Across the States Part 4

It’s nice to be traveling in the winter, because anything could happen! Snow, tornado, charging rhinos, fish falling from the sky, anything at all. Get your bags on the bus, and let’s head out.

31. Michigan. We have a lot of death and violence in the first group of books that come up on the list. After scanning the entire first page of suggestions, I could not find one normal romance. Luckily, I did find an abnormal romance. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Irish and Greek, for his sins) tells a very unusual story, but not one I am unfamiliar with. Yes, I have a virtual friend who is like the main character in this story, and whose life has been interesting, in the Chinese curse way. I would love to send this book to my friend and get feedback.

32. Indiana. Astonishing that I haven’t encountered Haven Kimmel before. The excerpts from her book, The Solace of Leaving Early, are simply poetic. I expect if I lived in Indiana, I would know about her. Weaving a story of love through a landscape of mourning, the moral is to learn to feel joy in any circumstance.

33. Ohio. Now we have a plethora of dystopian settings. And while Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave looks pretty interesting, I still want romance! And here it is. Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise. Brought together by a wager, and totally incompatible, nevertheless, fate manages to be what’s happening while they make other plans. Readers mostly love it, and I have to find out where the donuts and Chicken Marsala come in to play.

34. New York. A tough state to meld into one book. If Reign Over Me were a book, I’d go right for it. But it’s not, so I will keep looking. In my Romance Writers of America chapter some few months ago, a speaker told us that Millionaires were so last century. To get the interest of modern readers, get a Billionaire in the title. Well, okay, most billionaires live in New York, right? The clincher for me is the first review, by a writer I know and respect. And she loved it. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst is the first in the Marriage to a Billionaire series. The bride to be has history with the billionaire, is a bookstore owner, and casts a love spell. I’m hooked!

35. Vermont. Yeah, maple trees are so romantic, but I think I just want something small town and sweet. Looking at the reviews for Everything I Ever Wanted, one describes Kristan Higgins’s heros as gentle alpha males. Okay. I could go with that. The heroine is turning 30, and her mom throws her a party in the family funeral home. That’s all I need to hear.

36. Maine. Let me tell you right now, Stephen King is very talented and has shared his writing skills with new authors. But I don’t think I will be picking any of his books for this travelogue. He sets a lot of them in Maine, and that’s nice, but wouldn’t it be interesting if he wrote a romance? (Now I’ll get lots of letters about any he may have written!) At the mall today, I saw a shirt that read “Seas the Day.” Maybe that has influenced my choice in Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright by J. B. Chicoine. The plot has overtones of Princess Caraboo, but there is a warm happy something in that this woman’s arrival in Maine brings much needed life into the existence of everyone she meets.

37. New Hampshire. I have to admit, while I have read a few, I’m not a big fan of mysteries. I just want some conflict, sexual tension, and romance. Is that too much to ask? And what is it about small New England towns that channel these murder mysteries to writers? Maybe I’ll write a story set in a city where murders happen every day, and the mystery centers around one day when no crimes were committed there. (Keep those cards and letters coming in!) Exclusively Yours is a great bundle of entertainment. The title has a little play on words, as the female main character is a reporter. The romantic couple have past history, and his heart was broken. The author, Shannon Stacey, is happily married, and loved to put in Happy Ever After endings. And it’s just the first in the Kowalski Family series. The reviews are mixed, but it sounds to me as if those who were looking for an entertaining contemporary romance found what they wanted.

38. Rhode Island. Another thing about New England is all the little sea-side resort towns. This is not a complaint, I love it. I can totally get into someone who wants to create their life in such a setting. And if the story is about second chances, and a couple with past history, you know me well enough by now to realize that book is my choice. Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs satisfies a lot of cravings for readers. One reviewer warned to not read it if you are hungry. The heroine owns a pizza parlour.

39. Massachusetts. The choices for this state go back to the founding of the country, at least, and land anywhere from classic fiction to witch trial documents. I’ve avoided all the great Navy SEAL hero books so far, but this one gets my attention. First, imagine you found out about a terrorist plot. Then imagine no one believes you because of your recent head injury that released you from active duty. If you are an Alpha personality type, what would you do? That’s right, gather your own team of counterterrorists and take care of it yourself. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann received mixed reviews, but as one of them was from a guy looking for an action story instead of a romance, we’ll just go with the positive ones.

40. Connecticut. What can I say about this state? I think of wealthy people and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Sandy Hook and Ivy League Universities. The rich continue to amass wealth while the middle class and poor struggle. But you can read all about that last online. I want escapism. A New Adult book about first love and opposites who attract and lots of high ratings from readers can be found in Huntley Fiztpatrick’s debut novel, My Life Next Door. The excerpts alone on Goodreads make this a must read for me.

We’ll settle in at this seaside resort and pick up on Thursday with the last of the states on our tour. Thanks for reading.

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