Running Press, 2009

Finished: July 19, 2010

Source: Jodie at Book Gazing

Genre: historical adventure/romance in frock coats, with swords.

On the Scales: feisty featherweight

“Get your men under control now or I will see you disrated for this!”

The storm flared in Alfie’s eyes.  A storm raged about the two of them.  Lightning cracked overhead and the prickle of it made John’s hair stand on end, stirring like a live thing.  His skin tightened with shock and static, his heart thundering.  He was a galvanic rod, fully charged and set opposite its mate.  Any moment the spark would leap, and until then the tension mounted and mounted.  He felt alight with power and perhaps this showed, for Alfie surrendered.

“Alright, lads, leave it now.  That’ll do.”

Running Press is calling this line “M/M Romance”–which I joked to Der Mann stands for “Mmmmm, mmmm.”  Though I had never heard the term until I read Jodie’s great review, I knew the genre existed.  One of the characters in Geoff Ryman’s novel 253 is a secret writer of gay romance married to a closeted gay man.  I assumed this sort of fiction must be straightforward soft porn, since the traditional will-they/won’t-they? romance stories with gay guys usually end up getting published as fantasy and sci-fi.

If you are a fan of anime or manga, you may know that gay romance written for straight girls, known as yaoi, is already a well-developed genre in Japan, with many subgenres.  Some yaoi is dumb and porny, more is cute and corny, and a small amount is sweeping, complex, and operatic.  Japan has a longstanding tradition of variations on same-sex crushes (and love) in theater and literature, intended to appeal to various audiences in, ahem, various ways.

Der Mann and I, who are the arty, snobby kinds of anime fans (and possibly also overwrought Japanese teenagers at heart), have enjoyed some of the non-porny yaoi.  We both read False Colors, and while I can’t speak for Der Mann, I came to this book expecting yaoi on the high seas, and found something quite different.  You should read Jodie’s review for the plot, which I won’t go into.  For me this heartfelt novel doesn’t seem to fit into a genre at all.  It is bumpy and earnest, and as much about the psychology of the characters as it is about their romance.  Typical yaoi is polished.  False Colors is a gem in the rough.

I wonder whether Alex Beecroft set out to write a lesser book and just couldn’t do it?  What a sweetie!  I can’t see this genre sustaining itself if every book is a story of the characters’ struggles with their particular culture’s response to their sexuality–which is what False Colors turned out to be.  I sensed Beecroft’s growing respect for her characters as the story went on, and in her respect they grew more real.  The naval action was disjointed and brief, taking place in several locations; it was exciting, but there simply wasn’t enough of it to provide the ingredients for a plot.  That fell to John, the icy Methodist virgin who had just been awarded his first ship, and Alfie the roguish lieutenant he had been awarded along with it, each coping separately with the unhappy consequences of their mutual attraction.

If you take this as a historical novel, yes, there were quite a few anachronisms.  Beecroft’s fiery descriptions of naval warfare made up for them.  As for her other descriptions…

I’ve never got through a straight bodice ripper (don’t find them interesting), so I don’t know the requisite number of sex scenes, or how well they’re supposed to blend into the story.  In most of the fiction I read the sex is either off screen or described rather modestly–leaving all but a few carefully chosen erotic details to the reader’s imagination.  When there’s graphic sex, it’s for dramatic impact, or to communicate something about the characters, so there’s usually only one big scene.   (This is the way most yaoi anime works, too, and even most pulp fantasy.)

False Colors had several graphic sex scenes, and a lot of shorter ones in the characters’ imaginations–a clever way to work around the old will-they/won’t-they romance novel taboo against actual sex (you can’t keep on with the will-they-won’t-they once they have).  Mostly it is about flirtation and lusty looks (Alfie), and aching sinful thoughts (John).

Was it sexy?

You know, before I answer that question, I will tell you something I kept wondering while I read this book: what would a gay guy think of it?  Would a gay guy even pick it up?  Would he recognize the brooding looks?  The brushed pinkies?  The fluttering hearts?  The nit-picky overanalyzing and fantasies of domestic tenderness so familiar to readers of chick lit?

