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Monday, October 18, 2010

Opening The Book

Hi y'all! I'm Mary Anne Graham and I'm honored to be an indie romance voice on the blog. Like my greeting, I'm Southern and like my name I'm a little old fashioned. My day job is practicing law in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and my dream job is writing full time. I write historical and contemporary romance. If you're jonesing for more info about my bio (which I'd find just a wee bit odd) you'll find that here or here. If you want more info on my books or you want to pick one up (which would make me delirious with joy) you'll find those links here.

This is my opening post on ADAN so I thought I'd talk about what makes me open the book, particularly with historicals. 'Cause I just know that all of y'all are dying to find out what makes the insane duck lady hit the buy button.

Here are some of the plot lines that almost always draw my deeply fractured attention:

The Forbidden: I go quacking nuts for stories where the one woman the hero can't have is the only woman he can't live without. She might be the girl he raised who grew up to be the lady who lights his fire. Or perhaps she's his brother's betrothed. She could be the hero's ward or his best friend's baby sister. I like the inner conflict created by the lure of the forbidden. Haven't we all been drawn at one time or another by the people or things we can't have? The lure of the forbidden will almost always hook my attention. It means I'll get to spend a lot of time in the characters' heads and I'm an unrepentant head-trip junkie.

Different Ages Or Stages: Romance between a hero and heroine of different ages or generations is another of my fab faves. This one is often closely related to the forbidden and finding them intertwined in a plot is almost a sure-fire winner for me. They get all twisted and tangled in plots where she's his student or his best friend's daughter or his daughter's best friend. I like to get twisted and tangled right along with 'em. But there are also tales where the age gap problem stands alone and they can be great too. With this one, I have a confession. It springs from that old-fashioned nature I mentioned. I like these books when the hero is older and the heroine is younger. I can hear you sighing out there. Don't be like that. How about correcting me? What books have you loved where the heroine was the older one in a generation gap romance?

Reforming The Rake: I'm a big fan of Regency romance and they feature lots of rakish heroes. In those tales, the rake is often a bachelor who's having too much fun to settle down. He's usually a member of the gentry who likes his friends fast and his women faster. I really like to be along for the ride when a rake meets his match. Rakes are rabid about avoiding encounters with respectable ladies they might have to marry. In my favorite of these tales, a rake meets a respectable lady who's a rebellious female. She's a little bookish and has outlandish notions about female freedom. He'll want to avoid her like the plague but she draws him like a warm fire that keeps getting hotter. By the end of the story, he's taught her about sex and she's taught him about love. He's become a reformed rake with a slower pace and a wider horizon. There are lots of these, but when they're done right, they go on my keeper shelves. I've seen Johanna Lindsey and Julia Quinn do these beautifully. What are your favorite rakish keepers?

A Good Laird Is Hard To Find: I have to give a wee quack out to Scottish highland tales that I also adore. I'm fond of the stories where a laird fancies a lady from a rival clan, and I sometimes even enjoy the ones where he captures an enemy lady who bests him in a battle of the heart. Some of my favorite of these stories are, again, the cross-overs (Yes, Virginia, I see the theme too). It surely draws my eyeballs if the laird falls for a Regency lady. He hates everything English and he really, really wants to hate her too but his heart keeps getting in the way. I'm always on the look out for good ones that fit this category. Have you read any lately that you'd recommend?

As sure as ducks quack in the pond, I could go on (and on, and on...) because there are lots of plots that pluck my interest. With all of them, they'll only make me hit the buy button if the characters carry the story. Well-crafted characters will sometimes get me to buy a book that's way out of my normal interest zone. Even if I buy it, the tale only lands on my keeper shelf if the author puts the romance front and center. I don't need a lot of stuff about political intrigue or about how the office gets run or the estate gets managed. I want the author to dish it up hot and spicy with a sweet finish.

Now, it's your turn. Tell me about the plots that make YOU hit the buy button.

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back on Nov. 18th but be sure to visit often!

Mary Anne Graham
Quacking Alone Blog
Visit the Quacking Alone Facebook Page!


  1. Hey look, it's a comment box, just for me!

    Maybe everybody doesn't have the appreciation for ducks you have, dear wife o' mine.


  2. I love "reforming the Rake" books. I'm a big regency fan, too, and these catch my attention. Also, stories about mingling classes (governess and Lord, etc.) interest me.

  3. Yeah, I like the mingling classes tales too. The governess usually teaches the Lord a thing or too. I really like that.

    As a writer one of the big reasons I adore the Regency is because it has so many lovely rules. There's nothing I like better than to write a hero who falls so much in love that he breaks all the rules.

  4. What a clever idea to use the pictures of the ducks. That certainly got my attention. LOL
    For me to open a book and stay with it, the story has to be compelling, the characters engaging and unique, and the writing has to be almost flawless. I'm a hard sell. LOL

  5. Thanks for the nice words about the ducks. They're sort of my thing. Design kudos go to Mr. Quack and I'll pass along your praise.

    You do sound like a hard sell! I think for me the writing is good when I don't notice it. Sometimes something like a wierd word choice can throw me right out of the story.

    BTW, I'm looking forward to seeing your blog tomorrow.

  6. I'm not a huge fan of historicals, but give me a good rake, and I'll try it out. I do read Amanda Quick, though -- mostly because they are outside the norm of most books written in that time.

    Good points all, though :-)

  7. I love Regencies most of all and Reforming the Rakes too! Right now I'm reading The Naked Viscount by Sally MacKenzie. The hero is noticing the sister of his best friend...seemingly for the first time! Love that story line too!


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