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Day 16 #Rombklove: Rockstars

Day 16: Rockstars


Day 15 #RomBkLove: Geeky/STEM

Day 15: Geeky/STEM

While cupcake-shop owners and Navy SEALs are ever-popular career paths for many a romance protagonists, there are an ever-growing number of characters pursing careers in STEM in both contemporary and historical novels.   For example, in Alyssa Cole's new contemporary series, Reluctant Royals,  the heroines of A Princess in Theory and Duke by Default are pursuing studies in STEM or STEM related-fields, and in Priscilla Oliveras's Her Perfect Affair the hero, Jeremy, is an IT-security professional Joanna Chambers and Cat Sebastian both have featured scientist heroes in their recent historical m/m novels (A Gathering Storm and The Lawrence Browne Affair). I personally love this trend, as I love inventor, scientist, and maker protagonists more than your more common CEOs or aristocrats.  

The world of STEM and Geeky/Fandom are often intertwined in our pop culture, and romances are no exception. The #RomBkLove team has put together a list of favorite romances where Geek/STEM themes intersect. 

What are your favorite novels that have great STEM and/or Geek representation?  Who are the authors that get fandom?

Reply to us on Twitter and let us know your faves and what they get about Fandom/Geek/STEM right.

CONTEMPORARIES:

D1xN6gnKljS._SL250_FMpng_Melissa Blue's #dirtysexygeeks  This series is devoted to gamers and fandom, and the glue that holds it all together is a group of men who have been friends since they were kids. At the center of the circle are are brothers Grady (To One Hundred) and Wade (Bluest of Blue). There is so much heart in this series, but it also tackles mental illness, examining how friends and lovers can support each other through times of struggle and pain. [m/f, Contemporary,  AOC] (Jen)

Cover of GL Tomas F*THS, Diagonal split cover with black curly haired heroine and a white hero with dark hair, wearing a baseball cap wearing Friends That Have Sex series by GL Thomas. The MCs of this story begin by trying to keep it casual with each other, but end up catching feelings. This is complicated by the secrets they keep from others and each other; one of the biggest ones being that she has cancer and doesn’t tell him. I fell so hard for the heroine in these books, and especially appreciated her geekiness; she is all about reading science fiction, and gets the hero into reading it as well. Both of the leads are bisexual, and I appreciated the incidental bi representation. The first book ends on a cliffhanger, the second brings the characters back together, and the third book is about later challenges in their relationship. [m/f, Contemporary, AOC, Rep: Afro-Cuban bisexual woman MC with cancer. Bisexual man MC. Genderfluid minor character. Queer Afro-Cubanx authors.] (Corey)  A blonde woman holds a giant heart, cover of dating-ish by Penny ReidDating-ish by Penny Reid is a romcom, part of her Knitting in the City series, but works well as standalone too. The hero, Matt, is a robotics engineer who is socially awkward but with some hidden sex appeal. Penny Reid’s romances stand out with her unique sense of humour and over-the-top plots. In this book the journalist heroine, Marie, explores professional cuddling and dry-humping services, orgasm meditation, and more. As usual, a poignant social commentary is hidden behind all the fun times. [m/f, Contemporary] (Ellie)

  A woman looking down to the ground with a giant wolf in profile in the backgroundThe Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood: I really enjoyed this fun, funny, geeky, hot, butch/femme romance, told from the POV of the femme character, who works for a gaming company. I love that basically everyone we meet in the book is queer. The butch love interest is a werewolf, which is ironic because it has a suspense plot around a stalker complaining that werewolves are misrepresented in the werewolf game the MC works on. [f/f, Paranormal] (Chubby femme queer woman MC. Butch queer woman LI. Queer woman author.) (Corey)

Two game-controllers with hearts Cathy Yardley’s Fandom Hearts series is smart, funny, honest, portraying both the positives and negatives of fandom/STEM/Geek culture perfectly. I adored Level Up, in which Tessa Rodriguez is trying to work her way up to her dream job as game designer at a company that doesn’t value her skills as much as they should because she is a woman. Tessa’s HEA is as much about gaining the recognition and respect she deserves as from finding a supportive and loving partner who understands her passions. [m/f, Contemporary AOC, Rep: Latinx MC] (Ana)

