<i>The Rogue's Conquest</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Rogue's Conquest: Exclusive Excerpt Lily Maxton "There's too much at stake for James to give in to his growing attraction." <i>Jaw Dropping</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Jaw Dropping: Exclusive Excerpt L.P. Maxa "It’s the reality she was sure she never wanted but now craves." <i>Sugar Pine Trail</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Sugar Pine Trail: Exclusive Excerpt RaeAnne Thayne "She wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…" <i>Archangel's Viper</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Archangel's Viper: Exclusive Excerpt Nalini Singh 'The strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…"
From The Blog
September 22, 2017
Happy Endings for Susan Mallery's You Say It First
Janet Webb
September 21, 2017
3 Books That Put the Romance Back in Fiction
Keira Soleore
September 21, 2017
Victorian Women & the Periodical Press
Sandra Schwab
September 21, 2017
4 Moments That Prove 10 Things I Hate About You Is The Best
Cerestheories
September 20, 2017
“Found Family” Can Be the Best Family
Michele De Winton, Violetta Rand, Michele Mannon
Showing posts by: Cerestheories click to see Cerestheories's profile
Thu
Sep 21 2017 9:30am

4 Moments That Prove 10 Things I Hate About You Is The Best

10 Things I Hate About You

The best adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is the 1999 romantic comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. This is a fact. (Shh, let me have this.) There’s a lot to love in the movie, from Allison Janney’s romance-writing guidance counselor, Ms. Perky, to the sonnet-rapping English teacher, Mr. Morgan. Joey is a terrible/excellent antagonist who gets exactly what’s coming to him when Bianca publicly kicks his butt at prom. Kat and her dad have a heartwarming moment that speaks to the beauty of a parent-child relationship and the ways that changes as kids grow into adulthood.

It’s a GREAT MOVIE. The best part, though? Kat and Patrick’s relationship. Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles have some serious chemistry, and their relationship is what got me hooked on the enemies-to-lovers trope. Without further ado, I offer my top 4 Kat & Patrick scenes in this, my favorite of all rom-coms.

4. The Almost Kiss

For their first sort-of-date, Kat and Patrick go to a party. Kat really doesn’t want to be there and gets rather sloshed. During a memorable table dance, she hits her head on a chandelier and Patrick catches her. He brings her to a swing set in the backyard and tries to keep her awake for fear that she has a concussion. There’s a touching moment… then she vomits. Later, he’s driving her home and she opens up about her dream of starting a band. It’s the first time she’s let her guard down with him, even going so far as to say “you’re not as vile as I thought you were.” (Best line.)

[Read more...]

Wed
Sep 13 2017 9:30am

How to Turn Your Comic-Reading Friends into Romance Readers

Beyond Surrender by Kit Rocha

Romance and comics hit similar buttons for me: an easy to read format, genre conventions/tropes, over-the-top characters, high stakes conflicts, and… stigma for readers that has lead to a vocal fanbase.

If you’ve been following for a while, I’ve reviewed comics for H&H a few times. I talked about Fresh Romance, Smut Peddler, and romance comics in general. I also review a comic each week over at my blog, Love in Panels. All this is to say that, when H&H asked what romance novels I would recommend to comic readers, I did a dance of joy. Seriously. Danced around my living room. While I don’t expect you to dance with joy, maybe you’ll find a novel or two to share with the comic lover in your life!

If you like… Saga or Other Sci-Fi Comics

Try Dystopian or Sci-Fi Romance

We’ve talked before about Saga, and whether or not it’s a romance. I’d argue that it’s basically Romeo & Juliet in space with sub plots and a kid. Saga is also pretty violent and NSFW.

  • Also violent and NSFW? Kit Rocha’s Beyond erotic romance series (Amazon), set in a dystopian future with danger, whiskey, and lots of sexy times.
     
