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The Best Book Evah!

Hey y’all, remember me? Danica Avet? Yeah, sorry I’ve been away for so long, but between real life going all bonkers and shoulder surgeries and deciding to self-publish something…can we say I feel a little crazy?

And then I saw the topic for the next two weeks and lost a little more of my mind. The best book or ebook…How can I possibly choose? I mean, what are we basing this on? Because there are a lot of books I adore for different reasons. If you’ve ever seen Mallrats, you can just imagine me saying this like Brodie trying to describe his favorite superhero or whatever that was.

Is it based on emotion? Because there’s one that immediately comes to mind called The Reluctant Dom. I bawled my eyes out for this book, sobbing so much that a family member asked me if someone else in our family hurt my feelings. Hello? I do not cry because my feelings get hurt. But this book broke my heart and healed it and broke it again and made me like it.

But on the other hand, I’ve read a non-erotic

romance that left me in tears after the first chapter. It was the first edition of the book which I read in the early 90’s and I’ll never forget that emotional train wreck. I loaned the book to my friend and never saw it again and when it was re-released several years later, it wasn’t the same. They took all the raw emotion out of it, I guess to make it more palatable but I still recommend it if you enjoy books that leave you in tears. Redeeming Love is actually an inspirational romance and it really does make you wonder if there are greater powers at work. I’ll have to see if I can find a used copy to see if the original is as good as I remember it.

But if we’re going off of books that are funny, and I love my funny books, there’s none better than G.A. Aiken’s What A Dragon Should Know. Oh Gwenvael is easily my favorite hero ever. Because he’s so ridiculously conceited and funny and I just love how well he’s written. There’s some serious stuff going on in this book, the series actually made my mom cryy’all, my mom hasn’t cried for a movie since she watched Imitation of Life in the 60s. For her to cry for a book series…well, that should tell you how deep it can get, but I tell you now these books area  riot when they’re not being deep and dangerous.

And the horrible thing is? I’ve only mentioned three books that I truly love. There’s no way I can get to all of them. Let me just say that when I cleaned out my bookshelves a couple of years ago to keep only what I couldn’t get rid of…I was left with 600 paperbacks. From historicals to paranormals to action-adventure romance, there are way too many out there for me to point to one and say “That’s the best book I’ve ever read.” Heck, I haven’t even mentioned Kresley Cole and she, along with Shelly Laurenston and J.R. Ward are the reason why I became a writer.

But one thing is for sure, one day I’d like my own books to be on the list of “best book evah”.

Have y’all read the three books I’ve mentioned or any of the authors mentioned here? What’s your favorite book by them?

What works and doesn’t work in a book series?

I’m in the process of developing a series (maybe two), which has prompted me to ask the question, what works and what does not, in a book series.  Since its series theme week here at Darker Temptations, I’m sharing the thoughts I’ve been tossing around on the issue.

I love a good series.  When done well, they reel me in, because I get so invested in the world and the characters in it, that I can survive a bad book or story and am willing to forgive a transgression or two or three (I will give up eventually) but may come back years later.   Here are the things I identified that work for me.

Characters who own your heart (but their stories must deliver)

Take some of the most popular.  J.R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood.  By the end of the first book, Wrath and Beth’s story,  I was in love with all the brothers, wanting for them to finally find their happy ending.  So I read, a lot of them, and enjoyed some of them.  But I found the world to be only so, so.  When Phury’s story disappointed, it was almost over for me. Phury had my heart breaking in half through so many books with his unrequited love for his twin’s love  that sometimes I read many of the books for him alone.  When he was matched with Cormia who I found to be pretty bland, like his story, I drifted away.  I may go back, but with the series, it was the people, more than the world.

A World that Draws You in

My absolute favorite series, also one of the more popular, is Nalini Singh’s Psy/changeling world.  I just love the universe she’s built, the interplay between the various changeling packs, the changelings and the Psy, and the humans who are slowly being integrated it all.  Each grouping is a world within a world, with its own well-crafted rules and relationships.  Not all the stories worked for me, but the world she created keeps drawing me back and there are still a lot of characters I want to see matched up with their HEA. Vasic, Aiden, and Alice anyone?  I’m hooked and I’ll stick with it to the end.

Original, Creative Plots in Each Story that Move the Whole Series Forward

Another thing to watch out for that does not work for me is  the reusing of story lines across a series. Lora Leigh’s breed series hooked me into paranormal erotic romance so I naturally turned to her Elite Ops to check it out.  Each book had more or less the same plot as the one before. I read three and stopped.  I’m also not a really big fan of her female characters either but that’s another post.

Closure (within a reasonable period of time)

And finally, and this may be my issue, but the series has to come to an ending with full closure.  Harry Potter and a series organized to end in seven years and seven installments is public relations brilliance and reader heaven for me.  I stopped reading the Breeds (although I will read Cassie’s story when it comes out)  and never made it past the first book in Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake series because there were already 20+ waiting afterwards and they were still coming.  I need a series to conclude.  And a planned ending is all the better, because it makes each book all the sweeter.

What about you all. What works and does not work for you in a series?