Cover divided in comic strip like panels, first panel has airplane,a futurist landscape,  set of chess pieces, a pair panties and Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde. Friends-to-lovers romance between a trans man and his longtime online non-binary best friend. They meet up for the first time to go to a scifi convention and fall for each other. I have a soft spot for this book, which has lovely trans and non-binary representation. The hero has anxiety, and the depiction is really resonant for me as a reader; it shows him having and coping with a panic attack. [m/enby with a trans man lead, Contemporary, Rep: Sri Lankan-American bisexual non-binary MC. Bisexual trans man MC. Non-binary trans author.]  (Corey)

Dark haired woman in glasses looks downBeginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn is a debut contemporary romance with a STEM heroine: Kit is a scientist working in a university lab. I loved the complexity of the human relationships it presented, including the professional context of Kit’s job. She is super smart but at the same time prefers to stay in the background and not draw attention to herself. I absolutely loved how smitten Ben was with her and how proud he was of her professional accomplishments. It’s one of my favorite romances of 2017 and I can’t recommend it enough. [m/f, Contemporary](Ellie)

51ZgVzJazqL._SY346_Gaymers series by Annabeth Albert. This m/m series are comfort rereads for me; well...re-listens, as I prefer them on audiobook. They are geeky and angsty and give me all the feels, and they each have an MC who works at the same gaming company. My favorite is the third book, Connection Error, which has two MCs with very different disabilities. This geeky romance is so compelling to me, particularly because of the moments of access intimacy between the disabled characters and the way they navigate the changing nature of their disabilities with regard to their sex lives. Naked Twister for the win! [m/m, Contemporary] (Rep: Gay man MC with ADHD. Gay man amputee MC with a mobility disability.) (Corey)

A black and white cat with a ball of yarn, two girls kissingKnit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman: In this short and tender romance,  Indie Yarn dyer Clara first finds inspiration in Danielle’s vibrant Floridian artwork and then finds herself falling for her new friend and collaborator. Their mutual love of fanfiction and their shared fandom for Captain Werewolf is one their many connection points.  [f/f, Contemporary, Jewish MCs, Jewish bi author, fat rep] (Ana)

Shirtless man in gray hoodie, six-pack abs.Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Kinky, funny, geeky. One of the few BDSM romances I’ve read with switch MCs, this begins as the characters bond at a con. The hero Daniel is bisexual and an amputee; I liked the incidental representation for both. Weatherspoon has a knack for writing heroines I want to be friends with, and Keira is just wonderful. I especially enjoyed watching her come into her own as a novice dominant. [m/f, Contemporary, AOC, Rep: Korean American amputee bisexual man MC. Black woman MC. Black queer woman author.] (Corey)

A 60's dressed woman in silhouette HISTORICALS:

Emma Barry & Genevieve Turner: Earth Bound is the third book in their Space-Race era set romance series, Fly Me to the Moon. The previous protagonists have been astronauts and this book is a departure from the focus on the fly-boys to the engineers and computer scientists whose calculations are essential but much less lauded contributions to space program. Eugene and Charlie are grumpy and prickly, and their relationship is deliciously combustible. It was full of longing and explosive sexiness. [m/f, historical] (Ana)

51OPuIMEF9L.SX316.SY316My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth is a Regency historical where the titular Caroline is a botanist, and quite a good one. Then her father arranges a marriage for her, and neither she nor her new husband Brent trust one another to start. How they manage to merge their mutual needs into a compatible marriage is the heart of this book. But it’s certain scenes that stand out for me: Caroline’s shock (and initial complete lack of belief) when Brent is willing to use her savant math skills to help with the estate; Brent’s defense of Caroline and her abilities to her family (who have never encouraged her interests). It’s a great older (1998) example of a historical STEM heroine. [m/f, Historical] (Mary Lynne)

51iVUSWClBL._SY346_Folks, all I need to tell you about Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the Knot is this: the Regency-era heroine is studying the mating habits of lobsters. If that doesn’t get you to read this enchanting geek-heroine historical romance, I don’t know what will. [m/f, Historical] (Mary Lynne)