  • You might also check out the Ice Planet Barbarians series by Ruby Dixon, (Amazon) which is over-the-top trope-y alien crazysauce.
     
  • Both of these recs are on the steamier side, so if you’d like an amazing series without the sex/romance, check out the Broken Earth series from N.K. Jemisin (Amazon | B&N | Kobo).

[Read more...]

Sun
Sep 10 2017 11:00am

First Look: The Duke’s Bridle Path Anthology (September 12, 2017)

The Duke's Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain

Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain
The Duke's Bridle Path
Grace Burrowes / September 12, 2017 / $3.99 digital

The Duke's Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain, is billed as a “duet,” which I find to be an entirely charming descriptor. The more I think about it, it’s also an entirely accurate descriptor. These two authors have written stories that, well, work in harmony with each other.

This duet pairs two writers who have similar, but markedly different voices. (All hail “The Boy is Mine” by Monica and Brandy.) Both write historical romances featuring emotionally intelligent characters and, often, the forces conspiring against them are external. In these two stories, Burrowes and Romain each pair off one of set of siblings, a duke and his sister, and use a different trope to do so. It works brilliantly. With common threads of family, history, and location, readers don’t have to disengage and reengage with the story. Rather, we are seamlessly shifting our attention to Ada (that’s the sister) while her brother (the duke) is off on honeymoon with his new bride.

[Read more...]

Sat
Sep 2 2017 11:00am

Geeky Friendships Are the Best Kind in Susannah Nix’s Remedial Rocket Science

Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

When I read the blurb for Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix my reaction was essentially “sign me up!” I loved Cathy Yardley’s Level Up and the geeky shenanigans therein. This promised the same. The plot is something of a cross between the “my one-night stand is my boss” and the “fake relationship” tropes, with heroine Melody and hero Jeremy hooking up once in a prologue three years prior to the start of the main story. Flash forward, Melody ends up working at the company Jeremy’s mother owns, putting them in close proximity and beginning what starts out as an awkward friendship.

Why so awkward? Jeremy has a girlfriend. What’s worse? Melody and that girlfriend actually like each other! Say it ain’t so. Despite an off-putting first meeting, I loved the friendship that developed between Lacey and Melody. When Lacey and Jeremy break up, which has to happen because Jeremy and Melody have to get together, it’s not a huge dramatic blowup, like it could have been. Points for friendship and for women not hating each other! There’s even a scene in which Melody points out bi-erasure from the hero and I wanted to cheer out loud.

[Read more...]

Mon
Aug 28 2017 1:00pm

First Look: Lisa Berne’s The Laird Takes a Bride (August 29, 2017)

The Laird Takes a Bride by Lisa Berne

Lisa Berne
The Laird Takes a Bride (Penhallow Dynasty #2)
Avon / August 29, 2017 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

Lisa Berne’s second novel, The Laird Takes a Bride, is a marriage-of-convenience that pairs two older protagonists (for 1811 Scotland) in a most inconvenient way.

At his 35th birthday feast, Alasdair Penhallow is presented with an obscure clan law, one that forces him to marry an eligible young woman from one of eight clans within 35 days. At this “advanced” age, Alasdair is quite set in his bachelor lifestyle and, naturally, has no desire to take a bride. Fiona Douglass, the oldest and only unmarried daughter in her family is, at 27, determined that she will stay on at her family’s home to manage things as she’s been doing.

The book opens with Fiona attending yet another family wedding, her 71st by her count. She’s an utterly sensible woman, concerned with the wellbeing of her family and the families on their lands. She makes lists, editing them as she accomplishes tasks, propelling herself through her days with an efficiency that is sufficiently distracting… or so she thinks. Early in the story, we see a glimpse of the emotion Fiona works to suppress. Her younger sister, who married Fiona’s own beau some time prior, is pregnant, and Fiona is rather crushed, feeling the keen loss of a life that could have been hers. (Logan is a cad and she’s well rid of him.) None of this, however, prevents her from turning down the abusive, awful men who offer for her.

