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

February Recommended Reads

Got your credit card ready? Okay, then let’s go shopping. This month, we’ve got some hardcover and trade paperback books that we are recommending but given that we had slim recommendations in past months, we hope you won’t mind. If money’s tight, try the library or the used bookstore.

042522580101lzzzzzzz-1Courtesan’s Wager by Claudia Dain. I’m a big fan of this series because it’s a very female centric, female empowering. The latest showcases Lady Amelia Caversham, daughter of a duke, who would seemingly be a good prize except she’s made her desire to marry a duke obvious to the point of embarrassment.    At her wit’s end, Amelia begs the favor of Lady Sophia Dalby, a former courtesan, to assist her in catching a duke.   Amelia and Sophia concoct a fairly scandalous scheme.   Be even more obvious about your desire to marry and let’s reel in the right one.   Amelia’s plans to “interview” men of the ton incite their competitive spirit and they all begin vying for her hand, much to the chagrin of Lord Cranleigh.   Not only will he not participate in this nonsense, but neither does he want his brother to make a fool of himself.   Once caught in Sophia’s web, however, a man cannot escape, not even one such as Lord Cranleigh. B Recommended by Jane. (review to come)

This book can be purchased in trade paperback from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

038534269101lzzzzzzzSuper in the City by Daphne Uviller. It was the back blurb of this book that caught my attention. The mob thinks the heroine is with the FBI. The FBI thinks she’s with the mob. And she’s dating an exterminator? After reading that I just knew I had to try this one.

Zephyr Zuckerman has a vivid imagination, four best friends from high school, a former asshole boyfriend she’s still not over and at age twenty-seven, still hasn’t made up her mind what she wants to do when she grows up. In the meantime, her parents have hit on something to occupy her time and save them some money. After the long time super of the small apartment building they own is arrested on charges of taking kickbacks from an oil company – and honestly how could that be a lot of money since there are so few tenants there? – they suggest that Zephyr take over his job.

Zephyr shares a lot with other Chick Lit heroines – mid twenties and drifting through life, sucky job, repugnant ex-boyfriend, close gal pals and a hero who baffles her before they finally work out their HEA – but she – and the book- are also genuinely funny unlike a lot of the pratfall filled Chick Lit books I’ve struggled through in an attempt to recapture the joy of the first ones I read years ago. This is a book I’m glad I got in my bimonthly care package from Jane and one I know I’ll probably read again. B+ Recommended by Jayne.

This book can be purchased in trade format from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

042522551801lzzzzzzzScandal by Carolyn Jewel. The Earl of Banallt and the young widow Sophie Evans encounter each other when Sophie’s brother John brings Banallt home. John is unaware that the notorious earl and his sister have a history. Several years before, Sophie had first met Banallt when her philandering husband, Tommy, brought him home unexpectedly late one night. Both men were drunk, and they were accompanied by a woman of dubious reputation. From this inauspicious beginning, Sophie and Banallt formed an unlikely friendship. Banallt found himself strongly desiring Sophie, in spite of the fact that she’s no beauty. Sophie was unhappy, scarred by Tommy’s constant infidelity and the knowledge that he only married her (over the anvil in Scotland) for her inheritance – a circumstance that estranged her from her family for a time. She was drawn to Banallt but even more than any attraction she felt for him, she desperately needed a friend and confidante. Unfortunately, in a moment of anguish, Banallt destroyed the friendship. Sophie tells him she doesn’t want to see him again, and indeed they do not meet again for some time. A- Recommended by Jennie F and Jane.