517A1jbUORLThe glory of The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan is how it deals with appearances and reality. This is another Regency historical with a STEM heroine, but Violet has completely hidden her talent, using her oldest friend Sebastian as her “front” to the world. He pretends to be the scientific expert; she does all the work and gets to share it publicly through Sebastian (because a mere woman cannot speak about scientific discoveries). The Countess Conspiracy shows Violet and Sebastian’s achievements and struggles, and how love builds their confidence to share their truths with one another and the world. [m/f, Historical, AOC] (Mary Lynne)

 

Still want more? Dig into Lacy Literacy's List of 100 STEM heroines.

 

 



Day 11 #Rombklove: Old School/Vintage Romance

Day 11: Old School #Rombklove

Maybe your first romance was a tattered Fabio-covered historical, a yellowed Silhouette or your mom's Harlequins.  Share your favorite Old School/Vintage Romances.

Elisabeth Lane is hosting today's prompt at her blog: Cooking Up Romance . Check out her post for pictures of some of favorite vintage romance finds and an inclusive rec post including some early LGBTQ and Black romance.


Day 10 #RomBkLove: Royalty

Day 10: Royalty #Rombklove

I am constantly in awe of Sil's ability to rec dozens and dozens of books for a particular trope at the drop of the hat and her rec threads are not only fun to read but diverse and inclusive and I can keep myself from one-clicking her recommendations into my collection. I am ridiculously excited to have her share with us her favorite Royalty romances.

And this is so true:

I also wanted to write this post because many, many sites are doing lists, especially this month, about the #RoyalWedding and they just like to erase the fact that Meghan Markle is black and keep recommending books with white couples. 

So check out her awesome list. There are some I've already read and love and so many more I want to try!


Day 9 #RomBkLove: Insta-Love

Day 9: Insta-Love

Frannie Cassano, RWA's 2018 Librarian of the year is here today. She absolutely loves Insta-Love romances and has a fantastic set of recommendations for you.

#RomBkLove: But What If Insta-Love IS Your Catnip?
by Frannie Strober Cassano

Hi Everyone! I am so happy that Ana invited me to #RomBkLove. Today I’m talking about my most favorite, cat nippy tropes: Insta-Love.

There is something about the gaze from across the room. A spark, a pull-toward, or a click. That instant feeling they were meant to be yours which defies all logic, reason, and reality. But that’s the thing. It’s chemistry. It’s a gut deal. It touches you and you are happily never the same.

Sure the attraction is instant. But there is something a bit decadent in the gaze, not in the sense of being objectified but by first by being desired and then wholly accepted by a mate that one hopes is destined to be fated.

I believe elements of Insta-Love are the bedrock to of all Romances and Erotica. That is how we, as readers, believe the unbelievable. These elements are what progresses the story along…and what also stops the story cold. Whether characters have no prior history with one another, are over the top (OTT), obsessive, growly, or are wolves or bears.

I always like to toss in some recs that patron/readers can get lost in someone’s eyes and let go for the entire length of the novel.

When we think Insta-Love, some authors who come to mind might be E.L. James, Sylvia Day, Alexa Riley, J.R. Ward, Renee Rose, Ruby Dixon, Kresley Cole, Nalini Singh, Kristen Ashley, Aurora Rose Reynolds, and more recently, Madame de Boudoir.

Today, I’m going to explore Insta-Loves from Katy Regnery, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Robin Lovett, Emma Chase, and Brenda Jackson:

Cover of Katy Regnery's The Vixen and the Vet, bare chest and torso at side angle, of a man wearing dog tags.The Vixen and the Vet by Katy Regnery

Perhaps the most literal of my Insta-Love picks, Katy Regenry’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast hits every right mark. Savannah and Asher are both deeply broken in their own ways. She is a disgraced journalist (through no fault of her own) and he is a war hero, disfigured by a bomb. Savannah returns home and is also helping to plan her sister’s wedding when she receives an offer to write a human interest piece for another paper. Asher lives life as a recluse on his rolling estate, with only the kindly Mrs. Potts (!) to help care for him.

