Tag: Jen Says

Do You Like It Scary?

Posted March 27, 2017 by Jen in Discussions | 7 Comments

I am a truly ridiculous wimp when it comes to scary movies and TV. And I mean a WIMP. I will cover my eyes, bury my head in a pillow, and let out sad little whimpers the moment anything scary comes on the screen. I can’t even get through the trailer for a horror movie without my stomach doing uncomfortable flips. I actually scared myself while looking for gifs for this post because there were too many horror movie scenes. Come on, that’s wimpy! And while I can tolerate comic-book movie violence, I have a pretty low tolerance for realistic violence. I remember watching Saving Private Ryan in a class in college and I got so upset by it I ended up sitting with my eyes closed most of the time, desperately trying to ignore what I was hearing. Like I said, I’m a wimp.

But not when it comes to books! In books, I have a pretty high tolerance for scary stuff and gore. While I don’t like to read them every day, some of my favorite books are the freakiest and most explicit serial killer stories. I can read about ghosts or supernatural evil entities terrorizing humans. I can read about people trapped and pushed to their limits. I can read bloody, gruesome hand-to-hand combat described in great detail. Sure, I’ll still flip on a few extra lights, double check the door lock, or feel a little kick in my pulse when I’m reading something scary, but it’s nothing like the reaction I have to the same stuff portrayed in movies or TV. Instead, it’s kind of pleasantly exhilarating.

It took me a while to figure out, but I think one reason this happens is because I simply don’t visualize things strongly in books. I might imagine a few hazy images, but I won’t actually visualize an entire scene or focus on the gruesome/upsetting details for any length of time. In other words, my brain kind of avoids that all when it’s reading, but it can’t escape the visual and audio in movies and TV. There the scary or bloody situation is right in your face, and there’s no way to ignore it or to gloss over it. I also have a higher tolerance for the scary stuff in romance than I do in other fiction. I’ll read a bloody non-romance mystery, for instance, but I don’t find it as enjoyable, and I often find myself getting just slightly more frightened/queasy. I think the romance aspect provides that guarantee to my brain that things will be ok in the end, that there really is nothing to be scared of because the main characters will be A-OK.

What about you? Do you like scary stories, either in romance or elsewhere, or will you never sleep again after reading a scary book? Do you picture the scary stuff in your head as you read?

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Throw your desert island books out the window

Posted November 8, 2016 by Jen in Discussions | 5 Comments

Desert island books? Pshaw, that’s no good! Who can live on a handful of books? Instead, let’s talk about our desert island romance TROPES! If you got stranded on a desert island and could only read books with 3 romance tropes of your choosing for the indefinite future, what 3 would they be?

After a great deal of painful thought and ruthless selection, I have narrowed it down to just 3.

Wilderness Survival

This is my number one favorite romance trope, forever and ever. I LOVE wilderness survival stories and I will read just about any of them, even if they’re schlocky and ridiculous. See, I am hopeless in the outdoors or in any stressful survival situation, really.


If stranded in the middle of a jungle or lost in the woods, I would be dead within literally minutes. Plus, real life survival is gross, difficult, and absolutely not sexy. But in books, I love to read about a couple thrown together to survive! Nobody dies from an infection, plunges to their death after slipping off a cliff, succumbs to hypothermia, or gets their head chewed off by a lion. Instead, at least one of them is a Bear Grylls-level survival expert, no creepy crawlies bite their butts while they’re getting it on in a cave, and they usually happen upon a waterfall or crystal clear lake to provide a timely bath somewhere along the way. It’s absurd but I eat it up.


I adore a good bodyguard story. To be honest, I attribute this to my obsession with the movie The Bodyguard as a kid.

