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. Willaful
    May 25, 2014 @ 13:29:26

    I’m ticked off at the moment, because I read The Marriage Betrayal by Lynne Graham and thought it quite good and fresh, except that the ending was an oddly rushed and unsatisfying HFN. It turns out that there’s a second book — not a hint of that anywhere in my ebook — in which all kinds and bad things have happened and the relationship goes to hell. If you’re not going to provide a HEA in a category romance, at least have the decency to warn people!

  2. Willaful
    May 25, 2014 @ 13:32:29

    P.S. Also not happy that the heroine has had a personality transplant in the second book, and gone from sensible and honest to stupid and deceitful.

  3. Darlynne
    May 25, 2014 @ 13:41:13

    Lately I’ve been picking up books that should be my catnip, that couldn’t possibly be more perfect for me. And I’m struggling to finish them. Example: Jo Walton’s AMONG OTHERS; R. S. Belcher’s SIX-GUN TAROT; Benjamin Black’s BLACK-EYED BLONDE. What is wrong with me?

    OTOH, I breezed through the supremely delightful SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal, something that shouldn’t have been possible.

    And I’m starting to resent all the library books I’ve checked out, really good books that others have recommended, because I can’t get to my digital TBR pile, which is calling to me so loudly.

    Thank you. I”m done.


  4. Jorrie Spencer
    May 25, 2014 @ 14:14:40

    I’ve had some really great reads this month. Secrets & Saris by Shoma Narayanan, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon. So contemporary, fantasy, and mystery, with quite varying amounts of romance. These are all pretty recent and the latter two were out within the last month or so, I think.

    I feel like I have to pick my next book carefully because I’m in a bit of a post-good-book bubble. I’ve got my eye on Highfell Grimoires and Moth and Spark.

  5. Willaful
    May 25, 2014 @ 14:22:14

    @Darlynne: I like this advice:

    Right now I’m just reading massive amounts of categories, because that’s what I’m craving, and screw everything else. Though I will have to come out of it and face my review responsibilities soon.

  6. pamelia
    May 25, 2014 @ 14:38:19

    I just read the “Hard Rock” books by Ava Lore and I was pleasantly surprised. The first book “Hard Rock Arrangement” was funny and quirky and the second book more serious in tone.
    I’m anxiously awaiting delivery of the next Harry Dresden book and will have to arm wrestle my husband to read it first.

  7. library addict
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:22:12

    I finished rereading the entire Psy/Changeling series and have started over again with Slave to Sensation. I really just want to read the new book, so figure another jaunt through the series will be the only thing tiding me over until June 3rd. I probably will just skim the books where I didn’t like the romance this time and read the rebeliion parts and scenes with my favorite characters rather than another total reread so soon. But I do plan to fully reread my favorite books in the series yet again.

    The other June book I’m looking forward to is Christine Feehan’s Air Bound. But even though it releases this Tuesday I will probably wait until after Shield of Winter to read it.

    As for other books I read this month, I’ve been trying to read some of the stuff that has been in my TBR pile for a while. I also started a number of series.

    I enjoyed Flight Risk (Antiques in Flight book 1) by Nicole Helm. It was a bit on the angsty side. I also liked the first two books in Carla Neggers’ Swift River Valley series, Secrets of the Lost Summer and That Night On Thistle Lane (the first a bit more than the second).

    I had some major issues with the heroine’s behavior in Laura Florand’s All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate novella. The Chocolate Thief, the first full-length book in her Amour et Chocolat series, was better but I still had issues with the heroine in the first half. However, by the end it was the hero’s attitude that bugged me. I do plan to read the rest of the series though.

    The second book in Tia Nevitt’s Accidental Enchantments series, The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf was very good. As was book one in Jael Wye’s Once Upon a Red World series, Ice Red. Both are variations on Snow White and I thought the various elements of the fairy tale were cleverly incorporated into each of them.

    I liked It Happened One Wedding by Julie James, but didn’t love it the way so many others have.

