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 24, 2013 @ 14:48:18

    I am having a TERRIBLE several months of bad luck in my reading with the exception of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Actually, I’ve begun to wonder if it’s me or the books. I’ve DNF’d several historical romances, and I tried a couple contemporary romances but was less than enamored with both. The DNF’s were either from boredom or eye rolling. Currently reading Water for Elephants and loving it, but I’m looking forward to getting back into genre romance. Can anyone suggest a contemporary romance (or women’s fiction with strong romantic thread) that is meaty, realistic, and pretty high on the angst scale? I like characters who are essentially good people trying to do their best in rotten circumstances, and I love books which really delve into character. I also favor books which explore some aspect of healing – whether emotional or physical. My favorite historical romance authors are Kinsale, Balogh, and Carolyn Jewel, and I’ll throw in Diana Gabaldon (though her series is more historical than romance and it became too much for me after the first 4). I don’t have enough contemporary under my belt to tell you a favorite author there.

    Any recs would be greatly appreciated.

  2. library addict
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 15:51:17

    I’ve had a terrible month for reading in that I’ve had/made no time for it. I did enjoy Cindy Gerard’s The Way Home and Nora Roberts’ The Dark Witch as well as Shannon Stacey’s Snowbound with the CEO. I have the new Jill Shalvis, Rescue My Heart, at the top of my TBR pile.

    For December, I am anxiously awaiting Shannon Stacey’s latest Kowalski book, Love a Little Sideways which I plan to read when it releases on Tuesday. Kat Latham’s second book (novella Mine Under the Mistletoe) is another I plan to read straight away. The last of C.H. Admirand’s Small Town USA trilogy releases as well. I really enjoyed the first book, though the second was a bit disappointing. I have high hopes for the third.

    I plan to read a bunch of Christmas novellas in December.

    With Kobo’s mega reusable coupon sales this year my TBR pile is out of control. So I need to stop buying books until I’ve read some of the ones I’ve got.

  3. Jolie Jacq
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 16:14:13

    @Annette if you like Jojo Moyes, have you read ‘The Girl You Left Behind’ or ‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’? They both fit the description of what you’re looking for and they were five star reads for me.

  4. srs
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 16:34:30

    I’ve just had a terrible month, period. That has spilled over into reading in that I 1) have almost no time and 2) almost no patience. Even tried and true comfort reads aren’t all that comforting right now and I find I’m putting them down after 20-30 pages. The one book that I did read and enjoy was Kinked. I think that maybe because all the stuff going on in my personal life has me feeling on edge and jumpy, I enjoyed reading about a heroine who is also edgy and prickly.

    Most of December is also going to be hellaciously busy and stressful, but I’m looking forward to having a few days off around Christmas. We have a 6hr train ride each way to the in-laws and I can’t wait to read something that isn’t for school or work. Does anyone have any recs that are kinda dark and edgy without being overly gory? I think I’m going to give Nalini Singh’s Archangel series another try. I’m (somewhat reluctantly) addicted to her psi/changeling books, but couldn’t get into the first Archangel one on my first try. I think the hero was way too alpha and the world too violent for me, but I’m going to give it another shot as it seems suited to my current mood.

  5. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 16:49:52

    @Annette: You might try Victoria Dahl’s Jackson series, particularly Close Enough to Touch. I don’t know about “meaty” but I found it real, character-driven, angsty, mature and all about healing.

  6. leslie
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 16:50:37

    @srs: You might check out Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series…..odd but somehow compelling.
    I loved Kinked…..I didn’t think I would, but man oh man that book was hot!

  7. Ros
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 17:35:54

    @Annette: Annette, I think you’d love Laura Florand’s Snow-Kissed.

  8. Amanda
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 17:53:14

    I hope to get to read No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean soon but I might wait until the Thanksgiving festivities are over. I am trying not to go overboard buying books the next month so I can save for holiday buying but it will be difficult not to take advantage of book holiday sells when they pop up.

  9. Ros
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 18:05:37

    I’m looking forward to the next Chocolate book from Laura Florand and the Cosmo read from Sarah Morgan. Though I’ll be waiting a week or two after the release dates just in case there’s a price drop.

  10. DB Cooper
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 20:15:37

    Author names and character names…

    More than once I’ve seen reviews decrying the author “writing themselves into the story” by giving one of the characters the same name, or the same pen name, etc. I tend to side with such opinions but…

    …I’m wondering what do readers (and reviewers) here think if a character that share the same first name as the author? If the author never implies any meta-fiction through connection (such as the character starting a diary, or writing all their life events down, etc)…is it still a cheap trick? I think it still leans towards wanting the readers to think “this could be the author’s life” (or fantasy), but I’m not sure whether it’s cross the line yet.

  11. Marijana
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 20:22:37

    @Annette: These are some recommendations for contempary books that don’t fall exactly into chick-lit or women’s fic IMO, but are high on angst and have great character development.
    Liza Palmer – Nowhere But Home and Seeing Me Naked
    Sarra Manning – Unsticky and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
    Hazel Osmond – Who’s afraid of Mr Wolfe
    Gemma Burgess – A Girl Like You
    Linda Gillard – Emotional Geology and Untying the Knot

  12. Marijana
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 20:24:18

    @leslie: I second that Graveyard Queen rec. I glommed on the three books currently out. It’s fantastic.

  13. Justine
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 20:44:15

    It’s been a somewhat Loveswept month for me. I read Yours to Keep by Serena Bell, partially read After the Kiss by Lauren Layne, and have been following the Roman Holiday serial by Ruthie Knox.

    I’m continuing to read Roman Holiday because I’m interested in the H/h as individuals, but I’m not emotionally invested in them as a couple yet. I don’t see what commonalities will bind them together besides that they’re both stubborn. For the heroine, I really want to find out why her grandmother didn’t leave the property to her. This mystery is what’s actually compelling me to keep reading. For the hero, I’m sort of curious about his dad. Although the road trip feels like a contrived set-up for plot’s sake, the hippie commune in the swamp is a hoot. I’m loving the hippies.

    I’ve been waiting for the price to drop on the Heating Up the Holidays anthology (Play with Me by Lisa Renee Jones, Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers, and After Midnight by Serena Bell) and now it has! It’s now $0.99, down from the initial $2.99.

    I also flipped through The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas and Wild Child by Molly O’Keefe. Because of the “outsider” heroine and mayor hero in Wild Child, I kept feeling echoes — whether warranted or not — of Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruise.

    I’ll probably read some Carina Press in the next month because of their holiday anthologies. I’m also looking forward to The Principle of Desire (The Science of Temptation, book 3) by Delphine Dryden (releases Dec. 9) and The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, book 3) by Courtney Milan (releases Dec. 17).

  14. Marijana
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 20:44:29

    @Annette: Sheesh, ‘contemporary’ not contempary

  15. Carolyne
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 20:47:42

    @DB Cooper: I feel that, since there are so many thousands upon thousands of names, there would have to be an astonishingly good reason for an author not simply to choose something else and avoid the issue. I feel weird enough talking about other people’s characters with a similar or the same name as mine, and would feel even weirder making up a character and giving her my name. It’d be different if you’re writing historicals and have to use some real person’s name that happens to be the same as yours. But other than that…unless one actually does want readers to associate the character with the author (or the author’s pen name), unless that’s the actual intent, why bother?

  16. srs
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 21:33:36

    @leslie: @Marijana: Thanks! I’ll check them out.

  17. Mzcue
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 23:09:47

    @DB Cooper re: Author names and character names…

    It never occurred to me to feel funny about an author’s presence in a story, implied or straightforward. I’ve often enjoyed the cameos of directors or other personalities in films, too.

    Kristen Ashley tossed a meta-presence into the last few Rock Chick novels that gave me a giggle or two. Struck me as a bit Brechtian on the whole.

  18. Lynnette F
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 23:31:38

    @library addict
    Where are you getting all the Kobo coupon codes? I rarely hear of any unless my friend passes on the info

  19. library addict
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 23:58:29

    @Lynnette F: I’m a member at the MobileRead forum.

    Check the Kobo Thread there. General codes are usually posted on the first page, but temporary ones and unused contest codes are posted later in the thread. There have been 2 reusable 50% off codes recently, one for the short time that ex-agency priced books were couponable.

    It’s a very informative board. There are sections for each type of reading device plus the Calibre forum.

  20. Lynnette F
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 00:05:17

    @library addict
    Thank You

  21. Lauren
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 01:23:50

    I’ve been on a roll this month reading romance! So far, I’ve read:

    – Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
    – Complications by Emilia Winters
    – The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
    – Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

    And right now I’m working on another Susanna Kearsley title, The Shadowy Horses.

    Loved Complications by Emilia Winters! I think she’s a relatively new author (self-published) but I really enjoyed her novella. It was a steamy read, but there was still a lot of development in the relationship between the two main characters. The Devil in Winter I was actually a bit disappointed with. I’ve heard so many great things about it and while I did read it pretty quickly, I felt as though there was something missing. Edenbrooke by Donaldson was a sweet “proper” romance (no sex) set in Regency England. I really liked the pacing and flow of that one. And as always, Susanna Kearsley is my favorite writer. I’ve never been disappointed with any of her novels. Check out all or any of them! :)

  22. Deljah
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 06:32:37

    Evangeline Anderson has a new Brides of the Kindred book coming out this week, and I’m looking forward it. I’ve been on a sci-fi romance kick lately, with mostly duds, so I’m hoping for a good read this time!