[Read more...]

Fri
Aug 11 2017 9:30am

6 Steps to Rock a Book Sale!

Source: Shutterstock

I don’t need to tell you that books are the best, especially those with kissing. But sometimes? Sometimes my budget tells me that I need to slow my book-buying roll. For those of us who like to read in paper rather than (or in addition to) digital, we have a few options: used bookstores, libraries, and… library book sales! A library book sale is like the best of both worlds: you get cheap books and support a library at the same time. I’m such a fierce supporter of these that I spent an entire weekend helping to run my own library’s most recent sale. As a former yard sale rummager turned book sale connoisseur, I have a few tips to help you make the most of your experience.

1. Schedule Your Sale(s)

Ask your librarian if they have a book sale. Some libraries have an “ongoing sale,” which means they have a few shelves or boxes always available for perusal. These tend to change inventory regularly, and it’s really hit or miss as far as what you’ll find within. If you live close enough to other libraries, give them a call or check their websites for the same. I’m lucky enough to live in a place with lots of libraries, which means that sometimes there are sales going on the same weekend, or three weekends in a row. Because we have winter, the sales tend to all be crammed into the short summer weeks, which makes scheduling in advance a necessity.

[Read more...]

Wed
Aug 9 2017 9:30am

First Look: Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal (August 22, 2017)

Tessa Dare
The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1)
Avon / August 22, 2017 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

Tessa Dare is kicking off a new series with more of what we have come to expect from her: humor, banter, and feminism. The premise of the first book, The Duchess Deal, is vaguely Beauty and the Beast-ish. She gives us a classic wounded/scarred war veteran who doesn’t believe he’ll ever find real love, then has him propose a very businesslike marriage of convenience to a seamstress who shows up on his door asking to be paid for the wedding dress his ex-fiance had commissioned. This is all well and good, and Tessa fills the book with puns and sass and mischievous servants and animals. I would argue, however, that this book is about the power of female friendship.

Let me back up for a moment. Ash is fine. He’s handsome, if mangled, and intelligent and kind and all the things we’d need him to be. This book is also probably the most sex-filled of any Tessa Dare novel I’ve read. Some of the sex is hilariously awkward, especially as both of them try to pretend they’re not enjoying it. The relationship between Ash and Emma progresses nicely, even if the big emotional to-do happens too close to the end for my taste. (Seriously, I was worried for a minute!) For the most part, this is a happy, funny story that will hit all of your pleasure-reading buttons.

[Read more...]

Sat
Jul 29 2017 11:00am

First Look: Adriana Anders’ In His Hands (August 1, 2017)

In His Hands by Adriana Anders

Adriana Anders
In His Hands (Blank Canvas #3)
Sourcebooks / August 1, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital 

In His Hands, the third in Adriana Anders’s Blank Canvas series, takes elements of her first two books, mixes in wine and a terrifying religious cult, and gives us something undefinable. It’s like a psychological coming-of-age dark romantic suspense. It’s hard to categorize, so this First Look is going to focus on a couple of elements that sets it apart from other books I’ve read.

First things first—all of the trigger warnings: sexual abuse, coercion, physical abuse and assault, children in peril, twisted religious cult.

This isn’t the sort of book I usually pick up, but I really loved Anders’s first two, so I decided to set aside my reservations and give it a shot. It’s the story of Abby, a young woman who is looking for a way to free herself and her friend Sammy, who has Down Syndrome, from a religious cult. The only contact she has with the outside world is occasional glimpses of Luc, a French immigrant who owns a vineyard next door. With the recent death of her church-selected husband (three times her age) and the worsening of Sammy’s seizures, she finds the courage to sneak through the massive fence and over to Luc’s house to ask him for a job. He’s a misanthrope with a squishy center, so things progress as you might expect there.

[Read more...]

