By the ever opinionated E.C. Stacy
Joining us on the Rock today for Meet the Reader is Kasey Love. And before we embark on our journey of questions, I just got to say it’s refreshing to see a reader who doesn’t feel the need to justify her rating points. There’s definitely too much analysis in the critic circles. Kasey says, “The rating I give to any book is completely subjective and purely based on the level of personal enjoyment attained while reading. Therefore, anything rated 3 stars or higher is considered a worthwhile read, in my opinion.”
CIR: I couldn’t help but notice that you rated Eclipse and New Moon with five stars but Twilight with four. This isn’t a gotcha question. I just wondered—do you really feel the later installments were better?
KL: I actually rated these books after I had read the series as a whole, so my ratings for these are based on a comparison all four books versus individual ratings based on the "feeling" I was left with at the end of each one. As such, I found that books 2 and 3 were stronger (meaning that they had more/better substance which supported the continuation of said series). Don't get me wrong, Book 1 (Twilight) was what lured me into reading the series, but the other two just felt like the author made a better effort (perhaps because she was on a roll?) - and to me, it showed.
CIR: Do you think an author’s voice does a lot to lull a reader into loving a book?
KL: Absolutely. But it's not that simple. For me, an author has to appeal to me by creating a believable voice that fits his/her characters and the tone of the story. One thing that always makes me say "Oh, no" is when (for example) an author is female, writing in a man's voice (or as a male character), and said character speaks with too many female-isms: "She was dressed in a beautiful chartreuse gown made of the finest silks and satins..." Oh, really? How many heterosexual males do you know that (a) would know what "chartreuse" is and (b) the difference between silk and satin? Yeah, that's a voice that never, ever works.
CIR: I’ve never read a ‘bodice-ripper’ which is a very cool term for historical romance. It would have been so hard to live back then. Is that why you think they’re popular…because if they were going to get undressed, it would definitely have to be for a breathtaking man?
KL: Actually, many of us who enjoy Bodice Rippers view them in a whole different category from your typical "historical romance." Yes, they are historical romances, but Bodice Rippers contain marked "un-PC" elements that not every romance reader enjoys. I suppose that the distinction is similar to the difference between a romance novel and a Young Adult romance. Both are still romances but there are elements in each which land them in separate categories.
That said, I'm not sure why they're so popular as of late, but I can tell you why I enjoy them: You see, a book that evokes strong emotions, whether it be hatred, fear, disgust or joy, passion, & fulfillment makes me weak in the knees. Add a romance factor (your mileage may vary on the romance thing, though) and I'm sold. I love the feeling of being swept away by a story - especially if the tale is so far removed from my reality. Bodice Rippers provide just that for me and I enjoy the emotional intensity.
CIR: A Megan Hart novel showed me that erotic titles were as good if not better than most romances, thus I started writing them. Tempted by Hart is one of our common reads and you said that it was so much more than an m/f/m thing. In fact, the emotions in it were what hooked me. Did you feel the same way?
KL: Referring back to my previous answer, Tempted, in particular, had me on an emotional roller coaster and I was not only pleasantly surprised but swept away by it. Granted, it wasn't as out there as a Bodice Ripper - perhaps because it's set in modern times - but I felt the characters' emotions deeply. I empathized with each individuals' reasons and although I may not have chosen the paths they did, I still understood (Megan Hart has a great "voice," by the way) and laughed, cried, and ached for them. In the end, I realized that the story was about love (and that there isn't just one way to love) and human nature. The fact that it was "Erotica" or that there were erotic elements was just a bonus.
CIR: Wuthering Heights, one of your high ranking selections, is an amazing piece of literature. I still can’t read it, or watch it for that matter, and see Catherine agree to marry Edgar over Heathcliff without slapping my head at her. Do you think it’s her warped perspective that makes you like this story?
KL: Yes, Wuthering Heights is one of those books that you either loathe or love. But I'm one of those readers who can find merit within stories that are considered "difficult" because of their emotional intensity. Again, that feeling of strong emotionality is key (for me). Did I think that Catherine Earnshaw was nuts for marrying Edgar? Definitely. But it changed nothing about the "love that was stronger than love" (to quote Edgar Allan Poe) which she and Heathcliff shared, as twisted as it was. And that absolutely tickled the reader in me, as I adore tumultuous and tempestuous and not-so-perfect romances. So, yes, her perspective definitely kept me on the edge of my seat thinking, "Why, Catherine?! Why?" and I simply had to read on to understand. In the end, I loved it - crazy and all.
CIR: What author do you feel is generally underrated?
KL: Oh, boy. Now that is a gotcha question!
Being that I'm a big romance reader, I'm going to stick to that genre to answer this one. That said, let me throw in a quick disclaimer here: I'm a huge fan of Bodice Rippers (so excuse me for putting my hand in the fire for a Bodice Ripper author). With that out of the way, I'm going to say that the late Christine Monson was quite underrated. Even now, within Bodice Ripper-lovers' circles. She wrote highly controversial yet emotionally charged stories (Stormfire, anyone?) that were either loathed or loved. Sadly, she was one of many during her time and now that Bodice Rippers have seen a resurgence, her stories are still not being acknowledged as I think they should.
CIR: Thank you very much, Kasey!
KL: No, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate and provide my two cents on something I enjoy. :-)