Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. library addict
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 13:14:34

    I am behind the times, but I finally read Jill Shalvis’ Animal Magnetism series (Animal Magnetism, Animal Attraction, and Rescue My Heart). There’s a lack of real conflict in the first two books, but I liked all of the main characters a lot and am looking forward to book 4.

    I also enjoyed Christi Barth’s Planning for Love. The second book in the series, A Fine Romance I had some issues with. But I will continue reading this series as well.

  2. Jane
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 13:48:10

    @library addict – Shalvis writes some of the most likeable characters. Her conflicts usually fizzle out about the third chapter but because the characters are so fun to spend time with, you keep returning to her worlds.

  3. cleo
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 14:14:23

    I’m looking forward to K. A. Mitchell’s Bad Attitude, coming out in April.

    Although I think I need to get over this looking-forward-to-books-coming-out thing – lately the last few books I’ve been really, really looking forward to haven’t lived up to the hype. (I’m looking at you Family Man).

    On a non-romance note, I just finished Game Change (it was one sale at BN), the tell all story of the 2008 election – and omg, was it good.

  4. carmen webster buxton
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 15:15:11

    Possibly off topic but amusing, this site for English Lit majors copies the format of It’s pretty funny, but I noticed that unlike the dogs, they partially hide their faces with the signs. At least one student is a romance fan, but at least the books she read were historicals.
    Enlish Grad Student Shaming

  5. Jennifer Estep
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 15:29:18

    I read Poison by Bridget Zinn, which I saw a review of over at Supernatural Snark. It was a really cute, fun, epic fantasy young adult book. I was so sad to hear that the author had passed away before her book came out.

    This month, I’m looking forward to Love Irresistibly by Julie James. I also want to check out Also Known As by Robin Benway. I saw it reviewed here at Dear Author and thought that it sounded like a fun YA book.

  6. Estara Swanberg
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 16:59:12

    To all the fellow fans: Andrea Höst’s And All the Stars has been nominated for the 2012 Aurealis Award in both the Science Fiction Novel and Young Adult Novel categories.

    Considering they got 750 submissions for the award overall, I’d say that’s not too shabby for a self-published novel. It’s also the only self-published novel in its categories.

    Also, Stray, book 1 in her Touchstone Trilogy is currently available as an ebook for $1 – at Amazon, Kobo or Smashwords. There should be a new book out by her at the end of the month – YA fantasy Hunting.

  7. Elyssa Patrick
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 17:30:45

    I really like Jill Shalvis’ books a lot, too. She’s such a great author. Both Julie James’ LOVE IRRESISTIBLY and Shiloh Walker’s WRECKED are awesome contemporary romances. Both are sexy, smart, and just great reads for those who love contemp romances.

    I really loved J. Lynn’s WAIT FOR YOU, and I know if I see any NAs that interest me that I’ll be buying them. I keep stalking Tammara Webber’s website and on Amazon for order links for her next book.

    Oh, and I can’t wait to read Thea Harrison’s RISING DARKNESS and Kristen Ashley’s OWN THE WIND. I love Tabby in MOTORCYCLE MAN and am really looking forward to her story. Does anyone know how much time has passed between MM and OTW?

  8. LJD
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 17:53:11

    In April, I am looking forward to Julie James’ “Love Irresistably,” and Tessa Dare’s novella “Beauty and the Blacksmith.”

    I am currently reading “Devil’s Bride” and am completely confused as to why Stephanie Laurens is so popular. I have not read such a wall-banger romance in a very long time. The prose is atrocious, the sex scenes are too long, the mystery is transparent, the heroine has become unbearable and sticks her chin in the air more or less constantly, and I don’t know how I can’t stand another mention of the hero’s green eyes or his muscled chest….Yeah, really don’t get this one. And I don’t plan to try anything else by her since apparently all her books are the same.

  9. Megan S.
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 17:55:25

    Right post this time, hopefully!

    I read Mary Burchell’s A Song Begins a couple years ago when it was recommended here at DA, and I really enjoyed it. I recently found another Mary Burchell book (Elusive Harmony) at the used bookstore and read & liked that as well. In both books, I was impressed at the portrayal of how much work it takes to survive, let alone thrive, in the high-pressure opera world. I was gripped by the artistic stakes more so than the romantic stakes–though I did like the romances in both books, particularly in A Song Begins–and in whether the characters were being fulfilled as artists.

    It was a quality of character-building that I don’t really find often, and I’d love to find more of that–of protagonists working hard at their art and not just coasting by on talent alone, where the artistic struggle isn’t primarily/necessarily a financial one but also training and voice-finding and discovering oneself as an artist, where the artistic community is important–in romances. Any recommendations, beyond reading the rest of Burchell’s Warrender saga? :) And it doesn’t have to be opera–there have to be some Victorian romances set in music halls, right?–or even music at all. I just feel like I’m missing out on the fully-rounded artistic romance protagonists who aren’t just lone, misunderstood artistic geniuses. (Or I’m just burned-out from trying countless contemporaries where a character being in a rock band simply means there’ll be conflict about groupie sex later in the book, and zero to do with actual love of music performance.)

  10. Ros
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:02:38

    @Elyssa Patrick: I have no idea, but I know Sarah and Jane discussed the time gap from MM to OTW in the last podcast.

  11. Loosheesh
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:04:08

    @Elyssa Patrick: “I really loved J. Lynn’s WAIT FOR YOU, and I know if I see any NAs that interest me that I’ll be buying them. I keep stalking Tammara Webber’s website and on Amazon for order links for her next book.” – Big Ditto to all this! I was on TW’s site even this morning, lol. I really liked WfY and I want to read the next book in the series (Be With You) though I have no idea when it’s coming out. Have you tried Ten Tiny Breaths? Very intense; very good.

    I’m always on the lookout for good NAs so recs are always appreciated. I’ve been eyeing Jasinda Wilder’s Falling Into You for days now and I know very soon I’ll abandon all self-restraint and buy it already. For upcoming releases, it’s most definitely Love Irresistibly; I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER!

    And speaking of self-restraint, I give up: I’ve decided to try Kristen Ashley (this time I really mean it :P). Which series should I start with?

  12. Elyssa Patrick
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:18:35

    Oh, thanks, Ros! I haven’t listened to the podcast yet. I always forget its name on iTunes. Boo on me.

    @Loosheesh, I think we may be NA reading buddies! I’m pretty excited that the new Webber book will focus on R/D/B and I’m assuming someone new for B? And I really can’t wait to see what she has in store after that.

    I have TEN TINY BREATHS since forever, but haven’t yet read it. I’ll have to do so this week. Jasinda’s book looks good—I’m pretty sure I bought that one, or that I will be doing so pretty soon. I also really liked Julie Bale’s THE STILLNESS OF YOU (in full disclosure: Julie’s a friend but I totally would not rec a book I didn’t like!).

    As to Kristen Ashley, I’d probably start with MOTORCYCLE MAN. That was the one of hers that I really liked and the daughter of MM’s hero is the heroine in OWN THE WIND.

  13. cleo
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:26:54

    @Megan S.: Finding romances that get artists right is tricky, imo.

    I think Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James does a pretty good job of what you ask for – it’s a Regency and a lot of the plot revolves around writing an opera. The hero (an Earl, of course) is struggling to finish writing a commissioned opera. His estranged wife, a pianist and composer (and the heroine), wants to divorce so she can have a baby – so he makes a deal with her. Move back with him for a month, have sex so she can get pregnant, and help him write the opera. Oh, and his opera singer mistress is still living with him (although they’re not sleeping together anymore), and she sings the lead. It sounds like a WTF set up (and it is) but I thought the collaboration between the h/h really worked.

    And, just fyi, some readers hate this book because of the adultery (he doesn’t commit adultery during the book but he definitely was unfaithful in the past) but I love it – I like romances where the h/h have to work together to figure out their hea. And somehow the WTF plot works for me.

  14. hapax
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:42:11

    @Jennifer Estep: Oh dear, I had no idea Bridget Zinn had died! That’s a shame; POISON was great good fun (I was grabbing people and reading passages aloud at them), and I was looking for more by her.

    @Megan S. : the Warrender Saga are, for the most part, DIK for me. You might like the Jane Aiken Hodge opera books FIRST NIGHT and LAST ACT and Eva Ibbotsen’s lovely ballet story A COMPANY OF SWANS.

  15. Jane
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:42:15

    @Elyssa Patrick & @Loosheesh – I thought Ten Tiny Breaths was pretty good although a little effed up in the end. I wished it had ended on a different place.

    The Stillness of you is an NA? I’ve been wanting to read another good NA.

    Loosheesh – let us know what you think of the Jacinda Wilder book.

  16. Elyssa Patrick
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:54:40

    It is, Jane! And the hero is a hotshot hockey star. The characters are 22/25. I think you’ll like it. Hopefully. Don’t shoot me if you don’t.

  17. Lada
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:57:08

    I’ve been under the weather a lot lately and the only good thing about it is that I had time to read! I ended up in a historical mood which I haven’t been in a very long time and thanks to the DA review, I read my first Georgette Heyer and thoroughly enjoyed The Talisman Ring . It certainly won’t be my last and I know someday I’ll go on a Heyer glom.

    Then I felt like digging deep into my tbr pile and came up with Penelope Williamson’s medieval Keeper of the Dream . I found this book so-so and would have enjoyed it more without the unnecessary fantasy element which added nothing except an unlikeable Jar-Jar Binks-like character. But the medieval setting was so enjoyable (and it’s been so long since I’ve gone there) I had to reread Judith McNaught’s A Kingdom of Dreams . Royce Westmoreland anyone? Sigh. Even though Jennifer can get annoying, it’s still a great book. Does anyone know why none of McNaught’s backlist have been digitized?

    Sticking with the medieval theme but needing something lighthearted after those two I went with Amanda Quick’s Desire which I hadn’t read before. Classic Quick and fun read.

    Now I’m looking forward to getting back to contemporaries and am looking forward to Julie James. I’ve never read Shiloh Walker before but Wrecked sounds intriguing.

  18. Sunita
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 19:00:07

    @Megan S.: I definitely encourage you to get all of the Warrender Saga books, but then I’ve read them all multiple times. There is one, Song Cycle, that revolves around the composition of an opera about the end of WW2 and the fate of Displaced Persons, that is really well done. The heroine desperately wants the role, the hero/composer loves her but then is torn between her and an unknown who brings her personal experience to the role. It’s poignant and wonderful.

    I think Carrie Lofty has written a historical set in Vienna that has either a composer or a singer as a main character? I can’t remember the details, but I think it got pretty good reviews and depicts the demands of artistry with thoughtfulness.

    ETA: There’s no doubt in Song Cycle of who the heroine is, it’s that the hero is divided between his desire to make the heroine happy and to do justice to his work.

  19. Tina
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 19:04:12

    My favorite book I read in March was Escorted by Claire Kent. Had no expectations of it really and so pleasantly surprised I have been talking it up to everybody.

    Funny thing…the cover art of that book is distinctive but apparently it must be stock photo? B/c the exact same cover art is on a billboard near my house advertising an adult shop. Buses Welcome!

    Most part my reading for March was a bit of a dud. Did like Raid by Kristen Ashley though. Much more than I did Knight.

    But Maybe Shelley Laurenston’s Wolf With Benefits will salvage the month for me.

    For April. Looking ridiculously forward to Own The Wind. I was bummed when I finished Motorcycle Man because it was my favorite of the series so for me the series is at a high point and I can’t wait to see what happens with Tabby.

    Also ridiculously looking forward to Julie James. I just love her brand of smart contemporary.

    And finally, Seressia Glass has a Harlequin Nocturne out Seducing the Jackal. She is a fave of mine because she gives good story and I am always on the look out for a heroines of color.

  20. Vi Dao
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 19:58:04

    I am a new reader of m/m romances and have discoverered the cracktastic Cut & Run series. The angst-ridden Touch & Geaux is one of the books I am most looking forward to read in April.

  21. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 20:34:55

    I can’t remember the last time I commented on one of these threads. Here are a few stories I’ve enjoyed so far this year:

    Still Into You by Roni Loren
    High Risk by Vivian Arend
    Snowbound with a Stranger by Rebecca Rogers Maher
    Strange Bedfellows by Q. Kelly (about a closeted lesbian and a prostitute)
    Business with Pleasure by Keziah Hill (f/f/m)
    The God of War by Marisa Silver (not romance)

    Big Boy by Ruthie Knox is my favorite so far. I loved How to Misbehave, too.

  22. Ashley
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 20:46:37


    Escorted was one of the best books I read in March too. Such a good read. I also so the cover photo somewhere else, but on another book cover not a billboard.

    Another book that I just loved (loved, loved, loved!) is Eleanor and Park. I know it’s not a romance novel, but I can’t say enough good things about it. I’ve been recommending it to everybody.

  23. Jolie Jacq
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 22:22:33

    Long time lurker, first time commenter. I read Melissa Ford’s “Life from Scratch” at the end of last year and just loved it. The sequel, “Measure of Love” is due to be published in April and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I’m in Australia, so I hope we’re included in that release date.

  24. Kris Bock
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 22:42:42

    Courtney Milan got me through a nervous lead up to a medical procedure, and recovery after. I had a free e-book for The Governess Affair, then had to buy the first in the series, and then reread the next one, which I already had on my Kindle. As a writer, I admire how seamless her work is – it’s hard to analyze how her books work, because her technique is so smooth and subtle. As a reader, I just get absorbed in the story.

    I also reread an old Barbara Michaels, Wait for What Will Come. It didn’t quite stand up to my memory, but it’s still a fun, spooky Gothic.

  25. Marianne McA
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 03:54:28

    I read ‘A little Folly’ by Jude Morgan after the review here, and I really enjoyed it – lent it to my mum, who seems to be enjoying it too.

    I’m currently waiting for Maureen Johnson’s second ‘Shades of London’ book – it comes out in the UK on Thursday.

  26. Jayne
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 04:34:54

    @Ashley: Yeah, “Eleanor and Park!” Rowell certainly doesn’t write same-old, same-old. I’m all excited because her site lists another book due out this fall called “Fangirl.”

  27. Jayne
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 04:42:14

    @Marianne McA: I’m glad you liked the Jude Morgan book and that your mother is liking it too (so far.) I keep waiting for the 3rd book in the Maureen Johnson’s Scarlett Martin series but so far no joy…

  28. Estara Swanberg
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 06:42:31

    @Megan S.:
    The Carrie Lofty recommended her was a Carina Press release, I think, Song of Seduction.

    But when you described what you were looking for (I’ve got several books in the Warrender saga still TBR, hehe), I actually thought of manga first:
    Non-complete (due to DC shutting their manga arm CMX down) SWAN – which is about as dramatic an experience of a ballet manga as is possible in the medium, as well as being a classic.
    And the long-running story about music students.

  29. Sunny
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 06:44:20

    I’m still fairly new to a lot of romance authors so I’ve been on a Bridgerton glom after reading Julia Quinn’s “It’s In His Kiss”. I loved it, so now I’m going through the series in order, although I’ll definitely have to re-read now knowing what I do about the other characters. I definitely didn’t feel like I was jumping in halfway, however, and I really love that about authors with recurring characters.

    I’m currently on heavy painkillers and anything but books are impossible to concentrate on, so my backlist is finally getting worked through. I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable if I hadn’t found several authors to read through the backlists of, and I’m seriously considering re-reading Steven Erikson’s Malazan Empire series with all of the new side books read in order as well. Of course, I think 4 or 5 books on my wishlist have April releases, so we’ll see how far I get.

  30. Jennifer Estep
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 08:37:16

    @hapax: I enjoyed the book too, and I was very sad to hear about her passing. If you go to her website, you can read more about the author.

  31. Mireya
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 12:42:19

    I LOVE Julia Quinn’s. Like you, the first book of hers I read was out of order (in my case, “To Sir Phillip, with Love”) I didn’t feel that I was missing on anything, but I absolutely had to grab every single one of the titles in her series. Her latest book (in the Smyth-Smythe series) wasn’t that much to my liking, but nonetheless, the vast majority of her work that I’ve read I can say I have enjoyed. I am on a re-read spree of the Bridgertons.

    As to what I am looking forward to, the third installment of Eloisa James “With this Kiss” serial (so that I can read the whole thing back to back), Thea Harrison’s first book in her new series (“Rising Darkness”) which I am hoping is not more UF than R, “Roses in Moonlight” by Lynn Kurland (hoping I’ll like it better than her latest one. She’s another author I love), and “The Handbook to Handling his Lordship” by Suzanne Enoch (though she’s a bit on the hit or miss department for me). I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump (hence the re-reading of an old favorite series). I’ve been also rather busy replacing the print copies of my TBR pile with e-book versions. I live in an apartment so space is at a premium. It has been time consuming, as my budget for books can only go so far, and I procrastinated with the organization of my ebook collection… but I digress.

  32. JenM
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:58:26

    Definitely my favorite book in March was The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. I picked it up after reading a review on The Book Smugglers. Since I rarely read SciFi, this book totally took me by surprise, but I think I liked it because there was a very nice romance in there between two characters who actually acted like mature adults (the lead male character will totally remind you of Spock) and it wasn’t a space opera type book. It’s kind of a road trip/cultural anthropology/romance story. Now I’m trying to find others like it.

  33. Li
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:44:26

    @JenM: I picked up the Karen Lord book as Amazon UK had a sale (it’s £1.19 at the moment if any UK Kindle readers are interested) and I remembered reading good things about it. Will have to bump it up my TBR pile now.

  34. Juliana Stone
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 15:50:04

    So, I guess I need to read Own The Wind????? I’ve been reading about these MC books forever and I think I am gonna take the plunge and buy a couple. Which should I start with?

    I read Wait For You as well, by J. Lynn and really enjoyed it. If you like NA it’s a good one to read. March was a month where I re-read a lot of books SEP and The Bronze Horseman, but I need some new blood.

  35. Kristi
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 15:52:52

    I’ve been re-reading Nalini Singhs psy-changeling series, LOVE her. I’m excited for Thea Harrison’s Rising Darkness and hope it is as good as the Elder Race series.

  36. Loosheesh
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 19:36:32

    @Elyssa Patrick: Thanks for the rec! Will definitely check out The Stillness of You. I came across Relentless (by Cassia Leo) about a week ago; I haven’t bought it (yet :P) but I read the sample and it looked good.

    In addition to Escorted (which is mentioned here), I started Mystery Man today; I’m 20% in and Hawk is so getting on my nerves, “Babe”.

    I feel like I’m the only one not interested in Thea Harrison’s new series. I read the description for Rising Darkness and I couldn’t work up any desire to try it. And the new Elder Races book coming out in November? I’ll buy it but I’m not looking forward to it; I can’t stand Aryal, grrr.

  37. Nikki
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 20:10:29

    I want to recommend Anne Bishop’s new book Written in Red. I had completely given up on her as an author after her last few books but found this to be enjoyable and worth more than one read. It was not perfect, but it definitely held my interest far more than anything I read for the rest of the month.

    I am looking forward to Shelly Laurenston’s next book right now.

  38. Susan
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 20:57:17

    @Megan S.: My favorite music-themed book isn’t a romance but a historical mystery: Kate Ross’s 4th (and final) Julian Kestrel book, The Devil in Music. I think this book benefits from the foundation of the first 3 books, tho, so you’d probably have to start at the beginning if you’re interested. That said, it’s a very worthwhile series.

  39. hapax
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 21:26:45

    @Susan — I loved loved LOVED the Julian Kestrel books. Another author who passed too young; and I still occasionally wonder about the unfinished plot threads running through that series.

  40. Sora
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 22:40:30

    I haven’t been reading much in the last year or so. Or rather, I picked up some books and ended up not finishing them or just skimming through them.

    Recent reads that I enjoyed:
    – Chris Nickson’s Come the Fear (No. 4 in his Richard Nottingham series). I find myself reading these books more because of the characters and the 18th century Leeds setting.
    – Meghan Nuttal Sayres’s Night Letter. Sequel to Anahita’s Woven Riddle

    Despite being bored with lots of books lately, I’m looking forward to the following (I’m sure there are more titles that I forget to list below….) :
    – Mark Lawrence’s Emperor of Thorns. For some reasons, I wish the title could have been Empire of Thorns.
    – Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves. October 2013. *Finally* after 6 years and confirmed by the author and the publishers.
    – if the author is feeling prolific this year, David Blixt’s The Prince’s Doom. I’m still reeling from the double dose of Voice of the Falconer and Fortune’s Fool, both out last year. And I miss Pietro and Cesco and would like to read more about them, even if I have a feeling that this next book is probably going to break my heart.

    Trying to read:
    J. G. Harlond’s The Chosen Man. Either it’s the kindle formatting or my kindle-to-epub conversion went wrong, I have a hard time reading this as I keep stopping myself when I realize this paragraph I’m currently reading and the paragraph that comes before it are actually in two different scenes.

  41. Elyssa Patrick
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 23:44:10

    @Loosheesh: Oh thanks! I accidentally bought the book instead of clicking the sample. I shouldn’t be allowed on Amazon after midnight, lol.

    And those Kate Ross books are so good!

  42. Aisha
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 03:31:56

    I’ve never posted here before, and I apologise in advance for the long post and the rant (to some extent) but I have become increasingly frustrated by how too many writers, who are otherwise quite good, interesting and/or enjoyable treat ‘Africa’ in their work. Most recently I have been reading Patricia Briggs older Mercy Thompson books and Darryl, the half-Chinese, half-African (just in that some of the problems I am having are implicit – China is a country, a very big one yes but still, and Africa is a very disparate CONTINENT) second, whose father is described as an ‘African Tribesman’. What does that mean exactly? It reads to me like shades of Edward Said’s Orientalism.