Sun
Jul 23 2017 11:00am

First Look: Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You (July 25, 2017)

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai
Hate to Want You
Avon / July 25, 2017 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

Hate to Want You is full of classic romantic elements, but features smart, real characters who feel 100% modern. With this book, Alisha Rai has given us a Romeo who is kind, sexy, great at his job, but making some poor choices in his personal life. Her Juliet is independent, caring, self-aware enough to deal with her depression, but avoiding her family and her feelings for Romeo. Rai’s writing combines the best of old and new, creating a story you won’t be able to put down.

But first. Look at that cover. Do you need some time alone? I’ll give you a minute.

Okay, now let’s talk about the book. Alisha Rai starts her Forbidden Hearts series with my favorite book of hers yet. If you’ve read A Gentlman in the Streets or Serving Pleasure, you know that’s saying something. In her trademark style, she ramps up the sexual tension and heart-wrenching yearning to give romance readers the Romeo & Juliet they’ve always wanted. The story is slowed at times by exposition, but Rai weaves history and relational details into deeply emotional scenes that will leave readers wondering how things could have gone so wrong. Long-held secrets, complicated family dynamics, and blazing hot chemistry make this a page-turner.

[Read more...]

Thu
Jul 20 2017 1:00pm

First Look: Rogue Desire Anthology (July 20, 2017)

Rogue Desires Anthology

Adriana Anders, Amy Jo Cousins, Ainsley Booth, Emma Barry, Dakota Gray, Stacey Agdern, Jane Lee Blair, Tamsen Parker
Rogue Desires
Pronoun / July 20, 2017 / $.99 digital

Eight romance authors have teamed up for Rogue Desire, an anthology of what they’re calling “Resistance Romance.” The result is eight stories that serve up doses of heat and hope during a tumultuous political time. It’s like this: the daily (hourly?) news cycle is exhausting, but like a car crash in slow motion, many of us can’t look away. If you can’t look away but also like to read romance… this is the anthology for you.

While a couple of the stories didn’t work for me personally, I was completely engrossed in others. As is the magic of anthologies, every reader has a different favorite, and I really hope some of you will seek me out on Twitter to talk about yours. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of each story:

Grassroots by Adriana Anders

In the first story, the heroine is running for city council and meets the hero, a visually-impaired hacker/inventor while she’s canvassing. The hero is super hot, but hasn’t had a real relationship because he hasn’t found someone who gets him. The heroine doesn’t have a “name” and just wants to do right by her community. He uses his network to help her out, and she helps him come out of seclusion. This story is known to have made at least two H&H bloggers cry.

[Read more...]

Wed
Jul 19 2017 9:30am

Do We Treat Widows and Widowers Differently in Romance?

The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

The 3 Factors to How We Treat Widows vs. Widowers

After much “research,” I have a hypothesis regarding the treatment of widows and widowers in romance:

The divide isn’t based on male/female but rather on time period. We treat modern widows differently than historical widows.

Okay, before you give me examples of why I’m wrong, hear me out. I have some supporting evidence.

Marriages of Choice vs. Convenience

While there are present-day unhappy marriages and olden-day happy marriages, the advent of divorce, birth control, and economic independence for women has changed the marital landscape. This means that widows and widowers these days are more likely to have been in love with their late spouse. We see characters who may internally compare their new love with the old, and authors who are respectfully making it clear that one is not replacing the other. Characters may have a hard time making room for this new partner in their life while holding on to the memories of the love they had before. It’s a fine line that contemporary authors walk, trying to convince readers of the depth of both loves.

In historicals, it’s more often that the widow(er) has lost a spouse who was, in one way or another, forced upon them. The heroine may be a young widow who married a man 30 years her senior and is just now able to marry of her own will. The hero may have married a spiteful woman with a large dowry, who ran off and is now deceased. (Looking at you, Lawrence Browne Affair) Since so much historical romance focuses on the lives of the aristocracy, marriages are frequently arranged based on financial or political benefit, not on any sort of suitability.

