Category: romance novels

Young AdultUndead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson …

What makes a five star read? For me, it is a book that moves me– makes me laugh out loud, makes me cry, makes me think. I read so many books, so quickly, that I often consume without pausing. A five star book stops me in place and makes me pay attention. 

Here are the 5 star reads of 2018:

Fiction

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

This is a surprisingly tender, heartwarming, charming book! Told from a mix of POVs and across timelines, it manages to be both an interesting exploration of family life and a page-turner. I wanted to know the characters better while also being heavily invested in the plot.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

First, let me tell you, the narrator’s voice is so strong, I didn’t realize she went unnamed until I read a review pointing it out. It’s not necessarily a trustworthy voice, but it is honestly confrontational, sometimes cruel, very funny, and wickedly sharp. The narrator does not spare you, when she is talking about others or herself. Sometimes, I cringed at the text, and sometimes– maybe even more upsetting– I nodded in agreement.


Horror

There’s a Giant Trapdoor Spider Under Your Bed by Edgar Cantero

Funny, entertaining, and just scary enough to get your pulse racing. A perfect short read.


Memoirs & Nonfiction

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

A memoir of near-death experiences, I found it sometimes frightening, sometimes so stressful that I had to put the book down and walk away from it, and then, deeply moving. 

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer

Tefler doesn’t sensationalize. She interrogates and asks questions, digs deeper. She embraces the horrifying facts of each case while also drawing out deeper themes, showing a side of women’s lives not often explored in the media. 


Romance Novels

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

A Beauty and the Beast re-telling, with scandalous art and giant Scotsman and so. many. feelings. MacLean really delves in there and grabs your heart, squeezing it for all it is worth.

Burn for You by JT Geissinger

Jackson is a beast on the outside, and a real emotional mess on the inside. He’s crusty and short tempered and quick to snap. He’s damaged by his past and not willing to let anyone in. Until Bianca. She takes him to task for his behavior, sasses him back and let’s him have it when he pushes her too far, and god bless him, he loves it.  

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

It’s perfectly delightful in the way of the best romance novels. Funny and also poignant, light-hearted and also deeply emotional. The book is really about how we build our hopes and desires, and how we see ourselves and our worthiness to achieve those hopes and desires. It’s heavy stuff wrapped up in fluffy bow of will-they-won’t-they tension, stolen kisses, clandestine meetings, and overwhelming desire.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

Are you worthy of love? Can you find someone worthy to love? These are big questions that Felicity and Devil grapple with even as they plot and scheme both with and against each other. Both are lost souls, desperate and lonely, but also convinced that love is not for them. And that story, of finding and determining your own self worth in order to better love the person meant for you, so totally resonated with me. It brought me to tears.

Young Adult

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Yes, this is a story about witches and magic and bringing the dead back to life, but it is grounded in very real emotions. Mila’s loneliness, her loss, really overwhelmed me. And then the difficulties she faced after getting Riley back broke my heart all over again. Mila is an outcast and a loner– Riley was truly the only person who meant anything to her. Watching their friendship sputter and stall, struggling as Mila struggles to try and understand what is happening to her and her friend, is hard. I felt very moved by the love and devotion present in this book, by the weight and meaning that Anderson gave to friendship and companionship.

I noticed some of my book reviews with romance…

I noticed some of my book reviews with romance novel covers got flagged. Not all of them, but some. Tessa Dare is too spicy for tumblr!

That title! This book! It’s everything lovely …

That title! This book! It’s everything lovely and funny and wonderful. You should be reading it right now!

Description:

He’s the bad-boy biker. She’s the good girl working in her family’s Indian restaurant. On the surface, nothing about Trucker Carrigan and Pinky Grover’s instant, incendiary, attraction makes sense. But when they peel away the layers and the assumptions–and their clothes–everything falls into place. The need. The want. The light. The laughter. They have more in common than they ever could’ve guessed. Is it enough? They won’t know until they take a chance on each other–and on love.  

I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It was unexpectedly funny, sentimental in all the right places, steamy and sexy without being over the top explicit, and had a swoon worthy happy ending. 

