Category: romance novels

Reading into the rise of the romance novel


The romance section at Porter Square Books keeps moving.

First the titles were scattered around general fiction. Then the section became a few shelves near mystery. Now it spans several bookcases at the front of the store — a place of honor.

Over the past few years, independent bookstores have begun accommodating more romance novels, finally giving due respect to a genre that has long been a top seller for the industry.

Last year, Brookline Booksmith rebuilt its dismantled romance section and An Unlikely Story in Plainville created its first romance section (the books had previously been shelved around the store). In June 2018, Harvard Book Store hosted its first romance event for Jasmine Guillory’s debut, “The Wedding Date,” a contemporary tale about two people who arrange a fake date that, of course, leads to more. In February, Acton bookshop Silver Unicorn hosted an all-romance pop-up store in Somerville’s Bow Market.


A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian


A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian

Queer women breaking the law in the name of justice and retribution! Cat Sebastian has written a lovely, sweet little novella featuring two women falling in love and getting even while they are at it.

Molly is a former lightskirt and thief, now a proper and mostly law-abiding lady’s maid. Alice is her employer’s newest addition to the household, a prim and staid lady’s companion. Drawn to the sharp-tongued and even downright rude woman, Alice can’t help her sidelong glances and yearning looks at Molly. And Molly can’t help but notice Alice looking her way again and again. When Alice uncovers Molly’s secret, they begin to form a bond of friendship and maybe something more? But then! A dark figure from Alice’s past arrives at a house party and Molly and Alice realize this is their chance to even the score a little bit. 

A short, quick read, the plot really hums along in this book. I might have appreciated a little more relationship development between the women. Molly’s abrasive truthfulness shocks Alice, forcing her to open up and figure herself out, figure out what she really wants out of her life. She realizes, through Molly, that she has options that were never available to her before, if only she can reach out and grasp them. Molly, on the other hand, doesn’t have as dramatic a change as Alice. Maybe she lets down her walls a little bit, learns to put some faith in things like love and trust– life has burned her in the past, but Molly has to try and embrace hope again.

The justice achieved in the this book is small but significant to the lives of these two women. And the happily ever after is even sweeter for knowing that Alice and Molly beat down their little corner of the patriarchal and misogynistic oppression in the world, by having faith in themselves and each other. And also by blackmail, extortion and thievery!

4 stars

Charge by Cate C. WellsKayla is trying her har…

Wow! A surprisingly good, emotionally resonant MC romance!

Charge by Cate C. Wells

Kayla is trying her hardest, but life isn’t easy for a 21 year old single mom living on her own with very little family support. Who comes barging into her life but Charge, the biker living next door. He’s into Kayla big time, but when he realizes she has a kid, he runs– children aren’t easy, and Charge is nothing if not laid back and easy– but something about Kayla keeps drawing him back.

I really liked this book. Kayla is such an interesting character– strong, intelligent, and surprisingly innocent and sheltered for all that she is supporting herself and her kid all on her own. She’s naive but not stupid, and Charge immediately gets that for all her grit and determination, she’s a soft gooey marshmallow on the inside. He wants to protect that softness, honor it, and share it with her. 

Charge is laid back and easy going, but also realizing that maybe all his charm and ease in life is also a bit of inertia. He’s stuck. Kayla is the kick in the pants he needs to start really living his life. 

This is a nice slow burn of a romance between the two of them, with Charge letting his libido take a back seat because he quickly realizes that Kayla needs security and comfort over passion. I don’t think there is even a kiss until at least halfway through the book! 

And Jimmy, Kayla’s six year old son! He’s no plot moppet or ingratiating/irritating perfect storybook child. No, he’s stubborn, sullen, and grumpy– but also loving and very protective of his mother. He’s Kayla’s reason for everything she does, and he quickly worms his way in Charge’s heart. Usually, kids in romance are just window dressing– but Wells really makes Jimmy a part of the story. Watching the relationship blossom between Kayla, Jimmy and Charge is so heartwarming. 

4 stars.


Pumpkin and I are so excited! The new Sarah MacLean! It’s here!




Can anyone recommend some good werewolf romance? I’m in a mood and I can’t find anything on Amazon that isn’t super skewed by their rating/promotion system and the Goodreads lists are questionable.


If you like things on the steamy side, I really recommend Roxie Noir/Dakota West’s Shifter Country Wolves series. She also did a series with bears! Menage romance, angsty but not emo.



Fiona makes a good prop! Too bad the book wasn’t that good!

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Apparently, I read this book way back in 2008 and gave it 4 stars, at least that’s what Goodreads tells me. But now I am older and wiser and apparently grumpier, because I did not like it as much this time around.

Penelope has been in love with Colin for years. Years and years. But that’s not the only secret she’s been keeping. Colin is tired of being gossiped about, tired of being thought of as nothing but charming and roguish–all surface, no substance. Something something Penelope and Colin start to hang out, Colin discovers her secret, they need to get married to protect her secret, true love.

Truly, I was so bored by this book. It’s a lot of Penelope pining for Colin and Colin pretending he doesn’t notice. There are even times when Penelope says to herself, ‘maybe I’ve put this dude on a bit of a pedestal.’ But she continues on feeling her feelings without really interrogating that thought or facing the truth at all! And Colin kind of just… falls in love with her… without either of them really getting to know the real person behind all the projected feelings and insecurities each has. The little bit of intrigue in the plot isn’t very intriguing– the reader knows Penelope’s big secret almost right away. Then, at the end, there’s an external threat that isn’t very scary because the Bridgertons are magical people who make all scandal just go away because it would be inconvenient to the happily ever after. 

I was not charmed by Colin and found Penelope’s innocent girlishness totally at odds with her big, dark secret. She’s supposed to be this acute, wry, intelligent observer of society. But she never really shines that light on either Colin or herself. And Colin is meant to be this dashing, charming rogue of a man, but is really just a paper thin character with very little of interest. He’s well traveled. He’s always hungry and likes to eat. He doesn’t see what is right in front of him (Penelope). That’s really the depth of his character.

I skimmed the last fourth of the book because I had put in so much effort to get that far and wanted to complete the journey. I’m not sure it was worth it.  3 stars. 



No shirt? No problem!

Ok. Deep breaths. I am a crazy Reapers MC/Joan…

Ok. Deep breaths. I am a crazy Reapers MC/Joanna Wylde fan. So hearing there was a new novella coming out had me breaking out the grabby hands. But then I read it. 

Eli’s Triumph by Joanna Wylde

I live and die for the Reapers MC. I re-read the entire series, as a whole, at least once a year. I re-read my favorite books in the series two or three times a year. Unfortunately, Eli’s Triumph is definitely not going into the favorites pile.

Peaches and Eli have been enemies ever since childhood. They have a history of mean pranks, arguments, and misunderstandings. Eli gets out of prison and is all set to takeover his uncle Gus’ bar, which Gus actually promised to Peaches five years ago when Eli first got locked up. Major betrayal! And then there is the problem of Eli being so freakin’ hot– even as Peaches is sticking needles in his voodoo doll, she can’t help but reminisce over their drunken hookup back in the day. Can Eli make it right between them? Or will Peaches burn down the bar and everyone in it?

The problem with this book is that it is kind of small. It’s a small story– and motorcycle club romance isn’t really meant for small stories. There isn’t a lot of action happening. It’s mainly emotional drama. Peaches and Eli need to work out a lifetime of misunderstandings. Peaches and Gus need to come to terms over his broken promises. And Eli and Gus need to make peace with their past. 

What the story lacks is the motorcycle club-ness of MC romance. The danger, the suspense, the vroom vroom roar of men and women riding out on motorcycles to face their destinies! Yeah, Eli and Gus are Reapers, but they could just have easily been ranchers, in the mafia, Navy SEALs or any other archetypal hero and the same story would have played out. So, even though it is a good enemies-to-lovers story, I was disappointed. 

All that said, it really is a good enemies-to-lovers story. Peaches and Eli have so much broken history between them, and Gus’ betrayal cuts Peaches so deep, it seems almost impossible that things will work out. It’s a lot of fun watching Eli and Peaches fight and come together. 3 stars. 

Who loves a hulking hero who intimidates eve…

Who loves a hulking hero who intimidates everyone with his massive size and strength but is secretly just a lonely, misunderstood hunk of a man with a heart of gold? Me! Me! I do!

Halfway Girl by Tessa Bailey

I really loved this short novella. It has a lot of heat, but also a lot of heart.

Locked into the basement together, Birdie quickly realizes Jerimiah is more than just an extremely attractive, huge football player. Jerimiah realizes Birdie is someone quite special who needs him to come out of his shell. So they fall in love! Surprise ending!

Is the insta-love extremely instant? Yes. I don’t particularly mind that so much when the hero and heroine are portrayed as being swept up in an overwhelming attraction for each other, obliterating doubt and putting common sense on the back burner. It’s ridiculous, but it’s such a romantic kind of ridiculous, you know? And Birdie and Jerimiah really compliment each other, each realizing they need to overcome their issues in order to be the best partner and friend the other could ever want. It’s really hits you in the feels, for such a short read. 4 stars. 

Reviewers Wanted – Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Reviewers Wanted – Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:

SBTB is looking for new reviewers! Apply by May 11, 2019.