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Topic: Conversion Kit books

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Subject: Conversion Kit books
Date Posted: 6/23/2008 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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I just learned this term on another site: Conversion Kit means books you would recommend to someone who says she doesn't like or won't read romance, in an effort to convert her. Or maybe it could refer to someone who's just never read romance and doesn't necessarily have a negative opinion of them, but I like to think it means someone whose mind is already made up NOT to like it!!

I'd be interested to know what books you would recommend to a non-romance reader to convert her (or him) into an addict like the rest of us. LOL - but when you list it, please say exactly what it is about the book(s) you recommend that make it Conversion Kit-worthy - why would it make someone change her mind?

I recently got a friend interested, and gave her Julia Quinn's The Duke and I, and Linda Howard's Mr. Perfect. I picked The Duke and I because it's the first in the Bridgerton series, and I loved all 8 books (not equally, though). I thought giving her two books with humor, one contemporary and one historical, was a good introduction. And I can't imagine anyone not laughing out loud at  and loving Mr. Perfect!! And my friend has now read the next 2 in the Bridgerton series and is asking to borrow the rest! She still refers to it as Chick Lit so I think she's still embarrassed to say she reads romance. She's not addicted yet, so I haven't done my job!

Date Posted: 6/23/2008 11:04 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2005
Posts: 1,012
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Funny, Melinda!  I just lent a stack of books to my sister, who isn't a huge romance reader.  She picked up See Jane Score off my counter the other day and liked it, so I lent her:  the Bridgertons, most of Lisa Wingate's Tending Roses series, most of SEP's Chicago Stars, and a couple of Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street books.  As for why, she was looking for fairly light reading, which is everything except maybe the Wingates.  They're also mostly very upbeat, good HEAs, and Quinn and Phillips incorporate humor so incredibly well.  I don't know that these would convert anyone staunchly opposed to romances, but I do consider these good representatives of the genre.

Date Posted: 6/23/2008 11:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I'd give her some Marsha Canham - the Robin Hood trilogy.

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 12:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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To Marsha Canham, add Lord of Scoundrels, Flowers from the Storm, Outlander. 

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2008
Posts: 2,553
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As one of the "converted" I have some advice: No books with cheesey covers (you know what I mean - embracing couples where big hair and bare skin the like).

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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To Marsha Canham, add Lord of Scoundrels, Flowers from the Storm, Outlander.

Of course I love Marsha Canham, LOS and Outlander - my question is, why do YOU think those would convert someone to reading romance? Also - I think Outlander might have converted me, but I'm not sure I would put in in my "conversion kit" - it's hard to get anyone to read it because it's so long! I actually started to read romances based on suggestions on Gabaldon's website.

See, I'm thinking when you are trying to convert, you have to find just the right books that will interest them and make them see how good romances actually are. My question is, why would you choose those books?

As one of the "converted" I have some advice: No books with cheesey covers (you know what I mean - embracing couples where big hair and bare skin the like).

This is good advice! thanks! But tell me, what book converted you? Inquiring minds...