  23. DB Cooper
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 06:36:02

    @Carolyne: Thank you. I think that’s a pretty smart way of looking at things. It probably explains some of the odd discomfort I feel about things too.

    @Mzcue: I think I used to think it was clever, it didn’t bother me much. I suppose, looking back at it though, it’s definitely about execution (like anything else). If I read something where I know the author is part of the story, or it becomes apparent early on, then yes I’m kind of OK with that (and I think, perhaps the story is structured nicely to handle that). If I get towards the end and it’s “surprise! I’m writing all this down, and we’ll be rich and famous when I publish” then I’ll probably wrinkle my nose at this and feel as if the 4th wall were suddenly breached after hours of never expecting it to.

  24. Annette
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 10:49:00

    Thanks so much, Jolie Jacq, Jill Sorenson, Ros (hi!), and Marijana. I’m having so much fun going through your recs and deciding what to read next. I will be purchasing a couple of these today!


  25. Lada
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 13:48:02

    I recently read Diana Rowland’s first book in her Kara Gillian series, Mark of the Demon on high recommendations and was disappointed. I’m wondering if anyone familiar with the series can tell me if it improves over the next 4 books. I don’t want to invest if Kara doesn’t smarten up and there was something awkward about the dialogue between characters in the book. (And seriously, why are authors still using “duh” as an expression after 1993?) There’s a clear indication of a developing love interest but that felt very forced at the end of the book, too.

    I seem to be in a similar mood as a few others here and struggling to like anything I pick up so I’m willing to give authors another chance. I am glad I gave Laura Florand another go and enjoyed The Chocolate Kiss and plan on reading her again soon.

    @DB Cooper: My two cents: just feels self-indulgent and I’m not a fan. Authors get protective about their stories to begin with. Sticking themselves into their story or using their own name seems like it would take that to a whole new level.

  26. Raven Ames
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 16:57:15

    I’m on a romantic suspense binge this month interspersed with a little bdsm erotica on the side. RS titles include:
    Karen Rose’s trilogy: Die For Me, Scream For Me and I just started Kill For Me
    Toni Anderson: Dangerous Waters
    Rita Herron: Dying To Tell
    Allison Brennan: Kiss Me, Kill Me and If I Should Die
    Kallypso Masters: Masters At Arms and Nobody’s Angel. There are at least two more stories in the series which I am really looking forward to.
    Maya Banks: Rush which I’m about a third of the way through
    And, amazingly, it rained here in SoCal last week so I spent the day listening to Ann Granger’s A Quality of Murder, which was an excellent Victorian mystery narrated by two lovely British voices which completely suited the weather and me!

  27. RachelT
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 17:13:39

    I’ve read some excellent books this month, bolstered by reading a number of the finalists in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, particularly in the Gay Historical Romance section (results announced by Elisa Rolle on December 8th).

    Suzanne Brockmann is always a favourite and Born to Darkness lived up to her high standard for me – shame there doesn’t seem to be a sequel to sort out a couple more romances.
    I loved the Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion about a man, who doesn’t recognise that he has Aspergers, looking for the ideal wife. I don’t often laugh aloud when reading, but did with this.
    The four m/m historical romances are:
    City of Jade by LJ Labarthe – a romantic travelogue through the middle and far east in Roman times
    Scarlet Blade by Jez Morrow – a swashbuckling adventure set in Spanish Colonial California
    Lovers in Arms by Osiris Brackhaus – a story from the Nuremburg trials at the end of the WWII. An American officer testifies for his German lover in the trials.

    If you only read one of my recommendations, please look at Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy. This fantastic book, is set in Wales, UK again during WWII. It reflects life during the war in Britain so well. One hero is a naval officer injured during the war, the other is a conscientious objector working on the land. This is a layered story with a lot of interest, but is also so tender. It was so lovely that it stalled my reading for a week during the month as I couldn’t bear to pick up anything else and spoil the memory of this lovely story.

  28. Lindsay
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 17:23:10

    @library addict:

    Oh my goodness I think I just spent $15 and got 30 books with those Kobo coupons, including a $25 non-fiction book I’ve been wanting to read for ages. THANK YOU! Now my TBR pile will fall on me.

