Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sports themed romance novels- more and more popular!

I just finished reading Covering Kendall, a football themed romance novel about a woman GM of a football team.  She begins a relationship with a player from another team and all kinds of trouble occurs. The author, Julie Brannagh, has written 3 other popular books in her Love and Football series. I have really loved all of the books and actually learned quite a bit about football which was not one of my favorite sports. In this latest book, the issue of domestic violence is a part of the book which was written well before the latest NFL issues began to surface.  One thing about the romance writers, they have covered women's issues well before mainstream fiction ever did.

Sports themed romance novels are gaining in popularity. Romance novels of all types generated over 1.4 billion dollars in sales last year (the top rated fiction genre followed by Mystery/crime). As genres change in popularity, sports heroes seem to be hot right now in sales and on covers. There are series about hockey -Deirdre Martin's New York Blades, Rachel Gibson's Seattle Chinooks, Toni Aleo's Assassins etc. There are football series, Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Chicago Stars series was one of the first to hit really big. Since then, Jaci Burton, Julie Brannagh, Bella Andre and Jami Davenport all have well read series. There are writers like Lori Foster who is currently writing about MMA or Kat Latham who writes about rugby.

All of the books have a lot in common.  The heroes are usually pretty stand up guys who are loyal and committed to their teams.  Some are mansluts and some are homebodies. Some are self centered jerks and some are gentlemen. They are usually in great physical shape (see the picture above) and also financially well off. What is interesting is that in a lot of the books, the women work for the teams in some capacity or are strong fans of the featured team.  There are a lot of books with female athlete heroines but that's another blog post.  Avid female sports fans are gaining in numbers. NASCAR worked with Harlequin on a series of books a few years ago that contained a lot of information about how NASCAR worked and what the rules are.  I'm sure they gained some fans because of those books.

I guess all of these hunky athletes are today's versions of the medieval warriors, foreign billionaires, and English lords who were the norm years ago when I first started reading this genre.  Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble all have pages devoted to sports romance fiction so readers can find authors to enjoy. I know that I am certainly enjoying reading all of these books!  Maybe I'll start watching football.....or hockey.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Audiobooks- the reader will make or break them.

I have had two experiences recently that made me think about how the narrator of an audio book can improve your enjoyment of a book or ruin the book for you. I recently read that Ralph Cosham, the reader of all of the Louise Penny audio books, has passed away. I almost cried when I read that. I love the Three Pines mystery series and I own the print, eBook and audio version of all of them. I remember listening to the end of one of the books in the parking lot of the library where I work  and sobbing at the ending.

Ralph Cosham is the voice I hear in my head when I read the books. He will be very hard to replace. It has happened before. I am a long time fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) and she had a reader, Anna Fields, who read the majority of her books. Ms. Fields was killed in her home by a mudslide and all of the Seppies( fans of SEP) were devastated because she made the already wonderful books that much more enjoyable.  It was hard to listen to the next few books but we persevered.

Another long time reader is Susan Erickson who does the J.D. Robb series of futuristic mysteries. Again, when I read the books, I hear her voicing of the characters in my head. They have come to life for me through her.  There are lots of great readers out there who take a favored book and really make it special.

On the other hand, there are times when the reader absolutely ruins a book by their narration. I started to listen to a favorite book  in my car the other day and I had to turn it off after 10 minutes. The story takes place in France and the hero is an alpha male in a food profession. The reader had a very annoying habit of ending each sentence on an upnote so it felt like I was listening to a comedy. The worst part was her voicing of the hero was in a high pitched horrible French accent that kept making me picture a cartoon character. I had to stop listening before the book was forever ruined for me. Other books in the series were narrated by other readers and I loved those versions. I learned a lesson- LISTEN to the sample before you buy.

It will be very hard to listen to the next Louise Penny book and not hear Ralph because he is the voice of Armand Gamache to me. He will be greatly missed by all of his fans.