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 10:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
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As far as I'm concerned, Marsha Canham's books would be good candidates for a "conversion kit" because there's more to them than just the average romance fluff.  I think, yes, they're well written books, but she did something original and unique with them, especially ones like the Robin Hood series, and didn't just rewrite old legends & stories like Robin Hood.  Her books are more inspired by the old action/adventure films of the 1930's and 40's - like old Errol Flynn films for the Dante Pirate series, Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernell for Pale Moon Rider, etc.  Although, the Robin Hood trilogy has a very similar feel to it as the 1991 Kevin Costner/Robin Hood Prince of Thieves film (which I adored) as well - even though storywise, it's vastly different, and quite a bit more detailed.  Under the Desert Moon was actually inspired by the 1985 Lawrence Kasdan western, Silverado (I think she was into Kevin Costner at one time too:P).  One thing I love about Marsha Canham's books is that they truly do have a big screen action/adventure film feel to them.  They're very easy to visualize.  If a book doesn't capture my imagination, get me to internally "see" what's happening in print, it usually fails to hook me.  Everyone "sees" what's in print to a different degree, but I do very much so.  MC is my idea of the perfect writer because I can see what she's describing to me.  I love action/adventure in romance - especially if it's strong in the romance department and nice & steamy.  I don't find the action portions taking place on the page hard to follow or confusing with her writing - and if you've ever read a poor or hard to follow description of a sword fight or a naval battle, you'll know exactly what I mean.  And still, there's more to it than that.  Her secondary characters are so vividly written, they take on a life of their own that brings them firmly out of the realm of background scenery, and makes them seem more real, or again, easy to "see" and imagine as real people.  I like the way she writes her historical background and gives you such a strong sense of place in the story.  You're at sea, you're in Sherwood forest, you're in the old west, under attack by hostile indians.  Pretty cool stuff, IMO.  Exceptional, and something that makes most people, either new to the genre or just to MC's style of writing romance, sit up and take notice; realize that what they're reading is something wholly unique, and quite entertaining.  But that's just my opinion, and she is my favorite romance author, so temper my fangirl gushing with the understanding that whatever it is that she does, she does it exactly the way I like it:P



Last Edited on: 6/24/08 10:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/24/2008 11:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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kewl descriptions, Kim - thanks!! Now I have to start glomming MC - I've only read Pride of Lions and Blood of Roses and agree with your assessment 100%!!

oh yeah and maybe I'll recommend them to someone too... (almost forgot my original purpose because your description was so wonderful!)

Date Posted: 6/25/2008 9:22 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Well, not that those aren't great books - I loved them too - but you still haven't read her best stuff yourself:P  If I were you, I'd get the Robin Hood trilogy for myself, and then pass them on to your friend (if you can part with them:P) afterward.  I've listed these elsewhere recently, but here they are again:

Book 1:  Through a Dark Mist

Book 2:  In the Shadow of Midnight

Book 3:  The Last Arrow

In my opinion, this is the best historical romance series going.  I'm well aware that practically every author writing historicals has dabbled with series books - and there are some good ones out there - but these are just different.  I always get that feeling - mostly because it's true - that while the author may have every intention of writing a series when they're doing book 1, a lot of series just sort of start with couple #1 and spin out to include all of their family & friends, but don't have a well conceived, singular plot from square one - other than it's supposed to be "about" this family, or group of men or women who share some common thread; a desire to marry well or not marry at all, a wager, they're spies, or were in this or that war together - they aren't necessarily ordered & progressive steps toward a single destination.  Freeform family dynasty & "band of brothers" type series concepts are all well & good, and I suppose as good a starting point for a series as any other, but they're all pretty generic really.  You could almost substitute one starting premise for any other, and still write a story that was fundamentally the same.  They wouldn't all be interchangeable, but several of them would be.

MC started with the Robin Hood legend, and if she didn't know somewhere in the back of her head how she meant to tell that story from book 1 through book 3, I'd be really surprised to know it.  She says that she has her plots basically in mind, but she doesn't know the stories in advance, she just lets them unfold.  I can see that characteristic in her work, especially in the way the romance between the H&H begins and then develops without any hint of the usual plot devices.  But the way she constructs her own interpretation of the Robin Hood legend is so unique, I would find it hard to believe that she didn't have a pretty well conceived plan for how it was going to  unfold from start to finish.  There's such a smooth & unbroken flow from book to book, it's more like one book written in installments - even though you don't have to commit yourself to reading all three to enjoy any one of them.  I didn't know they were a series when I first started on them.  I read The Last Arrow & loved it, but also realized there were prior pieces of the story I was missing, and so I got the other two asap.  This is why I always recommend they be read in order; independently they're good, but altogether and in order, they're exceptional.  And while The Last Arrow is my personal favorite, all 3 of them are so good, I don't worry that people I recommend them to will get bored with book 1 and not follow through and finish the series.  All 3 of them are great books in their own right.



Last Edited on: 6/25/08 9:24 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/25/2008 1:30 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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but you still haven't read her best stuff yourself

 

thanks again for the great recommendations! I will definitely put these in my To Get  pile!!