  29. Marianne McA
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 17:51:51

    @RachelT – I’m sort of tempted by Make do and Mend, but the plot description reminds me of The Charioteer. If this makes any sense at all, I’m worried I wouldn’t like ‘Make do’ because I’d always be comparing it unfavourably with the other.
    If you’ve read The Charioteer, are they different enough that the reader doesn’t automatically compare them?

  30. hapax
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 20:21:52

    Even though I was nervous about another Sherry Thomas — her adult romances don’t usually work for me — I really enjoyed her YA, THE BURNING SKY, so much that I tried THE LUCKIEST LADY IN LONDON and was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know why this one worked when the others haven’t; maybe it was just the right book at the right time.

    Also another vote here for THE ROSIE PROJECT, although I thought the ending was a bit too simple and easy. I read it right after COURTING GRETA by Ramsay Hootman, and I found the two quite similar, and ROSIE suffered in comparison.

    (Was COURTING GRETA reviewed here? I really liked it. It’s another romance told from the not-always-reliable viewpoint of a disabled hero (physically disabled in this case, presented quite honestly and without sentimentality as far as I could tell, although I’m not particularly knowledgeable about that) who is in many ways unlikable: narcissistic and incredible insecure, but also whip-smart, observant, and funny. He falls head over heels (almost literally) for the most unlikely of heroines: a much older, masculine, completely unromantic gym teacher. I read the entire book feeling like this relationship couldn’t possibly work, and I was almost — ALMOST — right.)

    I suppose it would be cruel to rave on this thread about a book that isn’t coming out until next March, wouldn’t it?

  31. JL
    Nov 25, 2013 @ 21:40:08

    Diana Rowland’s books have become one of my favourite UF series, but I haven’t re-read the first two books, so my memory of them is a bit shaky. I don’t think the dialogue gets better but the stiltedness does start to make sense as the series goes on. Kara is one of my favourite heroines because she feels so real to me and Rowland’s real life experience shines through in the books. Kara is great for the next few books in the series, until the latest one. The ongoing threads in the series start to gel in really unexpected and interesting ways, but the general tone of the books doesn’t change. If the first didn’t work for you, the others probably won’t either.

  32. RachelT
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 10:17:50

    @Marianne McA: Lost my first go at a reply, so here goes again.
    Until you mentioned it, I had no idea that The Charioteer shared any of the same subject matter. Looking at the Wikipedia summary, I do not think the books share the same thrust. MD&M is very firmly rooted in the local rural community and the family. Jim, the conscientious objector (CO) is an academic and his objections are based in reason ie there are better ways than war to resolve conflict. This book is clever in making this the main source of conflict rather than the homosexuality of the main characters. They are both mature men of 30/40 who maintain a discrete relationship in keeping with the times. Most people do not realise they are gay.
    I have added The Charioteer to be TBRsoon pile – I hope I have persuaded you to do the same with MD&M!

  33. DB Cooper
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 07:26:50

    @Lada: Self-indulgent! That’s one of the words I was looking for. Thanks!

  34. cleo
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 08:36:45

    I just read Heidi Cullinan’s new novella – Let it Snow and really enjoyed it. It’s an m/m retelling of Goldielocks and the Three Bears and it’s a fun, sexy read, with a minimum of angst. And it has good sexual tension.

    @DB Cooper – I don’t think I’ve seen that in romance. I’ve seen one or two lit fic books where the MC’s first name is the same as the author and I just dismissed it as post-modern posturing.

  35. Marianne McA
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 17:59:01

    Thanks, RachelT. I’ll give it a go then. Hope you enjoy The Charioteer when you get round to it – it’s a favourite of mine.

  36. Lada
    Dec 05, 2013 @ 07:25:46

    @JL: Thanks, JL. This was exactly what I was wondering. I liked the world Rowland was setting up so I’ll probably go back and revisit but I’m not in a rush.

    Plus I just picked up Sarah Morgan’s Sleigh Bells in the Snow which I’m excited to read after Sunita’s great review! I’m in the mood for good contemporary holiday reads but seem to find historical ones more easily. Any suggestions?

  37. cleo
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 15:10:34

    @Lada – I think there was an If You Like Holiday Stories a while ago that included contemporary suggestions.

    I like holiday novellas. One of my faves is Midnight Assignment by Victoria Dahl in the Midnight Kiss anthology. It’s a rivals to lovers story about two FDIC agents taking over a failing bank over the holidays. Only Victoria Dahl could make that work.

  38. Lada
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 16:42:17

    @cleo: Thanks, cleo. Now that you mention it, I also prefer holiday stories on the shorter side. I haven’t read Midnight Kiss and will check it out since I like Victoria Dahl. Just bought the holiday anthology from today’s daily deals too so I think I’m set.

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