Audio Review: Love in the Afternoon by Alison Packard

love in the afternoonHero: Sean Barrett is the sexiest soap star on TV. His father — an amazing actor in his own right — is embarrassed that Sean spent ten years of his life acting for a lowbrow soap, and tries to get him to audition for Hollywood hits. Sean refuses to use his father’s connections in the industry to get ahead and purposefully avoids leaving the soap for greener pastures. He and his father do not get along. Sean sees every attempt to reconnect as an attempt to manipulate him. His father’s pull is so strong others have tried to get close to Sean in order to get close to his father, something Sean finds distasteful. His fame-seeking ex-girlfriend has left a bad taste in his mouth and he’s determined to avoid his sexy new costar at all costs… until he realizes she wasn’t hired for her pretty face but for her acting skills. Then all bets are off.

Heroine: Kayla Maxwell’s biggest career move in seven years has been to accept a contract with daytime’s most popular soap, A New Dawn. It will give her the chance to show her acting chops and perhaps prove to her manipulative ex-boyfriend – also an actor — that she’s more than a bimbo in some B-rated slashers. Things seem to be going well, because the producers are expanding her role and slotting her character as Sean’s character’s newest love interest. But when real terror comes to the set, Kayla doesn’t know what to do. A hateful fan leaving threatening notes for her to quit the show and get out of town has escalated into vandalism and hints at more. Her handsome costar wants to keep her safe and Kayla is inclined to let him.

Review: Found this treasure on Audible for free one day and snagged it. I’m glad I did. I very much enjoyed the narrator. Gia St. Claire did an excellent job and I would listen to another book read by her.

I liked how the lines of dialogue at the top of each chapter reflect the growing attraction and love the two shared as both the main characters and their on-screen personas. I would classify this romance as sweet, despite the crazy fan mystery. I thought Sean and Kayla were great together on and off the stage. I liked the behind-the-scenes-look at filming day time soap operas with new tapings each day and the two’s interactions in the evening studying their lines.

The mystery is pretty good at keeping you guessing who is behind the threats. I won’t give you the choices, but I know I kept bouncing back and forth on it for a good portion of the novel. There’s a significant portion of page time devoted to Sean’s friend, Matt, a baseball player with some serious issues involving the death of somebody (wife, child?). It’s a clear setup for the next book in the series. Perhaps with Kelly, Kayla’s sister?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Love in the Afternoon (Feeling the Heat)

Get into Bed with Kathryn Leigh Scott (Author Interview)

Today’s author interview is with Kathryn Leigh Scott. Did you know that KLS shot a cameo appearance (along with the other main cast members) for Tim Burton in the feature version of Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp? Yum!

Keira: Tell us a bit about the rivalry between our vampire heroine Meg and her nemesis a witch named Camilla?

Kathryn Leigh Scott: Camilla is settling an old family feud  that began with her jealousy of Meg’s grandmother, something Meg knew nothing about until her mother reveals its origins. At first she doesn’t take the threat seriously, but when someone very dear to her is killed, Meg retaliates, exercising paranormal gifts she has up to then denied herself.

Keira: Meg has some unique traits as a vampire that most don’t in fiction. She can walk around in daylight and shapeshift. How is this possible?

KLS: I took my cue from Jonathan Frid, who created Barnabas Collins, the iconic “reluctant vampire,” who is repulsed by the curse that forces him to harm others to satisfy his blood lust. He added tremendous dimension to the traditional vampire figure, revealing emotions, desires and special gifts not usually associated with vampires. Meg denies herself the use of her special gifts because she wants to succeed on her own among mortals, and only exercises her paranormal abilities when confronted with Camilla’s threats. In creating Meg Harrison, I established certain paranormal abilities and then wrote within those parameters.

Keira: Meg is in love with a mortal man. How do you define love? How does Meg?

KLS: Again, I took my cue from the fabled romance between vampire Barnabas Collins and his great love for the mortal, Josette DuPres, the role I played. Josette loved Barnabas, without knowing he was a vampire . . . but their love was doomed by the jealous witch, Angelique, who revealed his true nature to Josette, who then leapt to her death off Widow’s Hill.

Keira: What is the daytime soap opera Dark Passages about?

KLS: The novel is really a coming-of-age story about young actress Meg Harrison, a vampire whose love for a mortal is also doomed by the jealous witch, Camilla. Dark Passages begins as a traditional soap, and then ironically evolves into a paranormal series featuring a vampire . . . with no one aware that a real vampire is playing the innocent ingenue.