[Read more...]

Tue
Jul 18 2017 1:00pm

First Look: On Fire Anthology (July 18, 2017)

On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories

Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel*
On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories
Cleis Press / July 18, 2017 / $10.99 digital

On Fire is the latest in writer/editor Rachel Kramer Bussel’s erotica anthologies with Cleis Publishing… but it was my first modern erotica anthology ever. I’ve read erotic romance, sure. Romance anthologies, yes. My first anthology of erotica, I suppose, would be Anais Nin’s The Delta of Venus. But a book of pure smut written and edited by and for women? This was my first. It won’t be my last.

In the introduction, Kramer Bussel says:

“…these stories are both tender and dirty, sometimes within the span of the same page. That is the beauty of these erotic storytellers – they don’t skimp on love or lust, instead entwining them in tales that make your pulse pound, your heart race, and your breath sigh.”

That, in two sentences, sums up the anthology. The stories within are varied, so I think there’s something for everyone here. Some stories are kinky, some are not. Some stories focus on two partners, some couples invite others in for the fun. A couple of the stories are about new lovers, but most take place within the bounds of already existing relationships.

It’s this last bit that I found fascinating. In several of the stories, a couple that’s been together for months, years, centuries (yeah, there’s a paranormal), explores the physical and emotional intimacy that already exists in their relationship. In a couple of the cases, this aspect of their love has been neglected. In one memorable story, the couple swings, and the sexual part of their joint life has very clearly never been neglected. There are stories of partners reuniting after an absence. Stories of partners drawing upon their trust and love to share new or previously daunting aspects of their sexuality.

[Read more...]

Thu
Jul 6 2017 9:30am

Grumpy and Charming Heroes—You Get it All in Cat Sebastian’s The Ruin of a Rake

The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian

Cat Sebastian has carved out a place in my TBR: it looks like an uptight man being completely undone by a cheeky man who’s both jaded and comfortable with his sexuality. Said cheeky man is likely going to believe in love by the end of the book, and the uptight man will realize that he can let down his guard now and again. This is not to say that her books are predictable or boring, but rather that I find the whole “grumpy repressed dude meets flirty charming dude” conceit to be both comforting and compelling. It’s nice to pick up a book and know that you’ll get lots of sparks, both in the banter and in the bedroom.

“I think that what you really like is discomposing my state of mind. Turning me into a babbling fool.”

Courtenay became very busy adjusting his cravat.

“Oh my God, I’m right. This is what you like. You like seeing me desperate for you.” It was mortifying, this knowledge that his sad own lack of control was what Courtenay sought.

“You’re so pretty when you’re desperate.”

Julian gasped. “Nobody has every called me pretty. Or desperate.”

“You’ve been keeping terrible company, my dear.”

You don’t have to have read the last book, but if you did, you’ll remember that Courtenay is the Earl of Radnor’s rake of a brother-in-law and that he metJulian’s sister, Eleanor, at Radnor’s house. Since that meeting, Eleanor and Courtenay have become good friends, and Julian believes that his sister’s reputation is being tainted by her association with Courtenay. Eleanor, meanwhile, wants Julian to use his own good reputation to help ease Courtenay’s way back into society. After years of not caring at all what society thought of him, Courtenay is forced to take some responsibility for his reputation if he wants his brother to allow him to see his nephew (whom we also met in the last book). This sets up a classic forced proximity/enemies-to-lovers trope to start off the story.

[Read more...]

Mon
Jul 3 2017 1:00pm

Why We Need—and Love—#OwnVoices

Source: Shutterstock

We need to talk about reading #ownvoices. If you’re not a Twitter nerd, the hashtag is used to describe books written by an author who shares the background of her characters. This does not, however, mean that if I wrote a book about a white cis lady, that I could use the #ownvoices label. It does mean that if I wrote about a bi character, I could call it #ownvoices. Why? Because the label is expressly designed to help readers find books that accurately represent marginalized populations.

