Molly Katz started writing for the Candlelight Ecstasy Romance series in 1984. Worth His Weight in Gold was her 5th novel for that imprint. She had some success in the serial romance genre but stopped in 1987 when the series shut down and pursued a career in stand-up comedy. She penned two psychological thrillers in the 1990s but is best known for her humor books, most notably Jewish as a Second Language.
Worth His Weight in Gold is a typical Ecstasy Romance, the woman falling for the man improbably and deeply. Ecstasy was a competitor to Silhouette and Harlequin in the 1980s, during the heyday of the serial romance. If you like the classic sereial romance novel from the 1980s, relatively clean and short. this is a good one, and much of Katz's humor comes through.
Ecstasy series are highly collectible and rare, especially in good condition. The series had strong authors but could never break through against the larger series, despite the backing of Dell.
From the jacket: "He was waiting for her--and she ran into his trap! Ruth Barrett was being held at gunpoint for trespassing when Frank Gordon, chief of the police force she'd publicly embarrassed, came to arrest her. But the real trouble began when the lithe blond runner passed the handsome giant on a country path and fell into the lake in surprise. Suddenly she was in his strong arms, unexpectedly warm on that cold February day. Why did she yield to his masterful embrace? Why couldn't she say 'No!' before he swept her off her feet, filling her with desire for everything she'd tried to reject?"
Janice Kaiser was first published in 1985 and has written at least 32 books, primarily series romances for Harlequin under their Superromance and Temptation lines. Private Sins is a standalone romantic political tale that uses Ms. Kaiser's education as a lawyer in addition to her experience as a romance novelist. Private Sins was her second mass market, standalone, novel, published in 1995.
The novel got good reviews and is given a 4.00 rating on Goodreads. It still reads as contemporary - the private scandals of politicians and other prominent people make the news every day - this novel is a fictionalized account of the stuff of the news.
Private Sins can be had for as little as $3.97, including shipping, on Biblio.
From the back jacket:
BRETT-the stunning, brilliant attorney tested and tempted beyond reason when she falls in love with her husband's son. AMORY-the new supreme court justice who will put his heart on the line to keep his young wife and his life on the line to defend his beliefs. ELLIOT-a political attache trapped by his contempt for one woman and his forbidden love for his father's new wife. HARRISON-a senator whose scandalous private life may cost him much more than his career. Only by exposing the private sins and secret passions of this very public family can they fulfill a destiny that is theirs for the taking .
PBS has compiled a list of the 100 "best" books written in English. The term "best" is loose. Over the course of the summer, in an effort to promote reading, they are allowing people to vote for their favorites to come up with "America's Greatest Read". They are also promoting the books and the great themes of literature with an eight-part television series discussing the books, the authors, themes, and other areas.
The list was complied by a survey and a blue-ribbon panel and, as with any of these "best" lists one can take exception to what is included and excluded. In the end it is probably irrelevant. I, personally, have read 36 of the 100.
The main points are, to me, that we should vote here and that we should contribute and advertise this and other promotional "tours" that encourage reading. I am not one of those who is going to try to read the 64 I have "missed" on the list - many of them hold no interest to me and, though I am sure they are well done, I have other books to read that are more my style.
If you want, drop a comment as to how many of the 100 you've read. We can even talk about which books we wished were on the list but please, vote and encourage others to read more books!
It is now 48 years since the first collection of stories featuring the heroic pair Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser appeared in book form. Fritz Lieber and his friend Harry Otto Fischer created the characters in 1934 and they first appeared in print in 1939 in the magazine Unknown.
Lieber and Fischer created the characters to try to give a more "real" heroes than Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan. Lieber wrote almost all of the stories and, starting in the mid-1960s, organized the many disparate stories published by that time and filled in the gaps in the storyline.
The first collection includes the most highly acclaimed story of the entire series, "Ill Met in Lankhmar", which won both the Hugo (1971) and Nebula (1970) awards. The stories, individually and in their collected form had a significant influence on the creators of the game Dungeons & Dragons. Some of the characters are actually included in some of the guide books for the game.
Lieber is one of the great writers of the fantasy genre and his characters Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser and many aspects of Lankhmar and the world Nehwon are seen in books and stories and characters scores of years removed. There are seven collections in book form but my favorite, for the aforementioned story which tells of the first meeting of the two heroes, is Swords and Deviltry.
Hondo was the second full-length western published by prolific author Louis L'Amour. It had been developed from the short story "The Gift of Cochise" which John Wayne had read the year before and purchased the screen rights from L'Amour.
While James Edward Grant wrote the screenplay, L'Amour expanded it into novel form. While there are significant differences between the short story, the screen play, and the novel the latter two were instant successes, with the novel and the movie released on the same day, the novel featuring the words, "Hondo was the finest Western Wayne had ever read".
L'Amour wrote 89 novels, 2 full-length non-fiction works, and published 14 short story collections in his lifetime. He also wrote poetry and other stories and articles not included in the above. Although primarily remembered as a writer of westerns, he also wrote crime/mystery stories, science fiction, historical fiction, and adventure stories.
While criticized for becoming formulaic and somewhat pedantic, especially in his later westerns, L'Amour produced some of the best-loved work in the past century.
