<i>Infamous</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Infamous: Exclusive Excerpt Jenny Holiday "Hunter is all Jesse can think about..." <i>Courtly Pleasures</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Courtly Pleasures: Exclusive Excerpt Erin Kane Spock "Can they create a second chance at love before it’s too late?" <i>Roomies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Roomies: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Lauren "Will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?" <i>A Duke in Shining Armor</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Duke in Shining Armor: Exclusive Excerpt Loretta Chase "So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him...?"
From The Blog
November 21, 2017
From Team H&H, With Love
Team H & H
November 21, 2017
How to Advocate for Happily Ever Afters
FrannieC
November 20, 2017
Insight into MaryJanice Davidson’s Deja New
Lucy Dosch
November 19, 2017
Helena Hunting: A Sexy, Angsty, Funny Superstar
Nicola R. White
November 17, 2017
3 Pets from Romance We Wish Were Ours
Tara Leigh
Showing posts by: JohnJacobson click to see JohnJacobson's profile
Tue
Sep 26 2017 8:30am

First Look: Jill Shalvis’ Chasing Christmas Eve (September 26, 2017)

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis
Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay #4)
Avon / September 26, 2017 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Last year, I read and fell in love with Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay romance The Trouble with Mistletoe. I’m quite a sucker for a good holiday romance, as I’ve proven here several times, and Shalvis writes the perfect low-maintenance Christmas setting for readers who want a romance that includes the holidays but doesn’t use them at every turn. Chasing Christmas Eve is the fourth full-length story in the Heartbreaker Bay world. The gentle, funny romance and the strong community of secondary characters make the book a prime example of Shalvis’s strengths as a contemporary romance author.

The plane to San Francisco was an impulsive decision to get away. Colbie Albright has a draft long overdue to her editor for a book she’s not sure that she wants to write. Her successful young adult series, which is being made into a major feature film, has catapulted her nom de plume to literary stardom. Her mother and her brothers rely on her for everything, have ever since her father left. Worst of all, she can’t find inspiration to write, the one thing she loves doing for herself more than anything. So, Colbie decides to get away and chooses San Francisco. A few weeks before Christmas Eve are all that she needs to recalibrate and—hopefully—get her mojo back.

[Read more...]

Fri
Sep 8 2017 11:00am

K.M. Jackson’s The Betting Vow Offers a Modern Marriage of Convenience and Comedy

The Betting Vow by KM Jackson

After loving K.M. Jackson’s Insert Groom Here, I came in to The Betting Vow expecting to enjoy my reading time yet again. Jackson’s trilogy featuring brides and weddings is just the thing to read as summer is winding down; it’s detailed, rich, but ultimately the kind of story you want to enjoy with a bowl of ice cream and an evening summer breeze blowing by. The Betting Vow takes that breezy romantic-comedy style and places it in a modern marriage-of-convenience trope, complete with television execs, models and a lot of sexual tension. Jackson’s ability to create three-dimensional confident heroines and sexual tension that relies on emotional complexity is what makes her stand out in contemporary romance. The Betting Vow delivers on all of those fronts, and it’s a romance that contemporary fans can’t afford to miss.

One thing Leila Darling cannot stand is being someone’s prop. As a highly successful model, Leila’s career has been built on her ability to pretend, to be a photographer or a designer’s canvas for products and clothes. She’s also been a canvas for controversy. With several horrible relationships – and several broken engagements – behind her, Leila has been through a lot. A recent guest role in a small film has given her a new love of acting, and that may just be the kind of change Leila needs to shake off her diva reputation and find the joy in her career again.

[Read more...]

Thu
Sep 7 2017 12:00pm

The Incredible Jessica James Is Actually Incredible

The Incredible Jessica James

In a world where everything seems to suck, we need a good romantic comedy again. Netflix has been promoting The Incredible Jessica James as such. It’s a feature-length film that follows a fictional character played by Jessica Williams. Williams has gained notoriety for her role as a senior correspondent for the Daily Show. The Incredible Jessica James is a taste of her comedy in a larger form with a fair amount of mating, dating, and love—as well as a strong arc of finding oneself in the murky waters of Millennial adulthood.

The film opens with Jessica James (Williams) on a Tinder date going wrong, just as she’s trying to get over her ex-boyfriend Damon (Lakeith Stanfield). In her day-to-day life, Jessica runs a children’s theater workshop encouraging children in NYC to become playwrights. Jessica herself is a playwright, trying to break into the industry and create art that she cares about. It’s just gotten significantly harder since her breakup. After a fair amount of wallowing and witty introspective banter, Jessica’s best friend Tasha (Noël Wells) sets her up on a date.

Boone (Chris Dowd) is a man with an accent and a newly minted divorce. Their date is the picture-perfect example of two people trying to move on who are stuck in the past and, frankly, don’t want to be set up. But things take a surprising turn as Jessica and Boone deign to be honest with each other. This honesty sets them up for a solid post-date hookup, and a tentative, awkward friendship that includes cyber-stalking each other’s exes.

[Read more...]

Tue
Aug 22 2017 11:00am

First Look: Lauren Layne’s Ready to Run (August 22, 2017)

Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne
Ready to Run (I Do, I Don't #1)
Loveswept / August 22, 2017 / $4.99 digital

As someone who enjoys The Bachelor/The Bachelorette despite all of their horrible qualities, Lauren Layne’s new series is everything I could want in a contemporary romance. The series centers around characters connected to a new TV show, Jilted, which is similar to The Bachelor but with a hero who has left multiple women at the altar. Layne uses this theme in the first book to weave a story of second-chances, complications, and sexual tension, making for a book that bursts with energy and excitement. In the acknowledgments, Layne says this idea excited her to no end, and as a reader, it’s easy to believe. Ready to Run is easily one of the most enjoyable contemporary romances I’ve read in a long time.

Upcoming television producer Jordan Carpenter believes that Jilted is what will take her career to the next level. Her boss loves the idea of a reality show that takes The Bachelor and turns it into a hero redemption story. The trick is finding a candidate that viewers will fall in love with despite leaving multiple women at the altar. After some hardcore Googling, Jordan finds her perfect candidate: Luke Elliott, a Montana firefighter who left three women just before marrying them and still remains a beloved part of his small Montana town.

[Read more...]

Thu
Aug 3 2017 8:30am

Sex and Liberation, or Why Sex Scenes in Romance Can Matter

Source: Shutterstock

Sex scenes in romance are a (excuse the pun) sticky business. They’re variant depending on the subgenre, they often rely on politics of beauty, and they’re mostly between two straight, cisgender white people.

Romance has clearly made efforts to go beyond the limited representation of what types of people engage in romantic and erotic sex. What’s perhaps even better is that the practice of these sex scenes, even for the characters that are not diverse, has an element of feminist thought. Specifically, sex scenes in romance can provide the heroine and, one can argue, the reader with an optimal sexual context.

Dr. Emily Nagoski, author of Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, defines context as such:

Context is made of two things: the circumstances of the present moment — whom you’re with, where you are, whether the situation is novel or familiar, risky or safe, etc.—and your brain state in the present moment – whether you’re relaxed or stressed, trusting or not, loving or not, right now, in this moment.

Nagoski then goes on to explain exactly how context applies to various aspects of sex. One key takeaway is that “perception of sensation is context dependent,” so the feeling of pleasure we get from something is relative to the larger environmental and personal factors surrounding the action.

[Read more...]

Tue
Aug 1 2017 12:00pm

Amanda Quick’s 4 Best Old School Historical Moments

Ravished by Amanda Quick

Readers of historical romance know that Amanda Quick (the nom de plume of Jayne Ann Krentz) writes a beautifully hilarious sort of historical romance. Her “formula” involves a jaded hero who needs humor in his life and a quirky heroine who often challenges gender expectations, and makes him giggle a little bit. This “formula” is what makes her books so lovable, and somehow each one exhibits a unique magic all its own.

Because Quick is one of my favorite historical romance authors, and because her books comfort me whenever my life is becoming too much, I figured I’d compile some of my favorite moments from her historical romances.

The Tooth Fossil & The Cave from Ravished

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Ravished is arguably my favorite book by Amanda Quick. Intrepid heroine who is obsessed with dinosaur fossils? Usual sulky hero? Many a joke and situation surrounding said fossil obsession? I’m here for it, and it’s so good.

This particular scene occurs early in the book. Harriet is on a quest to find fossils in a cave that’s located on her home, on an island quite separated from most civilization. There’s an issue with smugglers (dun dun dun), so she writes for the owner of the land to come and help out. Turns out he’s sexy, and they end up exploring the cave together. Hijinks ensue, and they end up trapped in the cave.

Yes, we have forced proximity, and the piece de resistance?

Harriet discovers an ancient, crusty dinosaur tooth fossil in the rocks of the cave and will not shut up about it. They even have – wanton, reckless sex – but she’s more focused on the tooth, and notably doesn’t orgasm until their second sexual encounter (when the hero is trying much harder, knowing he has to compete with a tooth.)

Because this scene establishes Harriet’s ridiculous love for the fallen tooth of an ancient animal corpse, and includes some forced proximity in the name of defending a local cave from smugglers, it’s on the list.

[Read more...]

Wed
Jan 4 2017 1:00pm

Insert Groom Here Hits the Sweet Spot

Insert Groom Here by K.M. Jackson

For someone not even close to thinking about marriage, contemporary romances with a marriage theme hit a sweet spot for me. K.M. Jackson’s mass market debut, Insert Groom Here, is the start of a trilogy that promises to hit that sweet spot over and over again. Jackson’s latest is a contemporary slow burn romance that has a cute romantic comedy sense of humor, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. As a fan of contemporary romance, I gobbled this one up.

Public humiliation was not on Eva Ward’s wedding agenda. After she and her fiancé, Kevin, competed in a contest hosted by a nationally syndicated morning television show, they won a dream wedding. A perfectly poised wedding for the perfectly put-together life Eva crafted for herself. The announcement on live television was the icing on the wedding cake—and then Kevin dropped the bomb.

He decided that he wasn’t going to marry Eva at all. Without consulting her first. In front of the entire country. Eva, normally calm and collected even with the cameras rolling, lost it, and handed him his lying ass on a platter while the cameras still rolled. In fact, she told him that she’d go forward with the wedding anyway. Any groom would do.

[Read more...]

Mon
Oct 24 2016 1:00pm

5 Category Romances That Will Make Your TBR Pile Sing!

Feels Like Home by Beth Andrews

Whether you read category romance religiously, or whether you’re looking to try it for the first time, there’s something for you. That’s the beauty of category romance! I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to ebooks. I also tend to get buyer’s paralysis when I’m faced with so many decisions. Over 18,000 books on sale is a huge pool to pick from, so I wanted to give my two cents about some hidden (and not-so-hidden) category romance gems.

Feels Like Home by Beth Andrews

Beth Andrews is an underrated genius when it comes to the Superromance line. (For new readers, this is the line that’s perfect for contemporary romance lovers that enjoy fleshed out dynamics involving family and/or community and mild-to-hot sex scenes.)

Andrews always writes with an eye towards the complex. Her heroines are never doormats, and her heroes are never total alphaholes. Feels Like Home was my introduction to her, and I think it’s a great place to start. There’s wedding planning (ah!), a romance between a heroine and her ex-husband, oodles of family drama, southern vibes, and a lot of changing views. The hero’s family doesn’t accept the heroine easily…but the reward is there.

There are also several other series of Andrews’ on sale. The Truth about the Sullivans is another one worth checking out, particularly On Her Side. It has an attorney heroine with a heavy dose of competence porn and decent suspense, which made it very easy to binge read.

[Read more...]

Tue
Oct 18 2016 2:00pm

First Look: Lauren Layne’s To Love and to Cherish (October 18, 2016)

To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne
To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles, #3)
Pocket Books / October 18, 2016 / $5.99 print & digital

There’s nothing quite more tailored to the world of romance than weddings. So, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that a go-to contemporary romance theme is often that of wedding planners. Lauren Layne’s Wedding Belles series explores those connections between weddings and romance narratives. To Love and to Cherish is the final book in the trilogy, and it deftly explores how planning and executing other people’s dreams can make us ignore our own.

Eight years ago, Alexis Morgan was ordering a drink at an NYC bar, wondering if her goose was well and truly cooked. Her brilliant idea for an upscale wedding planning business was without a single investor. Her move to the city to follow the dream of owning a business—the dream she’s worked for through years of college and hard work—seemed like a failure. Just as she felt like giving up, the universe gave her hope.

[Read more...]

Tue
Sep 27 2016 1:30pm

First Look: Holiday Temptations Anthology (September 27, 2016)

Holiday Temptations by Donna Hill, Farrah Rochon, and K.M. Jackson

Donna Hill, Farrah Rochon, and K.M. Jackson
Holiday Temptations
Dafina / September 27, 2016 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

Holiday romances are a special sort of addiction for me. Along with the pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters, the changing of the seasons usually signals an opportunity for me to break out romances laced with feel-good cheer, family gatherings, lots of snow-related activities, and  – I love it all. Holiday Temptations is a perfect bottling of the holiday season with three featured novellas that explore the different ways that couples can come together and find love. For me, a great holiday romance is allowed to be both sentimental and sexy, and Holiday Temptations hits both of those themes.

In “The Gift of Love” by Donna Hill, Traci Long is a drama professor whose life dream is to produce the play she’s been writing for years. She’s always struggled with adding heart to it, but instead of giving up, Traci goes to a nearby coffee shop and works on it constantly. When she orders her usual, Traci usually checks out Noah Jefferson, a hot barista that always remembers her order. A onetime encounter with him at a movie theater leads to an impromptu date, which leads to another one, and another one. Traci has spent the past few years struggling to find her heart again, and Noah may be the person to help her find it.

[Read more...]

Thu
Sep 15 2016 10:00am

Best Friend’s Older Brother and the Big Apple Are Up for Grabs in Sarah Morgan’s Sunset in Central Park

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan

After the dreaminess of Sleepless in Manhattan, Sarah Morgan has returned to her crew of small town ex-pats in New York City with Sunset in Central Park. This second book in the trilogy follows Frankie, a grumpy garden designer with fierce loyalty, and the brother of her best friend, Matt. It’s a classic friends-to-lovers tale that weaves in the Manhattan of people’s dreams with broken pasts, rooftop gardens, and romantic chemistry thicker than NYC’s air pollution.

Introversion is Frankie Cole’s calling card. As one of NYC’s breakthrough garden designers and one of the three women running its newest high-end events company, her life is hectic. She lives with her two best friends—Paige and Eva–and Paige’s sexy older brother in a Brooklyn brownstone that he bought and fixed up. She loves them all dearly, but some nights for her are best spent with a good book and the sweet company of herself.

The truth is, Frankie doesn’t always like being alone. She adores Paige and Eva; working with them has been a dream come true. It’s the prospect of being with someone romantically that sends her diving into her shell. After watching her mother become single and develop a reputation as the town cougar, Frankie’s idea of romance is more than a little scarred. Avoiding men and everything they bring to the table seems like the best way to prevent another Cole woman from garnering a reputation.

[Read more...]

Thu
Jul 28 2016 10:00am

Criminals are a Girl’s Best Friend in Sophie Jordan’s Hell Breaks Loose

Hell Breaks Loose by Sophie Jordan

When Sophie Jordan comes to play, she brings an alpha male and a plot that will leave you dizzy. Hell Breaks Loose is no exception to that. The second book in her Devil’s Rock series takes the volatile combination of one kidnapped president’s daughter and one escaped convict and turns it into a romance. Folks, this book is a great example of a story that will have you running to the bookstore (or to your ereader) if you love a romance steeped in moral ambiguity.

Being the daughter of the current President of the United States is not easy. Grace Reeves spends most of her life under security detail. Well, when she’s not attending society events or luncheons for nonprofit groups. Her life is holed up. She can’t go out and eat by herself, much less walk around like a normal human being. Grace already struggles with feeling invisible. Under her father’s shadow, she’s all but disappeared.

Grace decides to sneak out. To grab one burger for herself. To finally do something for herself. She’s in Texas and she’s someplace relatively safe – it should be an easy win; a few hours away for dinner before Grace has to return to her political family and the recent news of the man that her parents have arranged for her to marry. A man she has no sexual interest in whatsoever. Yet, when Grace steps out of sight, she gets kidnapped.

[Not for the faint of heart...]

Tue
Jul 26 2016 8:30am

First Look: Jackie Ashenden’s Dirty for Me (July 26, 2016)

Dirty for Me by Jackie Ashenden

Jackie Ashenden 
Dirty for Me (Motor City Royals #1)
Kensington / July 26, 2016 / $9.95 print, $7.99 digital

The good-girl/bad-boy trope is still going strong in Romancelandia, and Jackie Ashenden’s latest book is a fine (and I mean fiiiiine) example of just how hot it can be. Dirty for Me is the first book in Ashenden’s new series, Motor City Royals, which showcases the city of Detroit and a motor shop in one of its neighborhoods. Dirty for Me is a prime example of the way that the good-girl/bad-boy narrative can be a hot one that empowers both of its characters with agency–and a good deal of sensuality along the way.

Tamara Eliot is the kind of woman that works her way to the top. As the daughter of a well-known man running a famous corporation, Tamara could be perceived as riding her father’s coattails. In actuality, Tamara works her ass off to make herself noticed in the company, highly aware that her father’s employees don’t see her as an asset but instead as yet another brand of nepotism.

It’s not surprise that Tamara’s life has been privileged. Her parents have money, lots of it, and Tamara grew up with the expectations of a mother and father that want a society daughter. She enjoys the luxury of having a modern, furnished apartment and designer clothes, but she could do without the parental meddling, especially in her love life.

[Bad boys are so good...]

Tue
Jul 5 2016 2:00pm

A Bad Bitch of a Binge-Read: Bingeing Christina Saunders Gets Dark & Sexy

Bad Bitch by Christina Saunders

I don’t binge read. I’m one of those readers that will space out the books in a series, even one by a favorite author, just so I can hold off on the ending. However, I’m always up for new things, and the simultaneous release of Christina Saunders’s new trilogy gave me the perfect opportunity to see if binge-reading is even possible for me.

Bad Bitch, Hardass, and Total Dick make up the Bad Bitch trilogy; the trilogy is connected by the heroes, the Granade brothers. Each of the brothers has gone into the legal profession, and each of them is a tried-and-true alpha dude with a taste for equally alpha women. While the books are totally standalone, the books lend themselves to a binge read. The plots are separate enough to feel unique (as opposed to a traditional series), but the stories and characters are familiar enough to create a steady, familiar experience during the binge read.

[Who's the baddest bitch of them all?]

Fri
Jun 10 2016 2:00pm

Nacho Figueras Gives You a Taste for Polo in High Season by Jessica Whitman

High Season by Jessica WhitmanIt’s a truth universally acknowledged that many well-minded people go through a time when they are obsessed with horses. While not every budding horse obsession leads to polo, it’s hard not to like the idea of polo after falling in love with horses. Jessica Whitman and Nacho Figueras's High Season piqued my interest because of the connection between horses and sport (something that Theresa Romain’s new series is also exploring) and the partnership between a well-known polo player and the romance community. High Season manages to be a successful contemporary romance perfect for anyone with a curiosity towards polo and a love of dramatic rich-people drama.

Veterinary work in upstate New York is Georgia’s life. She lives with her father on their ramshackle farm, tending to their animals and working for a local vet. It’s not the glamorous life that some of her classmates from Cornell are living, but she’s content. Georgia is doing what she loves most: taking care of animals. She also can’t bear to leave her father alone after her mother abandoned them in favor of a high-profile career with horses.

Georgia’s best friend from college surprises her with plane tickets to join him in Florida–partially to ogle his new boyfriend, partially to catch the polo matches going on. When Georgia takes the risk and goes, she finds herself in a world unlike her extremely modest hometown. Polo players, their families, and their horses are the height of glamour. It’s there that she meets Alejandro Del Campo, the eldest son of the famous Del Campo family, and one of the most famous polo players in the world.

[And everything changes...]

Sat
Jun 4 2016 1:00pm

An Ensemble Read: Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

My love for Sarah Morgan’s books is no secret. Since she’s moved to writing trilogies of standalone-length novels, Morgan has shown how her ability to draw a character can expand to the character’s larger community. Sleepless in Manhattan is the first book in a trilogy that takes characters that have formed their own community in Brooklyn after growing up in Puffin Island (which readers will recognize from Morgan’s last series.) Sleepless in Manhattan is a series opening full of Morgan’s trademark humor, sexual tension, and portrayal of close friendship—all in a magical version of Manhattan.

Events planning is about preparing for contingencies. Paige Walker has wanted to be an event planner since she left college; getting a job at Star Events, a premiere agency in New York City, was the beginning of the rest of her life. Paige has helped increase its clientele and more than proven her worth. When she gets called into a meeting, she’s anticipating that she’ll finally be given a promotion. Paige soon finds that the one contingency she never planned for was the one that occurred. Paige is fired.

[But with every bad end is a good beginning?]

Tue
May 17 2016 3:30pm

Come Fly With Me (and Chanel Cleeton)

Fly With Me is so hot it burns. I’m not a fan of Top Gun, and I don’t have a particular thing for men in the military (although uniforms can be pretty sexy.) Yet, Chanel Cleeton’s new series opener makes me want to turn on Top Gun and get it on with a sexy fighter pilot right this second. Fly With Me is a sizzling example of contemporary romance at its finest. Hot couples, intelligent relationship dynamics, sex that makes you swoon, and a writing style that makes this premise as addictive as it is promising.