Sabrina Garie is on a journey to create the most kick-ass heroine in romance fiction. Meet Jocelyn, a single mom who gets a second chance at love in her newest book Next Move available from Ellora’s Cave and Amazon

Dark Heroine of Lover Mine: Xhex

As is my norm, I’m beginning this post with a little MAN candy for all you MANhandlers out there. Someday I’m going to write a post that simply takes all my delicious photos, posts them in one entry and takes a poll to find out who you all like most. Until then, feast your lovely eyes to the left.

This blog post was remarkably hard to write. The dark heroine I wanted to write is one I can’t discuss because her story line was truly just revealed in a recent release. If you read what I wanted to talk about, it would have ruined it. So who to write about? I tossed characters around in my head until BAM! This particular woman knocked me to my knees for my stupidity. Who is she? Xhex from JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB). Now, yes, I did actually write about another BDB character earlier, but this is different, I assure you. And yes, I am slightly obsessed with the BDB. Moving along…

Xhex is a kick-ass heroine who features in the books from almost the beginning of the series. An empath, she experiences others’ emotions and essentially feeds off of/gets her thrills from them. Suppressing her nature is something she struggles with, not unlike a drug addict might struggle with managing the craving for his next hit. To complicate things, Xhex works in a bar where emotions (particularly violence and lust) run rampant. Her job essentially provides her a nightly smorgasbord of emotions to feast on. It would be like putting a diabetic with a sweet tooth in front of a dessert buffet with all his favorites night after night. Eventually, something’s going to give.

Xhex is a complex character who has a variety of layers. This is the most appealing thing about dark heroes and heroines for me. They aren’t born to lead or save the damsel (or knight) in distress, and they are chock full of prickly characteristics–some hard to take and some flat out impossible to accept. But in there, inside that hard character, is a person waiting for redemption.

I often find it easier to relate to darker heroes and heroines because of their flaws. The perfect character is, to me, difficult to buy in to. She feels false, poorly fabricated even, and it makes it very difficult for me to slip into her shoes and walk that proverbial mile. But give me a heroine who can’t change the fact she has commitment issues due to a dark past or is unable to accept affection because she doesn’t feel worthy and you’ve usually grabbed my brain and dragged it into your story.

How do writers create characters like these? It’s not easy. These characters can, and often do, require a more complex, layered back story that gives the author both breadth and depth of flaws and emotions to draw from. It takes a plausible back story for the reader to accept the character as presented. The character has to have flaws and emotions delivered in a way that leaves the reader not only rooting for redemption, but also believing it’s possible. I know my anti-heroes and heroines have been the most challenging, and most fun, to write. Time will tell if I’ve done them justice.

So what about you? Who’s your ultimate anti-heroine? I could use some suggestions that can be used for character studies. She can be from literature, movies, television–your choice. I can’t wait to get your recommendations!

A Little Wrath Goes a Long, Dark Way

For my fellow MANhandlers, I’m posting a picture of more delectable numiness. Feel free to ogle a bit before you move on to the post.

I’ll wait…

But, truly, I’ve got to move on…

C’mon, my friends, let’s talk about some serious sexy: the dark hero. (See? I got your attention. Devious writer, I am one.)

A great example, for me, is Wrath from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Wrath is a vampire torn between leading his people or rejecting the role of king. He has no interest in ruling and zero respect for humans, and this includes children sired by vampires on human women. He’s crass, unsophisticated and ginormously sexy. When he’s called on to step up and see a half-vampire child through her transition, he balks. Okay. That’s not true. His answer is basically, “Hell. No.” But circumstances intervene, Fate plays her cards and the dark hero is born.

What is it that’s so appealing about a dark hero? Is it his unwillingness to be a hero that makes him so desirable? Is it his ability to make me love him and loathe him in one paragraph–one sentence even? Or is it deeper than that? Maybe it’s the fact he seems irredeemable, and we worry he’s crossed the line too far into the dark to be pulled back to the light. Regardless of the “why” of it, the point is this: the dark hero appeals to us on a variety of levels, many of them deeply personal.

There’s something about a dark hero that absolutely flips my switch. I want to  know he’s walking that fine line of good and evil, and that both sides speak to him. He’s a richer character for his dark flaws, and there are a thousand reasons this could be true for each of us as both writers and readers. But what it comes down to, for me as an author is this: it’s the reader’s interpretation of what the hero is after the author sets out his proverbial “pros and cons” list that makes that character work/not work. When an author is able to create a hero you love to hate, to put on the page a fictional character you fantasize about or who makes you wish you were starring opposite him–the author’s done the job of pulling the reader in and done it well. I’m in the process of creating my own dark hero and let me tell you, it’s not easy. He’s the hardest character I’ve ever written, and dark heroes are sort of my specialty. Yeah, I’ve got a hang-up. I love them passionately, grandly and without apology.

Now I want to turn the tables and ask you who your Wrath is? Who’s (in case you missed my last post) your Cain? Don’t be shy. Jump in and let other readers know if there’s a character/series that does it for you. You never know when you might get them started on a new series they love. It’s how I found Wrath and all the luscious brothers. 😉  Thank you, J.R. Ward. Thank you.

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