Hondo can be found in many different printings, on Biblio, from only $3.97 including postage.
From the original jacket back:
He was etched by the desert’s howling winds, a big, broad-shouldered man who knew the ways of the Apache and the ways of staying alive. She was a woman alone raising a young son on a remote Arizona ranch. And between Hondo Lane and Angie Lowe was the warrior Vittoro, whose people were preparing to rise against the white men. Now the pioneer woman, the gunman, and the Apache warrior are caught in a drama of love, war, and honor
This week I remember a classic in American poetry. Walt Whitman is a name that is almost always in the list of greatest American poets. In fact, in 2006, The Atlantic listed him as "the most influential American poet, without question."
Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855. It was found by many to be obscene, with its direct references to the body, emotions and explicit sexual imagery. It was greatly influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalist movement and is truly quintessentially American, as the Atlantic says.
Whitman spent the entire rest of his life adding to and revising the one book. It grew from only 95 pages and 12 poems to over 400 poems through, nominally 9 editions (there is some dispute over whether three of the printings were sufficiently changed from their predecessors to be counted as a new edition). As such scholars can trace Whitman's phases of development and thought by tracing the changes in the editions.
Whitman was a nurse during the Civil War and was strongly affected by what he found in the hospitals and battlefields of that great struggle. He was also a staunch Lincoln man and he wrote a stirring elegy to the fallen President, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd".
The title itself was a pun, leaves being the pages of a book and grass was a term used by publishers of the time for works of little value.
Fortunately for all of us, there are many leaves and they are definitely of great value.
The idea behind this weekly feature is to look back at something old and, to me, familiar, and to share it.
Familiarity breeds, far from its mis-assigned contempt, comfort. Not always, but often. The child who seeks a parent when confronted by a new situation is looking for the familiar to provide comfort, to provide a place from which they can dip their toe in the next adventure.
That, at least in part, is the idea here on Throwback Thursday, to spread some comfort and/or provide a place to launch into new adventures. And, so, the books reviewed here on Thursdays are a variety and they are presented with enough detail (I hope) to allow that safe dip into the new or provide a smile of comfortable memory.
This week, I am afraid, there has been not enough time in my life to prepare that space here properly and, thus, I leave you with just the thought that the familiar is a place to be sought, but only to find a safe place to move forward or to provide that comfortable, happy place of reflection and recollection.
Hoping this finds all of you, gentle readers, in a great place.
In 1969 the ex-Royal Navy officer, Douglas Reeman, set his course to write a novel about a daring English captain during the Napoleonic Wars. Reeman chose to write the novel under the pseudonym Alexander Kent, a friend of his who had been killed in World War II. In Form Line of Battle, Richard Bolitho was launched.
Over the next 27 years there would be 26 more Bolitho novels, filling the entire period from the American Revolution to the final demise of Napoleon. Bolitho himself, like Horatio Hornblower who slightly preceded him and Jack Aubrey who is his contemporary in literature, has his basis in history with many real historical events being fictionalized into the books. The captains (earlier midshipmen and later admirals) are all an amalgam of the best in the Royal Navy during this tumultuous half century.
I have read a lot of these seafaring naval novels and prefer the Bolitho ones if for no other reason than the entire panoply of the crew of a sailing man-o-war is captured with each of the characters having depth and a place to play in the plot. With all three I never did read the latter (in historical chronology) novels; after all the stories of personal command and risk I just could not adjust to the admiral worrying over strategy.
The sailing is real - Reeman actually taught sailing and was intimately familiar with the needs to sail a large square-rigged vessel. The battle sequences are full and throaty. The situations are complex and the scenes painted thoroughly.
From the back of the early paperback edition: "The year is 1793, and England is once again at war. For Richard Bolitho, the renewal of hostilities with France means a fresh command and the chance for action after months of inactivity."
Form Line of Battle can be had for as little as $3.94 on Biblio. Recommended!
In 1982 Sue Grafton introduced private investigator Kinsey Milhone and the "alphabet" series was born. Grafton passed away in 2017 but she left us a gem of a series with these novels which finished using all of the letters but Z.
Grafton's father was a writer of detective fiction and Grafton's first attempts at novels were in that genre. However they did not enjoy commercial success and she turned to writing screenplays. Always fascinated with series whose titles were somehow related, like John D. McDonald's series of "color" novels, Grafton hit on the idea after reading Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Each of the books is told from Milhone's perspective and is reminiscent of the "hard-boiled" detective novel of the 1950's. Grafton described Milhone as "the person I might have been had I not married young and had children". Milhone is tough and single, though clearly heterosexual and complex.
The alphabet series is consistently rated at about 3.95 on Goodreads with some slight variation. A is for Alibi currently stands at a 3.82. The series is recommended for those who like their detective fiction told in first person and a little hard-boiled.
From the back:
"Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man. Until someone killed him. The jury believed that it was his pretty young wife, Nikki, so they sent her to prison for eight years. Now Nikki's out on parole and Kinsey Millhone's in for trouble. Nikki hires Kinsey to discover who really killed her husband. But the trail is eight years cold, and at the end is a chilling twist even Kinsey doesn't suspect--a second eight-year-old murder and a brand-new corpse."
A is for Alibi is available on Biblio for as little as $3.94, including shipping.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)