If your scared of the biker aspect– don’t be! It’s more of a take down of biker culture than a motorcycle club romance. I won’t spoil anything, but I will hint that the bad boy is not exactly as he seems. 

Friends! Countrywoman! Do not hesitate to pick…

Friends! Countrywoman! Do not hesitate to pick up this delightful holiday story!

The Best Worst Holiday Party by Olivia Waite

Isobel thinks she was invited to swanky party where she could hobnob and network with the kind of clientele she needed for her new career as a sommelier.  Except when she arrives, in her beautiful dress and high heels, she quickly finds out she is meant to be the help– serving wine to the guests!

Oliver finds himself ostracized from his fellow coworkers and bosses because he used his the forensic accountant skills they hired him for to bring down one of the higher ups in the agency. He’s lonely, questioning his life choices.

These two somewhat lost souls come together and the sparks! They immediately fly! And even better, they are able to help each other achieve their goals– Oliver introduces Isobel to an important woman who could advance her career, Isobel gives Oliver a way to express his art. And then there is smooching! It’s all so fun and happy. The perfect little bite of holiday goodness. 4 stars.

Regular

Got some great books at the library sale! Can’t wait to dive into that cowboy Christmas one 🤠 🌲

Well. Shit. I love motorcycle club romance, bu…

Well. Shit. I love motorcycle club romance, but I will be the first to admit a lot of books involve violence against women– all in the name of “dark and gritty” plots that are meant to shock and titillate. I do my best to avoid the most egregious examples of the subgenre. I read other Hayley Faiman books before and thought I was safe. She took it too far in Unscrew Me

Silver, the so-called hero, is a rapist. There is just no other way to say it. With a gun held to her father’s head, he “asks” a woman to go down on him. She complies. He rationalizes the act by saying it’s about a show of power and control on behalf of his MC, not sexual desire– which excuses nothing. It’s a forced sexual encounter under threat of violence. It’s rape.

Later, the heroine Presley is raped in the same way for the same reasons by another character. Why bookend the story that way? There are no parallels drawn between the first woman and Presley. And if that’s not enough, Silver goes on to blame Presley for what happened to her and she agrees with him. It’s her fault because she ran away and got kidnapped, the book says. What. The. Fuck.

There’s a lot more to dislike about the book. Silver refuses to be monogamous to Presley, just in case club business requires him to stick his dick in a woman at some point, some time. It’s literally the only thing she asks of him, and his best answer is “I’ll try.” He is an extreme jerk, even for an MC romance style alpha hero. Everything must be done his way and Presley must accept it if she wants any kind of relationship with him. There is no redemption through love. There is no journey to a mutually satisfactory ending. There is only capitulation.

I was really disappointed in Faiman for this book. It’s one thing to write something raw and gritty, to show the darker side of life. It’s quite another to exploit the sexual victimization of your female characters. 1 star.

romance-mfa: I made bingo cards for next ti…

romance-mfa:

I made bingo cards for next time you’re reading a Very Serious Article about Trashy Romance and rolling your eyes. 

Thanks to @JenReadsRomance and @KristenKoster for helping me brainstorm this on Twitter.

TBH, I don’t really understand the appeal of R…

TBH, I don’t really understand the appeal of Reverse Harem romance novels, except that there is a lot of sex. A lot. 

Beauty and the Lumberjacks by Lee Savino

Savino literally turns her character into a sex worker at the very beginning of the book. That might have turned me off a bit, because there was definitely a power imbalance between Sierra– living on the streets, no money, and desperate to escape the clutches of an evil biker gang, and the eight lumberjacks she ends up with. Lincoln, the leader of the lumberjack crew, offers her $10K to strip and “entertain” the crew for the logging season, but c’mon. He basically hires her to have sex. The lumberjacks expect her to have sex with them. She quickly realizes she has to win them over through sex in order to stay hidden at the camp. It’s kind of ugly and not the most romantic of set ups. 

Also, it’s really hard to develop eight different relationships in the course of one book. By the end, I sorta agreed that there was mutual emotional attachment and respect between Sierra and like three of the lumberjacks, but all eight? Nope. 3 stars.

December 2018 – https://www.thegreatbigromance…

December 2018 – https://www.thegreatbigromanceread.com/

Regular

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