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Donna Newman

 

Reviewer

About Me


Like Scout Finch, the proverbial tomboy who lived in her brother's shadow, I don't remember NOT being able to read. One of my favorite memories is of lying with my head in my mother's lap and feeling her coffee-scented breath on my face as she read to us till it was time to leave for school. She had read the entire Golden Books children's encyclopedia series to us twice by the time I was about 6.

It took me a while to discover romance. I remember the old, so-called "bodice rippers", but never picked one up: not because of the covers, but because of things I'd heard about the "hero as rapist" theme. Oh, and because of some of the titles!!! I read everything else, though, and eventually realized that what I liked most about the books I enjoyed were the romantic parts. This realization crystallized about 11 p.m. one night, and the one store in town that had a romance without a clinch cover (which I naively thought might make the story less "over the top" than what I imagined the typical romance to be) offered up Sandra Brown's Where There's Smoke. I was hooked.

My tastes in romance have evolved and mutated since then. I am like the diner who's a regular at the smorgasbord. On my initial visits, I tended to gorge on a sampling of every item, but eventually, I learned to pick and choose the things that gave me the greatest ultimate pleasure. I also learned that, just because my dinner partner finds the pickled owl's beak the crème de la crème of epicurean delights, it simply may not be my cup of tea.

But although I consider my romance reading a relatively recent development, I distinctly remember reading books like Fifteen, and a host of books by Someone du Jardin. Then there were the gothics: Moura, Mistress of Mellyn et al; I adored them! And, of course, the classics like Katherine, Desirée, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek. Favorite non- romances include Prince of Tides, To Kill a Mockingbird, Shogun, The Bean Trees, The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, Once and Future King, Lonesome Dove, Catch-22, The Tokaido Road (which leans toward romance), The Fixer, All the Pretty Horses.

I love historical romances set in England, especially the Regency and Victorian periods, but will read other European historicals, as well. Favorite authors include: Adele Ashworth, Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught, Judith Ivory, Liz Carlyle, Mary Balogh, Anita Mills, Mary Jo Putney, Edith Layton. I enjoy historicals set in America: Dorothy Garlock, Lorraine Heath, Catherine Anderson, Brenda Joyce, Dana Ransom, Pamela Morsi. Favorite contemporaries include titles by: Susan Andersen, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa G. Brown, Karen Robards, Linda Howard, Kay Hooper. I tend not to read sub-genres, like time travel or scifi or paranormal, but have been pleasantly surprised, most notably by Susan Grant's Contact and Son of the Morning, Linda Howard's foray into time travel.

When I'm not reading, I am doing business as the owner of Creative Solutions, providing training and consultation in the areas of developmental disabilities (a field in which I worked for 23 years), management, computers and whatever else someone needs that I can convince myself I know something about. I settled in California about 20 years ago, after a nomadic childhood of the sort that comes of having a father who's career Air Force. Other than a 9-year stint with matrimony (no kids), I've lived a relatively footloose and fancy-free existence, and have no plans, immediate or otherwise, to change that.

Personal Reading Tastes


What I'm a sucker for in a book:


Second chance at love plots, loved from afar plots, bad boy/good girl stories, arranged marriages, reformed rakes, scenes that start out predictably than go somewhere new, lusty but tender heroes, witty and/or intelligent dialogue, and strong heroines who aren't shrews or dingbats.

What I don't particularly care for in a book:


Pirate stories, extremely dark story lines with too little redemption/lightness, glaring historical inaccuracies, overly eccentric heroines, virginal contemporary heroines without a realistic backstory, and paranormal/time travel elements.

What drives me absolutely nuts in a book:


Big misunderstandings, Too Stupid To Live characters, long and unnecessary separations, cardboard characterization, sex by the numbers, emotionally abusive heroes, inconsistency in description, supposedly sexually experienced heroines who become clueless in the clinches, overuse of words like "gasp," "lave," etc., heroines who become wide-eyed at the first view of the hero's endowments, and lustful thoughts at unrealistic moments or ad nauseum.

Favorite Romance Authors


Favorite Romance Authors


  • Connie Brockway
  • Liz Carlyle
  • Lisa Kleypas

    Best Discovery/Buried Treasure Authors


  • Liz Carlyle
  • Edith Layton
  • Judith Ivory

    My Biggest Glom


  • Linda Howard
  • Liz Carlyle
  • Lisa Kleypas

  • Favorite Characters


    Favorite Hero


  • Stuart Aysgarth, Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory
  • Avery Thorne, My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
  • Harry Braxton, As You Desire by Connie Brockway

    Favorite Heroine


  • Jessica Trent, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
  • Lillian Bede, My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
  • Emma Hotchkiss, Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory

    Most Tortured Hero


  • Kenzie Scott, The Spiral Path by Mary Jo Putney
  • Alasdair St. Erth, The Devil's Bargain by Edith Layton
  • Jack Seward, All Through the Night by Connie Brockway