With the growth of the diverse books movement, we’ve seen lots of authors take on writing more diverse casts. This is great, but it’s also not the whole point. Diverse publishing should be at all levels, from reader to author to editor. The #ownvoices tag enables readers find books that may more accurately represent a population they don’t usually read about. These books are less likely to reinforce stereotypes and more likely to treat the characters as full, flawed characters with lives that don’t revolve entirely around one aspect of their body or identity.

[Read more...]

Thu
Jun 29 2017 12:00pm

Why I Can’t Read Pregnancy Plots in Romance

Source: Shutterstock

...And The Reasons I Suspect Everyone Else Loves It

Every time a pregnancy-themed romance pops up in my newsfeed, I roll my eyes. Then I sigh and remind myself not to “yuck someone else’s yum.” I remind myself what it was like to be pregnant, to want to be pregnant, and that pregnant ladies need love, too. I pretty much fight with myself for 30 seconds each time. It goes something like this:

Personal Icks

Ugh, pregnancy. I hated being pregnant. The first time was 2 months of nausea, 4 months of people telling me I was too young/poor/unsettled to have a kid, and then 2 months of hugely swollen feet. Second time? 5 months of nausea, followed by 3 months of whatever, and a doctor who kept asking was I really sure I didn’t want my tubes tied?

But not everyone hates being pregnant! My best friend loved it. She felt beautiful and sexy and proud of her body. Unlike me, she had no acne, and childbirth went so easily she almost didn’t make it to the hospital.

[Read more...]

Wed
Jun 21 2017 2:00pm

A Bisexual Reader’s Romance Wish List

 Source: Shutterstock

Happy Pride Month! Time to learn more about me than you ever wanted to know! Pride is a complicated time for me, as a woman married to a man. I’ve identified as bi since high school, a fact my male friends thought was “so hot.” (I stopped telling people about it for that reason.) When I became comfortable enough with myself in college, I came out to a gay friend who promptly decided I must be a lesbian. I met my husband when I was 18, while playing an online game. It was over a year before I found out that she was actually he. When we met in person when I was 20, we starting dating. Ten years later, we have two kids and a house and all the trappings. You could put us on some sort of propaganda poster for “traditional marriage.” Guess what? I’m still bi.

As a bi reader, I read lots of queer romance, lots of straight romance, lots of romance in general… but I don’t often see myself represented. And, while I love reading about all kinds of love, I am putting my “wish-list” out into the universe in hopes that maybe the universe will send me some books.

[Read more...]

Tue
Jun 20 2017 9:30am

First Look: Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess (June 27, 2017)

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean
The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3)
Avon / June 27, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital 

Note: This review will leave you absolutely dying to read Sarah MacLean's The Day of the Duchess, however, it does contain some light spoilers so if you don't want to be spoiled at all, come back to discuss once you've read the book! 

My initial review looked like this:

The Day of the Duchess is the best book Sarah MacLean has ever written. You should read it immediately.

Heroes & Heartbreakers tells me that you might like a more thorough review, however, so here we are. In order to contain the SQUEE, I’ve broken it down into three parts…

Did Sarah answer all of my/our questions?

Back in January, I wrote a post speculating about this book. I had so many questions, particularly about Sera’s pregnancy and whereabouts. Some pretty heavy spoilers drop in the first 50 pages of the book, so I’m going to be a little cagey in this review. Let’s just say that all of the questions are answered.

Sera wants a divorce because she wants to own property, something she can’t do as a married woman, since women aren’t legal entities in 1836. She also wants, after nearly 3 years of hiding, to finally be free of her past with Malcom, Duke of Haven. Sera is a complex heroine who is competent, grieving, and mad as hell. Sarah MacLean writes books with feminist overtones, but this may be her most feminist book yet. Sera is a heroine to cheer for, but she’s not perfect. She’s strong but flawed, smart but blinded by emotion, jaded but hopeful.

