Thursday, March 09, 2006

What Angels Fear by C. S. Harris

What Angels Fear is a historical mystery published under Candice Proctor's new pseudonym, C. S. Harris. I, like many other readers of Proctor's romances, have been mourning her loss to the romance genre. CP wrote this article for Romance Writers of America's RWR but they declined to print it. In this article she says that the romance genre gets no R.E.S.P.E.C.T (hum a little Aretha Franklin with me, ladies) from readers, writers, or publishers.

Now I have great respect for Proctor's writing talent and her decision to go where her heart leads her. In this article I think she was explaining or justifying some of her reasoning for abandoning the romance genre. And although I don't necessarily agree with everything she says, she makes some valid points.

But in my opinion that's not the only reason she abandoned the genre. If CP had really loved writing romances then that's what she would be doing. Yes, respect for your work is nice but if you have passion for what you're doing nothing will keep you from it. After all, if respect were all writers needed then there would no longer be any more romances written, except maybe Nora. I bet she gets respect just from the amount of money she rakes in.

CP obviously loves writing and is very talented, but I don't think she really loved writing romances. Her romances were wonderful but few and far between. But I wonder why she chose mysteries or maybe the genre didn't matter. With her degree in Classics and a Ph.D. in European History, maybe she feels that writing historical mysteries is a better use of her skills.

I'm beginning to very much appreciate the authors who stick with the romance genre and work to change attitudes in their own small way. Change takes a long time and comes about in small increments. To all you romance authors out there thinking of changing genres: Don't abandon ship!!! I don't want to have to envision a world with no romances.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was going to write a review and boy is this getting LONG. So I'll try to make this short (fat chance).

Set in England on the verge of the Regency period, WAF is an engrossing historical mystery blending political intrigue and suspense. Viscount Sebastian St. Cyr is the prime suspect in the gruesome rape and murder of an actress who has been the mistress to various members of the prime minister's cabinet. In order to clear his name, Sebastian escapes capture by the authorities so he can investigate the murder himself and expose the person who framed him. Using his training in intelligence and his very clever disguises, he begins questioning her friends and looks into her past.

If you enjoy fast paced mysteries with well-developed characters, this book is for you. The historical detail provided a fascinating backdrop to this story. The plot was tight and kept me on edge to its conclusion. Sebastian was an interesting fully drawn character and I loved his side-kick, Tom. There were lots of characters coming in and out of the story but they were all so unique I had no trouble keeping track of the action. And the mystery was a good one.

Some of you may wonder if there is any romance in the story and I'm happy to report that there is a small bit of romance here but it was very minor. Kat Boleyn is one of the victim's friends that Sebastian questions and is his former love that broke his heart years ago. Kat is hiding a secret from him about why she walked out on him. That secret is eventually revealed to Sebastian in a satisfying way. However, several questions were left unanswered and I supposed that's because this book is the first in a series. But I don't like questions left hanging because it feels like I'm being manipulated into buying the next book so that affected my grade. A straight mystery lover would probably give WAF a higher grade.

My grade: B

I'm hoping that Sebastian and Kat work together in this series. The next two books are titled When Gods Die and Why Mermaids Sing. I'll probably get them from the library too. I want to spend my book dollars on authors who actually write romances. That sounds kind of bitchy but, eh, it's my money and I'll support who I want :)


CindyS said...

I think she has a point about books that sometimes make the best seller lists. The couple of times I have read outside the genre in fiction I have discover such poorly written books that I am shocked that these authors are making millions!

Also, I'm with you. If all you wanted was respect than I guess you will write what it is you need to get it. If you were writing from the heart then it wouldn't matter what you wrote. Then again, I know what kind of looks I get (especially from men) when they see not only, how many books I have but what kind of books I read.

Ah well, at least I *do* read.

I don't think I will read this one. I have read outside of romance successfully but the book has to be something that really intrigues me. I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold a couple of years ago because the topic intrigued me. For the most part I loved the book, there was a scene near the end that didn't really work because everything up to that point had been real.

Anyways, I have Lucky by her also. I believe it is based on her real-life rape and how the officers told her she was lucky to be alive. Again. Very intriguing. Just not sure why I haven't picked it up. Must be on a lower level of my bookcase. I may have to go looking.

Oh, and I haven't received the book from you yet. I got it confused with the second book by her that I bought. No worries though, I'm sure it will get her soon and I will post ;)


Tara Marie said...

I think you're probably right about CP not having a passion for writing romance. If she's writing for "respect" romance isn't the genre to be in. I think all writers need to read Stephen King's book about writing. He knows his audience and writes for them, not the respect of the literary world.

I'm putting myself back on the wait list for this at the library and this time I'll actually read it.

Kristie (J) said...

I read that article a while ago and I think what you say makes good sense. Still, of all the authors who left romance to branch into another genre, her defection hurts the very most.

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