If I thought there were any gay guys reading this (statistically unlikely, given the number of hits I get) I would do a survey.  Whose book would you take on vacation: Georgette Heyer’s (the only verified gay-guy-approved romance author I happen to know of) or Alex Beecroft’s?  And if Beecroft, what about the military metaphors, the swords and cannon fuses and yardarms?  The manly pitting of physical strength turning to bruising kisses?  Does this turn you on, or just make you laugh?

I know it doesn’t really matter, but based on gay novelists writing about guys in love, I think the answer would be the same as mine; some of it is silly, some of it is sexy, and some of it is kind of both.

The real question is, was it romantic?

Harder to say.  Between them, Alfie and John take turns filling all the traditional romance roles.  They get to do the sword fighting and the lace-and-cologne wearing.  One is the tender nurse and the other is the stoic patient, one is the damsel in distress and the other is the agonized rescuer.  Then it all reverses in the next scene.  They go weak-kneed with lust, or demanding with it.  Masterful or overwhelmed, needy or implacable, ravished or ravisher.

Their experiences are very much like the experiences of a reader of traditional romantic fiction, who can empathize with any character they choose, switching allegiances in the blink of an eye.  It’s disorienting to see what is usually an audience experience lifted right up onto the stage. The changes can feel a bit random and fast.

The part I thought was most romantic of all actually had to do with the characters’ consistency, not their fluidity.  Neither John nor Alfie are really my “type,” but John’s moral agonies were very convincing.  When, for love of Alfie, he immediately and efficiently gave up the part of his self-image he had clung to all through the book–his steely integrity–and did so in such a mundane way as running around talking to people, it made me weak in the knees.

Twilight Redux

June 22, 2010

Last night I was watching the REAL Twilight movie, not that dumb one they showed in theaters, and I thought, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this!  I’ve got to write a blog post and tell everyone, so they can watch it!”  So that’s what I am doing.

Only I was asleep.  I was dreaming.  You can’t.

I’m so, so, sorry for you!  See, it had That Same Guy in it, only he was a third better looking and a better actor times two.  And it had more emotional depth, but was also camp in just the right places, which is the only way to make a movie of a book that takes itself so seriously.  Bella had a sense of humor and a female friend, not just the airheads.  This movie wasn’t trying to be exactly like the book, and so wasn’t doomed to dissatisfy fans and scoffers alike.

You will be pleased to know Edward didn’t sparkle.  He could be burnt by the sun like a proper vampire–not spontaneous CGI combustion, which is just stupid.  Hyperspeed sunburn.  Painful but not instantly fatal.  There is this one scene?  Where he falls asleep on a plank bench in the shade by the Forks High ball field when he’s just fallen in love with Bella, and wakes up all happy and disoriented.  He springs from his bench and bursts into song.  Only the sun has come out while he was sleeping.  In the grip of his ecstatic ballad and leftover wooziness from his nap, Edward ends up staggering into the sun and and burning his arm while he sings, then struggling between the conflicting impulses to keep belting out his love for Bella, nurse his blistered arm, and run for cover.  It’s hilarious.

Twilight! The Musical: it was only a matter of time.

Sometimes the Forks High football team is the chorus, in a delightfully ever-so-understated queer way.  Their uniform colors are green and white.  I didn’t get to see any scenes with Joseph–but to make up for it, Bella goes to this church potluck with her sidekick friend who wears clunky eighties costume jewelry, and the church ladies sing over the casseroles and folding tables and the coffee that get served in styrofoam cups that fit into yellow and orange plastic holders with handles.  The vampires have to show up at the potluck too and be polite, which causes some social awkwardness.

Singing church potluck with vampires.

The thing is, Edward and Bella are determined to be married in twenty-four hours–I forget why–possibly in the church.  There are impediments.  Bella’s nice friend is the voice of reason against hasty marriage and tries to introduce her to the fun of wearing big white faceted plastic jewelry, in song.  The Forks football team chimes in.  And Bella has to read all her library books before she can get married.  There is a huge stack of them, which gets sung about.  She also needs to change into a new pair of blue jeans for the wedding.

This part takes place in the church social hall.  In the conflict over the bridal preparations there is a musical number where the church ladies playfully bundle Edward into his varnished plywood sleeping coffin, which is the traditional coffin shape of a stretched-out pentagon, but wide and roomy like a bed, with hinged doors and a porthole window on top.  They dance and sing and push him around a little on the shiny vinyl-tiled floor of the church social hall until gradually a note of menace enters the confusion.  Edward begins to look a little alarmed through the coffin’s porthole as if he has realized he can’t get out.  Suddenly, we understand that Greater Forces are out to thwart Edward’s and Bella’s marital bliss–not just library books.