    But Briggs is not the only writer who has offended me in this – Ruthie Knox, in her recent novella, had her female protaganist
    (possible SPOILER)
    [spoiler]have her crisis of faith largely as a result of the horrors she witnesses when she is in the midst of a study/internship abroad in Cape Town.[/spoiler]
    (SPOILER ENDS – sorry, not sure how to format this )
    Why was this necessary? Is there no poverty, inequality and suffering in America? Or is that too close to home?

    Other examples of otherwise good writers who I have had issues with here are Jo Beverly and, I can’t recall her name, but she wrote a historical set in South Africa, one in a series about heirs that were set different tasks in order to inherit. Both writers were deficient in the historical accuracy of their work in these books (for which they are otherwise I think justly lauded). Beverly, in her first Rogues book, sent Nicholas to South Africa (and I apologise to the author if I am recalling this incorrectly but I read it a long time and many books ago) but somehow, in the early 1800s, he ended up in Johannesburg – which did not exist until the latter part of the century and is anyway very much landlocked, located as it is on the Highveld, very far from either of the two ports (at the Cape, and what is now Durban) that ships would have likely docked at. The other book was, I think, (but I could not read the book after my initial discomfort with it, so perhaps this criticism is unjustified) inaccurate in its depiction of slavery in the Cape. Most slaves were ‘imported’ by the Dutch from their colonies in South East Asia and ‘local’ slaves, where they existed, were drawn from the Khoisan population, not generally from the Bantu speaking populations, which the author seemed to be characterising in her opening scene. My discomfort with this was admittedly disproportionate, but slavery is emotive subject matter and its after-effects linger.

    Apologies again for the very long post.

  43. Aisha
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 03:44:27

    Addendum to my previous post:
    While I may be critical here of these authors I commend them for, at the very least, acknowledging that that sort-of triangular shaped mass in the middle of the maps exists. I think many more writers are too uncomfortable, due maybe to a lack of knowledge, to even begin to do so.

  44. cleo
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 05:34:25

    @Megan S.: Thought of another one – The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie. It’s an older Crusie – a contemporary about a painter. The heroine is an artist and a lot of the book focuses on her working to find her voice as an artist / develop her painting style. There’s a slightly unrealistic bit with an art gallery towards the end of the book, but for the most part I think Crusie gets it right.

    Oh, and Faking It by Crusie also features a painter finding her voice (among other things – lot of stuff going on in Faking It).

  45. leslie
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 11:05:55

    @Loosheesh: You are not alone. I am not even going to bother reading Thea Harrison’s new series. I don’t like Aryal either and I can’t believe she gets her own book, a novella maybe, but a whole book!? Bummer.

  46. Loosheesh
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 17:48:11

    @leslie: Exactly! And I hate that TH paired that witch, excuse me, harpy with Quentin, who’s the only reason I’ll even get the book. I’ve wanted to read his story from day one.

    I finished Escorted last night and what a great read! So pleased I picked it up when it was free last month. I’m also 40% into Mystery Man and Gwen just found out she’s, um, filler …

  47. Estara Swanberg
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 11:59:15

    @Aisha: I can’t vouch for it by my own experience, but I do know that Elizabeth Wein did her Aksum/Arthurian series in connection with a study trip to current Ethiopia, so maybe those might be books you’d enjoy acknowledging Africa? The African part starts with A Coalition of Lions.

  48. Aisha
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 14:04:38

    @Estara: thank you for that. However, please note, I was not in any way claiming that there are no books that deal well with some kind of African setting or influence. It just seems to me that more mainstream romance has trouble with this. But of course there are wonderful books by great writers (Chinua Achebe, Ngugi, Mongane Serote, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Andre Brink, Zakes Mda, Adichie, Armah, Fanon, el Saadawi, etc etc). Other writers, not from the continent, that I have enjoyed include Barbara Kingsolver and Alexander McCall-Smith… But not much romance…

  49. Jill Sorenson
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 14:34:25

    @Aisha: Kiru Taye has a historical romance series set in Africa with tribal characters. Looks interesting.

  50. Aisha
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 14:55:36

    Thanks :)

  51. wikkidsexycool
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 19:32:04

    Hi Aisha,

    My books are self pubbed, but I will have one out this summer that features an older woman, younger male romance. The male lead immigrated from Somalia. The female lead is returning to college and he teaches at the school she attends. The title is MAKE ME YOURS.

    I’ve also got a historical romance set in 1861 Japan, with African and African American characters that will be out next week. The title of the ebook is GAIJIN.

    But this is where I think self publishing can work to add diversity, and that’s why I decided to write.

  52. Laura Florand
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 20:46:13

    I picked up Theresa Weir’s Girl with the Cat Tattoo from the DABWAHA list of novellas and loved it. The cat POV is priceless. I guess it’s light on the romance in a way since all the best parts are told from the cat’s POV, but it’s still definitely a happy romance and so unique and charming. I highly recommend.

  53. leslie
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 21:38:43

    @Laura Florand: Me too. The cover is wonderful.

  54. Aisha
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 01:40:31

    @wikkidsexycool: Thanks. I tend not to even consider self-pubbed books without strong recommendations since poor editing can really ruin the reading experience for me. Not that I’m implying that is the case with your books of course :).

    Anyway, my larger point was that there is something off about the way in which ‘Africa’ is represented in mainstream traditional publications, that is reflective, at best, of poor knowledge, and at worst, of racist disregard.

  55. Mark Lawrence
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 16:17:52

    @Sora – oddly my title was ‘Empire of Thorns’, by the time I noticed that Emperor had worked its way into the publisher’s system it was too late to change it.

  56. Megan S.
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 11:26:22

    @Cleo: Your Wicked Ways sounds right up my alley, WTF plot and all. I love “where the h/h have to work together to figure out their hea” too. And thank you for the Crusie recs as well! I’ve read and enjoyed Faking It, but I haven’t yet read The Cinderella Deal.

    @hapax: Oooh, I love A Company of Swans, and I’ll look for the Jane Aiken Hodge books, too. Thank you!

    @Sunita: I just bought a copy of Song Cycle–it sounds wonderful!–and I’m definitely going to keep reading the Warrender saga. It hits a sweet spot I never knew I had.

    @Estara Swanberg: Oh, that’s the Carrie Lofty book I have in my TBR. I’ll be sure to get to that. And I hadn’t even thought to look at manga, so thank you. I’ll check those out!

    @Susan: I’ve been meaning to read the Julian Kestrel books, as I’ve heard only good things about them, and it’s nice to know there’s a music-themed installment. Thanks for the recommendation!

  57. Megan S.
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 12:04:44

    @Aisha: Thanks for this comment. I haven’t read any of those particular books, but I share those and similar frustrations.

    And this: “My discomfort with this was admittedly disproportionate, but slavery is emotive subject matter and its after-effects linger.” Yes! I can understand a historical romance author’s need to not adhere perfectly to facts, but oh goodness, there are some really negative implications when it comes to history of people who are already marginalized. Incomplete research or not caring to recognize the details & diversity is yet another signal of disrespect with a side helping of “who cares? this is just the exotic scenic backdrop to two white people falling in love!” Ugh.

    Tangential to this, I had a cringe-and-recoil reaction to a blurb I read yesterday.:

    New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn takes readers into Africa during the height of British colonialism, to meet a man as wild as the land he loves in this prequel novella….

    Kenya, 1918

    Ryder White is Canadian by birth but African by choice. He is more at home in the wilds of the savannah, shooting and sleeping his way across the continent, than amongst the hedonistic colonists of Kenyan society.

    In a landscape where one false move can cost a man his life, Ryder’s skill as a guide is unparalleled, but only the rich or royal can afford his services. When a European prince hires Ryder to help him hunt an elusive jaguar Ryder thinks it’s just another well-paying job with yet another spoiled voyeur. But this perilous journey is full of dangers that may change Ryder forever….

    Ryder returns in A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn, where he encounters a woman from a very different world, to explore beauty and darkness and what is truly worth fighting for.

    African by choice? With all that “shooting and sleeping his way across the continent,” Africa’s sure lucky to have him! :/ Especially given that white guy White is the bestest guide. (And with the “a woman from a very different world” and the cringe-worthy attribution of “beauty and darkness,” I thought that maybe the sequel features an interracial romance, which would present a new set of challenges & possible-pitfalls in this setting, but would at least be featuring a woman of color, but based on the sequel’s blurb, it sounds like the heroine’s a rich white girl. Okay, then.)

    (And I know blurbs aren’t often representative of their books, and that they’re written by marketing departments and not authors, but this blurb just struck me as aggressively offensively “white people’s fantasy of being noble white people in Africa.”)