  8. cleo
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:27:26

    I think I already mentioned this on another thread, but I’ve read several good queer PNR this month, all very different in tone but quite enjoyable – Bone Rider by J Fally, The Stolen Luck by Shawn Reppert and Superheroes Union: Dynama by Ruth Diaz. Dynama and Bone Rider were both reviewed here at DA (and I am I glad that I finally read them).

    @Willaful – thanks for the bookriot link. That’s basically my approach – read what calls to me, but it’s nice to see that others do that too.

  9. Darlynne
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:32:58

    @Willaful: Thanks, that was a great article.

    In fact, what I called my TBR pile–really, my Moon Reader bookshelf–is what I am missing. I’m reading all these other books, good ones to be sure, but my heart’s not in it. I will take back the library books, without guilt, and I will turn to what I’ll now call my Want To Read pile on my phone. I am free!

  10. A.
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:36:49

    I’ve got a little something that I’ve thought about lately, and wondered whether it’s just me, or if anyone else thinks about this kind of stuff.

    Can there be too many too beautiful people in a romance novel? Of course the hero and heroine in a romance novel will 99.99 % of the time be described as supremely beautiful people, I can live with that. It’s a story about two people falling in love, naturally they each see the other as a desirable, attractive and beautiful. (Although the dizzying heights of their desire can sometimes be a little overwhelming for someone who hails from the more mundane landscape of the fields of reality, not the jagged, montainous, dizzying heights of Romancelandia.) But reading Kristen Ashley’s books, for instance, there are some scenes where she gathers couples from many books together, and the MC in that book finds all her previous heroes to be the most beautiful men she’s ever seen (apart from her own love interest). This just takes me comepletely out of the story. I find the prevalence of jaw-dropping georgeousness to be too much for believability. Not only the number of extremely attractive men and women gathered in one room, but the way all the heroines are in complete agreement of the extreme attractiveness of all the male characters. But isn’t beauty also subjective? Don’t tastes differ in this area, and differ quite a lot?

    I’ve read a handful of Ashley’s books, by the way, and found them superentertaining, so I’m only nitpicking about this one kind of scene. I’m also reading the Original Sinners-series by Tiffany Reisz and I’m really enjoying it, but every new character introduced is so very very attractive that pure chance can no longer be an explanation. There must be some sort of attractive people magnet hidden somewhere in the book to draw all these people together. (Again, I really love the books, I just also really like to nitpick apparently.) Have anyone else pondered the beauty of people in romance and in fiction?

  11. Willaful
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:41:52

    @Darlynne: Yay! There’s nothing like reading the right thing at the right time.

  12. jamie beck
    May 25, 2014 @ 16:12:15

    For whatever reason, I just re-read Ravishing the Heiress (Sherry Thomas). I rarely re-read books, but I remembered being very moved by this story, so I decided to see if it lived up to my memory. It really did, which was very satisfying.

    It’s the oddest thing because neither the hero nor heroine are particularly admirable characters (both irk me at points in the story for the way they handle their feelings, although the heroine gets big points for being very strong in her own way), but several scenes actually bring me to tears (sad ones, not happy ones).

    Ms. Thomas does an exceptional job of evoking the loneliness and hopeful yet hopelessness of unrequited love (and I’m a sucker for unrequited love stories). Anyhow, if you haven’t read it, and you don’t want a cookie-cutter story or characters, you may enjoy it.

  13. Renda
    May 25, 2014 @ 17:12:24


    Definitely get tired of the too-beautiful-to-comprehend crowding in some books.

    I know a book is not going to say “She won’t scare small children, but lordy, she will make them recoil” as they describe a BFF or a coworker or a wait staff member. But sometimes I would like someone to walk into a scene without their beautiful self being described down to the lack of cellulite on her butt.

    Even when a woman is supposed to be plain or plump (and therefore unattractive to all) for a reason, there is always something added to explain, “Oh, but she is the only one who thinks she is too plump/moonfaced/dyspeptic looking.”

    But I don’t write novels so what do I know. It may be in the rules somewhere that all authors’ children must be a lovely sight to behold.

