily, I'm not the only one seeking new frontiers for my historical-flavored speculative fiction.  The American SF community has been staking their own claim on steampunk by reviving a setting they've dabbled in before: the Weird West.

A Rose in Winter

Pink Rugosa roseO dreary February!  Much as I love winter, this is my least favorite month.  Winter is a ragged ruin of its old self.  Once-pristine snows are sooty piles of unmelting slush, paired with icy fogs, freezing temperatures, and the occasional "wintry mix."  At times it feels like spring-- so close!-- will never arrive to make the cold, wet dirt bloom.  But then I notice the rugosa rose by my back door.  It's flowered faithfully since the first year I planted it.  Every day I see its tiny, hopeful buds, and I can hope for spring because my rose does.  Today, I have another hopeful rose in mind.  It's in one of my favorite fairy tales, about a cursed prince, a brave girl, and a magical rose that blooms in bleakest winter. Can you guess which tale I mean?

New Romance Fiction for February 2013

In paperback:

The Importance of Being Wicked by Victoria Alexander (2, Millworth Manor) H
The Seduction of Elliot McBride by Jennifer Ashley (5, Highland Pleasures) H
Shades of Gray by Maya Banks (6, KGI) C, M
    (contains Shades of Gray and Softly at Sunrise)
When She Was Wicked by Anne Barton (1, Honeycote) H
When She Said I Do by Celeste Bradley (1, Marriage) H, M
True Love at Silver Creek Ranch by Emma Cane (2, Valentine Valley) C, W
How To Entice an Earl by Manda Collins (3, Ugly Ducklings) H, M
Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper (2, Dark Mission) C, A, S, M

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