  58. Aisha
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 12:40:23

    @Megan S.: :( now i’m embarrased, because I think I recommended Ms Raybourn’s mystery series on another thread. I really don’t know what to say to this, but possibly the least (?) offensive is that jaguars are South American not African – this is not a possibly subjective interpretation of latent bias/bigotry but fact. Interpret this apparent error as you will. As to the rest, to give the author the benefit of doubt, the blurb could be misleading, but this story has certainly been done before and it has never failed, in my experience, to be condecending rubbish.

  59. Megan S.
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 21:53:34

    @Aisha: And I hadn’t even realized the jaguar aspect. That’s significant. :/

  60. wikkidsexycool
    Apr 01, 2013 @ 08:54:44

    Megan S and Aisha,

    I’m glad to see this trope of the “man who defies conventions” mentioned here. I last saw it in the film Australia, where Hugh Jackman played a hard drinking, hard fighting manly man whose deceased love was Aborginal, thus he was considered an outcast in proper society. Yet he still managed to put on a tuxedo and woo Nicole Kidman, so he couldn’t have been too much of an outcast. But it also shows how the rogue in times past and even present is crafted as one who mingles with minority cultures, somehow making them appear dangerous and even more off limits (but stud worthy and attractive) to the main heroine. I like Megan’s point about how this male trope cuts a swarth by bedding women of two different cultures (yet many times the women of color are simply side notes). Ultimately, these bad boys are either tamed by the cool, collected and wealthy heroines of their same race.

    Though I do recall in some older Hollywood movies the main lead would choose a Native American female by the end of the film. It didn’t happed often, but there are exceptions. Though I have to add that in many older Hollywood films the Native American female was played by a non-minority actress. Contrasting a male lead with a female in many romance novels that feature a woman as a captive, and often times she ultimately chooses to stay with the Native American warrior who looked almost identical to Fabio on the book cover.

    In any event, this is and probably will continue to be a popular trope. Perhaps the biggest rogue of them all was Tarzan, who ultimately was named King of the Jungle simply because, well, he was Tarzan :)

  61. Jayne
    Apr 01, 2013 @ 18:02:13

    @Megan S.: @Aisha: I just started reading this and the blurb is incorrect. The Prince is after a leopard and Ryder agrees to it for certain reasons.

  62. Megan S.
    Apr 01, 2013 @ 18:44:27

    @wikkidsexycool: Ah, yes, Tarzan, the biggest rogue of them all. :)

    And a big yes to your Australia example, and to your point about the construction of a rogue relying on that transgression of a minority culture. I can understand why this trope survives so well in the romance genre, and not simply because it’s a sometimes assumed genre requirement for a hero to be A Most Exceptional Man. If the heart of romance is two (or more, in some cases) individuals breaching their personal boundaries with one another, and finding life is better that way, then it’s extra-appealing to break down social boundaries too while we’re at it. Recognition that love isn’t necessarily a matter of like-meeting-like = awesome! But it’s uncomfortable when those social boundaries are only racialized or only simplistically racialized, and when they’re presented in a way that assumes the reader is primarily sympathizing with the convention-defying-white-person rather than the people systematically (rather than individually) marginalized by society.

    @Jayne: Thanks for the information, and I’m glad to know it was corrected in the book (and the official blurb as well).

  63. Lada
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 13:03:30

    @Nikki: Thanks for this, Nikki. I gave up on Bishop too after how she ended the Black Jewels series (I read the spoiler review here at DA and never bothered with the actual book). Sounds like her new series might be worth checking out although I’ll be waiting for the $12.99 price to drop.

    @Laura Florand: I just started Teresa Weir’s Bad Karma and am enjoying it so far. She’s got a great contemporary voice. Maybe I’ll go on a mini Weir glom and follow it up with The Girl with the Cat Tatoo which sounds like fun.

  64. leslie
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 15:52:49

    Looking forward to Lauren Willig’s new book which comes out on the 9th of April. It’s called The Ashford Affair and I know it’s going to be good!

  65. Jennifer Essad
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 11:45:25

    I have been reading romance since my early teens, I appreciate all the talented newer writers. These sites are so helpful, giving us such wonderful insight to the authors and their stories. I’ve had my favorite writers, like Katherine Stone, Elizabeth Lowell, Sandra Brown and a few more, but all of you on this site make me want to read all the time! It’s extraordinary to find you all so willing to help each other out and that makes me even a greater fan!

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