What Makes Your Best Books List?


So, Publisher's Weekly's list of the 'Best Books of 2011' (for romance) is out there. In the top 4 are 3 historicals (a Mary Balogh, Isabel Cooper and Elizabeth Hoyt), one contemporary (Emily March - one of my faves!). The list got me thinking about what makes a great book for me - as a writer and as a reader. I read across the Romance and Mystery genres, so it isn't 'just' romance or a familiar author.


More than anything else, it is character. A great heroine, an amazing hero; together they, of course, create a rip-roaring ride. That, of course, is a very general and simplistic view, but really, it's just about character for me. I want to read about real women with real problems and real friends who help them get to the bottom of things; I don't want a damsel in distress who needs a big, strong man to rescue her from the big, bad wolf because she was wearing 5-inch platform heels as she ran down a cobbled street. Give me a break and break her leg while you're at it, what's she doing wearing 5-inch-platforms when running for her life anyway!?! I want to read about a hero would could blow Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson out of the water, but who also knows that the best moments in life are the quiet times spent with the one you love. So that is what I try to write ... and sometimes it works and sometimes it falls flat. But it's always a fun ride!


What about you? What makes a good book - as a reader and as a writer?


And you can learn more about my writing - and my debut book, What a Texas Girl Wants! - over at Bernadette Marie's website today, where I'm being interviewed!

Comments

  1. The characters! The heroine has to be attractive (or at least have attractive features), intelligent, reasonably self-confident, and not promiscuous. Same for the hero, although I will say here that when the hero is described as so attractive that serving girls drop their trays upon seeing him, the story begins to lose me. What chance that such a guy is going to be faithful to any woman, no matter how attractive? Perhaps I'm showing my age when I say this, but the book covers that show the ripped guys would be better used as pinup posters, at least in my opinion. I want to read about a guy who might find ME interesting and not be looking around for beauty queens with trust funds.

    Another thing you can do to turn me off is describe a reluctant hero, who looks at all women as predatory and uses them for sex. To be honest, this is a big reason why I tend to dislike contemporaries. At least in a historical, heroes know they can't play around sexually with gently-born heroines and then set them aside while they pursue somebody else. I guess I just don't find it romantic when the hero uses the heroine for casual sex and she either has to find a way to change his mind or keep reminding herself that's all it is to keep from being devastated when he tires of her.

    Whew! Sorry for the rant, but it feels good to get it all out!

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  2. It's the characters, but it's also the writer's voice--for me. If the characters are wonderful but I can't relate to how the author shows them to me, I'm still not going to like the books.

    Great post, Kristi!

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  3. Barbara, nothing wrong with a rant now and then! And I agree - heros who are users aren't romantic, whatever the time period!

    Liz, thanks for stopping by. The writer's voice is a huge part of books, it bleeds into everything else.

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  4. Great post, Kristina! For me it's the characters. Love strong heroines that give my alpha heroes a run for their money. Lots of conflict and plenty of action and adventure. Probably why I write action adventure romance, lol! Can't wait to read your book!

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  5. I'm with you...I like interesting characters that are woven around an interesting plot. Nothing over the top...I don't like a lot of baggage...just a basic story that seems 'real' and could happen to anyone!

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  6. I like being taken to places I've never been. Steamy jungles of South America to the wilds of space--beam me up, Scotty! I love world building and strong Alpha men. If the story is based on a strong women, she better have a strong man to compliment her. Great thought provoking blog :)

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  7. Character, character, character...I'm sensing a theme, y'all!

    Jennifer, conflict is key for me, too.

    Christine, I do like the baggage, I'll admit. Not crazy-weird baggage, but a bit of history is nice... ;)

    Sheri, a change of scene - like visiting the Fae - is a fun ride for me, too.

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  8. Not to chime in with the same tones here, but If I'm not "into" the characters and their struggle, I just can't keep reading.

    Great post!

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  9. We are all echoing each other - but that's okay! Character, character, character...winner!!

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  10. Strong characters! A hero I can't forget. One I want to be with *blush*.

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  11. lol, D'Ann..I think we've all had that thought!! :)

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  12. I agree with you... I like characters who are real people with real problems. I want strong willed and strong backed characters. I hate the mousy heroines and the supper alphas who to me come off more like jerks than anything else.

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  13. Jerks need not apply, Sara, totally agree with you! Thanks for stopping in today!

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