  14. Adeselna Davies
    May 25, 2014 @ 17:48:42

    An issue that keeps popping up in the books you are reading? – Yes, why on Earth a character fall in love instantly just because the other is pretty?? “She is beautiful, I was amazed, caught in a spell and she wouldn’t leave my mind”… what happened to personality? What happened to ugly/fat male characters? Where are they? :<

  15. Jorrie Spencer
    May 25, 2014 @ 17:51:29

    I’ve had some really great reads this month. Secrets & Saris by Shoma Narayanan, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon. So contemporary, fantasy, and mystery, with quite varying amounts of romance. These are all pretty recent and the latter two were out within the last month or so, I think.

    I feel like I have to pick my next book carefully because I’m in a bit of a post-good-book bubble. I’ve got my eye on Highfell Grimoires, and Moth and Spark.

  16. Beth
    May 25, 2014 @ 18:31:26

    I really liked It Happened One Wedding–not one of Julie James’ best I think (personally I’m not the biggest fan of romantic suspense but I kind of miss the plots of the first two in that series), but Sidney was a great heroine and I think Vaughan suffered from not being as awesome in comparison.

    I’m struggling a little through the first in Zoe Archer’s Nemesis series. I loved Blades of the Rose, and the blurb of this book interested in me instantly, but I’m just not feeling it. I will finish though, and then will likely re-read Heart of Obsidian in prep for Shield of Winter. I can’t remember being so excited about a book. Oh yes, I do remember. It was Heart of Obsidian last year. I don’t think any author in the romance genre right is writing on all cylinders the way Nalini SIngh is. HoO was so anticipated and had been built to for SO long, but it still managed to not only deliver on expectation, but actually exceed mine. Not an easy task.

  17. Beth
    May 25, 2014 @ 18:32:57

    @Jorrie Spencer: I have to warn you about Moth & Spark. It seemed EXACTLY my catnip (I love fantasy and esp romantic fantasy), but I couldn’t even finish it. And it’s pretty expensive as ebooks go. I think it was $11.99?

  18. Darlynne
    May 25, 2014 @ 18:37:42

    @A.: All the time. It’s so unrealistic. I would much prefer just about any adjective besides beautiful. So much can be conveyed through the filter of attraction when two people meet, without resorting to beautiful. In fact, it’s really unimportant what characters look like; a skilled writer can create the attraction and make us, the readers, believe it and the relationship, regardless of physical attributes, which is kind of the whole point. Authors, any takers?

  19. Beth
    May 25, 2014 @ 18:56:03

    @Darlynne: I know this is a thread for readers, so hopefully not putting my foot in my mouth here, but I thought Jane and Sarah made a really good point about this on the last podcast they recorded. They were actually talking about my book, which is why I’m trying to be a little sensitive here, but the gist of it is: it was important to me to write about ordinary people. And attraction and lust can be affected or created by beauty, but love, real love, is truly blind. That’s always been my thought anyway, and it’s the concept I attempted to illustrate in my book.

  20. Jorrie Spencer
    May 25, 2014 @ 19:32:47

    @Beth I’ve heard of mixed reaction to Moth and Spark, so I actually have the hardcover out from the library right now. I buy lots of books, but I also use the library for what I consider more “high risk” reads for me. I’m curious how I’ll find it!

  21. Beth
    May 25, 2014 @ 19:35:45

    @Jorrie Spencer: maybe you will have better luck than I did. I wish I had thought of checking out from the library. I had such high hopes for it too. I really wish more authors would write high fantasy with a romantic aspect.

  22. msilk
    May 25, 2014 @ 20:31:29

    I finished off the last book in The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Mira Grant’s novel Parasite was an enjoyable read but did leave off in a cliffhanger with much of the story unresolved. I don’t regret reading it but I would have waited until the series was complete before starting it.

    Next up was a recommended book from others at the DA. I didn’t really know anything about it other then it was a completed fantasy/sci-fi series, that it had an epic scope to the whole series as well as a strong romance. When I bought it, I didn’t even read the summary blurb. I had no expectations but because some of the recs I had previously tried, I was preparing myself for another dud. OMG, OMG, OMG!!! I don’t know why I was late to this party but I just read my best read of 2014 (so far anyways)! There are 6 books in the Sirantha Jax series by Ann Aguirre, book one in the series was GRIMSPACE and by the time I finished it, I had already purchased the remaining books as well as book one of another series (Dred Chronicles) by the same author. Oh, and I broke my own rule and paid full price for these books at Kobo since the coupons could not be used on these books. Yes there are that good. I’m on book 6 now and will probably finished tomorrow then start the Dred Chronicles which isn’t completed yet.

  23. Darlynne
    May 25, 2014 @ 20:58:05

    @Beth: Thanks, I will take a look/listen.

    One of the things this and other discussions have clarified for me is: why? Why is it so important that we know every physical detail about any character (not counting stories where physical attributes are germane to the plot). Isn’t it possible to draw a character just as clearly and effectively using broad strokes, and let the reader image what she will? Isn’t the emotional connection enough and still believable without the flood of descriptors? I think less can be more, especially when the heroine gazes at her own blond/black/blue hair in a mirror, but that’s the subject of a different gripe.

  24. Kim
    May 26, 2014 @ 12:23:11

    I really enjoyed It Happened One Wedding. I liked the hero & heroine, but also enjoyed the secondary characters. Julie James excels at creating intelligent and interesting people who are successful in their choice of friends and careers.

  25. Janine
    May 26, 2014 @ 13:06:58

    @Beth & @Jorrie Spencer: I think the romance portion of Moth and Spark was executed better than the fantasy portion. I was a bit ambivalent about it because of that. We talked about some of the weaknesses in the review here, but there were other flaws that Ana of The Book Smugglers mentioned in her review for Kirkus and which I later regretted that I had not picked up on.

    Even so, Moth and Spark was one of those books where I could see a fair number of problems, but the author’s voice grabbed me and made it very hard to put down, which is something that tends to make me a bit more generous with my grade. I suppose it fits my definition of cracktastic, and I wish I’d used that word in the review.

  26. Beth
    May 26, 2014 @ 14:07:19

    @Janine: I’m so glad you linked me to the Booksmuggler review. I had so much trouble identifying exactly what it was that bothered me about the book, but they were able to identify it. I also felt much the way they did–the pieces were all there for a really satisfying, enjoyable read, but it just didn’t jell for me. Hopefully it does for you, Jorrie.

  27. JewelCourt
    May 26, 2014 @ 14:25:45

    I didn’t like Moth and Spark. I like fantasy with strong romantic elements, so I may have gone into it with overly high expectations. But, I thought the writing was clunky, the romance had no spark, and the characters were dull. It didn’t grab me at all, but I was hanging in there with it until the plot sidelined in favor of the romance. Then, I just got more and more irritated. About halfway through, I just started skimming. I’m glad I borrowed it from the library instead of buying.

  28. Karla
    May 26, 2014 @ 15:11:12

    I just finished Prince of Hearts by Margaret Foxe and really loved it. It’s Victorian era steampunk romance. It was light, fast-paced, fun and very enjoyable. There was a bit of mystery and some angst, but the overall tone reminded me of Tessa Dare or Julia Quinn, without the silliness.

    Other recent reads that I would recommend are A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger which is a m/m historical romance. I really like this time period but there aren’t many of these out there. Also the older titel Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville, which was a contemporary m/m romantic suspense.

  29. Sandra Schwab
    May 26, 2014 @ 23:54:56

    @Willaful: All I can say to that is: Robyn Donald. She’s my poison of choice at the moment. :-) In the past few days, while I was at the LoveLetter Convention in Berlin, I read “The Colour of Midnight” and “Sanchia’s Secret,” both of which I immensely enjoyed. Donald writes such delicious heroes, and even though most of her books are emotionally rather intense, there’s also a subtle humour. Like this bit from the first meeting of hero & heroine in “The Colour of Midnight”:

    “It was a pity the horse wasn’t black; it should rear all over the place, and be called Satan, or Demon, or Devil, and only ever be rideable by the lord of the house, but in spite of that it had looked the part perfectly. Of course, the dog should be an aristocrat – a wolfhound, or some kind of hunting, shooting, and fihsing dog, instead of a black and white sheepdog. But it had added the right touch. You couldn’t have everything.”