Savannah hopes to interview Asher as her piece. And though hidden, as soon as her eyes lock into his from afar, that moment is what sets this story on its path. Not only that, as soon as they touch, they cannot stop holding one another in some manner. Becoming friends is one thing, but Regnery crafts a deeply moving, Insta-Love tale, where Savannah and Asher fall hard and fast before they know what they are getting themselves into. Though tormented and affected, Asher wants to push himself with Savannah as his inspiration. And Savannah wrestles with what her article brings with it and what her feelings for Asher bring with that. There are a lot of painful passages, but Regnery is never heavy-handed. She treats Asher with the utmost care and does not deliver a cure-all for the varying degrees of wounds examined here. While the Insta-Love is literal, the reality is also very real. Savannah and Asher need one another to soothe their traumas and their instant connection is one to root all the way for.

Man in a black suit carries a blonde white woman in a black dress and stilletos, Cover of the Protector by Jodi Ellen MalpasThe Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Ex-military man, Jake Sharp barely lives life fueled by meaningless sex, drinking and his assignments to numb the effects of his PTSD. Socialite Camille Logan is wrestling with independence from her father and the pain of her recent past with an ex. When her life gets threatened, Camille’s father hires Jake to be her 24/7 bodyguard. Neither are particularly jazzed by the idea, until the moment they meet. Each time Camille tries to evade Jake, he’s two step ahead. Then, pretty soon it’s clear to both that the instant attraction they felt is much, much more.

Camille is not at all as fame presents her as. Her warm demeanor reaches places Jake forgot existed. When he refers to Camille as “his fate” and that protecting her is now “instinct” it is believable and the tough road they face will have readers on bated breath. With super-hot scenes, serious suspense, and an ideal, emotionally wounded Alpha hero, Malpas totally delivers.

A man wearing a hooding looking straight at the camera, Cover of Stranger by Robin LovettStranger by Robin Lovett

There is something about stalkers in Romance. The piercing glances from afar, the combination hints of danger and possibility. But stalkers and Dark Romances can be tricky for some readers.

Stranger is billed as “not supposed to be a love story” and one of revenge. But there are strong elements of Insta-Love, especially from the POV of the heroine, Penny Vandershall. Lovett shows us Penny’s side of the story first and foremost, almost at all times. And while one might argue that Penny appears as a doormat or desperate, that really isn’t the case.

Lovett’s compelling heroine owns her desire. I have often said that Penny knows who she is and what she wants at all times. She explores her own darkness and that sense of her agency pays off. She stares back and likes it. She explores those desires back and likes it. Logic be damned.

The hero, Logan, undertakes a dark road of would-be revenge by sucking Penny in by his gaze. He wants her to want him so that he can exact his plot and usurp her safe world. Logan seems obsessive and very intense, but as the story progresses, his plans get thwarted because of his feelings for Penny…in spite of himself.

Often, these “stalkers” aren’t what we think of as actually menacing. It is a Romance after all. And Lovett cares about who she is writing for. Her characters are as self-aware as they are fixated, and they embark on individual journeys to embrace the truth of their desires.

Cover of Royally Matched by Emma Chase, White man with built body lounges on carved chair without a shirt.Royally Matched by Emma Chase

While you might argue that this snicker-induced Royal romp might not qualify as a typical Insta-Love, there are a zillion reasons why it also does. Prince Henry is beyond a player/cad/rake and Sarah is a classic Brit-Literature loving librarian with a paralyzing disorder brought on by sudden loud noises. He’s the suitor on a Chris Harrison-like TV show called ‘Matched: Royal Edition’. She’s there to accompany her sister, a contestant, as her assistant. It takes a long time for the hero and heroine to meet and it’s quite by accident during a shot set up.

However, once Henry and Sarah do meet, they cannot stop thinking of one another. There is a lot of “snapping” into one another’s eyes and “pinning” one another’s gaze. It doesn’t matter how much of a horny/sexually-charged, inappropriately-thought filled hottie the prince is. We are led to believe he’s basically in insta-lust with any woman he sees. But staying with it, it makes sense. He’s bored and scared and Sarah challenges what he thinks he desires. We believe that he is totally captivated by her.