I’ve been ill with a cold/flu thing for the past couple days.  It’s made my dreams terribly vivid.  (No, I’m not on drugs.) I almost never remember my dreams, and yet night-before-last I had one so intense it sent me to the internet’s equivalent of sleazy waterfront bars: dream symbol dictionaries.  I know they’re useless, but what can you do? (They have flashing ads for psychics, which I picture leaving trails of slug slime in my browser, and they never include the particular symbolic dream object you’re looking for.)  I’m feeling even rottener today.  Do you think that means I’ll get to dream the end of of the movie tonight?  Oh please oh please oh please…

I don’t think so either. Twilight! was the product of reading too many book blogs and watching an awful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie right before I went to bed.  I don’t even like musicals; I just had a yen to see the famous scene where they dance on a fake Venetian verandah and Ginger’s wearing her marabou feather-scattering dress.  And the night before that I watched an episode of Fraggle Rock where you finally get to see where the Doozers live, and they show this wedding-like ceremony where young Doozers get their first work helmets and are essentially wedded to their construction work.  They sing a little call-and-response song, with a mad Doozer preacher in a tool belt and druid robe:  “Yes we do! Yes we do! Yes we really, really do!  Yes we really do!”

Which sounds cool, but was lame.  It wasn’t one of the good episodes.

My subconscious must have thought it had untapped potential.

Have you ever dreamed the movie of a book?

Rapid Fire

April 23, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow
Dial of Random House, 2008
Finished: Late March 2010
Source: Various blogs
Genre: historical fiction
On the Scales: lightweight

How much I loved it: 68%.  I didn’t know it was written by an American till the end, when the co-author credited some Brits for helping tidy the Americanisms out of the manuscript, then in retrospect I noticed some they’d missed.  So good-hearted, its twee-ness was easy to forgive.  Reminded me of mid-20th-century light British novels, the kind my great grandmother loved to read, then found out that my Granny read this recently and liked it.  So, good gift for a granny-aged person who remembers the war.  Made me understand a little better why some people who lived through that time were never able to get over hating Germans.

King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
Margaret K. MeElderry of Simon and Schuster, 1999
Finished: Late March, 2010
Source: Jenny’s Books
Genre: children’s historical fiction with time-travel device
On the Scales: lightweight.

How much I loved it: 50%, or as much as a warm bath and a fuzzy towel when you have the chicken pox in fourth grade, which, sadly, would have been the best time to read it.  I wouldn’t have liked it quite as much if I’d read it when I was a little older than that, even though I was a Shakespearean theater nerd, because it was too short, and I would have compared it to my then-favorite children’s historical novel Lark by Sally Watson, in which the 17th century political intrigue is more life-threatening, and the adventures rompier.

The Unlikely Disciple: a sinner’s semester at America’s holiest university by Kevin Roose
Grand Central Publishing, 2009
Finished: ?
Source: Jenny’s Books
Genre: Stunt journalism?  Anthropology?
On the Scales: middleweight

How much I wanted to squeeze this book’s earnest chipmunk cheeks and tell it to fight the good fight: 100%.  An undergrad wrote this amazingly balanced account of his year undercover at at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, delighting me with such expressions as “well-worn scientific canards” and “coltish paternalism.”  Liberal Christians should read The Unlikely Disciple if they want to know what “those kinds of Christians” are thinking.  Secular individuals who wonder how a certain branch of mainstream Christian culture (the most vocal and widely disturbing) sees itself should read it but they should not think it gives them a peek into Christian college life anywhere but Liberty University, or into Christian theology, because frankly Southern Baptists scare the crap out of everyone but Southern Baptists and maybe Pentacostals, who are way less scary, even when they are being slain in the spirit, though their music is worse.  Committed Atheists should read it if they can stand it.  But first you should all read Jenny’s fine review with its stimulating comments, because, as the graduate of a Christian college which did not in any way resemble Liberty University except for a few creepy sociological phenomena (the expression “ring by spring” was not unfamiliar to me) and which I nevertheless hated with a passion, I am quite unequal to the task of writing one.  I should probably just write my own book about Christian college, but then my family, who paid for a large part of my schooling, would have to disown me and there would be no-one to call me on my birthday, which come to think of it I actually loathe.  (Query: I’m no less scared of Southern Baptists after reading this book–is that because I’m a yankee?)