I am really not  converting someone right now - I'm just trying to figure out for myself what books I would use if I had the opportunity to challenge someone, and wondered what others thought as well. I want to be prepared. :) There's a thread on Amazon.com right now about this, and apparently the book chosen for the Non Believer has already been denounced by this person. It made me wonder what books others have used to convert Non Believers (successfully or not).

Unfortunately for me I only have 2 credits at the moment - can't decide whether to jump in and get the first 2 MC books in the series, or wait til I can have all three at once!! hmmm, I do have a book I requested 2 days ago that the member hasn't responded to, I could cancel that one, and... (thought processing...) then I'd have 3 and... (off to ponder)

Date Posted: 6/25/2008 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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If credits are a holdup, I have about 40 credits that are just sitting in my account and not doing anybody any good.  I'll be glad to spot you one indefinitely so you can order these three books now.  You can just pay me back whenever.  It's no big deal.  I'm all into making more MC converts:P  This is really the easiest place to get all 3 of them most of the time.  The first two, I rarely see at the UBS, and even here, 1 or 2 will occasionally go on WL - especially after I've been jabbering about them a lot.:P  Right now I think there's only 1 copy of Through A Dark Mist.

Nevermind - I went ahead and buddied 1 to you.  Now get the books!



Last Edited on: 6/25/08 3:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/1/2008 9:26 PM ET
Member Since: 2/1/2008
Posts: 3,479
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I'd have to say that I'd offer the In Death series by JD Robb for my conversion kit.  Most of the people I know will read mysteries and thrillers, but won't touch a romance with a 10 ft pole.  These books have very unromance-like covers and enough action and mystery to keep "non-romantics" happy.  But who wouldn't fall in love with Roarke after hearing about him keeping the button off Eve's atrocious grey suit that she borrowed to attend the funeral in Book 1.  I know he had me hooked then.  And he keeps getting better :P

Date Posted: 7/5/2008 11:36 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Well, I just made a new convert for our little cult:P  Actually out of my sister, who swore she would never read another romance novel somewhere around 1980:P  The book that did it:  Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale.  Sent her home tonight with a shoebox full of Marsha Canham & some more Kinsale books.  I AM an evil genius.

Date Posted: 7/6/2008 2:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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Outlander got me hooked on romance; prior to that I was a "romance snob" even though author says its not a romance, I looked for similar books and they were in the romance section. 

Date Posted: 7/7/2008 3:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 2,148
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About time I found this forum!

I tend to give people Romancing Mister Bridgerton.  Even though it's not the first in the series, it's the first one I read and still my favorite.  (And the one I used in the It's a Keeper swap -- big surprise, I know.)  I just love the wit and intelligence of Julia Quinn's books, and of her heroines -- I still laugh every time I read the prologue to RMB.   (And my cats, Ellie and Penny, are named after Penelope Featherington and Eloise Bridgerton.)

My BFF recently found her 18-year-old daugher reading some trashy romance novels, and gave her all her JQ books to read -- she said if she were going to read romances*, she should at least read really good ones with intelligent heroines.  ;)

* Not that we didn't read romances at her age -- heck, younger -- but they tended to be the older Harlequins, where the big thrill was when the hero kissed the heroine *before* the end of the book.  Things have certainly changed!

Date Posted: 7/8/2008 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2006
Posts: 29,785
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It would depend on what they currently read. If they read mysteries, I'd have to give the person "Envy" by Sandra Brown. Lots of twists and turns in the plot, but also on the steamy side. I've read it 3 times myself. I got my Best friend's Hubby to read it and he liked it a lot. I've handed a few copis of that book out.

Date Posted: 7/8/2008 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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that's what I was thinking Eileen..sorta depends on what they like reading already...a coworker likes fantasy and she got into the psychic eye books then katie macalister and erin mccarthy's vampire books...anothe rfriend liked mystery and catherine coulter's fbi series sucked her in...as for me, the romance got me into mysteries and paranormal LOL..the opposite effect!