Friday, January 25, 2013

Review & interview: Master of Love by Catherine LaRoche

Welcome to author, Catherine LaRoche.  She is promoting her debut novel, Master of Love.  Check out our interview with her after my thoughts on the book.

Publisher: Pocket Star
Date of Publication: December 2012

Dominick Avery, Viscount Rexton, has a brilliant mind, yet is so intoxicatingly handsome no one ever takes his intellect seriously. He cultivates a wicked reputation as Lord Adonis, Master of Love, until his uncle sends him an irresistible bequest of books, on the condition he accept also the prim librarian who comes with them.

My thoughts:

Master of Love is the debut novel by Ms. LaRoche.  I really enjoyed the book   It's well written with wonderful characters.  Dominick and Callista are the perfect match for each other.  Callista wants the world to see her for who she really is; a smart and capable business woman.  Dominick wishes he could be himself instead of the flighty playboy that most people believe him to be.  I felt really bad for Dominick as he struggled to find the courage to shed his loverboy image and learned to be true to himself.   They find in each other true friendship and love.  I loved them together.  I also loved how their relationship takes its time to grow before they become lovers.  

The secondary characters really added a lot to the story.  Along with the main relationship  there are a couple of side flirtations that were just as endearing.  I especially loved Celeste, Dominick's mother.  Her little schemes to hook up the various couples were amusing.  If you like historical romances with great characters and very steamy loves scenes, this is the book for you.  I definitely look forward to Ms. LeRoche's next book!

Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Catherine: As a professor of culture and gender studies, I’ve been a writer for a long time.  I publish academic books and articles on gendered fantasy spaces in American popular culture.  I wanted to become a writer of romance novels as well, in order to have another way to think about this set of ideas.  Fiction allows me to learn a whole new aspect of the writing craft—dialogue! character arc! point of view!—while giving me room to explore issues of women’s sexuality, the conundrums of romantic and erotic love, and gender dynamics in a world that traditionally favors male power.  The overall question that drives me in all this writing is the function of the romance narrative in popular culture: the notion of find your one true love and live happily ever after.  I feel very lucky that I get to write romance novels inspired by this question, at the same time that I’m writing an in-process academic book about it (Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture).

Kari& Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Catherine: The answer to this question is rather mysterious to me.  The larger themes at the heart of the novels come from my academic work in culture and gender studies.  But I don’t really know where the ideas for the characters and the plots come from.  They just seem to appear in my head.  As I write historical romance, my readings about 19th century England and Europe do provide inspiration.  I find that a historical setting makes more acute—and therefore more conflicted and interesting—women’s vulnerability in life and in love.  So I’m drawn to heroines who are strong, but constrained by the limits placed on women at the time.  From there, ideas somehow pop up, such as a woman book-dealer with a head for business and clients who refuse to take her seriously, simply because she’s a woman.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Catherine: I’m almost finished with Knight of Love, the next book in “The Society of Love” historical romance quartet that opened with my first novel Master of Love.  Knight involves a runaway bride who throws daggers and a hopelessly romantic giant of a knight who believes in love at first sight (as well as voting rights for women).  The book is set in Germany and England, amidst the upheaval of the revolutions of 1848, much like the ongoing “Arab Spring” today.

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Catherine: You know, I don’t think I have a favorite literary character.  I could say someone like Princess Leia, because she’s smart and tough and works her will in the world around scoundrels like Han Solo.  But really, I don’t so much believe in the notion of “favorite” characters—or favorite books, movies, or foods, for that matter.  I find that fictional characters and books speak to me in different ways, at different points of my life.  If I’m reading a book, it’s because the characters in that book have become my favorites at that moment in time.  That’s what I love about reading in general: the engrossment and deep engagement in the world of the book, so that its characters are with you and become part of you.

Kari& Autumn: Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Catherine: I’d be a cat.  I love cats.  They teach an important life lesson, I think: how to tend to your own pleasure.  A cat knows the value of being warm and cozy, of a soft nest to curl up in, of frequent naps, of not getting too stressed out about life.  They are beautiful and sensual creatures who project great wisdom.  I’m not surprised the ancient Egyptians worshiped Bastet, the cat goddess!

About the author:

Catherine LaRoche is the romance pen name of Catherine Roach, who is a professor of cultural studies and gender studies in New College at the University of Alabama. Catherine won the Romance Writers of America Academic Research Grant in 2009 and is writing a book on how the story of romance—“find your one true love and live happily ever after”—is the most powerful narrative in popular culture. 

A lifelong reader of romance novels, she combines fiction writing of historical romance with academic writing about the romance genre for the best of best worlds. When not writing, reading, or teaching about romance, she enjoys hiking, cooking for friends, and spending family summers at a lake in her native Canada, where her loon call is known to sometimes fool the local loons.

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