When he takes that bullet for her or picks her up and carries her to safety? good sigh (I used to just stop the movie before she gets on the plane at the end and pretend they stayed together. Stupid unsatisfying ending!) I flock toward romances where one character has to protect the other. Usually it’s the hero protecting the heroine, but I’ve even read a few where that was flipped. And the book gets bonus points from me if the protector has to move in with the protectee to do the protecting. Often it’s a cop or agent of some kind, and they need to move in to ensure that the person in danger has 24/7 protection. It is completely unrealistic and never happens in real life, but that set up does it for me every time. It gives so many great opportunities for sexual tension to build–they usually start out in separate beds but that moment when they end up in the same bed is my favorite!

Second Chance Love

My final trope would have to be second chance loves, where the couple was together before but split apart for some reason. And I don’t just mean a couple hooked up once but then never saw each other again–I mean a couple that was in love but that was pulled apart, either because of forces out of their control or just their own poor choices. When that happens, they both start at a place of wondering “what if”, and one or both of them usually carries some anger or resentment.

Then, they are reunited and slowly start to chip away at whatever challenges broke them apart in the past. I love seeing couples actually communicate and work out their differences through discussion and compromise, rather than instant fixes. When it works, the payoff is so, so satisfying.

Your turn! What would be your 3 desert island tropes?

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Movies into Books

Posted October 31, 2016 by Jen in Discussions | 7 Comments

I imagine we’ve all thought at one time or another about romance novels we’d love to see made into movies, right? But what about the reverse? What movies would you like to see made into romance novels? Here’s my own list! These might not all work as literal translations, but I certainly think they’d provide excellent inspiration for books.

French Kiss (1995)

There were so many great romantic comedies in the 1990s, but of all of them I’d most like to see French Kiss as a book. The movie is about straight-laced Kate (Meg Ryan), who goes to Paris (ooh la la!) to try and win back her fiance (Timothy Hutton). He dumped her after meeting a French woman he thinks is much more exciting and desirable than Kate, and Kate is determined to show him that she too can be exciting and sexy. On the plane, she meets Luc (Kevin Kline), a charming French thief and con artist smuggling stolen jewelry. He has to slip the jewelry to an unknowing Kate when he’s about to get caught, and this means he has to find her later. He’s intrigued by her plight and challenged by her tart demeanor–cue the funny and adorable bickering, which would work so well in a book. Even though he still wants his necklace back, he agrees to help her win back her fiance. Of course, we all know how that goes! I think this story would be perfect for a book–who doesn’t love a bad boy reformed and a woman coming into her own making out in some of the most gorgeous places in France?

Jupiter Rising (2015)

I know that this movie didn’t do particularly well with audiences or critics, but I have to confess that I really enjoyed it. I like campy space operas, and this was as campy, spacey, and opera-y as they get. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is working in a dead end job and thinks her life is going nowhere. The plot is complicated and I don’t want to spoil anything, but essentially she ends up being pursued by aliens who want her to further their own agendas, some of which are…not good. She’s saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a sort of lycan solider/bodyguard sent by one of the interested parties to fetch her. The two have to negotiate the complicated and outrageous politics and characters, and in the process they start to form a connection. I would LOVE to read this science fiction romance! I acknowledge that the story would lose the amazing visuals of the movie, but there would be more of a chance to dig into the chemistry between Jupiter and Caine in a book. It would would be outrageous and exciting and just completely delicious, and of all the movies on this list it’s probably the one I would most like to see in print.

Desk Set (1957)

This is an oldie, but the story is surprisingly modern. (Yes, technically I am aware that this was a play before a movie, but I’d still like to see it expanded to book length.) The heroine is Bunny (Katharine Hepburn), the head librarian at a broadcasting company. She’s dating a company executive, but he doesn’t respect or challenge her. When the company hires Richard (Spencer Tracy) to set up a computer in the library to automate research, he and Bunny immediately butt heads. The librarians all assume the computer will make them obsolete, so Bunny and her colleagues set about trying to sabotage the process and Richard. We can all see that he is clearly Bunny’s equal, but of course it takes her a while to come around. The incredible Tracy/Hepburn chemistry really wows in the movie version, but in the hands of a skilled author the terrific conflict and sparkling dialog would translate to print, too. Obviously the premise is a bit dated, but it could be easily updated (there’s hardly an industry where there ISN’T a threat of some skills being made obsolete by technology, right?). Or, now that I think about it, I’d even love to see a version of this set in the 1950s, just like the movie. 1950s-set historical? Bring it on!