Jordan Callahan is spending the weekend in Vegas for a bachelorette party. For her younger sister. Who’s marrying a guy that saw Jordan’s tits once in high school. Jordan’s delighted that her sister is madly in love with a great man, but she can’t help but be jealous. Jordan has created a successful small boutique business back home in Florida; her dog is adorable and she works with one of her best friends. Now that she’s approaching thirty, she has most of her life figured out—but she can’t help but feel like she’s almost missed the boat when it comes to finding someone to love.

Now, a girl’s weekend in Vegas probably won’t get Jordan married. It can get her laid, and a night out at the bars gives Jordan a chance to use every curve on her body to her advantage. Vegas is full of possibility. When two hot-as-fuck men approach their bachelorette group, Jordan sees someone that makes her glad for Vegas’s many hotels.

[So many...]

Wed
May 4 2016 1:00pm

Hot Like Fire: Christine Feehan’s Fire Bound

Fire Bound by Christine Feehan

Fire Bound is Christine Feehan with a gentle touch, and I am here for it. Granted, Feehan’s heroes are so alpha that “gentle” in this case is very subjective. It’s a wonderful example of how her books can have an emotional range with the presentation of its heroes and heroines. More than that, it’s a paranormal romance that does what Feehan does best: spies and conspiracies, fated mate romances, and lots of push and pull between the lead couple.

Glassblower Lissa Piner has found her true home. With her parents long dead and no family to speak of in the United States, she has regained a sense of life in Sea Haven with her sisters of the heart. She’s felt fulfilled by working with them on their collective farm; it gives her a space to protect the people that she cares about, something she didn’t feel like she could do many years ago. As her heart-sisters have slowly gotten married off, however, Lissa has been given the reminder that she’s the family loner.

The men that these women have married all hail from the Prakenskii family. The Prakenskiis are trained assassins with enemies everywhere. It means that a woman that loves a Prakenskii is subject to his stubborn personality and his constant desire to keep her protected. While Lissa isn’t with a Prakenskii man, her pseudo-brothers-in-law still want her to be safe. They decide to put their brother Casmir on the job of shadowing her while she goes to Europe to sell her handmade glass chandeliers.

[I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier...]

Tue
Apr 19 2016 3:30pm

First Look: Amanda Quick’s Til Death Do Us Part (April 19, 2016)

‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

Amanda Quick 
'Til Death Do Us Part 
Berkley / April 19, 2016 / $27.00 print, $13.99 digital

Amanda Quick is my crack. Jayne Ann Krentz has a lot of commendable work under her name and her Jayne Castle nom de plume, too, but Amanda Quick will always be my favorite. The Quick historicals have shifted from 90’s romps to more subdued historical romances with mysteries and paranormal elements.

‘Til Death Do Us Part represents a shift in Quick’s style that I think readers will find welcoming. Quick clearly delights in writing the gothic elements of the story, and the hero/heroine pairing is guaranteed bait for any reader with a passion for witty, sensible societal outcasts. ‘Til Death Do Us Part is a wonderful addition to Quick’s body of work with enough of a mystery to keep her loyal readers excited.

If there’s one thing Calista Langley knows, it is the difficulty of introductions. Calista may effectively be “on the shelf” as a woman whose season has long passed, but that doesn’t mean she’s without skill. Calista’s introduction agency serves the best and brightest of the Ton. It particularly serves those looking for a push towards a romantic partner or friend that is best suited to their needs. Free of gold diggers and con artists, Calista provides members of the Ton a second chance at being understood.

[A fun Gothic romance ...]

Wed
Mar 16 2016 12:30pm

Dumplin’ and the Unapologetic Beauty of a Fat Heroine

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Fun Fact from Team H&H: Dumplin' was just named RT Magazine's Book of the Year. 

Beauty pageants are a world unto their own. We’ve seen the likes of Toddlers and Tiaras and several Miss America mishaps (thank you, Steve Harvey). Beauty pageants are a cultural focal point because they show the clash of so many different ideas: beauty, “traditional womanhood,” gender and its roles, reward, competition, and the quest for a good swimsuit.

Dumplin’ is an answer to that culture in the form of a character who is beautiful, difficult, fat, and worth every page she’s presented on. The book’s been lauded for a number of its successes and has also been optioned for film from Disney, which lends an interesting lens to the story and its components. I read this book knowing that it would be fun and important, but also with a question of what made something that seemed so counter-societal a viable choice for film option.

Also, there’s a lot of Dolly Parton love in it, and I’m game for anything that appreciates Dolly.

[Pull out all the Dolly Parton's hits ...]