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
also heard part of audio CD version, narrated by Juanita McMahon
Riverhead of Penguin Puntnam, 2002
Finished: April 2, 2010
Source: Various blogs recommending Waters
Genre: historical fiction in Victorian style
On the Scales: welterweight

How much I loved it: 10%.  I had to skip a lot because of the combination of confinement, watertight conspiracy, and psychological abuse (presumably physical abuse as well, but those were the parts I skipped).  I abandoned the audio version because the reader’s dramatization was too perfect, it was flaying my nerves.  I thought could take it in print.  Nope.  I had to skip the whole asylum section in the second half of the book.  I didn’t see the mid-story plot twist coming at all.  Sarah Waters should write movies, and M. Night Shyamalan should direct them, and Ismail Merchant should produce them.  Oh shoot, he’s dead.  I’ll try her other books.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
Viking, 2001
Finished: April 4, 2010
Source: Bookgazing
Genre: YA same-sex hothouse romance and coming of age
On the Scales: featherweight

How much I loved it: not much, except for the fact that the protagonist was sincere and wanted to be an archeologist.  It read as though a self-satisfied teenager had written it, which one might argue is a realistic touch in a YA novel, but I think was just a matter of the author still being one, at heart: the kind of teenager, who, had I been at the same smart-kid summer camp, would surely have looked down on me because I used big words and wore two long braids and home-sewn clothing, assuming I was a sheltered homophobe and prude, giggled at me over lunch with her friends, and said “What are you looking at?” when I glanced at her girlfriend’s shaved head to admire it.

Rude Mechanicals by Kage Baker, festooned with barfy photoshop collages by J.K. Potter
Subterranean Press, 2007
Finished: April 5, 2010
Source: I’ll read anything by the author
Genre: time travel science fiction novella
On the Scales: lightweight

I read this book with an overwhelming sense of sadness and nostalgia because I’d just heard Kage Baker had died, and the story was a tribute to Hollywood as-was, where she grew up when it still had bungalows and touching trumped-up glitz and aging silent film stars, when famous German directors might be paid to stage monumental, doomed outdoor productions of Midsummer Nights Dream featuring clueless big-name actors, and when a hardworking cyborg could still get a drink in this town.

Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson
first published UK 1920, This edition Moyer Bell, 1998
Finished: April 6, 2010
Source: book blogs
Genre: social satire novel
On the Scales: middleweight

How much I loved it: 80% but I don’t know why, because LUCIA IS THE DEVIL AND RISEHOLME IS MY HELL–Riseholme, where the gossips trip across the Elizabethan green and local poets self-publish attractively bound books of verse at the village printer’s, while Lucia the one-woman cultural improvement committee sees to it that an antique set of stocks is purchased from a neighboring village to authenticate the ducking pond.  No mere “duck” pond for Riseholme.  (Riseholme = risible?)   Poor Georgie, I’d pegged him for a buffoon and then Benson turned him into a tragic, sweet capering Harlequin and got all incisive in the last half of the book, and the other characters became something more than just tortuously English stereotypes.  I’ve never been so puzzled and stimulated and repulsed by a piece of light fiction, all at the same time.  And nothing even happens, except Olga, the reality-foil, throwing them into disarray.

Tonoharu Part One, by Lars Martinson
Pliant Press, 2008
Finished: April 8, 2010
Source: husband’s library browsing
Genre: autobiographical graphic novel, first of multivolume set
On the Scales: ?
How much I loved it: 95%

Serially-released graphic novel about a dreamy procession of imported young American English-tutors in a provincial Japanese high school, culture shock, inertia, loneliness, and the weirdness of expatriate culture.  Spare and static.  Literally painful not to be able to go on immediately to the next volume!

Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
read by Ian Carmichael
Originally published 1930, Chivers 1989, distributed BBC AudiobooksFinished April 10 or so, 2010
Source: Jenny’s Books, Nymeth’s and other blogs
Genre: mystery
On the Scales: middleweight

How much I loved it: 99%.  I’m a convert.  I have nothing to add to the great recent reviews, except that we saw the BBC television version from 1989 just a little before we listened to the book.  The BBC version was a pretty faithful word-for-word, scene by scene adaptation, so we knew everything that was going to happen, and Der Mann and I were still laughing aloud and completely enthralled by the audio.