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

034550155101lzzzzzzzDark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann. The long-awaited culmination of the Sophia and Decker story arc. The controversy, of course, is that although they both get their HEA in this book, they get it with other people. Controversy aside, however, this book is Brockmann at her best. The plotting is satisfyingly tight, the suspense suitably suspenseful, and the romances (yes, multiple!) form the absolute heart and soul of the book. With Brockmann’s trademark humor and with appropriate-to-the-plot cameos from favorite characters, the book is funny, charming, and sexy. And at the end of the book, it is certainly possible to firmly believe that Sophia and Decker are 100% happy and 100% with the right person. A- Recommended by Joan/Dr. F

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

bone crossed comp.inddBone Crossed by Patricia Briggs. Bone Crossed begins almost immediately where Iron Kissed left off. Mercy Thompson, the narrator, is bruised, both in body and in spirit, by a rape. She must face up to survival which means coming to grips with her abuse, her love for Adam, her feelings regarding the Adam’s pack, and her own vulnerability.

The problem for Mercy is that she is so used to surviving on her own and that the people in her life that have professed to love her: her mother; Bran, a father figure; Samuel, her first love – have only loved her under certain conditions. To become part of the Pack means to necessarily rely on others for support, both emotional and physical. To allow herself to be fully embraced by Adam makes her vulnerable again. B+ Recommended by Jane.

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

031602505401lzzzzzzzNorth of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley.
From behind, Terra is a stunningly beautiful: tall and blond with a knockout body. Unfortunately she has one minor “flaw:”

While my face couldn’t launch a thousand ships, it has the power to make any stranger whip around for a second look. Trust me, this mixture of curiosity and revulsion is nothing Helen of Troy would ever have encountered.

Terra has a port wine stain that covers her entire right cheek. In her small Washington town, it’s branded her a freak since she was little. And it’s not just the people in town who treat her as “flawed.” Terra also gets it from her family. The youngest of three children, Terra is the only one still living at home. Her oldest brother works halfway around the world in China, and the second oldest attends college but never comes home. The reason for their avoidance stems from their father whose determination to control everyone manifests itself via cruel, sniping criticisms.

If Girl Overboard was a novel with multiple intersecting external events, North of Beautiful is a novel with multiple intersecting internal (emotional) currents. The obvious one is that Terra’s been chasing after the Land of Beauty for her entire life, but it’s always been beauty as defined by other people — a father’s never-satisfied standards, a mother’s hopes that fixing Terra’s face will fix their home, a best friend who defends Terra but never really lets her shine either, and a boyfriend who loves her body but is ashamed to be seen with her in public. Everyone’s put her in a box and in one way or another, she’s trying to escape, to become the person she wants to be. A- Recommended by Jia.

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

387782Mexican Heat by Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon tells the story of two gay cops, both separately undercover in the West Coast drug world, on two different sides of a drug deal, neither of whom realize the other is one of the good guys. They establish a relationship of sorts, but after the bust goes bad, they have to renegotiate who they are and how they fit together. Wonderfully drawn characters who come alive, a compelling plot, and hot hot action. Recommended by Joan/Dr. F. (review to come)

This book can be purchased in ebook format from BooksonBoard and other retailers.

We would love it if you would share with us what you would recommend for the month of February.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Aoife
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 14:05:09

    I just bought Bone Crossed but haven’t had time to start it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she doesn’t go the way of the last few favorite authors who made the move to hardback. Several of those slipped from auto-buys to buy sometime after it comes out in paperback, if I get around to it. Yes, Linda Howard, I’m talking to you. At the same time I picked up So Enchanting by Connie Brockway–I didn’t care much for her contemporaries, and her last few historicals were hit-or-miss for me, but I’m giving her another try. I’m also waiting for Linnea Sinclair’s Hope’s Folly which is due out at the end of February.

  2. Stuart
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 14:16:48

    Loved Bone Crossed – in the UK it was a paperback release (albeit without the great cover…) so there was no hesitation for me. I’m surprised Bujold’s Sharing Knife: Horizon isn’t up there, though – certainly one of my faves of the month, maybe for the year. Kim Harrison’s latest Hollows book coming out towards the end of the month, too – first couple of chapters up online at harpercollins if you’re interested.

  3. Trish
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 15:44:20

    I can’t wait to read SCANDAL by Carolyn Jewel. I loved her last two historicals (LORD RUIN and THE SPARE) and have been anxiously awaiting this book for, what, three years? It seems to be getting very good reviews all around the web, so congrats to Ms Jewel. My copy should be here today or tomorrow from Amazon and I can’t wait! BTW, she has another historical, INDISCREET due out in the fall.

  4. Michelle
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 16:34:45

    You guys convinced me to give Scandal a try. I bought So Enchanting at the airport today and am about 20 pages into it. Very cute so far.

    Do you have any plans to review Robyn Carr’s Second Chance Pass? I finished that today, and I had such a strong, visceral response to that book. Moved me like few books have in a while – but for a good part of it I hated it and for the most part, I could have cared less if the “advertised” main couple got together. Anyway, I’d like to read a “real” review of it to see how others view it. I’ve read the whole virgin river series and really enjoy it for what it is, but the latest had me going and I know my heart went out to the character whom I was probably not supposed to care as much about. Anyway, I’m really curious how other savvy readers responded to it.

  5. SonomaLass
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 17:28:06

    The book I’m most looking forward to reading this month is Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald. I’ve read the first four chapters using the “browse inside” feature on the HarperCollins web site, and I can’t wait for it to get here so I can read the whole thing.

    In the meantime, I have Jewel’s Scandal to keep me busy. Also on the list are Kristin Higgins’ Too Good To Be True and the Lords of Desire anthology — new Victoria Dahl! Yay!

  6. Courtney Milan
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 18:19:44

    SonomaLass, the new Victoria Dahl is absolutely delicious.

  7. Jill Shalvis
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 18:20:49

    I can’t WAIT to dive into Dark Of Night. I’ve never tried Claudia Dain but I think it’s about time.

  8. cary's girl friday
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 20:01:39

    I second Kristan Higgins – I just finished Too Good To Be True and it’s an A read for me!

  9. SonomaLass
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 20:53:14

    @Courtney: Thanks, I expect I will love it!

  10. Jory Strong
    Feb 05, 2009 @ 21:20:23

    I’m six chapters into Bone Crossed and can already tell it’s going to be a late, don’t go to bed until I hit The End kind of night. She stays on my auto-buy list, despite the hardcover price.

  11. LauraB
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 09:49:32

    I’m looking forward to the ebook release of Sharing Knife: Horizon. It looks great. I’m currently listening to Lauren Willig’s newest The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, which has a great passage about why the HEA is so satisfying. There are many, many others, but these top my list.

    I’m also looking forward to Silent on the Moor by Rayburn, but that comes out in March. : )

  12. jep
    Feb 06, 2009 @ 19:50:53


    I expect I had the same reaction to Second Chance Pass as you did. I was so mad at the “hero” at the end of chapter 1 I kept reading. There were so many secondary romances that I couldn’t keep track. I am so happy I can get the series from the library.

  13. Michelle
    Feb 07, 2009 @ 09:10:01

    Thanks, JEP. That’s reassuring. There were times when I wanted to cry for Terri. She had my heart from the first scene – and it was broken fairly quickly. It’s rare that I have such a strong response to a contemporary, so there had to be a lot of skill involved in the writing, but I was just mad with where the book was going for most of it. I’m glad I was not alone. In a lot of ways, I thought her resolution to Terri halfway through was a cop out on the author’s part, but in some ways, I thought the whole Terri/Paul storyline was a cop out – a way to ignore what should have been real conflict to the “main” romance – it seems to me like a three-month widow with a two-month old baby is rushing it when she marries that quickly after her husband dies. But then, I was never feeling it for Vanni in this story, so I could nitpick what she did/said for quite awhile. I wish I had gotten Second Chance Pass from the library as opposed to buying it new.

    On another note, I finished So Enchanting – and it was – I smiled my way through it. I plan to start Scandal today.

  14. My First Sale by Jade Lee | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 04:00:55

    […] books for Harlequin and paranormals.  The Dragon Earl from Leisure and The Concubine which was a February Dear Author Recommended Read. Dragonbound is due out in […]

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