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.
Courtesan’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)
Super 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.
Scandal 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.
Dark 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
Bone 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.
North 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.
Mexican 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.