Reader Highlight with Wendy the Super Librarian

Keira: You’ve been blogging for approximately 7 years now. What are some of your all time favorite posts that you’ve written?

Wendy: This question is pretty much impossible to answer, because 7 years worth of archives is particularly daunting.  That said, people seem to like my semi-regular Little Miss Crabby Pants feature and by far the most mileage I’ve ever gotten from a blog post was my Open Letter To Romance Bloglandia.

Some blog readers seem to enjoy it when I rant, which admittedly I try not to do all that often, because I love focusing on books and reading – you know, all the good stuff in life.

Keira: I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and saw on your blog recently that Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen Mysteries compares to that writing style. What other book series or authors would you recommend for fluffy mystery?

Wendy: I think the greatest cozy mystery series ever written is The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.  That being said, the later books are unreadable and feature robot-like Stepford characters.  It’s especially sad considering that the early novels are what I consider the foundation for the sub genre as we know it today.  I always tell readers to go through the first five (starting with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards) books in the series if they want a crash course on the sub genre.

Keira: What are some of your favorite romances with librarian heroines? Have you read any with librarian heroes?

Wendy: The #1 librarian heroine of all time is Lily Morgan from Breathless by Laura Lee Guhrke.  Hands down.  No contest.

Honorable mentions go to Gwendolyn Price from In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa, Tess Bucek from Three Little Words by Carrie Alexander (Harlequin Superromance #1186) and Rachel Robinson from What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss (Harlequin Superromance #1622)

And as for librarian heroes – the answer is no.  I have never read one or come across one.  If anyone knows of one that I’ve missed, please let me know!

Keira: You’ve been put in charge of a completely empty specialty library which will only cater to one subgenre of romance. What do you stock it with and why?

Wendy: Argh!  After much internal debating….probably historical romance.  1) Because it’s my favorite sub genre 2) because it’s how I “discovered” the genre and 3) because of the depth and breadth.  I could include everyone from Georgette Heyer, to the old school gothics, to present-day bestsellers like Julia Quinn.  Also, the sheer volume of time periods and sensuality levels.  I could run the gamut from medievals to Edwardians, kisses-only traditional Regencies to burning-up-the-sheets erotic romance.

Keira: From the The Great Western Drive (and many other posts too!) we know that Westerns are your favorite romance genre. What are some of your favorite plots or literary devices that populate these books?

Wendy: A lot of readers like the romance genre because of the escapist factor.  I totally understand this and “get” it.  Titled heroes have a built-in Prince Charming fairy tale quality, as do those modern-day Greek tycoons.  However, for my money, nothing flips my switch more than romances about “regular” people.  People who aren’t rich, titled and privileged.  I’m much more likely to find that in American-set historical romances than I am in English-set historical romances.  Period.

Also, I’m a complete sucker for redemption and second chance themes.  These fit very nicely into the western setting.  So many people moved west looking for a “fresh start” or to build a better life for themselves and their families.  And let’s be honest, a lot of people moved west to run away.  You can find a lot of wounded, vulnerable heroes in westerns, as well as strong heroines with backbone.  Heading west took gumption.  Sissies and cry-babies need not apply.

Keira: What’s the difference between “regular Westerns,” “gritty Westerns,” and “frontier-style Westerns?”

Wendy: In my mind “gritty” implies that the western won’t be for the faint of heart.  It was a lawless country (before civilization moved through), and settlers had to take the law into their own hands out of necessity.  So when I attach the “gritty” label to a western, I’m implying that there is violence in the story and also a darker tone.

I adore frontier-style westerns, and sadly these aren’t nearly as common.  I define these as pre-Civil War, when areas of the country that were east of the Mississippi were still largely unsettled.  Also, these books tend to feature a lot of hero/heroine vs. The Environment.  In other words, no small, quaint western towns featuring homes with white picket fences.  They live in a cabin, in the middle of nowhere, and a bad winter has the potential to kill.  Jenna Kernan has written some wonderful frontier-style westerns for Harlequin Historical.  Another great example would be Pamela Clare’s Ride The Fire, which takes place around the time of the French and Indian War.

I tend to call traditional non-romance westerns “regular westerns.”  Old school authors like Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour for example.  This genre is slowly fading away, but there are still authors out there doing their part to keep it alive – Loren D. Estleman and Elmer Kelton leap to mind.  The seminal “regular western” in my opinion would be Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

Keira: If you could rename any five romances – what books would you rename and what would their shiny new titles be?

Wendy: I’m horrible at this sort of thing, but I’ll give it a shot.  How about I give some of my favorite romances sensational Harlequin Presents-style titles?

  • In Too Deep by Portia Da Costa = Shag-a-thon: Naughty Librarian, Randy Professor
  • Wild Oats by Pamela Morsi =  Her Virgin Hunk
  • I Do, I Do, I Do by Maggie Osborne = Conned!: Three Pissed Off Brides
  • Bad Moon Rising by Katherine Sutcliffe = Reformed Ho, Drunken Lawyer
  • Breathless by Laura Lee Gurhke = Sassy Librarian, Slick Lawyer

Keira: While you love the hunks that populate romances, you’re a very heroine centric reader. Can you share your top 5 all time favorite heroines?

Wendy: Seriously?  Only five?!  Sigh.

  • Lily Morgan from Breathless by Laura Lee Guhrke
  • Laurel Covey from A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade
  • Lucy Hathaway from The Firebrand by Susan Wiggs
  • Rita Warren from The Long Way Home by Cheryl Reavis (Silhouette Special Edition #1245)
  • Holly Jones from Bad Moon Rising by Katherine Sutcliffe

Keira: Your favorite cheesy clinch cover is:

Wendy: I have a bit of a “thing” for old school historical western romance covers, so this is hard to narrow down!  After more internal debating, I’ll have to go with Sioux Splendor by Rosanne Bittner.  I love that the back cover copy describes the heroine as “shy as a doe” (a preacher’s daughter to boot!) yet she’s flashing her assets as brazen as can be on the cover.  Also, like a lot of Old School covers, the hero looks to be devouring the heroine’s mid-section and there’s some sort of demented-looking wild life featured prominently on the front cover.  For a change of pace, it’s not a wild-eyed horse here, it’s some mythical-looking, inexplicable giant bird.  I mean, what is that thing?  It looks like a hawk, but it’s all white.  Is there such a thing as albino hawks?

Cover art can be found here:

And for the record, I haven’t read this book, but it is in my TBR.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Wendy: I’ve been blogging for a long time, and love it just as much today as I did when I first started.  I’m at the point in my life where I think I own every book I could ever want to read, and I’m lucky enough to have the greatest job in the world.  Maybe even better than being a romance writer, who gets to sit at home and work in her pajamas.  While I have to drive myself to an office (in mind-numbing traffic), properly attired no less, I do get to play with books all day.  Does it get any better than that?

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