  30. Tessa Radley
    May 27, 2014 @ 16:23:14

    @Sandra Schwab – I don’t think I would ever have started writing without Robyn Donald. I attended a writing weekend she and Daphne Clair offered. Given that I own all Robyn’s books (except a few that I’d lent out and never gotten back), it was a MAJOR fan moment! I think Robyn’s debut novel was the first secret baby book M&B published–please correct me if I have that wrong!

  31. JPeK
    May 28, 2014 @ 13:47:52

    I love this thread, even if it always ends up costing me money. (I’ve already bought two books, A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger and Grimspace by Ann Aguirre–they look good!)

    After teaching a ridiculously heavy course load this past semester, I told my husband to expect me to drop off the face of the earth for a few weeks while I decompress. For me, that mostly translates into reading … a lot. Some notable books from the past couple of weeks include the following:

    – /Stuff/ by Josephine Myles — I enjoyed it, but can’t say I *loved* it … which could be more a result of my “over-reading” (i.e., glutting myself on books) than the actual entertainment value of the story; it seemed like a “light” read (which I honestly prefer sometimes), focusing much more on the development of the romantic relationship (as well as some character development of one of the MCs in particular) than any external challenges or conflicts, IMO

    – /Recovery/ by Con Riley (after re-reading the first book, /Salvage/) — I enjoyed the characters and stories in both books; I really like how the stories deal with relationships beyond the romantic pairing, particularly in /Recovery/

    – /When in Rio/ by Delphine Dryden — this book has sat in my Wanna-Read folder for way too long … I enjoyed the interactions between the MCs as they negotiated not only moving from a business to a personal relationship, but also D/s elements (which are important in the story, but not what I’d consider in any way extreme, esp. compared to other BDSM-type stories I read); it combines humor with “ahh, sweet” moments in a great way

    – Laura Florand’s /Snow-Kissed/ & /Sun-Kissed/ — I really, really enjoyed the latter (awesome characters! realistic, snarky, vulnerable … catnip!); while I liked the former as well, it made me think of all my mom’s and older sister’s miscarriages and sort of depressed me. I like how it approached the topic, though, and showed the possible aftermath of such grief on a relationship.

    – KD Sarge’s m/m & m/f, SF/F books — I don’t remember how I found Sarge (a rec? a mm-SFF list on Goodreads? pure chance?), but I’m glad I did! I started with /Queen’s Man/, which could be a stand-alone, but references characters (a mm couple) whose story we get in /Knight Errant/ & /His Faithful Squire/. The 4th book, /Captain’s Boy/, tells the story of a m/f couple that readers meet in /Knight Errant/. All in all, I liked the balance between internal and external conflicts, romantic and platonic relationship development, and sincerity and snark. These books were cracktastic; even in the midst of my general “read-aholic” weeks, they stood out as particularly addictive.

    – /The Protector/ by Cooper West — loved the concept behind the story; a shifter mm fantasy with some meat behind it; occasionally the MCs annoyed me, but in a really believable way (when they were frustrating, it was because they had good reason to be); I hope for more novels set in this “world”

    – Syd McGinley’s /Out of the Woods/ & /Twice-Caught/ — again, I thought the world the author created in these books (same MCs in both, need to be read in order) was compelling and interesting; even though there were elements about the society that I found deeply problematic (e.g. older men automatically controlling younger men because they “need” it), it made *some* sense in the world McGinley created and the characters themselves become increasingly aware of the deep-rooted problems and the potential for abuse that such a dynamic creates, especially in the 2nd book. But more than anything I loved these books because of the MC, Tarin. He was a compelling character; I loved how he reacted to the situations in which he found himself (rejecting some things outright, adapting to others, and sensibly saying “I’ll pretend for now, but I’m not going to go along blindly with whatever you tell me”). He was true to himself, even feisty, without being a major brat or TSTL (awesome!). Also, there were so many laugh-out-loud moments for me, which I did not expect *at all* when I first stumbled across these books (I originally expected the books to be much darker and, admittedly, less well-written; I was happily mistaken on both counts). I really, really wish the author had more published stories set in this world.

    Okay, my post is going on forever. I’ll stop now. Sorry, just too excited to share!

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