Charade (1963)

Another oldie but goodie, and another Hepburn–this time Audrey. The plot is complicated and twisty and action-packed, which is why it would make an AWESOME romantic suspense. Essentially, it’s about a woman named Reggie whose husband is murdered. This is no great tragedy, as she was already planning to divorce him, but after his death she finds out her husband was part of a group of men who stole a large sum of money during WWII. Her husband double crossed the group and stole the money for himself, and now the others have come to claim their share. The CIA is also after the money, and everyone wants it back from Reggie at all costs. As if this wasn’t enough, Peter (Cary Grant), a mysterious, debonair man Reggie had met at the movie’s opening, shows up protecting her and claiming to be on Reggie’s side as well. Hepburn and Grant are so freaking classy and charming that you can’t even stand it, but the movie still manages to keep up the tension and the confusion about who is really good and who is really bad. There’s a surprise twist at the end, too. I could 100% see this story brought into the modern age, maybe with something like a cyber crime and a woman on the run.

What about you? What movies would you love to see made into romance novels?

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Fantasy Reading Spaces

Posted September 22, 2016 by Jen in Discussions | 6 Comments

Do a search for “reading space” on Pinterest and you’ll get countless photos of chairs and benches and couches, libraries and dens and lofts, all styled to look like perfect reading spaces. Everyone has their own visions of what that perfect reading space might look like, myself included.

First, let’s take a look at my very first fantasy reading space.


Listen, the Beast’s multi-story library is amazing and all, but for reading I’ll take the cozy fireplace room. Can’t you just imagine how plush and soft that carpet must feel? Plus, you can snuggle up with a Beast who’s head over heels for you.

And for a real-life equivalent, how about something like this?


I can’t fathom a time where I would ever have something like this in my own house, but it sure would be lovely to visit, curl up on the couch with a blanket and a beverage, and read in front of the fire.

I also like a view when I read.


Can you imagine seeing that when you look up from your book? I love that the bookshelves accommodate the view too.

Living in a tiny house full of people, I definitely fantasize about a separate space all my own.


Kids, mommy’s going to lock the door so she can read without you now!

And maybe my ultimate fantasy?


You can refill your wine glass without even leaving your library. Sign me up!

What about you? Tell us about your fantasy reading spaces!

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What Kind of Reader Are You?

Posted September 14, 2016 by Jen in Discussions | 31 Comments

Ever since I was a kid, I have HATED putting a fiction book down in the middle. I remember nearly being brought to tears once in 4th grade when my teacher ended our free reading time and I was smack dab in the middle of an amazing story. (I wish I could remember what book prompted such a reaction.)


And I don’t just mean I get a little frustrated. I mean I tend to lose sleep over an unfinished book. I start thinking about the characters and their predicaments and all the details of the book, and pretty soon I’m lying awake for hours pondering. I read a lot of romantic suspense, too, and they tend to be the worst for me to leave half-read. I put a book down but the characters are still in peril, and I’m left to stew over that danger.

As a result, I prefer to read books in one sitting, or at least the same day. It’s fortunate that I’m a fast reader and can read most romances in a long afternoon.


Of course, this undoubtedly causes me to read less books, since I usually won’t start a book when I know I only have a short bit of reading time, and a free afternoon isn’t always available. I’ve found it important for my own sanity and sleep, though! I do sometimes stretch a book out over multiple days, but not if I can help it.

I never even considered that this was somewhat unusual reading behavior until a few years ago when I realized most people I’ve talked to don’t read like me! Often I get a very strange look when I explain how I usually power through books in one day.


What about you? Do you usually stretch out your books over multiple days? Or do you like to read things all in one sitting?

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