“The whole world thinks you ruined me before you married me, when the truth is that I was not ruined until after the fact. You ruined my hopes. My dreams. My future. You ruined my life. And I’ve had enough of that. I am here for one reason only, Your Grace. I want my life back. The one you stole.”

Was Haven successfully redeemed?

[Read more...]

Mon
Jun 12 2017 2:00pm

Do You Want Dad to Give Romance a Try? Give Him One of These 11 Books

Giving Romance for Father’s Day,
Or How To Embarrass the Men in Your Life This June

It’s almost the middle of June, which means graduations, barbecues, and that awkward holiday you dread shopping for every year: Father’s Day. If you don’t dread it, or don’t have a father in your life (spouse, bio-dad, whatevs), you can repurpose this list for any time you feel compelled to make a man feel awkward. Unless you’re lucky enough to have men in your life who read romance, that is. I’ve compiled a list of the Stereotypical Dad categories to make your gift-giving a success!

The Techie Dad

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Disclaimer: my own SO is a systems engineer, so I’m relying on his opinions pretty heavily here. (Apparently, tech romance can be hard to read if you work in the industry.) I’m going to assume this dad is a giant geek and include a fantasy rec here, too.

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) has everything he’d expect from an epic fantasy (Game of Thrones), but without the rape and misogynist overtones. It’s got a kickass hero and heroine, plus a big cast, horses, a road trip with monsters, and magic.

Love on My Mind by Tracey Livesay (Amazon | B&N | Kobo) is an opposites-attract romance with a neuro-atypical hero who happens to be a tech billionaire, and a PR specialist heroine who has to get him camera ready before a product launch. Secrets and nerdery aplenty.

[Read more...]

Tue
Jun 6 2017 11:00am

First Look: Charlotte Stein and Cara McKenna’s Way Down Deep (June 6, 2017)

Way Down Deep by Charlotte Stein & Cara McKenna

Charlotte Stein and Cara McKenna
Way Down Deep
Self-published / June 6, 2017 / $2.99 digital

Here’s what you need to know about Way Down Deep:

  1. Cara McKenna and Charlotte Stein wrote a book together.
  2. It’s a modern-day epistolary novel told through texts.
  3. The hero is a single dad who moved to England to be with a traumatized toddler he didn’t know about.
  4. The heroine is an agoraphobe who is reluctant to share details about herself.
  5. It all starts with a text to a number that’s been reassigned…

Full disclosure: I love everything I’ve read by Charlotte Stein and Cara McKenna. I knew going into this that I was probably in for a great read and had really high expectations. Readers, you know that sometimes this leads to big disappointment. I’m here to tell you that this is not that time.

I’ve never read anything like Way Down Deep. The format alone leads to all sorts of interesting writing choices, like how the authors build sexual tension, how and when the characters might reveal certain details (like their names!) to each other, and how to write an entire book in what we think of as the shortest modern communication form.

[Read more...]

Sat
May 13 2017 1:00pm

Harlots Isn’t a Romance, But There’s Still A Lot to Love

Harlots on Hulu

Have you ever read one of Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses and thought “well, that hardly seems realistic?” Me, too! As romance readers, we willingly accept all manner of fantasy: aristocrats with six-pack abs, many unmarried dukes who are both sexually experienced and in great health, spinsters who find love at the age of 32… The list goes on. These are the cute parts of that fantasy world, though. The uglier parts include an obvious lack of any people of color and a bevy of secondary characters who, for narrative purposes, are disposable.

Harlots, one of Hulu’s new spring shows, makes it impossible to ignore those people. We see the rich fops with their wigs and powders and intricately embroidered waistcoats, but we see far more of the freedmen, working folks, and, of course, the harlots.

[Read more...]