You survived the holidays, making it to the other side only slightly scathed and clutching a brand-new e-reader. Well done!
First congratulate yourself on having friends and family with fine taste in gifts. Second, register your device so your store of choice (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, et al.) knows where to send the goodies you buy. Last, get to filling that e-reader with e-books. But where to start? You can browse the store’s categories searching randomly for interesting books. That can be fun…if you have a lot of time on your hands. You can also search for specific books and authors you’ve been meaning to read. Also fun, but it can get pricey.
Luckily, stores are awash with free e-books and short stories—and most of them are surprisingly decent. In fact, more than a few are really good. And if you happen to come across a crappy one, well, all you’ve wasted is a few minutes’s reading time (and the seconds it takes to delete). Pretty sweet.
Free romances are particularly prevalent for the e-reader, in all possible sub-genres, from innocent Christian tales to the raunchiest erotica. For your convenience, here’s a short list of good free reads I’ve already downloaded and read. The only caveat: prices and availability do occasionally change, so double check before you hit the buy button. Happy reading!
Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf is part of Harlequin’s Silhouette Nocturne line. It features a vampire, a witch, a love spell gone awry, and the very tempting Prince of Darkness himself (the real one, not Ozzy, although come to think of it, that would have been a rather awesome twist). The plot keeps you guessing and the HEA is unexpected. A must for vampire fans.
Harlequin actually offers a number of their out-of-print books as free digital editions (you might want to simply search for Harlequin and sort by price). Another one I checked out was Silhouette Desire’s Baby Bonanza by Maureen Child. Here’s a taste: “Moonlight poured down on them from a black, starlit sky, and when Nick lifted his head and looked down at her, Jenna was trapped in his gaze. She read the fire in his eyes, sensed the tautly controlled tension vibrating through his body and felt his need as surely as she did her own.”
If your preferences run more to the historical side, then I highly recommend Heart of a Knight by Barbara Samuel. Young widow Lyssa is the Lady of the manor with numerous responsibilities and worries, including two bratty stepchildren and the high likelihood that the King will find her another unwanted husband. When Lord Thomas, a knight, arrives in the midst of a crisis and proves to be both honorable and capable (not to mention stunning) Lyssa finds herself growing increasingly attracted to him. But between her duty to the King and the discovery that Thomas is only posing as a knight, things get really complicated. This one is studded with typos and errors, which made me almost put it down, but if you’re not too bothered by mistakes like the misuse of “hence” or “flair” instead of “flare,” give this one a try (in fairness, most of the mistakes are at the beginning and at the end). Any book that can make the Dark Ages seem sexy and romantic is one worth your time.
“The Reiver: A Scottish Border Romance” by Jackie Barbosa is another fine historical offering**. Although it’s only a short story (about 35 pages), you get a full romance, complete with build-up, consummation, complication and HEA (makes you wonder whether full-length romances really need to be that long). If you don’t know anything about who the reivers were it wouldn’t hurt to do a quick google search and familiarize yourself.
A Dark Kiss of Rapture by Sylvia Day is a prequel novella for Day’s Renegade Angels series. The novella revolves around an interesting concept: fallen angels that live on earth as vampires, albeit good ones (there is also a separate group of vampires who are somewhat more lacking in morals, as well as Sentinel Angels who haven’t fallen). Speaking as someone who finds wings second only to fangs, let me go on record as saying this makes for much hotness. Raze is our anti-hero who doesn’t shy away from sex and violence (but not toward humans). Things get complicated when he ends up with serious feelings for the woman who was supposed to be a one-night stand (Kim). There’s technically no HEA, but there’s definitely potential.
Weirdly, I discovered that fallen angel-vampires seem to be the new thing. Jill Myles’s short (about 20 pages) “Zane’s Tale: A Succubus Diaries Short” (part of the Succubus Diaries series) was so similar to Sylvia Day’s Renegade Angels series that I had to double-check to make sure the two weren’t somehow related. But apparently great minds do think alike, and as I already mentioned, wings and fangs make a hot combination. This one really should be read as part of the series, but there are still some moments that warrant its perusal even without the larger context. Again, there’s no HEA, but I have a feeling that won’t last long.
For contemporary cowboy fans there’s “All’s Fair” by Suzie Quint, another short story (about 30 pages long). This one doesn’t waste valuable space on the getting-to-know you part since the hero and heroine already have a history, but it also manages to make the relationship seem fresh. The lack of a HEA is disappointing, but this seems as though there’s a to-be-continued coming. Besides, how can you resist a story with lines like this: “’I reckon he’s gonna live. But he ain’t pretty like he used to be.’”
“Colters’ Wife” by Maya Banks, is another short. As observant readers may have guessed from the position of the apostrophe, this is a somewhat unconventional romance—brothers are sharing a wife . There’s an entire series about the Colters and their women (woman?), although the rest aren’t free. Take a look if you think it’s your kind of thing.
What secret gems have you discovered while on the hunt for free e-books?
**At the time of this posting, Jackie Barbosa’s “The Reiver: A Scottish Border Romance” was free for Amazon Kindle and $.99 for Barnes and Noble’s nook, so double-check with your favorite retailer for an exact price.
Aspasía Bissas is a writer, blogger, and chocolate fan with delusions of someday having a bakery-café. When she’s not lost in a variety of great books she’s busy tweeting (@bloodandpoppies) or posting on her blogs Domicile, Blood Lines, and Geek Grrrl.