La Perdida by Jessica Abel
Pantheon, 2006
Finished: April 18, 2010
Source: Nymeth’s blog
Genre: graphic novel
On the Scales: welterweight
How much I loved the visual storytelling: 90%
How much I loved the characters and setting: 0%
Overall love: 45%

I think this calls for a little doggerel, don’t you?

In Mexico City
The living is shitty
For an innocent expat.
Commie friends are a rat-trap.
Chicos and booze,
Her ideals confuse,
And she rips up her Frieda
Just when she needs her!

Penguin Ace, 2008

Finished: Feb 8, 2010

Source: book blog

Genre: magical realist chick lit, with a little more magic and a little less realist than the usual

On the Scales: lightweight, pulls punches

One way or another I get around to reading everything Nina Kiriki Hoffman writes–except the media tie-ins and her early pulps.  The hardcovers with the distinctive garden-wall-brick shape and the drifty photoshop feminist fantasy chick-lit covers which would usually annoy me?  I read them all.  Eventually.  I’m never in a hurry because a novel by Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a bittersweet pleasure.  I have to forget what it was like reading the last before I can start the next.

When I was about halfway through Fall of Light I looked at the author biography on the back flap.  All the same information was there–Eugene Oregon, the cats, the mannequin–but now it also says that she has been writing fantasy for 20 years and “Her works have been finalists for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, and Endeavour awards.”  Suddenly everything made sense.

Let me tell you why they won’t give the lady her Nebula.

A Hoffman novel starts splendidly.  An interesting setting, a sympathetic main character, a great premise.  You know right away that there’s going to be a lot of magic and it’s going to play a big part in the plot.  Passages of economical, vivid description make you confident you’re not going to be wincing at her writing.  You’re in good hands.  Pretty soon something happens, described in the same succinct style, that is mundane and yet strangely sexy.  And you know you’re in really good hands.

In this first stage (which lasts for maybe a third of the book) your heart soars.  Finally, a top-notch piece of light fiction!  The kind you only come across a couple of times each year.  The kind you’ll go to sleep reading, then reach for first thing in the morning with a feeling that it’s going to be a good day JUST BECAUSE you have this book to read.  If you are one of the people who has the power to decide who gets World Fantasy Awards and Nebulas, I imagine you would put it on your mental list: “This is the one.  Wow.  There’s no one like Nina.”

Fall of Light opens with makeup artist Opal LaZelle applying a monster face to a sleepy seven-plus-foot actor named Corvus Weather (the only wince-worthy thing about Hoffman: her names).  You get all the technical details of the process, plus some lively back-and-forth with the other artists and actors in the trailer, as Opal discreetly uses her magic to tweak the work along.  The characters are introduced, the stage is set.

Corvus, typecast for monsters because of his height, is mild and easygoing.  Opal has worked with him before.  She’s in love with him.  This is normal for Opal; part of her transforming makeup magic is to fall in love with her client, no matter how unpleasant.  The non-normal part about Corvus is that Opal doesn’t fall out of love with him between shoots.  But she doesn’t plan on doing anything about it.  Responsible Opal has already tried continuing an on-set relationship and been burnt.  She doesn’t make that kind of mistake twice.

Corvus has modest hopes that playing the “dark god” of the forest will start landing him some roles where he gets to do more talking and use more of his own face.  It turns out that they are filming a supernatural thriller in the backwoods Oregon town where the scriptwriter grew up.  It also just happens that she was using the local legends of her childhood as material.  And they are shooting the scenes where the forest god appears–surprise!–in the very haunted clearing with the stained, alter-like stones that is supposedly connected with the disappearance of some young girls way-back-when.  End of stage one.

If I stopped here, you would read the book, right?  And if the book stopped there, and the rest got written by Graham Joyce while possessed by the spirit of Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s imagination and diction, it would win the Nebula.

Unfortunately, stage two of a Hoffman novel is where it starts shooting off in all directions like a defective Roman Candle.  The plot does pretty much what you expect it to, but in a breathless, sketchy, “what just happened?  Nevermind”  way.  Nothing is given its full weight.  The story becomes thready and is lost in a series of magic-use vignettes, bound loosely together by a psychological breakthrough in the main character.