    Strongest Heroine


  • Lily Lawson, Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas
  • Jonet Rowland, A Woman Scorned by Liz Carlyle
  • Marlie Keen, Dream Man by Linda Howard

    Favorite Couple


  • Sebastian Ballister and Jessica Trent, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
  • Stuart Aysgarth and Emma Hotchkiss, Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory
  • Harry Braxton and Desdemona Carlisle, As You Desire by Connie Brockway

    Best Villain


  • Lord Edward Vane, The Seduction by Julia Ross
  • Lady Killer, Home at Last by Katherine Stone
  • Robert Belesme, Lady of Fire by Anita Mills

  • Least-Favorites


    Most Disappointing Book


  • Open Season by Linda Howard
  • Remember When by Judith McNaught
  • The Fifth Daughter by Elaine Coffman

    Worst Book


  • Hide and Seek by Cherry Adair
  • Dark of the Night by Dee Davis
  • The Conqueror by Brenda Joyce

    Authors I Have Given Up On


  • Sandra Brown
  • Julie Garwood
  • Jayne Ann Krentz

    Authors Others Love That I Don't


  • Jude Deveraux
  • Dinah McCall/Sharon Sala
  • Elizabeth Lowell

    Most Annoying Lead Character


  • Daisy Minor, Open Season by Linda Howard

  • Favorite Romance Novels

    Absolute Favorites


  • Lord of Scoundrels
  • by Loretta Chase
  • Untie My Heart
  • by Judith Ivory
  • My Dearest Enemy
  • by Connie Brockway

    Favorite Classic


  • Katherine
  • by Anya Seton
  • Jane Eyre
  • by Charlotte Bronte
  • Desiree
  • by Annemarie Selinko

    Favorite Short Story


  • Too Wicked for Heaven
  • by Deborah Martin
  • in One Night with a Rogue

  • Favorites by Sub-Genre

    Contemporary:


  • Billy Bob Walker Got Married
  • by Lisa G. Brown
  • Crazy for Lovin' You
  • by Lisa G. Brown
  • Baby, Don't Go
  • by Susan Andersen

    American Historical:


  • Cherish
  • by Catherine Anderson
  • Courting Miss Hattie
  • by Pamela Morsi
  • If My Love Could Hold You
  • by Elaine Coffman

    European Historical:


  • Untie My Heart
  • by Judith Ivory
  • Beauty Like the Night
  • by Liz Carlyle
  • A Woman Scorned
  • by Liz Carlyle

    Medieval:


  • Lady of Fire
  • by Anita Mills
  • Warlord
  • by Elizabeth Elliott
  • Saving Grace
  • by Julie Garwood

    Alternate Reality:


  • Finding Laura
  • by Kay Hooper
  • Contact
  • by Susan Grant
  • Son of the Morning
  • by Linda Howard

    Category:


  • Bad to the Bone
  • by Debra Dixon

  • Favorites by Plot Type

    Suspense:


  • Dream Man
  • by Linda Howard
  • Obsessed
  • by Susan Andersen
  • Private Scandals
  • by Nora Roberts

    Cabin or Road:


  • The Seduction
  • by Julia Ross
  • Stolen Charms
  • by Adele Ashworth
  • Home at Last
  • by Katherine Stone

    Funny:


  • Heaven, Texas
  • by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Wild Western Desire
  • by Kathy Jones
  • Loving Linsey
  • by Rachelle Morgan

    Sexy:


  • Untie My Heart
  • by Judith Ivory
  • The Lady's Tutor
  • by Robin Schone
  • After the Night
  • by Linda Howard

  • Favorites by Mood

    Comfort Reads:


  • Courting Miss Hattie
  • by Pamela Morsi
  • Then Came You
  • by Lisa Kleypas
  • Crazy for Lovin' You
  • by Lisa G. Brown

    Most-Hanky Reads:


  • Always to Remember
  • by Lorraine Heath
  • Annie's Song
  • by Catherine Anderson
  • Home at Last
  • by Katherine Stone

    Guilty Pleasures:


  • Dream Catcher
  • by Kathleen Harrington
  • Duncan's Bride
  • by Linda Howard
  • Fires of Paradise
  • by Brenda Joyce

  • Non-Romance Favorites


    Favorite Author

  • Pat Conroy
  • Amy Tan
  • Alice Walker

    Favorite Book

  • Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Shogun by James Clavell

    Favorite Classic Novel

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • One and Future King by T.H. White
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller


  • Favorite Women's Fiction

  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

    Favorite YA Book

  • The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton

    Favorite Set of Connected Books

  • The Leigh Brothers Trilogy by Lorraine Heath
  • The Fire Series by Anita Mills

    Book Most Often Reread

  • Billy Bob Walker Got Married by Lisa G. Brown
  • As You Desire by Connie Brockway
  • My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway