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Alicia Croydon

About me

I grew up in Croydon and spent my teenage years in a convent girls' school. I then fled to university where I discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica. These days I blog about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spend an extraordinary amount of time coercing male friends to pose with my favourite Mills & Boon books to the bemusement of the Twittersphere. Genre reporter for chick lit and erotica at For Books' Sake, and guest blogger for Mills & Boon, I defy you to slam romance novels within my hearing! Find out more at http://exploitsofachicklitaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/

Current read
I've always got a ModernTempted on the go...

Interests

Romance novels, Rugby Union; Shakespeare; feminism; blogging; adaptations of the classics; swoon-worthy heroes; nights in, curled up in front of Strictly; champagne cocktails; a capella singing; erotica

Favourite books

Jo Leigh's One Wicked Night - my first ever Mills & Boon - and any book that makes me cry.;

My Comments

"Interestingly, at the IASPR conference, there was an academic paper on paratexts and romance (paratexts being the blurb, cover, title, acknowledgements intros etc - essentially anything that isn't the actual story). It was highlighting how romance readers have a very specific understanding of these paratexts, and how just by looking at a cover or a title, they can immediately understand what the book itself is going to be like!!"

Alicia • 3 months ago

Lost in Romance #18 - It’s what’s inside that counts…isn’t it?

"Within romance? I'm split with modern romances (sexy, sassy, with a modern feel) and good, well-written erotica. Exciting times. :)"

Alicia • 8 months ago

My favourite genre is?

"It's all about seclusion. My ideal place would be the tiny village in Italy, where my grandmother grew up. It's isolated and romantic and in the middle of the mountains near a natural lake. We go swimming, have long romantic walks by starlight and eat the best food I've ever tasted. Plus, all that time alone can only end well... ;)"

Alicia • 8 months ago

What's your favourite romantic destination?

My Reviews (36)

Picture of For His Eyes Only
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"There's a reason why Liz Fielding's been nominated for the RONA Rose Award. Not only are her characters well-developed and stunningly gorgeous, but her prose is to die for. The penultimate paragraph of the entire book has made me dream of Christmas. (Due to the spoilerific content of the quote, you'll have to highlight it as I've written it in white): Wedding bells, fairy lights glistening over a white frost. Red berries and ivy twisted around the Christmas roses in her bouquet. White velvet and her grandmother's pearls. And Darius. Isn't that just gorgeous?! It almost makes one decide to opt for a Christmas wedding! And the whole concept of this book is grounded in the beautiful. After their first meeting, Darius can't help but sketch Natasha from memory, so when she turns up asking for his help, he's determined to be able to paint her in the flesh. When you look at paintings - whether old or new - there's something so very intimate about capturing a person on canvas. In Edgar Allan Poe's The Oval Portrait, through painting a girl, the painter steals her soul and in doing so kills her. Nothing so macabre happens in For His Eyes Only, but it does emphasise how very intimate the whole act of sitting for someone can be. Therefore, it is no surprise to us when this develops more. The passion transfers from the canvas to the characters and soon they're embroiled in an affair that will result in love. Utterly enchanting and beautifully written, these two stubbornly different characters are drawn together through a sensuality that cannot be denied. Delightful. "
For His Eyes Only by Liz Fielding
Picture of Waking Up Pregnant
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"There's something about unexpected pregnancies in romance novels that usually turns me off the book; not always, but usually. However - and it's a massive however - Waking Up Pregnant was completely different. From the start, she doesn't get pregnant because they were irresponsible. The condom split, as can actually happen, and though she doesn't realise this because she freaks out and leaves before he can tell her, there's a certain amount of sympathy that we have for her plight. And also, the moment she gets pregnant, there's no falling into his arms straight away and letting him do everything for her. She's ill, so he insists on helping her, but she's fully committed to work - even starting a new job during her pregnancy. This is a woman who is feisty, who is determined, and who is everything a woman can be. In today's media, there are so many representations of women who work whilst having children as either hard or unfeeling, and it's wonderful to see this combated so very well in Kelly's depiction of Darcy. And then there's Jeff. He's not entirely comfortable with the idea of Darcy working, and he's incredibly over-protective, but he comes to realise that "he wanted Darcy confident in the choices she made". He backs off so that she can make her own decisions, and when he does tell her that he loves her, he embraces all of her- the sexy side and the workaholic side."
Waking Up Pregnant by Mira Lyn Kelly
Picture of Holiday with a Stranger
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"Christy McKellan's debut for Modern Tempted is saucy, sassy and so much fun. And more than that, it does the thing I claim that all good Mills & Boon books do - it's a mythbuster! Women in business are routinely portrayed as bitches. Hard, unwavering and without sympathy for anyone they work with. This is something that McKellan undercuts brilliantly. Josie is well-known in her company for being harsh, but she gets results and she also is under an immense amount of pressure. As the narrative unfolds, we come to understand her and why she acts the way she does in the workplace. I think what is most affirming for me, is that she realises that in order to get results, she can be whoever she wants to be. Isn't that what all women want? Plus, she has Connor who is a complete dreamboat. Stubborn as hell, but sweet underneath it, these two firebrands are headed on a collision course that will leave every reader with the perfect HEA. A fantastic debut, and I can't wait to see what else Christy McKellan has up her sleeve!"
Holiday with a Stranger by Christy McKellen
Picture of The Plus-One Agreement
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"This delivered a twist that I've actually never seen in a romance novel before, and this delighted me! It's so rare that I come across a trope or theme that I haven't seen done in some way before, that it's a brilliant hook. They break up. Right at the beginning. We're introduced to the two main characters,it's clear that they're made for each other, and in the very first chapter they break up. Genius. Phillips takes the plus-one trope (aka the stand-in/fake boyfriend/girlfriend) and turns it on its head. It's happened, they've done it and they haven't declared their love for one another. But it's when Emma realises that she actually needs Dan to step in and help her out one last time (even after calling a halt to their arrangement), that the fun begins. It turns out that he's now determined to get revenge. Or laid. Either way, he's certain that actually, this arrangement is the best thing that's ever happened to the two of them,and he'll do anything to keep it going. So when they realise that actually, they've had feelings for each other all along, we just melt a little more. There's also a depth to the characterisation that is really impressive; we, like Emma, underestimate Dan until his past is revealed and it certainly makes us rethink the assumptions we make about characters. Phillips has outdone herself in a novel which twists the twist. Love it!! "
The Plus-One Agreement by Charlotte Phillips
Picture of Her Client from Hell
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"Louisa George's very first Modern Termpted (Backstage with Her Ex) persuaded me that she should abandon Medical for Modern Tempted, and - though that hasn't quite happened - I'm so pleased to see that she's returned with Her Client from Hell. And, in addition to this being utterly charming, it's also a duo book! We were originally introduced to Cassie as Sasha's younger sister in Backstage with her Ex and her sassiness immediately made her likeable, so I was delighted to seeher get her own book. And what a book! I love the fact that Cassie's life has gone to pot (as a plot point, not because she deserves it) because it means that we get to see the grit and determination in her. Her independence and her refusal to take any help from her rockstar brother-in-law makes her all the more likeable. So when she meets Jack, who can't help but adore her, sparks end up flying. More than anything, this is a novel about breaking down walls; both Jack and Cassie end up getting through to each other, whilst continually trying to protect themselves. I found Cassie to be a particularly likeable character - as the youngest, she's used to everyone trying to interfere and "help" her in life. She's fed up of being pigeonholed as the impetuous one who always makes bad choices, and so she's trying to prove herself. Anyone who's made a mistake in the past, and has it brought up continuously, will understand her plight. And that passion is easily transferable into her scenes with jack, which are steamy and deliciously sizzling. As a hero, he's stubborn and up tight, and so it's so fun to see him unwind!"
Her Client from Hell by Louisa George
Picture of The Secret Ingredient
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"I've already raved about how Nina Harrington applied tea to difficult circumstances throughout Trouble on Her Doorstep, so when Dee's business partner Lottie clashed with Sean's brother Rob, I was pretty psyched. And boy was I right... The key to The Secret Ingredient are the characters. Rob is fiery and famous and startlingly protective of his delicate, artistic mother, so when Lottie helps him out, looking after Adele and offering her a haven when she needs it. And for that, Rob can't help but be reluctantly grateful. But when it's clear that they're both attracted to each other, Lottie may have to put her search for The One on hold, as he's allergic to Happy Ever Afters... Though the romance is the driving force of the narrative, it's the way that Harrington deals with Adele Forrester's depression that truly lifts this into brilliance. The issue is, that Adele's depression and episodes are increasingly difficult for Rob to process and deal with. As a result, there was a danger that she could become a cloying presence that readers have very little time for. Instead, we empathise with her and Rob, captivated by her good nature and her interactions with Lottie. Far too often, in popular culture, those with mental instability demonised or ridiculed. Depression is not something to dismiss or joke about, and it is wonderful to read a book where the response is not just "they're putting it on". Inspiring writing."
The Secret Ingredient by Nina Harrington
Picture of Flirting with the Forbidden
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"Joss Wood is one of my favourite writers for a reason; her writing's funny and smart, and she doesn't shy away from dealing with issues. And it's this that makes Flirting with the Forbidden stand out. Morgan has dyslexia. And the key thing is, is that dyslexia's not just thrown at Morgan for the sake of it. She's struggled all her life with the condition, but it's at the opening of the novel, where her family need to her to put her jewellery designing aside for a short while and help plan a large event, that it comes into the forefront. She gets no choice in the matter - it's been decided already - and no-one stops to think about how this is going to affect her. From the moment she realises, she's besieged with fears of failing. The reason that she usually keeps out of the family spotlight is to avoid situations such as this. And then on top of this there've been threats of violence and Noah Fraser - the man who turned her down eight years ago - as been appointed to work as her bodyguard. The sweetest part of this, for me, is the way that Noah picks up on her nervousness and understands her fears in a way her family can't even begin to. It's that which is the basis for a deeper connection. Plus he's hot. Really hot. And the chemistry between them doesn't seemed to have lessened in the eight years since they've last seen each other. Talking to Joss, she's said that this is one of her favourite novels, and it's easy to see why. The characters are relatable and human, and we can't help but fall in love with them falling in love each other."
Flirting with the Forbidden by Joss Wood
Picture of One Night with Her Ex
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"Exes. They can cause so much stress and heartbreak, mess with your head, and in the case of Lily and Kit, really screw up your sex life. Lucy King's One Night with Her Ex looks at what happens when closure comes in the form of a one night stand with your ex. I think the thing that makes this Ex Factor story (haha! puns!) stand out for me, is the fact that the characters really haven't got over each other. Lilly's consciously been struggling with the end of their relationship, whilst Kit has been struggling with his inability to perform in the bedroom. So when Kit turns up on her doorstep, the intention is to have sex. Instead of fighting the attraction they have for each other - which is so often the case with second chance love stories, they throw themselves into one hot and steamy night. Of course, the next morning, they start to wonder whether it's worth just continuing...after all, mindblowing sex is mindblowing sex... King cleverly inverts some common tropes - Kit hasn't had sex at all since their split, whilst Lily's had a number of short-term relationships and flings - and then there's the split itself. It's interesting to see how each of the character approach the reasons they split differently, and then to see them overcome these differences. There is a balance where blame is put to one side and they take responsibility for their own roles in the breakdown. And by the end, you're longing for them to get that second Happy Ever After..."
One Night with Her Ex by Lucy King
Picture of Beach Bar Baby
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
" Ella was first introduced in one of Heidi Rice's very first ModernTempted novels, Cupcakes and Killer Heels, back when it was still in its RIVA incarnation. In fact, it was the book that introduced me to RIVA and started a long and happy love for MT novels... So I was pretty delighted. And for good reason. Ella is adorable. She's sweet and funny and the perfect match for enigmatic Cooper. You do really feel for her, especially when she's just been told that she is, in all probability, going to have serious issues in conceiving. But one night with Cooper and the unexpected happens... There are a couple of things about Beach Bar Baby that makes it stand out. Firstly, the ages of our hero and heroine. Ella is older than Cooper by about six years. I like this - it's nice to see a balanced relationship develop where the heroine doesn't have to be younger than the man. And Rice doesn't shy away from highlighting Ella's concerns about this either, which just adds to the depth of her character. In addition to this, and possibly my favourite aspect of this book, comes with its climax. Warning: Spoilers!! Cooper doesn't say "I love you". This may seem like the most outrageous thing for a romance novel to do, but actually it makes a hell of a lot of sense. As readers we are left in doubt of his love for Ella - as is Ella herself - but Rice realises that it would be out of character for Cooper to say those particular words at the moment and so she doesn't force the issue. There's a hell of a lot of pressure on men to be hyper romantic - particularly at pivotal moments in a relationship - but I genuinely don't think they're necessarily needed. After all, they're just words. Recently I got engaged myself (still dancing inside) and my proposal story isn't particularly fancy but it was perfect. So yeah. Kudos to Heidi Rice from giving us a Happy Ending without the "I love you.""
Beach Bar Baby by Heidi Rice
Picture of Lessons in Rule-Breaking
rating by Alicia, May 30, 2014
"Christy McKellen's second novel, Lessons in Rule-Breaking, is all about developing your confidence and going after what you want - professionally as well as in the bedroom... As a blogger and freelance web journalist, I'm incredibly jealous of Jess's job. Plus, if I met a Xander I'd be seriously tempted (though not enough to leave C) and McKellen does a fantastic job of developing her fully. Her background has left her with serious confidence issues, particularly in how she looks, and these are explored in a sensitive way. I particularly liked the way that Xander tried to accept her panic in the restaurant, even if he didn't wholly understand it. I think that some of the key scenes come towards the end of the book. There are moments when Xander realises that he has to truly understand and accept Jess's insecurities - which can be a very difficult thing to do when you're attracted to someone so very very much. It's at that climax in the novel when everything Jess fears and dreams of collide and she's left in the midst of her own private horror film. Kind of like when a lovely dream switches midway and becomes a nightmare instead! I loved the development of the characters, the fact that it's set (for the most part) in Italy, and the clash of two very different worlds of the characters. Plus the steamy scenes are well written and very engaging. A great follow-up to what was a fab debut and I can't wait to read more from Christy McKellen!"
Lessons in Rule-Breaking by Christy McKellen