Keira: What are the parallels between the fictional Dark Passages and the actual Dark Shadows soap operas?

KLS: I’ve written a number of nonfiction books about Dark Shadows in which I tell the true behind-the-scenes stories. With Dark Passages, I had a lot of fun imagining “what if . . . we were known for our “bloopers” on Dark Shadows because, unlike other soaps, we had so many special effects and they invariably went wrong! So I imagined “what if” those mishaps were dangerous and the work of a witch out to destroy the secret vampire on the show?

Keira: Anything fun and interesting you’d like to share?

KLS: Yes! When I finished Dark Passages, I asked my husband, who is an editor, to read my novel and give me his comments. He thought the paranormal elements worked well . . . and then said, “I hope you realize you’re writing about your mother!”

Keira: Too funny! You can learn more about Kathryn at her website: www.kathrynleighscott.com

Buy: Dark Passages, Dark Passages (UK)

Ten Reasons Why Women Love Romance Novels

5 Reasons why the unenlightened think we love romance novels:

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10. We’re bored and have nothing better to do. This explains why a good portion of us read in lines, just before the lights go off in a theater, between meetings, before class, and during our commute… because we have time to spare.

09. We don’t have to think when we read romance! Great! Let’s leave our brains at home because everybody knows romance novels are right up there with gossip, soap operas, and fashion and celebrity magazines.

08. Secretly, we love the trashy cover art. Clinches and clutches and heaving bosoms really appeal to us. Who doesn’t love toting embarrassingly bulging mantitty in her purse?

07. We love romance because it’s petticoat porn. (What and men don’t like watching poorly filmed flicks off the internet? At least ours is intellectual- it’s literature!)

06. Better yet, on top of loving it for porn we also love it because we have no sex life. This is our only way to experience sex… ie vicariously through fictional characters. Right… as if any woman couldn’t go into any bar and ask any man if he wanted to go home with her and he wouldn’t say yes.

Now for 5 real reasons to love romance novels:

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05. Truly, we love romance because it’s emotional porn. Two hanky reads anyone? Passes out tissues.

04. Happily Ever Afters. We love a great ending and knowing that no matter how many troubles and problems seem to mount up eventually they’re solved and go away.

03. Variety. There’s a romance out there for everyone. Many of us develop preferences and seek out stories that cater to them.

02. The heroine. She’s everything we want to be or admire in others with the exception of the Too Stupid to Live Heroines.

And the number one reason women love romance novels is:

01. The hero… because we can fall a little bit in love with him every time we open a book to read.

Photo Credits: left-hand, jonrawlinson

Get into Bed with Libby Malin (Author Interview 2)

Keira: How is your own writing like writing for a soap opera?

    Libby: When writing comedy, I’m attracted to outlandish plots, stories that really make me giggle when I think “what if . . .”  Soap operas often construct far-out stories, too, and I think the challenge is the same—to keep the readers/viewers caring about the characters and their stories even as they trip merrily off into CrazyWorld.

    Keira: What goes on backstage in your writing?

      Libby: Well, every morning I wake up to the smell of fresh-roasted Columbian coffee served to me on the lanai by my pool boy, Frederico. Then I have my first massage of the day. After that, my psychotherapist stops by to go over with me whatever “issues” I need to work out before starting to write. Finally, late morning, I approach my office, sit at my computer, sip on herbal tea lovingly prepared by Hilda, my housekeeper, eat bonbons and write until about noon, when I alight to the gazebo in the middle of my Victorian-replica garden for a light repast, usually a salad with goat cheese and apricots and sliced almonds. After lunch, I retire to the media room to watch Days of Our Lives. Then it’s off to nap, more writing, dinner with friends, and theater, the movies or a concert with darling hubby. It’s a grueling schedule.

      Sigh. I wish. What usually goes on “backstage” is I try to fit writing around my schedule of freelance projects (writing and editing), laundry, shopping, cleaning, etc.

      Keira: What are your top three favorite soaps and why?

        Libby: I love Days of Our Lives and have been a loyal fan for years. They have some great villains on there now – Victor and Stefano – and some good core families. I loved Another World when it was on for similar reasons, but also because it mastered the “haves” vs. the “have-nots” story arc so well. Virtually all of their stories had that theme in them.  And I’ve occasionally caught bits of The Young and the Restless, which seems to me to be a bit slower-paced and elegant. But its time slot interferes with Days, and I can’t watch soaps all day!

        Keira: What are three reasons why Frankie should choose one the hunky leading man, Luke?

          Libby: Luke offers her youth, the possibility of a family, and a similar background. He’s in her “peer group” – around her age.