The bawdiness of Chase’s novel is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Sarah is so adorable; she is for sure what I call “Book Bestie” material (as well as one of this librarian’s new-to them favorite librarian characters). It is super fun to see her stand her ground while also uncomfortable by Henry’s demeanor. Even though she is always looking forward, it’s clear she has some demons to slay. And Henry is totally believable seeking Sarah out as a sort of refuge while also teasing her as he falls for her in return.

The symbolism and the changes they endure for one another is a super fun road to travel. From forced celibacy for show purposes to Sarah allowing Henry to share her room at night away from the cameras. What starts off as jolly good fun, ends up touchingly sweet.

A red curtained window, with a man and woman embracing in the background. A red settee, a yellow dress and a cowboy hat in the fore-ground.Hot Westmoreland Nights by Brenda Jackson

I am SO hitting an amazing backlist for this category favorite. The novel opens with Chloe noticing the most attractive man she has ever seen from outside her window. She really checks him out, from Stetson to “powerful legs” to lips. And while we might buy that she points him out to her friend/the Denver manager of her magazine, the reader catches on pretty quickly that she is by far smitten. Over the phone, Ramsey is not at all interested, so Chloe pays him a visit in hopes of changing his mind. Mistaken for a replacement cook at his ranch, Chloe uses the opportunity to “fill in”, so that she might finally persuade and land Ramsey for her magazine later. Because she does happen to have experience cooking large scale while spending summers working at a homeless shelter…the fact that she learned from a Mama Francine is pure coincidence ;)

And here is where trouble of the best kind ensues…as well as super-hot sexytimes! Jackson offers another example of Insta-Love where we get the heroine, Chloe’s POV first. However, when we get to Ramsey’s POV, whoa! When he first sees her, he feels not only lust, but he literally feels her in his gut. From those moments forward, the heat between the two sizzle off the page. Jackson does chemistry right in her Westmoreland stories, but there is something about Ramsey and Chloe that stays with the reader. We believe the instant attraction and the daydreaming that follows. Ramsey is not the typical ladies’ man like others in his family (as they start off, anyway). There is something about Chloe that gets in deep with him.

And sure, we’ve got misunderstanding, conflict, how-do-we-overcome-betrayal, pain of the past, do I trust him/her/myself?…but this is Brenda Jackson. Hot Westmoreland Nights is one of my go-to recs for a quick, get lost in the story read, “stay up until 3am to finish”, and/or “getting out of your reading slump”. On a personal note, Jackson’s stories have been books my patrons and I have turned to for years before I even started working on the Romance Collection. She gets Insta-Love right on so many levels that you aren’t even aware of what’s happening until you’ve already fallen for the characters…and that is really what Insta-Love hopes to accomplish. Bam! Hooked.

I can keep you here all day talking Insta-Love. From gazes from across the room to that *click* to a safe place where logic/reason/reality can melt away. Whatever stories appeal to you, #RomBkLove has got you covered. Get lost in them. And if you want to discuss even more Insta-Love, come find me any time.

2018 RWA Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year recipient Frannie Strober Cassano first stumbled into the romance section of her local drugstore as a teen, then found herself back there during the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. You can find her discussing Happily Ever Afters for All over at her Reference Desk or over on Twitter at @FranniesRomance.

 

 


Day 8 #RomBkLove: Road Trip

Day 8: Road Trip

Suzanne from Love in Panels has list chock full of romances where the journey is a huge part of the story.  What appeals to you about love on the road?

 

 


Day 7 #Rombklove: Cowboys

Day 7: Cowboys #Rombklove

Nix from Scorching Book Reviews adores cowboys and I am looking forward to see which books and authors she loves best.  If you love life on the range, check out Nix's list:

 

 


Day 6 #RomBkLove: Auto Buy

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Erica from The Book Pushers is hosting today's prompt: Auto-buy and telling us who or what triggers our one-click finger. Erica and I share a lot auto-buy authors and tropes, so I always pay attention to her recommendations. She has never steered me wrong.