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. Annette
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 13:29:55

    I want to thank Janine (and a couple other readers who chimed in to my request) for recs of angsty character-centric romances in November’s Open Thread.

    I’ve been embroiled in finishing my own WIP, so the reading is slow-going, but I’ve been enjoying Carolyn Jewel’s Scandal immensely. It’s EXACTLY what I was looking for – and Lordy, the hero is exactly what I love physically and emotionally. I wasn’t sure if this book would deliver on the emotional stuff, because I’d read Indiscreet months ago and though I knew Jewel’s writing was lovely, that book didn’t have the emotional depth I wanted and spent too much time (for me) on external events. But this book is luscious in its description, the backstory is dangled like a carrot, revealed in progressive glimpses that deepened the characterizations, made me understand the conflict and the heroine’s hesitations about their relationship, and tantalized me for more. And it was a lovely lesson in an unconventional structure. Jewel seems a master here, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. Thank you, Janine! I can’t wait to try another.

  2. Keziah Hill
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 13:53:42

    A book that’s doing well here in Australia is by Caroline Overington called Matilda is Missing. It’s not a romance, more in the style of Jodi Picolt and it has a really interesting narrative voice. In first person but with long excerpts from taped interviews of a marriage and subsequent child custody dispute. I liked it but had some problems with the ending.

  3. Janine
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 14:10:39

    @Annette: You’re welcome! Agreed, Scandal is more emotional than Indiscreet, though I enjoyed the latter very much too. I hope some of the others books I recommended work for you as well as this one.

  4. Las
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 14:58:31

    I discovered Miranda Neville last month. Both The Wild Marquis and The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton are the first and third book of that series, and I realy enjoyed them both. I have zero interest in the hero of the second book, so I’m on the fence about reading that one.

    Another new to me author was Alisha Rai, who I looked up when she commented on a thread here. I read Hot as Hades, which, after I got past some trying-too-hard-to-be-cute dialogue in the beginning, was a lot of fun. I’m looking through her backlist now for my next read.

    A B&N store near me has this new eye-catching display for Harlequins, where I noticed they had a Desire line I hadn’t heard of. I picked up Maya Banks Wanted by Her Lost Love, and liked it much so much I picked the the other book in the series, Enticed by His Forgotten Lover. I don’t know if it’s this particular line or the author, but both books had the fun guilty pleasure plots of HP’s (Secret babies! Amnesia! Gazillionaire heroes!), but featuring characters that would mostly speak and act like non-sociopaths and non-pathological dimwits. Win-win!

    Lastly, I had to DNF Beauty Dates the Beast. I was like 7/8 of the way through, but when I got to the point where I was seriously hoping that the “hero” and “heroine” would be eviscerated by the bad guys I called it a day. I think it was the first time that I actually took TSTL literally. And on a totally nitpick-y and superficial point–waist length hair in contemporary heroines is bad enough, don’t make it worse by also describing the heroine’s hair as “baby fine.” I couldn’t stop thinking how awful the heroine had to look.

  5. Michelle
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 15:09:26

    I have been on a fantasy kick. I really enjoyed Mercedes Lackey’s third installment of the Collegium Chronicles-Changes. Apparently some were upset that this wasn’t the end to a trilogy, and everything wasn’t wrapped up, but I really loved it.

  6. RebeccaJ
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 17:06:36

    Is Harlequin Desire simply the Silhouette Desire line retitled?

  7. library addict
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 17:13:51

    @RebeccaJ: Yes, they merged all of the series under the Harlequin umbrella, so Silhouette Desire is now Harlequin Desire. The same for Romantic Suspense, Special Edition, and Nocturne lines.

  8. RebeccaJ
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 17:46:10


  9. E.Rai
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 18:59:57

    I’m about half way through Vowed In Shadows by Jessa Slade #3 in the Marked Souls series. It’s a paranormal romance that’s reading like UF with romantic elements. This one made me think of the recent thread concerning race representation. The heroine is black with dreads….no refence to hot beverages yet! She also is a stripper who dances with a snake and a survivor of sexual abuse. Full of angst and action. This is a new to me author, but iI’ll be trying the previous books in the series. I’d love to know if anyone else has read these.

  10. JenM
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 19:41:34

    Just started The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, which I was very excited to read after some very favorable reviews. I’m about 1/3 in and it’s great. I’m not usually a YA reader, or a fantasy reader, but I’m really enjoying it.

    Another book that I just got and am very excited to read is Revenge is Sweet by Misty Evans. She wrote a short story in the Entangled anthology for Breast Cancer research that I really liked and this is a novel based on the same characters.

    Also picked up some good books in the sale that Carina Press had last month. Two shifter books that I really liked were Tempting the Enemy by Dee Tenorio and Hunting Human by Amanda Alvarez. In contemporaries, I finally read Undeniably Yours and Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacy (loved both of them), and a book called Boomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe that I absolutely loved. The lead character is an Aussie girl who comes to the States to marry a guy who wooed her over the internet, only to be fleeced of all her money and stranded in a small Wisconsin town at Thanksgiving. It makes her sound TSTL, but actually she’s funny, charming, down-to-earth, and her Aussie characterization rings completely true to me (I have two very close Aussie girlfriends).

    I’ve got such a backlog, that I’m really trying not to look at the new books coming out, but I know I’ll be grabbing Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews as soon as it comes out next week.

  11. Jennifer Estep
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 19:44:54

    I’m planning on getting Baby It’s Cold Outside by Addison Fox. I read the review here and thought it sounded like a fun contemporary. I also want to check out A Texas Christmas anthology and the Snowflakes and Stetsons anthology.

    Has anyone read Lindsay McKenna? I think her newest one, The Last Cowboy, looks interesting, but does anyone know if she writes more of a contemporary or a romantic suspense story? I like both genres, but I was just wondering.

  12. Kim
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 20:07:27

    I’m disappointed in the new direction that C.S. Harris is taking in her mystery series. The first few books were so good and the characterizations interesting, but the last few novels have been quite disappointing. I don’t care for the new romantic pairing and how the last book practically turned Hero into a ninja warrior. Her fight scene was so over the top that it bordered on ridiculous and is representative of my problems with the series. I just don’t care for novels where the author changes the love interest half-way through a series.

  13. John
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 21:53:42

    I got some romances from my library that I’m itching to read – The Duke and I by Julia Quinn and something by Eloisa James. I finally started making use of my public library and have been glomming it to no end. I’ve never read either author before, so I’m excited.

    I also picked up a lot of romances at a used book sale I help run for our marching band to raise money, and from there I’m particularly excited to read Visions in White by Nora Roberts (or her Key Trilogy…I’m deciding which I’m going to have be my first NR, and it’s daunting) and Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas (again, never read before.)

  14. BlueRose
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 03:44:08

    @John: The Key Trilogy was my first NR experience and Im still reading her many years later :) I was surprised that it had magic in it, was expecting straight romance, but several of her series do, and I enjoy them – the Hollows (Blood Brothers?) trilogy is a good one, and another one in Ireland.

    Visions in White is the first of a Quartet of books, and I particularly like it, they are good strong characters.

    You can’t go too far wrong either way :)

  15. Jayne
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 03:54:31

    @John: I’ve always heard good things about Roberts’s “Born in” trilogy as well as the Irish trilogy that (I think) starts with “Jewel of the Sun.”

    I think you’ve picked a good Julia Quinn to start with. I loved the first 5 or so Bridgerton novels and the rest aren’t bad.

  16. RB
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 06:51:29


    Oi! Heaps of women today have waist-length hair – me included!

    I know I don’t look “awful”, and I have it on good authority from many, many men that they much prefer long hair on women. Where I live there’re plenty of people who have it.