          Keira: What are three reasons why Frankie should choose Victor, the older, but dashing executive?

            Libby: Victor offers her financial security, unwavering love, and shared values. Although he’s in a different age group and from a different background, their outlook on life is remarkably similar.

            Keira: Before becoming a writer you worked in a whole slew of parts including a Spanish gypsy, a Russian courtier, a Middle-Eastern slave, a Japanese Geisha, a Chinese peasant, and a French courtesan. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that time in your life! It sounds so exciting!

              Libby: I started out in music, actually getting two degrees from a conservatory in voice performance. For several years after graduating, I sang in the union choruses of Baltimore and Washington Operas, which was a phenomenal experience. I loved singing at the Kennedy Center with Washington Opera in particular. Going through those “stage doors” was a thrill.

              Keira: I love your commercial writing tips in Throw Another Bear in the Boat. What are some tips you’d give about editing your writing?

                Libby: I’m so glad you asked that because I’m also a freelance editor. Writers could really increase their chances at publication (and win over the hearts of their editors) by being careful about little things. Make sure you keep character names consistent. Don’t mess up the timeline. (Eight days in a week? Two weeks in a season? Uh, not so much.) Work hard on the beginning of the novel. It has to first catch an editor’s eye before it catches the eyes of average readers.

                Keira: What is the most interesting thing anybody has ever said about your writing?

                  Libby: Hmm. . . don’t know if I could single out any one thing. I guess I have found it interesting when a manuscript is rejected by an editor with a lot of praise that reads like back cover blurbs. That has me scratching my head.

                  Keira: You’re under contract to write a third book – can you tell us anything about it yet or is it all under wraps?

                    Libby: Technically, I’m not under contract yet. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge to publisher. LOL!). But I am working on a third comedy. Tentatively called Wrong Place, Right Time, it involves a college professor who has spent his academic life (he’s only in his thirties) studying an obscure German monk, Aefle the Miniscule, becoming an expert on the monk’s writings. Returning to his hometown for his cousin’s wedding, the prof gets drunk at a bachelor party, loses his glasses, wanders into the wrong church the next day and stands up to stop the wedding at the “Is there anyone here. . .” part, on a dare made the night before. The bride (owner of a local car dealership), however, has been having serious doubts about her nuptials, so she grabs the chance to leave the altar and runs off with the professor. The groom sues her for breach of contract, goes after the prof for tortuous interference in a contract, and legal, academic, car dealership problems and more aborted weddings –as well as hilarity – ensue. I have a lot of fun lampooning academe in this book. If you would like to read it, please contact editors the world over telling them they must buy it! LOL!

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

                      Libby: Only that I love writing and feel so blessed to be able to get books published. The publishing business is tough, filled with rejection, so it’s heartwarming to hear from people who like my books. You can visit my website at www.LibbysBooks.com or my blog, which I’ve been updating more regularly now – www.LibbysBooks.blogspot.com — or drop me a note at Libby_Malin@hotmail.com if you’d like to be put on my email list. Also, you can friend me on Facebook at Libby Malin Sternberg. Thank you so much for having me as a guest!

                      MY OWN PERSONAL SOAP OPERA BY LIBBY MALIN—IN STORES APRIL 2010

                      Is life stranger than fiction, or vice versa?

                      Frankie McNally has found the perfect solution for life’s perplexing problems: as head writer for the daytime soap Lust for Life, she works them out on the air!

                      Meanwhile, Frankie’s being courted simultaneously by the dashing older man sent in to save the show’s sagging ratings and by the soap’s totally hot leading man. And just when Frankie thinks the plot couldn’t get more complicated, a jewel thief starts copying the show’s storyline-a development that could send the show’s ratings soaring, if it doesn’t get Frankie arrested first…

                      In her signature blending of the hilarious with the poignant, Libby Malin’s latest light-hearted novel combines the best of life and of fiction into an entertaining and incredibly satisfying read.

                      Buy: My Own Personal Soap Opera

                      ABOUT THE AUTHOR

                      Libby Malin is published in women’s fiction, including Fire Me, and is an Edgar nominated YA mystery writer. She’s worked in public relations, as an education reform advocate, and was a member of the Vermont Commission on Women. She lives with her husband and three children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information please visit www.LibbysBooks.com.

                      Giveaway: 2 winners will receive their very own copy of My Own Personal Soap Opera. Open to US and Canada readers only. Enter by telling us why you love soaps or by asking Libby a question! One entry per relevant comment; multiple entries allowed. Ends: April 22, 2010. Best of luck!