Hoffman’s main-character myopia is the most disappointing thing in her work.  She sets up expectations for a broader outlook (bye-bye, Nebula), but all those people you met in the first scenes, and wanted to watch interacting with each other, and get into the heads of . . . they never quite come into focus.  They exposit magical happenings and produce chatty, “with it” dialog, but they aren’t given souls.  In fact, they pretty much get jerked around: reacting, reacting, reacting to the main character as she explores her power, deepens her understanding of her past, and has magically significant sex.

I won’t say the main characters’ visionary breakthroughs aren’t emotional and interesting, but they are also trite–in fact, a little like something you would read in a self-help section of New Age bookstore in Eugene, or find on the bookshelf of your hippie aunt.  I am embarrassed for Hoffman when I read them, but admiring: that such a competent writer would care enough about adding a deeper dimension to her books as to open herself to charges of schmaltz.

Opal’s breakthrough has to do with her responsible-ness.  She is the oldest in a big family with a crazy mom who “liked being pregnant but didn’t like taking care of babies once they were external to herself.”  Everyone in the family has magic, but so far only Opal has flown from the nest with it.

The logical climax of the novel is, literally, the climax.  But you know something has gone wrong in a book when a mass orgy is boring.  And after that, things happen way too fast.

The arrival of the long awaited Deus ex Machina, Uncle Tobias:

“Niece, you haven’t introduced us yet,” said Tobias.

“What?” She looked at Phrixos.  Tobias had met Corvus on the Dead Loss set.  But now he was speaking to a deeper reality.  “My apologies, Uncle.  This is–I am not sure, exactly.  Some parts of him seem to be Corvus.  A portion is an entity I call Phrixos, an agent for the local power that possessed Corvus.  There’s another part, I think, that is the actual local power speaking for itself through him.  Phrixos is capable of deceit, so I don’t know whether to believe him when he pretends to be Corvus.  All of you inside the body of my boyfriend, this is my great-uncle Tobias, who has come to help me solve the problem you present.

Whew.  Glad we finally got that clear.

Of course, the real climax is inside Opal. Opal’s internal visualizations start in her “inner office,” a room with a fireplace, all her art supplies, and a big wooden desk with a twirly leather chair (I’m jealous).  In the company of her goth alter-ego/spirit guide “Other Opal,” Opal finds some surprising things beyond the door of her inner office.  We spend a lot of time wandering around inside Opal, which would be just fine if the world and people outside Opal were as carefully crafted.

Corvus really gets the short end of the stick during the Opal-fest.  Frankly, I was appalled.  The poor man is trying to make a career for himself, and he isn’t even allowed to get angry when his best role to date is taken over by a creepy supernatural understudy.  Hoffman effectively gags him.  He’s just this perfect, sensitive guy who wakes up blinking and says, “Where was I?”  He can’t help himself, and nobody else is really trying.  They don’t seem to consider the moral ramifications of sitting around while he is being ABSORBED in stages by an ancient, devil-like, pagan GOD.  “Oh, well, at least he can act as well as Corvus.”  Good grief, when someone is possessed, you are supposed TO TRY TO RESCUE HIM.

I suppose the naughty/evil god was meant to be sexy enough that you didn’t worry so much about Corvus being absorbed, but he wasn’t sexy at all, just a collection of smirking cliches.

It was the cutest thing, though, the way the author’s biases showed up in her descriptions of Corvus’ sexiness.  He moonlights recording audiobooks and has a perfect voice for it.  Also, he’s a reader:

“I think that’s why those girls call me.  Guranteed exposure.  The Beauty and the Beast captions write themselves.  It means nothing.”

She laughed.  “Oh, they call you, eh?”

“Most of the time I’d rather stay home and read a book . . .”

and

When she came out of the bathroom, Corvus was lounging on an overstuffed brown and white gingham couch; it was big enough to support him without parts of him hanging over the edge.  He wore blue pajamas and his reading glasses, and was studying the script.  Love swept through her, startling and inconvenient.  He glanced up at her over the tops of his glasses, and her throat tightened.  He could immobilize her with a look; better not let him know.

Reading glasses.  Sexy.  Definitely.