  17. Angela
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 08:58:41

    @John: The first 4 or 5 Bridgertons I loved, I just did a re-read of the series actually, and the rest were still good reads.

    I liked the Key trilogy better than the wedding quartet by NR, for what it’s worth, but I still enjoyed them both. My first NR was Carolina Moon – which sent me on a glom of her work.

    I’ve been making use of the library ebooks available to me lately – but have been getting books that I’m not really enjoying. First Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott – with the alternating first-person POVs and the wishy-washy heroine I just couldn’t really enjoy it.

    Then, Living on the Edge by Shannon Butcher – too many characters, too much backstory (and I still don’t understand what’s going on), and I’m still bored. It took me 5 days to get half way through. I give up.

    Hopefully, 3rd time’s a charm with library luck – I’ve got Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis now.

  18. Susan
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 09:35:14

    @E.Rai: E. Rai, I’ve read all three of Jessa Slade’s Marked Soul Series. I started with the first book, Seduced By Shadows, when it first came out. I loved it and couldn’t wait for the next ones to come out, which I equally loved. I can highly recommend all three books :)

  19. Janine
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 10:31:25

    @Las: After a slow start, I really enjoyed the second book in the Miranda Neville series. The hero undergoes some changes and becomes more likeable. The heroine, Diana, is my favorite of the heroines in the series.

    ETA: You can find my review here.

  20. Lada
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 11:06:09

    I’ve been on a fantasy kick and discovered the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. I want to love it but Toby is frustratingly incompetant (she’s a PI who can’t figure out the most basic clues…like “talk to the moon” means “talk to Luna”…grrr) and has the survival instincts of a gnat. At the same time, the writing is terrific with a well researched and developed mythology, fantastic secondary characters and intriguing world-building and I can’t seem to stop glomming!! It’s a solid author who can keep me reading a series when I want to shake the main character. I’m only on book three (of six) but there are definite hints of developing romance (though of course Toby hasn’t a clue).

    Is anyone else familiar with this author or series?

  21. JL
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 11:36:39

    I have a huge amount of love for the Toby Daye series, in spite of the incredible incompetence of her as a PI. The villain in book 2 was so obvious I wanted to cry. I really liked the latter books where there was more of a quest than mystery theme. Some really big changes happen in books 4 & 5. I think McGuire keeps getting better with each book, finding her rhythm with the plots. I really like how the back story to Toby and the other characters and the world itself unfolds slowly, but with payout.

    For me, this is a case of something so magical and special about these books that I easily overlook the problems. Toby is by far my favourite heroine ever in any series because she’s so wry and defeated, and playing the part of reluctant hero. And yet, she really is an idiot. Don’t get me started on Tybalt :)

    I’ve always felt that were I to start reviewing books, I would end up giving five stars to books like these that I can obsess over in spite of glaring problems, and 4 stars to books that are technically perfect and yet don’t inspire the same kind of fandom.

  22. Las
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 12:46:02

    @RB: It’s the ubiquity of waist-length hair in romance that bugs me. It’s such a lazy way of letting us know that the heroine is super feminine and all men find her desirable, even when it wouldn’t make any sense for a person to have hair that long, like when she’s in a physically demanding job (Nalini Singh likes to give her soldier heroines waist-length hair, WTF?), or she has baby-fine hair that, if it did manage to reach waist-length, would be full of split ends. It’s really not that big a deal, but it’s something I always notice, and if I really dislike a book I tend to get super annoyed at the small stuff.

    Yeah, I don’t care about accuracy when it comes to history or modern-day careers, but mess up the hair and I’m making it an issue. :D

  23. Las
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 12:53:26

    @Janine: Your review does make the book sound more appealing. I might give it a try. Thanks!

  24. BlueRose
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 13:00:16

    @Lada: Yes I read the October Daye series, and I nearly gave up after book 2 because she was so self destructive, constantly going to the edge of exhaustion, making stupid mistakes and generally flailing around making a huge mess of things.

    Book 3 was better and I have heard good things about 4 and 5 but havent read them.

    I met the author at Worldcon in Melbourne last year, she said she had the story arc already planned out to book 7 with room to go to 9 if the books continued to be popular enuf to justify the publisher cost, Which was interesting :)

  25. LG
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 13:05:21

    I keep reading books in which multiple characters are given names starting with the same letter, or group of letters (Julie, Julia, Julian, Juliette). Since I haven’t purposefully been trying to find books with this issue, it’s amazing to me how many I’ve come across by accident (only 3 so far, I guess, but so close together that it feels like more).

    I’m almost done reading a non-fiction book that I think could be enjoyed by romance readers and authors: On Apology by Aaron Lazare. Although I didn’t start reading it with my romance reader cap on, I couldn’t help but think of romance novels and novellas in which apologies (or grovelling) play an important part. The book dissects apologies: the purpose they serve for all parties, why they succeed, why they fail, etc. The thing that makes the book readable is the many, many specific examples the author uses – celebrity apologies, personal apologies for minor and major offenses, national apologies, and more.

  26. Ros
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 13:23:12

    I am mostly glomming Michelle Reid’s backlist of HP’s. Lovely. Pleasingly, I just read one where the h/h had unprotected sex and she didn’t get pregnant!

  27. GrowlyCub
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:57:32

    @Las: I liked book 2 much better than books one, for what it’s worth! :)

  28. Lada
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:30:22

    @JL: @BlueRose

    Thank you for the feedback!! I was so disappointed in book 2 (for the reasons you both point out) and I have serious reservations about Toby considering herself even a reluctant hero. While the third book was better, it’s good to know the series continues to improve and will be worth my time and money. :-)

    I hope more people discover (and have patience!) with this series. October Daye may not be my favorite fantasy heroine but Seanan McGuire has created a fabulous fantasy world well worth visiting.

  29. Marguerite Kaye
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 02:44:35

    I read The Crimson Rooms by Katherine McMahon and it was fabulous. Set in 1924, it’s about one of the first ever females to practice law in England. Evelyn has a huge guilt trip because if her brother hadn’t died in the war she wouldn’t have been allowed to go to university. She is haunted by her brother’s death, and stunned when a woman turns up claiming to be the mother of his child. In parallel with this, we see Evelyn’s unfolding romance with a fellow lawyer, and the two cases she’s involved in, a murder and a woman who’s trying to recover her children from care. The theme of loss and guilt runs through the whole book as the stories twist and turn and it’s enthralling, heart-wrenching and fabulously written.

    I also read my first Susanna Kearsley, Sophia’s Choice (The Winter Sea) and loved that too, so next on my list is Mariana

  30. Laura P
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 11:12:36

    I’ve read Susanna Kearsley’s “The Winter Sea”; it was wonderful…. I loved it!
    I can’t wait to read her other books….. The Rose Garden and Mariana.

    I just gave in to my curiosity and read Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James.
    I don’t usually read BDSM/Erotica, so I was worried I wouldn’t like this book. But after seeing so many raving reviews and hearing all the hype; I couldn’t resist…. I had to see what all the fuss was about….. LOL.

    I’ve read some really bad erotica books where there was little character and plot development…. just lots of explicit sex and vulgar language. But Fifty Shades of Grey turned out to be well written and the characters well-developed. I was instantly drawn into the lives of Christian and Ana. The author did a wonderful job writing this and the BDSM/erotica elements didn’t bother me at all. I will read the sequels to see what happens to Christian and Ana.

  31. Ollieuup
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 23:51:38

    Any recommendations for a YA book for my niece that reads alot? I found several and was about to buy a sci-fi book called, The Remnant: Through the Shroud by M. A. Oberg. Has anyone heard of this book?

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